Thursday, December 6, 2007

Super Moist Pumpkin Walnut Bread

I adapted this recipe off of one of my favorite cookie blogs. I was trying it out to see if it work as my annual gift bread. Every year, I bake a type of bread in mini loaves and give it to my aunts and Baba. This bread was very good but I don't think I'll use it for gifts. I think my Baba wouldn't like how sweet and moist it is. Most of her bakery is drier and made with a lot less sugar than this recipe calls for. However, it is a definite hit with my roommate and I. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chips instead of walnuts, but I usually only chocolate by itself rather than mixed with other things so I opted for toasted walnuts instead. (Plus, I'm trying to eat more walnuts-get my omega-3's!) I also tweaked the eggs and oil to make it a little healthier, similar to my banana bread recipe.

Super Moist Pumpkin Walnut Bread

1 c canned pumpkin
4 egg whites (or 1/2 c egg substitute, or 2 large eggs)
1/3 c canola oil
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1 (3.4 oz) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 c sugar (you can definitely go with less)
1 c flour
1/2 c chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 tsp baking sod
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with flour-added cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin, egg whites, oil, applesauce, pudding mix, and sugar.
3. Remove 1 tsp of the flour and toss it with the nuts. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture mixing only until combined. Stir in flour-coated walnuts.
5. Scrape batter into pan and bake for 70 min (mine took more like 80) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Remember, this is supposed to be a very moist bread)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Quaker's Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

So in our baking spree, I totally forgot that I actually had an event to bake cookies for. When it was all over, we had 4 dozen iced sugar Christmas cookies, 3 dozen cherry cheesecake cookies, 3 dozen chocolate peanutty candy cookies, 6 newly iced chocolate raspberry cookies, and nothing to bring to my event because they were all for Christmas. So about 2 hours before the event, my boyfriend came over and helped me throw these together. They came out wonderful. They're chewy and just the right balance between sweet and spice. I'm not sure but I think this recipe is a bit different than the one currently on Quaker oats, because I remember trying that one in the past and disliking it. But, for all I know, they could be the same recipe and I just got better at baking in the last 5 years hehe. Anywho, these cookies are great and I didn't change a thing. The blog I got it from added toasted walnuts (which sounds wonderful) but again, with the whole college budget thing I decided it would be better to save my walnuts for something else. (Plus you never know who has a nut allergy...are people just allergic to peanuts or all nuts? Hm...) Anywho, I'll include that in the recipe so you can add them if you want.

Quaker's Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
1 1/4 c butter — (2-1/2 sticks) room temperature
3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 c Quaker oats, (quick or old fashioned, not instant)
3/4 c pre-plumped raisins (I used baking raisins, if you don't have those then take regular raisins, put them in a bowl, cover them with boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, and ta-da! Plumped raisins)
1/2 c toasted walnuts, chopped (if desired, but I'm sure they make them even better!)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

3. In a mixing bowl, using high speed of an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

4. By hand, stir in the flour mixture. When flour is absorbed, stir in oats, raisins and nuts.

5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

6. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie or 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered. (This step really depends on your oven. I cooked mine 10-11 minutes and they came out chewy. They were nowhere near done at 8. However, again, I'm in college and I'm pretty sure our landlord didn't spring for the best oven ever, so it's very possible the temperature is off.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Peanutty Chocolate Candy Cookies

Normally I don't use recipes that require cake or brownie mix, simply because I am a purist and I like to make things myself (Plus, as a future dietitian, I am very disturbed at how many of those have trans fat!). However, the picture of these cookies in my Pillsbury Baking cookbook prompted me to make these cookies anyway. I could not get over how good they looked. These are a fabulous cookie to make when you want something that is universally liked and quick to make (bake sales, a present for someone whose tastes you're not sure of). They are soft without necessarily being "fudgy" and They are similar to cookies made with a brownie base. Oh and the peanut just perfect. These are such a guy pleasing cookie. Chocolate, peanut butter, peanuts, nothing Anywho, here's the recipe:

*very important note about the ingredients* - All cake mixes are not created the same. Between my roommate and I, we have made this cookie 3 times and came out with 3 different types of cookies. The recipe calls for a chocolate fudge cake mix with pudding (We assumed Pillsbury brand since it was out of that cookbook) but we could not find it anywhere. We've substituted the Pillsbury devil's food cake mix with pudding, and the cookies taste great but the batter is incredibly hard to stir (It's a great workout if you're up for the task though! hehe). However, the cookies come out great. They are thick and dark brown. If you do use this kind of cake mix, you might want to decrease the amounts of the add-ins because they won't all mix into the batter. If you want a cookie that is a little bit flatter (not thin or crispy though, the flavor is pretty similar to the other one) and lighter in color, go with the Betty Crocker fudge cake mix. These came out great too, and were much easier to stir. My preference is the Pillsbury simply because I like the color better and I'm up for the challenge, but it really doesn't matter.

Peanutty Chocolate Candy Cookies

1 box (1 lb. 2.25 oz.) chocolate fudge cake mix with pudding
1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 bag (14 oz.) candy-coated peanut butter pieces (My roommate used an 11 oz. bag of the Reese's Pieces mini baking pieces and they came out great. These are especially good if you're making it with the Pillsbury cake mix since they're easier to stir in and there's less of them)
1 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets. In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter, and eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until just moistened. With spoon, stir in peanut butter pieces and peanuts.
2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto cookie sheets.
3. Bake 7-10 min. or until edges are set and tops appear dry. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets.

Yield: 3 dozen

Nutrition facts for 1 cookie: calories 160 (calories from fat 70); total fat 8g (saturated fat 2.5g, trans fat 0g); cholesterol 20mg; sodium 170mg; total carb 19g (dietary fiber 1g; sugars 13g); protein 4g

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cinnamon Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

Oh these are amazing. I had some leftover pumpkin from the cake I made for Thanksgiving and I'm so glad I decided to use it on these. I found the original recipe on Nestle's Very Best Baking website, halved it, and added cinnamon cream cheese frosting. These cookies are so soft. They really are good enough on their own, but the frosting takes them over the top. There's a place in Columbus called Cheryl & Co., and they make a cookie similar to this, which is where I got the idea. I have quite a few other cookies I'd like to mimic from there, so this will be the first of many Cheryl & Co. copycat recipes.

The original pumpkin cookie recipe is here.

Cinnamon Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt (I actually think I used the whole amount this time)
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp? maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets. (I lined mine with parchment paper and greased that)

2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking power, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. (At this point, I proceeded to grab maple syrup and start pouring it in to taste. I probably added about 1-2 tsp? I'm really not sure. It was a great idea though) Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T butter (I used salted, it doesn’t matter)
1 ½ c powdered sugar
½ t cinnamon

1. Blend cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on a low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar a little at a time on low speed, beating until well incorporated, about 1 minute.
3. Add the cinnamon and increase the speed to medium, blending until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Super Gooey Chocolate Raspberry Drops

So while walking through Giant Eagle I found Hershey's Raspberry filled chocolate pieces on sale and just had to buy a bag. I had a fudgy chocolate cookie recipe I had been meaning to try and decided to put them in it. The result was delicious. These cookies are very yummy and moist. If I made this recipe again, I think I would add a little raspberry puree or jam to the dough to try to kick up the raspberry flavor. I'm going to freeze the leftover cookies and make a raspberry frosting to go with them later. I only wanted to make a few so I quartered the recipe, but I must make my cookies small because I should have had 6 but I made 12. The original recipe was for "Super Gooey Chocolate Drops" but since I added the raspberry I tweaked the name a little. The original recipe uses semisweet chocolate chips and dried cherries and can be found here.

Super Gooey Chocolate Raspberry Drops

2 T unsalted butter (I used salted, it made no difference)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon buttermilk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 T natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Scharffen Berger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a tiny pinch of salt
about 1/2 bag of Hershey's raspberry filled chocolate baking pieces

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Put the butter and the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 75 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir and heat again until melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.) (When I did this, it only took 2 minutes total)

3. Stir the light brown and granulated sugars and vanilla into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat vigorously until thick and glossy.

4. In another bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed. Stir in raspberry filled chocolate baking pieces.

5. Drop the batter in heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart. Bake until the cookies set but are soft and fudgy on the inside, 12 to 15 minutes.

6. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to a week.

When I come up with my raspberry frosting recipe, I'll update this and let you know how it came out.

update 11-30-07*
So I during a 3 hour marathon baking spree with my roommate, I finally decided to try an icing recipe for these cookies.
The icing came out pretty good, although I think it would be better on a cake than a cookie. To be honest, I almost want to say they'd be better without the icing. It's not that the icing takes away from the flavor, but the cookies are so incredible by themselves they really don't need the help. However, the icing did have a purple hue and looked quite pretty on the cookies.

The original recipe is from Family Fun and can be found here. There's other variations along with the raspberry one. The recipe posted below has been quartered to cater to the small amount of cookies I made.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c + 2 T powdered sugar (It said to sift it, I didn't. To be honest, I kind of eyeballed this one)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 T milk
1 T raspberry preserves (I used Smuckers Simply Fruit in black raspberry which accounts for the purple hue)

Beat cream until fluffy with an electric mixer. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Makes 1 cup.

Best Banana Bread Ever

I baked this recipe for my boyfriend's parents once and his mom asked me for the recipe immediately after she tasted it. Both my boyfriend Tyler and her agreed that my bread was even better than Grandma's! The best part of all is that it's even a healthier version of banana bread. It sure tastes just as indulgent as the unhealthy kind. The whole bread, including the crust, is so moist and sweet that it's hard to have just one piece. With the nutritionals being as fabulous as they are, you won't have to feel guilty for having a second. This bread really doesn't need anything on top of it, but if you're feeling extra indulgent, Tyler and I have found that leftover cinnamon cream cheese frosting tastes incredible on it.

The original recipe is from Betty Crocker and can be found

Best Banana Bread Ever

1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c trans fat free margarine, softened
1/2 c egg beaters (I sub 4 egg whites when I don't have any around)
1 1/2 c mashed very ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I have a habit of greatly reducing/leaving salt out...I really don't think leaving it out of this recipe hurts it any...but you definitely don't need a whole tsp)
1 c chopped nuts, if desired (Sometimes I include these and sometimes I don't. I don't include them when my college budget doesn't allow it and the bread still tastes great. However I like to include them when I can.)

1. Move oven rack to the low position so the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven. Heat oven to 350. Grease the bottoms only of 2 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2 ", or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3".
2. Mix sugar, applesauce, and margarine in a large bowl. Stir in egg product until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened. Stir in nuts & pour into pan(s).
3. Bake 8" loaves for 1 hr and 9" loaf for 1 1/4 hr, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides, remove loaf, and place on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. (You can try this if you want...I can't say I've ever been able to wait that long. I'm proud if I get through 10 minutes. Isn't the whole appeal to have fresh baked bread and not 2 hours old bread?) Wrap tightly and store at room temp up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Nutrition Facts:
1 Serving: Calories 60 (Calories from Fat 10 ); Total Fat 1 g (Saturated Fat 1 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 65 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12 g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 1 g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 0%; Iron 2 % Exchanges: 1 Starch