Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend.

Stephen was out of town ALL weekend. Which... never happens.

I had no idea what to do with myself. Before this, we hadn't spent more than 12 hours apart in the past six years. I felt like I was on vacation in someone else's life.

Someone who thinks it's appropriate to eat a loaf of jalapeno cheddar foccacia bread for dinner. And watches six hours of Felicity on Netflix. And manages to defy the laws of physiology by gaining five pounds in four days.

NOT even kidding.

Needless to say, I'm glad that I'm leaving in an hour to pick him up from the airport. My waistline can't take much more of this. Not to mention that I've had to be the sole caregiver of our pigdog all weekend. Enough is enough!

Other than attending the midnight premier of The Hunger Games (did I mention eating a movie theater size box of Milk Duds?), the most exciting part of my weekend was making these:


S'more stuffed chocolate chip cookies!

If you want to make some of your own (um, of course you do!), all you need is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and some of these delicious things from Trader Joe's:


Dear whoever invented these,
I love you.
Sincerely, Allix

Scoop the cookie dough into 1/4 cup portions and split each portion in half. Press a S'mashing S'more into one half, top it with the other half, and roll the whole thing into a ball so that the entire s'more is covered. Like this:


Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie are set. Toward the end of the baking time, you may need to use a spatula to flatten the center of each cookie.

Serve warm, of course! Makes about 12 large cookies.

 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Bars with Irish Cream Buttercream


No big deal, but today I get to meet Joy the Baker!

(As Joy would say... totally a big deal!!)

Joy the Baker was one of the first food blogs I fell in love with. Not only because she blogs about pancakes and cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, but also because she's hilarious and classy and completely relatable. I always get super excited when I see that she has a new post... even if it turns out to be about kale or chickpeas or cauliflower.

Joy recently released her first cookbook, and today she's going to be signing copies of it at Cakespy shop as part of her book tour! I'm so beyond excited to meet her... even though I'll probably say something really awkward and forget my name or something.


I suppose I should also mention that I made these amazing sugar cookie bars for St. Patrick's Day! Aaand in my usual style, I neglected to post them before the actual holiday. Forgive me? 

Honestly, they're so simple you could definitely still make them today. But if you don't? Promise me you'll make them sometime soon. Irish cream is appropriate for lots of occasions other than St. Patrick's Day.

All occasions, for example.

Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Bars with Irish Cream Buttercream

For the bars:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 tablespoons Irish cream

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 13x18 inch pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about one minute at medium-high speed. Add the sugar, and continue creaming about one minute more. Add the eggs one at time, mixing well after each and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions, mixing at low speed just until combined.

4. Press the cookie dough into the prepared pan, using a greased sheet of parchment paper to spread the dough evenly toward the edges. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the dough to prevent air bubbles from forming. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the center is set and the edges have just begun to brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

5. To make the frosting, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for about one minute at medium-high speed. In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar and salt. Add the sugar to the butter in three additions, mixing at low speed until all of the sugar is incorporated. Add the milk, vanilla, and Irish cream to the butter and sugar, and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds more. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about two minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy.

6. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled bars and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut into bars.

Makes about 24 bars.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cosmic Brownies


Apparently it's Pi Day.

Which means that everyone is making pie. You know, because of the homophone thing. Clever, right?

But here's what I'm thinking:

March 14 = 3.14
3.14 = pi
pi = pie
cake > pie
brownies > cake
brownies + frosting > brownies
brownies + frosting + rainbow sprinkles > brownies + frosting.

Which means, obviously, that brownies + frosting + rainbow sprinkles > pie.

Any questions?

Cosmic Brownies
Adapted from Fake Ginger

For the brownies:

1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces milk chocolate chips
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, melted butter, and water. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir just until totally combined.

3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Cool completely on a wire rack.

4. To make the ganache: Combine both types of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until simmering, but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes, then stir with a spatula just until all the chocolate is melted.

5. Pour the ganache over the cooled brownies and spread it into an even layer. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Once the ganache has set up, use the foil to lift the brownies out of the pan and cut them into squares.

Makes about 20 brownies.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Buttercream


9 truths and 3 lies about The Nonpareil Baker:

1. I was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in my high school yearbook.

2. I've never colored my hair.

3. My middle name is Amanda.


4. When I was four years old, I was featured in the local newspaper by a photographer who was impressed when I walked up to the counter at Dairy Queen and ordered my own french fries.

5. My favorite cupcake flavor is chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream.

6. I can say the alphabet backward as quickly as I can say it forward.


7. I once tried to steal an extra toy from the reward box at the dentist's office because I couldn't decide which one I wanted.

8. I've never been skiing or snowboarding.

9. Stephen and I met while standing in line for a roller coaster.


10. My first name was inspired by one of the main characters from a popular 80's sitcom.

11. I was the editor-in-chief of my high school's newspaper.

12. These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are one of the best things I've ever eaten.


What am I lying about? Make your guesses in the comments!
(Hint: #12 is no lie.)

Bonus truth: During a recent bout of the stubbornness English bulldogs are known for, Charlie bit my finger. It's been swollen for three days... and yes, it's still hurting.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
with Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Buttercream
Adapted from Tidy Mom and Bake at 350

For the cupcakes:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

For the filling:

1 package ready-to-bake cookie dough, chilled

For the frosting:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
8 ounces powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1 & 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Make the cupcakes. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about 1 minute at medium speed. Add the brown sugar, and continue creaming until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla extract. With the mixer running at low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with the milk. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Press about one tablespoon of ready-to-bake cookie dough into the center of each filled muffin cup. The package of cookie dough I bought had 24 portions that were about a tablespoon each, so I just used one unbaked cookie per cupcake. If your package of cookie dough is portioned differently, just divide it up into tablespoons yourself. Make sure the cookie dough is cold before you use it, otherwise it will bake inside the cupcake.

5. Bake the cupcakes for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

6. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute at medium speed. Add the powdered sugar and salt, and mix at low speed until all of the sugar is incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla and mix for about 15 seconds more at low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Makes about 12 cupcakes.

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