Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making a move...

I've been thinking this one over for a while. My sweet sista-in-law Annie started this blog as a way for us sistas to share what we've been baking. We bake more than we post, that's for sure. Life is just busy. I still plan on making occasional appearances here at Sweet Sista, but I'd like to invite you to my very own, fresh out of the oven, baking blog:

In the coming weeks I'll be moving some of the content from this blog over to Double Batch so you'll see a few duplicates. But, you'll definitely be seeing some new creations as well. Stop by as often as you'd like, bookmark the blog or add it to your Reader. You're always welcome!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Hello Fall,

I baked a little something in honor of your arrival this week. I've been waiting for you and your entourage of colorful leaves, abundant harvests and decor...and, most of all, your recipes. But it's getting a little crowded around here, because your dear friend, Summer has not packed up and left yet. Frankly I think she's overstaying her welcome. 100 degrees and Fall just don't go together. She's had her turn, and if you'd politely ask her to hit the road I'd appreciate it. You are a season of comfort and breaking a sweat as soon as I walk outside just isn't comfort to me.

But, I'll tell you what is: spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Apples, pears and pumpkin. Curling up on the coach with a blanket, a mug full of steaming cider and sweatshirts. That's comfort. So anyway, I'm glad you're here, even if it's a little crowded with Summer still vying for some attention. Stay tuned Fall, I have some great posts coming in your honor.

Grateful you've arrived,

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
This recipe makes 3 large loaves or a bunch of small ones. I love that because it means more deliveries to friends or just more for the freezer to be saved for later! But, if the quantity is more than you'd like, just half the recipe and use one of the small, 15 oz. cans of pumpkin instead of a large one. It's that easy!

1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 large can of pumpkin (I love you Libby's)
3 teaspoons vanilla

5 cups flour
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
4 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

12 oz. (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more, of course!)

Heat oven to 350. Grease 3 large loaf pans or approximately 8 small pans. Whisk or sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves together.
Mix together oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla. Stir in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide batter evenly among greased pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes for large loaves, 40-45 for small loaves.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

there's a cookie IN my cookie!

Yum. That's what these are. Just yum. I was a bit doubtful that mixing Oreos into a cookie could result in something to rave and blog about. I just didn't know how those precious Oreos, so good on their own, would hold up in the oven. Uh, they did great.

This is a really good recipe and it's got me thinking of a few variations already. I wonder how the Halloween Oreos would do. Would the whole cookie dough turn orange? I'm also thinking about a Nutter Butter variety with peanut butter chips. Maybe ANY cookie would do. If anybody is brave enough to try it with those darn cute Circus Animal cookies (and maybe some white chocolate chips?) I'd love to hear about the result. Warning, you'll have to chop those little creatures to bits though. :-) So many possibilities!

Oreo Cookie Cookies
adapted from Nosh and Tell

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
18 oreos, crushed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. (Or don't...I didn't and there wasn't cookie that got stuck!)

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Add in the crushed oreos. Beat on low speed for just a few seconds to break up the oreos in the dough. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

Drop cookie dough a rounded tbsp at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

that's a BIG cookie!

LinkO.k. so it's not a cookie. It's a blondie. And, it must be a 'keeper' because I've made it twice in the past two weeks when treats were needed. I like the simplicity of this one. Sometimes I don't have time or just don't feel like dropping cookie dough onto pans. It's got basic ingredients that I typically have in the pantry, and you can substitute ingredients in or out like crazy if you want to. Have some M&M's on hand? Sprinkle them on top for some color. Change it up and add dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks instead of the chocolatey version you see here. See...LOTS of possibilities! Even if you're not too much of a coconut fan (which I don't understand...maybe we can't be friends then) just give it a try. It adds a little something 'extra' that I think you'll like.

Chewy Chunky Blondies

(from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips or toffee bits *
1 cup chopped pecans **
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated to add the next, then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring only until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chips, nuts and coconut by hand.
Spread batter into prepared pan, using a lightly greased spatula to even it out.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with only a few crumbs.
Cool blondies in the pan. I actually put these in the refrigerator for a while so that when I pulled them out with the foil they were SUPER easy to cut.

* I'm not a big fan of butterscotch chips and I didn't have any toffee ones on hand so I chopped up a king sized Hershey's bar for a little milk chocolate addition. Use whatever you have. Peanut butter chips would probably be yummy too!

** No pecans on hand so I used toasted walnuts instead.

Friday, August 28, 2009

THESE are a keeper!

I try a lot of recipes (no surprise there, right?), but I don't repeat a lot of them. For one, there's just too many new ones to try, and often I like the finished product, but I'm content to leave it in the past and search for the next great thing. It happens with dinner and dessert recipes alike. Thank goodness for an in house taste tester (i.e. that very easy-to-please husband of mine) who doesn't mind trying new things for dinner on a very regular basis.
When I find a recipe that is just too good to eat once, well, than it's a keeper. It becomes part of what's in the back of my mind when it comes to making dinner or a sweet treat.
Well, my friends, I share with you here my most recent keeper. These peanut butter cookies have a great texture and they're doubly peanut buttery with the peanut butter and peanut butter chips. You could even make it a triple by using crunchy peanut butter. That's my plan for the next time I make them.
These are just a little bit crisp on the outside, and almost cakey on the inside. I'm a pretty tough, discriminating judge of new cookie recipes. It's not just about taste. The texture and appearance have to win me over too.
Just one thing: plan on a purpose for these little wonders. Save yourself a few (or freeze for later!) but I can guarantee that you'll just keep going back for one more (or two, or three...) if they're around.
Oh, and that taste tester I was telling you about...the same one who doesn't get excited at ALL when peanut butter and chocolate come together to make a treat...well, he loved them. They're that good.

Rolled in sugar and baked to perfection!

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth or chunky, it's up to you!)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern (I used the back of a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Garlic (or Not) Knots

I say 'or Not' because I was bringing these to a fabulous dinner my mom made, and, while I'll never understand it, she's not a huge fan of garlic. So for her, no garlic. For the rest of us -- plenty. That's one of the great pieces of kitchen creativity. You can make adjustments to fit what works for you.
I have done rolls before using a number of recipes and 'styles' : Parker House, as croissants, and rounds, but never in knots. And I have to say that, along with Annie's awesome rolls, these are another favorite and definitely will be made again. I was so glad that there were plenty so I could throw the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out later for an occasional sandwich or to go with dinner.
One thing's for sure -- these will 'knot' disappoint!
Garlic Knots
adapted from

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12-14 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a four to six-inch rope and form into a knot, tucking the loose ends into the center of the knot. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth (or greased saran wrap), and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

For the garlic butter:

4-6 garlic cloves finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix butter and garlic together in a small bowl and let sit while making the rolls. Rewarm butter if needed or just keep on stove top after melting.

Immediately after the rolls come out of the oven brush the butter/garlic mixture (or just butter if you're baking for my mom) over the rolls. These are best eaten warm!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Have S'more!

I just got back from seven days in paradise. No, not Hawaii, this heavenly little place called Sea Ranch. Pure heaven I tell you. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I packed up my KitchenAid and took it with me. More on that on the family page at some point, but for now a new recipe.
Did you know today is National S'mores Day? I for one think a declaration such as this is pretty silly, but I'm also willing to participate and commemorate a day set aside to honor one of my favorite foods -- the beloved s'more. If something like National Jicama Day comes along, don't expect me to be celebrating. I happen to think it's a totally pointless food.
Anyway, back to s'mores. It's interesting how so many products out there have a s'more take to them: cereals, granola, protein and candy bars, some of them even claiming to be healthy. Come on, we all know when we eat a s'more, our pants aren't getting any looser.
One of the most recent s'more products I've seen is s'more ice cream and even ice cream topping. Oh, and there are even s'more cocktails.
I used to get suckered into trying a lot of these products, but it always ended in disappointment. Can you really replicate the goodness of a s'more in another product? I think not. So maybe I'm going against my own beliefs with this latest recipe, but I did find a way to incorporate the components of a s'more into a fudgy brownie. I'm more realistic these days too, I guess. I didn't expect to pull them out of the oven and have brownies that tasted just like s'mores. I was just hoping they'd have the flavors and hints of this sweet camping treat. And you know what? I think it worked. Not a s'more in the shape of a brownie, but instead a brownie that takes on the flavors of a s'more while still holding it's own as a fudgy square of deliciousness.
All of the ingredients are there...chocolate, marshmallows, and even crushed up graham cracker to be folded into the batter!

So if you've got some extra marshmallows laying around, or just want to try a new brownie recipe, this might be a good one for you. It got great reviews when I made it, including a reaction from a friend who said, "I don't even like brownies and I LOVE these!" You be the judge!
Happy s'more-ing!
Before roasting...

Sure a campfire is ideal, but in this case, the oven took care of the roasting perfectly!

S'mores Brownies
adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1991
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup graham cracker, roughly crushed with your hands
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 big marshmallows (I also diced 6 additional marshmallows and stirred them into the batter. These marshmallows dissolve when baked, so you can leave them out, or throw them in. Up to you!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9×13-inch baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Stir butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl over a heavy saucepan of simmering water. Stir chocolate and butter in this double boiler until melted and smooth.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Stir in warm chocolate mixture, then dry ingredients. Fold in graham crackers and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Dot with 12 large marshmallows. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30- 40 minutes minutes.

Marshmallows will be browned and puffy but will deflate as the brownies cool. Cool for at least 20 minutes than slice with a sharp knife, cleaning the knife with hot water if it gets too messy and sticky. Serve or wrap individually in wax paper for storing.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mom's Picnic Brownies

This is one of my mom's classics. Growing up whenever we'd have a picnic, camping trip or day at the beach she made these brownies. The smell of opening up the tupperware container of brownies is definitely one of my favorites. Oh, and these are good if you need something for a crowd. You could make them in a 9 x 13 pan, but my mom has always done it in a 10 x 15 pan. You can serve quite a few friends that way, and I promise everyone will enjoy!

I think these are best described as a cake-like brownie with delicious chocolatey frosting. I love that such simple ingredients like butter, powdered sugar, cocoa and a little milk can make such a finger licking frosting treat. On my mom's original recipe, she doesn't give any measurements for the frosting, so I'm giving you approximate amounts. It all depends on how much frosting you want on your brownies. But if you have extra, might I make a suggestion? Have some graham crackers on hand and spread some frosting on them to make little sandwiches. You can even put them in the freezer (you can do that with the brownies too!) to have as a sweet snack some other time!

Picnic Brownies
courtesy of my mom

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cubes butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans (optional, of course -- but I say add them in!)

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 10 x 15 pan. Cream sugar, butter and shortening. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla. Mix in flour cocoa and salt. Fold in the nuts.
Pour into greased pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

16 oz. (1 box) powdered sugar
1/2 cube butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Mix together the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Add in cocoa powder and start with 2-3 tablespoons of milk. Add in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until frosting has reached desired consistency. You can also add in a little more cocoa if you want your frosting to be more chocolately. Mix all ingredients completely. (One thing my mom taught me is the longer you beat the frosting the lighter and more whipped it will be. I usually let it mix in the Kitchenaid for about 5 minutes.) Once the frosting is finished, spread onto cooled brownies.
Don't discard the extra frosting! Get out those graham crackers and make some dessert sandwiches!