Monday, March 17, 2014

Lucky Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies



Happy St. Patrick's Day!  My mind was on green clovers all weekend long, so I am obviously wearing a pretty green dress today.  No getting pinched here.

I have been trying to get my hands on General Mill's Special Edition of Lucky Charms with only green clovers since last year. They only come out once a year!  And I completely struck out last year so upon fearing the same fate this year, I sent a message to Lucky Charms directly to ask what store I could find them in.  And they answered me!  But even cooler yet, they mailed me a box of Lucky Charms goodies.  Yay swag!  Bet you can't wait to see me in my Lucky Charms shirt.




I set to work on Saturday morning, sorting out the bright green clover marshmallows.

And eating cereal too... there was some of that.



And then I stuck them in some chocolate cookies. And then took them on a hike on Sunday.  8 miles means all the cookies you can eat, right?



Lucky Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30, bake at 350* for 8-10 minutes

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cups cocoa powder
3/4  tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup green clover marshmallows
1/3 cup green clover marshmallows reserved

Directions:
1. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until light and fluffy.
2. Add in eggs, one by one and scrape down the side of the bowl if necessary. Add vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour,  cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  (Whisk together by hand to fully combine ingredients.)
4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture 1/2 cup at a time, with the mixer on low.  Stop mixer when fully incorporated.
5. Fold in white chocolate chips.
6. Hold in 1/2 cup green clovers.
7. Chill dough for at least 60 minutes in refrigerator.
8. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop out dough onto cookie tray lined with parchment paper.  
9. Add additional 2-4 green clovers on top of the dough before baking.
10. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes at 350*.  Cookies are done when tops are thoroughly baked, and no longer sticky when touched.
11. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

These have been taste tested to be delicious.  By me.  You are welcome. They are super chocolatey, dense in flavor but really light in texture.  It's almost like biting into a brownie cookie!



One of the most amazing things about these cookies are the clover marshmallows.  In the cereal, like the regular Lucky Charms marshmallows, they are hard.  Once baked however, they puff up and turn into soft marshmallows!  So cute and yummy.




Enjoy the rest of your St. Patrick's Day!  Hopefully no one went too hard on the green beer this weekend and their morning is fairing well.  I went on that St. Patrick's Day hike on Sunday (green shamrock on the top of Mission peak!) and went way too hard on my knees so I'm not fairing terribly well.  But it's only Monday, and with any luck this gorgeous California weather we have been having will allow me to continue spending March wearing shorts, exploring the outdoors and eating half a pint of ice cream on my weekends.

xoxo,
Anna

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Raspberry Macarons with Lemon Buttercream Filling



The thought of making french macarons always seemed much too daunting to attempt on my own.  So I put it off.  For years.  Finally, earlier this month I signed up for a (Valentine's Day) macaron making class at Sur La Table. Did you know that they do cooking classes?  Cuz they do.  Best decision ever!

I went with my friend Katie and we learned the basics and got some tips and a solid recipe.  Really, it was worth the cost just to watch someone make them in front of you.  It's all about the process!


We made classic round ones, but also a few heart shaped ones.  You guys know I can't resist cutesty stuff like that.  It was a blast.

But we made them with a proper instructor looking over our shoulder, and as a team with a roomful of other people.  I had to make sure that I had REALLY learned to make anything, so two weeks later I headed to my own kitchen all by myself with some Trader Joe's freeze dried raspberries and my hot pink food processor in hand.

I had a few mishaps, I had to throw away some expensive almond meal because I might have processed it into paste... haha.  But because of the tips I learned in class, I at the very least knew to start over instead of proceeding to make sub par macarons.  That would have been the worst.

I ended up tweaking the butter cream recipe a little but and made raspberry macarons with a lemon buttercream filling.

Oh and right before I put them in the oven,, I threw some rainbow sprinkles on them.



You know, because I'm Anna and I put sprinkles on everythang.



I'm not writing out directions today.  But I will include the recipes.  Macarons are so very temperamental and I don't feel like I have the correct vocabulary to explain things with enough precision for you to replicate them. But if you're looking for a solid recipe, well here you go.  OR take the Sur La Table class because it was awesome.


Raspeberry Macarons
7 oz confectioners sugar
4 oz almond meal
2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries, processed in food processor after measuring
4 oz egg whites at room temp
pinch cream of tartar
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pink gel food coloring


Lemon Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) non salted butter
pinch of salt
3.5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest



Just look at the pretty pictures of  these bright pink macarons until you want to reach through the screen, grab a handful of sprinkle cookies and shove them in your mouth.  Feel free to wash them down with some tea or coffee from my cute tea cup, too.



I wish the Sur La Table classes were cheaper.  Actually no, I wish they at least had frequent flyer cards or something because I want to go to like 5 of them.  Anyone want to come with me?  =)

Also, are you guys happy not to see a mason jar in this post?  I know I have been over using them lately.  I even drink my protein shakes out of them, haha.   Rest assured, you will see them again though.  And more sprinkles.  ALWAYS with the sprinkles.   Maybe my mason jars filled with sprinkles?


xoxo,
Anna

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Eat Like a Bird: Trail Mix Cookies



Welcome to my obligatory January post about eating "healthy". This is ironic since this is, of course, a baking blog.  It also comes so late in the month that I think most people are over the always needed Christmas detox mentality.  But i'll sprinkle some of that in here to make us feel better ourselves.

These cookies are all about eating like a bird.  You can take that to mean many things. They are trail mix cookies -- which means it's a bunch of random things that birdies (or you) may like.  Sunflower seeds.  Almonds.  Oats.  Raisins. Chocolate chips.  Pretzels.  Birds would eat all that, right?   Or you can take it to mean, eat like a bird -- very little.  A few pieces of each ingredient are all that are in each of these cookies.  But how do birds actually eat?  All day long.  A mammoth amount compared to their body size.  Much like the frequency and quantity of baked goods that I consume in a day.   So really, the meaning is probably found in that last option.  Eat all the cookies.  All day long.  


The raisins and the chocolate chips make these cookies sweet, the pretzels and the sunflower makes them a little salty.  Part cookie, part trail mix bar really.   Part good for you?

Trail Mix Cookies
Makes 28, bake at 350* for 9 minutes.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup pretzels

Directions:
1. In a mixing bowl whisk flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
4. Add flour to sugar mixture slowly and beat on medium until it forms a dough. 
5. Fold in oats, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds and chocolate chips into dough.
6. Using a medium sized cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place onto baking sheet.  
7.  Break pretzels into small pieces and place on top of balls. (If you mix them in when you fold in the rest of the ingredients they will break.)
8.  Bake in preheated oven for around 9 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cook on rack. 


Truth be told, I had to make these bad boys twice.  The first time was a fail. The next two weeks I would frown to myself whenever I thought about them.  The second time I excitedly Instagrammed them with the #cookieredemption hashtag.   


If you use a small or a medium sized cookie scoop, they will fit into the mouth of a mason jar.  You can screw on the lid and give them away.  Cookies make the perfect present after all. 


If they are too big to fit, force them in anyways.  Make it work, 'cuz everything is cuter in a mason jar with a ribbon tied around it.  


Also since it's fake spring in California  (no rain in months, sunshine and 70* in January), these bright blue birdies make me feel extra happy.  It's like a jar of sunshine.  

xoxo,
Anna

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reindeer (Cupcakes) in a Jar


Sometimes I feel like I am a caricature of myself.  I don't even think i'm a real person.  I am that ridiculous. Or awesome.

I decided this Holiday season that what my life was missing was cute holiday antlers.  I spent a whole week running into drug stores and trying on reindeer antlers I could parade around in comfortably and with little to no shame.  It was hard to find a happy medium between too plain and too much Christmas cheer on my head.   But I found some!  Luckily I had a White Elephant party to attend so I didn't have to wear them just around in my room, in my matching reindeer pajamas.  The antlers, along with said reindeer pajamas, were what inspired these cupcakes in the jar first place. Might as well go all out, right?


The cupcakes are gingerbread latte flavored.  Like the Starbucks Holiday drink I binge on every year.  Yes I know, more gingerbread.  Molasses all over the kitchen for the second weekend in a row!  You could use any flavor you'd  like but why not make something seasonal to impress your friends?



Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes
Makes 22, Bake for 15 minutes at 350*

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2/3 unsulphured molasses
2 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup (hot) strongly brewed coffee

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugars, oil and molasses together, and add in eggs one by one.
3. Add in the flour mixture and the coffee in alternating additions to the sugar mixture.  Beat until fully incorporated.
5. Scoop batter into lined cupcakes and bake.  
6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack until completely cool.  

Latte Frosting
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons VERY strongly brewed coffee

Directions:
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2.  Add 2 tablespoons coffee (or as much as you can before butter and cream cheese starts getting soft).
3. Slowly add in  3 cups powdered sugar by the 1/2 cup full.  
4. Add in remaining coffee.  Add in remaining sugar.


Reindeer Antlers
1 cup melted dark chocolate
1 bag pretzels
Assorted Sprinkles

Directions:
1. Break your pretzels with your hand or a knife until you get the antler "shape" you would like.
2. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals.
3. Dip pretzel pieces in chocolate, cover completely and place on wax paper.
4. Before the chocolate dries, use sprinkles to decorate.  The sprinkles will adhere on their own if the chocolate is still wet. Make sure the antlers are dry before using.

Jar Assembly

Click here for instructions I used when I made my bunny jars last spring.  Easy peasy, promise.


Admittedly, the antlers were a little tedious to make but only because it is HARD to cut pretzel pieces into the right shape.

The last layer of frosting should be thick so that the chocolate antlers will stay in place.  You can also try making a small hole in the top cake layer with a knife and sticking the end of the antler there to keep it firmly in place.


Once I got to the sprinkle part I was having too much fun.  The possibilities are endless! Mostly I stuck with pretty snowflakes, some holly...


But I couldn't help myself.  Pink heart sprinkles exist for a reason.  I'm sure there are girl reindeer out there, right?



No?  Just me?  Just Anna the girl reindeer being ridiculous?  Yes, I did wear these all night long.  In every single picture.


Happy Holidays everyone!  Shop online, stay out of the mall, go to lots of boozey parties! Enjoy the next two weeks.  I know I will.  It's also my birthday this weekend and in case you are wondering there is no way that I will be baking ANYTHING.  Someone better bring me a cake.

xo,
Anna

P.S.  You can also stick some (stolen) Starbucks straws in these Gingerbread latte cupcakes if you're feeling lazy.  Still looks fancy pants!