Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels

This is one of my favorite things to eat at this time of year. I don't know why but they feel like a Christmasy dessert. The caramel is so soft and the chocolate compliments it so well. It takes a little time to make but its totally worth it.

Chocolate Caramel Pretzels
Recipe Source:

1 cup Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
dash of Salt 

Mix ingredients in order over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly, to soft ball stage (about 15 minutes more, use a candy thermometer or test in a bowl of cold water – a drop of caramel in the cold water should roll into a soft ball in your fingers). Remove from heat. Dip the pretzels in the caramel once it has stopped boiling. If you are putting cookies or candy directly onto the caramel do so immediately because the caramel sets very quickly. If you are dipping in chocolate put the pretzels in the fridge for about 30 minutes so the caramel will be cold and won't melt off the apple when it was dipped in the hot chocolate.

Chocolate for Dipping
16oz Semisweet Baking Chocolate
4oz White Baking Chocolate

Melt the semisweet chocolate in a double boiler. (I used a regular sauce pan and a metal bowl. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl when its placed on the saucepan.) You need to go pretty quickly when dipping the caramel covered pretzels because the coldness of the caramel with start to solidify the chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted, using a large spoon put it in a Ziploc bag and cut off the tip of one of the corners to make the stripes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

As I am sitting here writing this, it is snowing outside. Its not just a little, its coming down hard. On a day like this a nice warm, gooey, delicious cinnamon roll is just what I need. Preferably a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. There isnt one by where I live anymore. It left the mall. Oh, I loved Cinnabon. These taste almost exactly the same. You should definitely make these, they are so good!

Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe Source:

1 cup Warm Milk (110°F)
2 Eggs, Room Temp
4 ¾ cups Bread Flour
1/3 cup Margarine, Melted
½ cup White Sugar
2 ½ teaspoons Yeast
1 teaspoon Salt

1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt , and eggs. Add flour and mix well.

2. Heat oven to 200° and turn off. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover and put in oven for about an hour or until doubled. After the dough has doubled its size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest 10 minutes.

3. In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cinnamon Mixture
2 ½ Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
1 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1/3 cup Butter, softened enough to spread easily

1. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

2. Roll up dough, rolling from the 16 inch end, and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

3. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 17 minutes. While rolls are baking beat together all ingredients for the icing.

¼ cup Butter, Softened
1 - 3oz pkg. Cream Cheese, Softened
1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
½ teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Spread icing on rolls while still warm.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! We sure did. The best part was watching the girls opening their presents. They loved every minute of ripping off the paper and then moving on to the next unopened gift. 

By the way, it snowed here 3 days before Christmas and rained the rest of the days so we didn't end up with a white Christmas after all. But it is freezing cold outside and because winter is the best time for soup, I am going to share this most delicious soup recipe with you. Its so quick and easy and totally worth making.

Ham and Potato Soup
Recipe Source:

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced Potatoes
2/3 cup diced Celery
1/3 cup finely chopped Onion
1 cup Carrot, diced
1 can Corn
1 cup diced cooked Ham (buy a ham steak in the deli section)
2 - 14.5oz cans Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper, or to taste
5 Tablespoon Butter
5 Tablespoon Flour
2 cups Milk

1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, carrot, ham and chicken broth in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.

2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk so that lumps don't form and until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

So, this is my first year making treats for my neighbors and I decided to make them these truffles. They are so easy and they taste delicious. I made one batch with vanilla extract like the recipe calls for and then I made another with mint extract. You could always to strawberry or orange or whatever tickles your fancy. But you should make these because they are great.

Chocolate Truffles
Recipe Source:

8 oz Good Semisweet Chocolate
8 oz Good Bittersweet Chocolate
1 -14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
8 oz, weight Meltable Milk Chocolate
1. Heat dark chocolates and condensed milk in a double boiler over medium low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir—mixture will have a slight marshmallow texture. Stir in vanilla.

2. Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate for two hours.

3. Once chilled, roll in balls, then roll in melted milk chocolate coating. Sprinkle with sprinkles or drizzle with white chocolate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby Food Jar Christmas Tree

My mum has one of these in her house and my girls love to just stand and stare at it. So I decided that it would be something worth while to make. This is a really easy craft and it doesn't take any time at all.

You start by holding the ornament with needle nose pliers and putting a tiny drop of hot glue on it. Press it firmly against the front of the jar and let go with the pliers. When you have all of your ornaments in your jars you can stack them. Hot glue goes in between all of the jars. I placed mine against a wall so that they would all sit flush.

You could really put anything you want on the top. My mum has some mistletoe and berries on top of hers. I opted for a simple bow. The trick with the bow, to make it easier to sit nicely, is to just make 2 loops and then with a separate piece of material wrap it around the center.

I made a smaller one for the girls room.

The back isn't too hard either. You just use a nail and a hammer and make it so the lights will fit snugly. Something else to think about is that you don't want all of the same color clumped together so pay attention to where you are putting the lights on the front side.

Its really simple and its a really cute decoration.

Monday, December 20, 2010

White Chocolate Mousse Torte

I have been looking at this recipe for a while and the name 'torte' scared me. So I had been putting off making it, but it was our anniversary so I decided I should try and make something a little more special than just cookies. I could not believe how simple this turned out to be and it is so good.

White Chocolate Mousse Torte
Recipe Source:
Crust and Garnish:
Butter for preparing the pan
24 Oreo Cookies, roughly broken in thirds
6 oz Semisweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

10 oz White Chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Unflavored Gelatin

1. Coat the interior of a 10-inch springform pan with butter.

2. Place the bowl of an electric mixer and wire whip attachment or the beaters in the freezer to chill.

3. To make the crust, place the broken cookies in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until medium-size crumbs are formed. They won’t be uniform but don’t process long enough to make mush- just to grind the cookies into uneven crumbs. Leave the crumbs in the food processor. 

4. Place the semisweet chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Pour the 1/2 cup heavy cream into a small saucepan; set over medium heat and bring the cream to a very gentle simmer. Pour it over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add two-thirds of the cookie crumbs; reserve the remaining crumbs. Stir the crumbs to coat them with the chocolate. Spoon and scrape the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press the chocolate-coated crumbs evenly over the bottom all the way to the edge of the pan, but not up the sides. Set aside.

5. To prepare the filling, place the white chocolate and 2/3 cup of the heavy cream in a metal bowl placed over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally as the chocolate melts. When the mixture is smooth, remove it from over the water and set aside to cool.

6. In a chilled bowl using the chilled beaters, whip the remaining 1 1/3 cups of heavy cream and the vanilla until soft peaks form.

7. Pour 3 tablespoons of water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. When the gelatin has softened, place the saucepan over very low heat and stir the mixture just until the gelatin has dissolved and liquefied. Immediately scrape the gelatin mixture into the white chocolate mixture, and fold gently until well combined. Fold the white chocolate-gelatin mixture into the whipped cream until the mixture is uniform. Scrape the filling into the prepared crust.

8. Refrigerate the torte until the gelatin has set, at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, loosen the edges of the torte from the sides of the pan with a small knife. Remove the sides of the pan and run a wide metal spatula between the bottom of the torte and the pan, then lift the torte onto a flat serving plate. Just before serving, sprinkle the torte with the reserved cookie crumbs.

*This torte can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Tree

I love decorating the christmas tree so I thought it would be appropriate for me to show it to you. The bottom foot of it isn't decorated because I was tired of my 10 month old eating all of the sparkly balls.

I got all of the sparkly balls on clearance at K-Mart last year.  There are plain silver balls on it to help balance out the amount of sparkle.

The snowflakes, purchased at Target, add a bit of change from all of the circles everywhere.

I also added the ribbon(WalMart) and string of beads(K-Mart) because I thought it was too plain. Keeping with the theme though, the ribbon is sparkly.

Very simple but cute. I'm sure the older my kids get the ornaments they make will also end up on the tree, and that is something I am looking forward too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Cheescake

I love the Olive Garden and I go there for one reason, the chocolate mousse cake that they serve. It is so delicious. This is just as good, and that is saying something. I am going to save a lot of money by making this myself. It has an Oreo cookie crust, a layer of cheesecake, a layer of chocolate mousse, and finally a  layer of chocolate ganache to top it all off. I don't even have words to tell you how good this is. But it is worth every calorie that's it in.


Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Recipe Source:

NOTE: To make things easier, make the cheesecake and crust on one day and the mousse and ganache on the next day. Cheesecake lasts longer than mousse. Keep this cake refrigerated and will last up to 2-3 days but is best eaten the day it's made.
Oreo Cookie Crust
30-32 Oreo Cookies 
4 Tbsp Butter, melted

Crush cookies in a food processor or in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin or mallet. In a bowl or food processor, pour melted butter on top of the crushed cookies and mix or pulse well. Place the oreo mixture at the bottom of a springform pan. Smooth out the mixture with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass. Wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil. Place the crust in the freezer while you make the cheesecake.
2 - 8 oz boxes Cream Cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup Granulated Sugar 
1/4 teaspoon Salt 
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract 
2 large Eggs, at room temperature 
2/3 cup Heavy Cream

1. Put a kettle or pot of water on to boil. 

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Working in a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft for about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and stir in the heavy cream.

4. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan, and pour in a few cups of the hot water in the pan around the springform pan (I do half before putting the cheesecake mixture, to reduce my chances of getting water in the cheesecake and to get everything ready.) Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter should fill only half of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the rest of the boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat, and prop the oven door open. Allow the cheesecake to sit in its water bath for another hour.
5. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight. Make the mousse once the cheesecake has cooled.

Chocolate Mousse
6 oz Semisweet Baking Chocolate, chopped  
3 Tablespoons Butter, softened 
3 Eggs, separated 
1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar 
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Sugar 
1/2 cup Heavy Cream, cold 
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

1. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl, and place over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). Melt the chocolate and butter together and stir with a whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate, 1 by 1, beating with a whisk until incorporated. Set aside. 

2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. 

3. Beat heavy cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until it begins to foam and thicken up. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. 

4. Gradually and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, delicately fold in the whipped cream. Take care not over work the mousse but make sure you blend in the cream well. Place the mousse on top of the cooled cheesecake while still in the springform pan.

5. Cover the cheesecake with foil, being careful to not let the foil touch the mousse. If making the ganache immediately, place mousse-covered cheesecake in the freezer as you make the ganache (the cheesecake should NOT be in the freezer for more than 30 minutes). If making the ganache later, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for a few hours. Either way, the ganache must be cool before you can pour it on top of the mousse cheesecake.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup Heavy Cream 
4.5 oz Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Heat it up just BEFORE it boils. Place the chocolate in the cream, and remove from heat. 

2. Stir the mixture until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the ganache to cool for about 15 minutes before pouring the mixture on top of the mousse cheesecake.

I know it seems like a lot of work, but especially if you do it in 2 days, its really easy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Calendar

This is the project I have been working on for the past 3 weeks. It was a lot of work. It honestly would've taken me until next Christmas if my hubby wouldn't have been so helpful.

My hubby, the great guy that he is, did most of the work for the ornaments. I got a pattern and it had to be traced onto freezer paper and then you cut out the freezer paper and iron it onto the material. Finally cutting out the material and then the sewing of the ornaments began.

I love the tabs. I accidentally bought two different sizes of buttons and so the inside 2 are smaller than the outside 2 and you can hardly notice.

Cutting out the numbers was pretty tricky, so I used my little needlepoint scissors to cut more accurately. I also cut my binding material on the bias so it would give the edge a little candy cane look. I love it!

I am so excited about how it turned out and the girls just love to stare at it.

I purchased the pattern and material all at American Quilting. The color scheme and the material they had with the pattern was very drabby so I came up with my own idea and changed the material. I also changed the numbers because I didn't like the font they had in the pattern, I used felt instead of wool, and when my hubby was cutting the ornaments he didn't like some of them so he made up some of his own.  But the basic pattern is the same and really easy to follow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

S'more Pie

I am starting to become a fan of the s'more. It seems like there really isn't anything more simple than the campfire treat. But in the winter when you have a hard time coming by a campfire, this is a great alternative. It is really rich and delicious.

S'more Pie
Recipe Source:

5 Tablespoons Butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups Graham Crackers
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Chocolate Cream Filling
7 oz fine-quality Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 large Egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes

Marshmallow Topping
1 teaspoon Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 cup Cold Water
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
Vegetable Oil for greasing

Graham Cracker Crust:
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie plate.

2. Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
Chocolate Cream Filling:
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined, pour into graham cracker crumb crust.

2. Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.

Marshmallow Topping:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.

2. Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.

3. Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.

Brown topping:
1. Preheat broiler.

2. Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I am officially in love with caramel frosting. The chocolate cake, in my opinion, is the perfect accent to the frosting. It is a very easy dessert and worth the little effort it takes. I promise!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies 
Recipe Source:

For the Cookies:
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter, softened
1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1 cup Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.

2. Put butter, shortening, and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour mixture.

3. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies spring back when lightly touched, 11 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 10 minutes. 

4. Transfer cookies to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.

For the Frosting:
1/4 cup Caramel Sauce, cooled
3/4 cup Butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

In a bowl, beat together caramel and butter until smooth; gradually beat in confectioners sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on flat sides of half the cookies and top with remaining cookies.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Caramel Sauce

One day I went to a small bakery and tasted something that I was surprised I loved so much. That thing was caramel frosting. It was on a chocolate cupcake. It was so sweet and creamy I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I have found a recipe for that caramel frosting but it is to go with a recipe that I am going to share later. The base of the caramel frosting comes from this very simple caramel sauce recipe. This is good all on its own, well, not just eating it with a spoon, but on some ice cream it is divine.

Caramel Sauce
Recipe Source:

1 cup Sugar
6 Tablespoons cold Butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over medium-high until melted and brown at edges, 3 minutes. With a heat-resistant spatula, pull melted sugar toward center until all sugar is melted and caramel is deep amber in color, 3 minutes more.

2. Immediately whisk in butter, coarse salt, and pure vanilla extract (take care as mixture is extremely hot and will bubble).

3. Whisk in heavy cream.

Pour into a heatproof container(I used a glass bowl) and let cool. To store, refrigerate, up to 3 weeks.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Have you ever had a cookie that just melts in your mouth and makes the world a better place. These are that cookie. I love snickerdoodles because they are always soft and I love me a soft cookie.

Recipe Source:

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Beat until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla. Finally add in flour until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. In a small mixing bowl combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the sugar-cinnamon mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool. Makes about 36 cookies.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Pie

I love chocolate, thats the reason I picked this pie. I always imagine a chocolate pie to be really sweet. This wasn't, it was rich and creamy and the sweetness of the whipped cream made it perfect.

Chocolate Pudding Pie
Recipe Source:

For Pastry Dough:
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 cup unsalted Butter, very cold
1 cup Water

For Filling:
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/3 cup Sugar
3 Tbsps Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3 cups Whole Milk
4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (not more than 60% cacao), finely chopped
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup chilled Heavy Cream
4 Tbsp Powdered Sugar

pie weights or dried beans
Bittersweet Chocolate shavings

Make dough:
1. Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. 

2. In a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp of sugar and a tsp of salt. Dice one cup of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Get out your pastry blender.

3. Make your mix: Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas stop. Yes, even if it looks uneven.

4. Glue it together: Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 4 Tbsps of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

5. Pack it up: Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap.  Let the dough chill in the fridge for two hours before rolling it out.

6. Do ahead: Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Make pie shell:
1. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Prick bottom and side of shell all over with a fork, then chill shell 30 minutes.

2. While shell chills, preheat oven to 375°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.

3. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake on baking sheet until pastry is set and edge is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil, then bake shell on baking sheet until pale golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool shell.

Make filling:
1. Whisk together cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-qt heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 2 minutes (mixture will thicken). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.

2. Pour filling into cooled shell and chill, its surface covered with wax paper (if you want to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least 2 hours.

3. Just before serving, beat cream with remaining 4 Tbsp powdered sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie.

**Pie (without whipped cream) can be chilled up to 1 day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Carmel Apple Pie

Thanksgiving is over, let the madness of Christmas begin. But before I start making yummy winter foods, I have some pie recipes that I made for Thanksgiving that I am going to share this week. These pies would also be a great addition to a Christmas party. Today's is a super yummy apple pie, the best part is the caramel, it adds a little extra sweetness.

Caramel Apple Pie
Recipe Source:

1 whole Pie Crust
7 Cups peeled & sliced Granny Smith Apples
½ whole Lemon, juiced
½ cup Sugar
4 Tbsp Flour
¼ tsp Salt
½ cup Flour
12 Tbsp Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Quick Oats
¼ tsp Salt
½ jar Caramel Topping

1. In a bowl mix peeled apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside. 

2. Crumb Topping - Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, then add in brown sugar, oats, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

2. Add apples to prepared pie shell and top with crumb topping. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil and bake on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from crust and place back into the oven for another 30 minutes.

3. Remove the pie from the oven and pour ½ jar of caramel topping over the top. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I decided I was going to make something for Brent to take to work for the people he works with seen as how today was the last day before the Thanksgiving break. I was planning on taking them down around 4 when he called me and told me that he would be getting off at 4 because they were shutting the university down. WHAT? I didn't know universities shut down, AND I have 3 dozen Whoopie Pies! I was definitely more concerned about the cookies than why the school was shutting down. But apparently there is a huge snow storm coming and we have to get all of our candles and flashlights ready in case the power goes out. All I could think was what am I going to do with all of the cookies! So if you are reading this, I have them and they are yours if you want.

**update, as of 10pm there was no storm. It was cold, but no storm, and I still have given away no cookies.

These are definitely the softest cookies I have ever had. They are really simple to make and don't take a lot of time. Oh, and they are delish!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Recipe Source:

for the Cookies

3 cups all-purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 cups firmly packed Brown Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
3 cups Pumpkin Puree, chilled
2 large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

for the Cream-Cheese Filling
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, softened
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 tsp Vanilla Extract   

Make the cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Make the filling: 
Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopie pies: 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

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