Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

HolidayCookies6

I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Eclairs (Pâte à Choux)

Eclairs

Hurray for the 100th post of SimplyDelicious! For this post, I chose a dessert that can be served at any occasion or celebration. Pierre Herme’s eclairs are something else. After seeing so many pins of them on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version of sophisticated and modern eclairs. The key I found was to use a different type of topping on each eclair so that the finished picture has a lot of variety and complexity to it. You can use whatever you have handy. I had a few blueberries and strawberries so I used those. I also had some green tea chocolate chips I had made and stored so I chopped a few and added those along with some chopped walnuts and chocolate for a complete colorful look overall. The first time I made these I was so surprised at how easy it was! Do not let the long recipe fool you, I just put detailed directions so that the first try is a success. The same eclair recipe can also be used for making cream puffs and filling them with whipped cream. The dough is one of the most versatile as other options include making gnocchi, churros, funnel cakes, or profiteroles.

Eclairs

Eclairs

Full Printable Recipe Here

Pate a Choux

Ratio: 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, and 2 parts egg

Preheat: 425 Fº

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces water (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Directions

  1. Add the butter, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir quickly until the flour absorbs the water and begins to gel turning into a paste. The dough formed will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. The dough has to be warm but not too hot.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. It is better to transfer it to a standing mixer and use an electric beater, but they can also be mixed in using a wooden spoon.
  5. The dough will incorporate with the eggs and turn into a paste once the eggs are fully in.
  6. Using a large round tip, pipe out the eclairs, about 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. To test if they are done, remove one from the oven and wait for a few minutes. If it collapses, it still needs more time.
  8. Set aside to cool and prepare the pastry cream.

Adapted from Ratio (book)

Eclairs

Pastry Cream (will need half of this cream for the eclairs recipe)

Makes: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 7.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 ounces egg yolks (10 yolks)
  • 2.5 ounces cornstarch (½ cup)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (½ stick)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and 3 ounces (.40 cups) of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks.
  3. Add ¼ of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the pan and whisk rapidly until it starts to boil. Keep on whisking it for 2 minutes as it starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the pastry cream to a clean mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the butter until it is just melted taking care not to over mix.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream so a skin does not form and place the bowl into an ice bath.

Eclairs

Chocolate Glaze 

Makes: 13 oz

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounces light corn syrup (4 tsp)

Directions

  1. Melt all the ingredients using the double boiler (bain-marie method).
  2. Remove from heat and stir the glaze until it is slightly thickened.
  3. Use instantly, before it starts to dry.

Assembly

Take the cooled eclair shells and pipe in the pastry cream from one end using a piping bag fitted with a circle tip. Make sure the cream fills the whole shell. In a single, smooth stroke, drag the top of the eclair through the warm chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the eclairs and serve within 8-12 hours.

Eclairs

Be creative in your mix of toppings for the eclairs!

Eclairs

Simple eclairs in their purest form.

Eclairs

Finished product with the right pop of color!

 

 

What is the most unique twist on eclairs that you have made/tasted?

(could be flavor, filling, toppings, etc.)

Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon

Ever wanted to make a great looking dessert without putting in too much effort? If so (which I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at least once) then simply look to Puff Pastry sheets! I first tried this recipe from the back of a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box and have loved it ever since. This and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe are the best two recipes that I have tried from boxes. I’ve made a few adaptations to make it easier to make and to add some variation to the original recipe. It’s nice to know that the longest time you’ll spend making this is probably waiting for the Puff Pastry to thaw and not kneading dough haha. Not to mention, it’s also the perfect recipe to make when having guests over for dinner or even for last minute Valentine’s Day desserts.

Strawberry Napoleon

Printable Recipe

Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ of 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of strawberries
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: mint leaves

Directions

Preheat: 400 F°

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Each pastry box comes with 2 sheets inside. Unfold your thawed pastry sheet and cut it into three long strips along the folded marks. Cut each long strip into 4 pieces.
  3. Brush the puff pastries with 1 egg white and place into the oven. They will take about 10-12 minutes, or until a golden brown color.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Split each puff pastry into 2 halves and set aside.
  6. Set aside 8 puff pastry tops and place 8 pastry bottoms on plates.
  7. Whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Start layering the puff pastry by spreading some of the whipped cream on the bottom layer. Cover with a few strawberries, almonds, and then another puff pastry. Repeat step 8 for two filled layers.
  9. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals while stirring in between.
  10. Drizzle melted chocolate across the pastries and sprinkle sliced almonds & powdered sugar over them. Top it off with mint leaves and enjoy!

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Box

Strawberry Napoleon

Tips:

*For the remaining egg yolk you can make some chocolate mousse which requires 1 egg yolk. To store it, place the egg yolk in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of water. Do not keep it for longer than 2 days.

*Using parchment paper makes cleaning your baking sheets easier, not to mention, eliminating the risk of your pastry sticking to your baking sheet. You can also use cooking spray if parchment paper is not available, but keep an eye on your pastries to make sure that they do not brown too quickly.

*For serving more people, you can make double the servings by using the whole Puff Pastry package and doubling the amount of filling. For larger Napoleons, you can choose to cut the long strips into 3 instead of 4 pieces or you can make it longwise and not cut it into squares at all.

*Other filling variations: any pudding, add chocolate to the whipped cream, mix in pudding with the whipped cream, add various fruits such as raspberries or blackberries, etc.

*You can use a large pastry star tip for piping the whipped cream. Other options include using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or spooning it onto the pastry sheets.

 

Napoleon Pictures Along the Way

Strawberry Napoleon

This is ½ of a Puff Pastry box and you can see the folded lines where I cut horizontally. I choose to cut each strip into 4 pieces, but you can also cut it into 3 pieces or leave it longwise.

Strawberry Napoleon

The golden brown puff pastries ready to be split in half and filled. I have more puff pastry sheets here because I prepared the whole package (doubled the recipe). For one half, I cut the pastry strips into 4 and for the other half I cut them into 3 pieces. You can notice the size difference in the picture above. If you want larger Napoleons, I would go ahead and cut each strip into 3 rectangles. Rather than 8 servings, you will get 6.

Strawberry Napoleon

Here, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to snack on your strawberries for the Napoleon…

Strawberry Napoleon

Time to dig in!

 

What are your favorite desserts using Puff Pastry?

 

 

 

Samoa Cookies aka Caramel Delites

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: those famous Girl Scout ‘Caramel Delite’ cookies that most people scramble for whenever the Girl Scouts start selling cookies & then crave once the season is over. Why wait for one of these cookies when you can learn how to make them for whenever you please?

These have been on my Ultimate Food Bucket List for a long time and I’m very happy that I finally got to attempt them. Although the total time spent making these was around 3 hours, it was well worth it and I am planning to make them again soon. I have no doubt that you will love them as much as I did!

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Adapted from JustaTaste 

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 60 cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 15 ounces store bought soft caramel (or homemade)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (can also substitute milk or semi-sweet)

Directions     

For the Cookies:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a bowl with a mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed butter. Mix between each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough starts to form larger pieces.
  5. Divide the dough in half, pressing it together to compact it into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
  6. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Cut out as many cookies as you can using two different sized cookie cutters (or a doughnut shaped cookie cutter OR any circular shaped top).
  8. Place the cut-out cookies on a Silpat or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the cookies are a light-golden color. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool.

For the Coconut Topping:

  1. Spread out the shredded coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 F oven until toasted, stirring frequently to ensure even browning and so they do not burn.
  3. Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set aside.
  4. Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a double boiler by placing them into a heat safe bowl or saucepan set over a larger saucepan of simmering water.
  5. Stir until the caramels are completely melted and remove from the heat.
  6. Mix in ¾ of the caramel with the toasted coconut in a bowl.
  7. Carefully spread the remaining ¼ cup of caramel on top of the cooled cookies. Press on some of the coconut mixture and let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes. (If the caramel cookie mixture cools or hardens, just put it back on top of the double boiler and warm it until it is spreadable)
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
  9. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place onto parchment or waxed paper.
  10. Use a piping bag to drizzle the tops of the cookies with chocolate. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

Tips:

-If you do not have a piping bag to pipe the chocolate, you can also use a ziploc bag and snip off a tiny piece of the corner

-When toasting the sweetened coconut in the oven, be sure to stir them frequently as they burn easily and quickly!

Samoa Cookies: Step by Step

samoa cookies

Cutting out the cookies using two different sized circle cookie cutters

samoa cookies

Cookies waiting to be covered in caramel!

samoa cookies

Caramel, milk, & sugar about to go onto the stove using the double boiler method (place pot over a larger pot of simmering water and also make sure that it does not touch the water)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: Before (still delicious at this stage, be careful of who you allow to taste test haha)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: After (definitely do not leave these out of your eyesight!)

samoa cookies

One Word: Yum!!!

 

Have you ever attempted to make any of the other Girl Scout cookies? Have you ever made samoa in a different baking style than cookies (such as cakes, ice-cream, etc)?

Strawberry Shortcake for the New Year

New years cake

I’m about 5 days late but hey, that doesn’t change it being a new year packed with new resolutions, new blog posts, and new everything! I thought it would be perfect to start off the year with a clock themed cake & I tried to make it semi-healthy, hence the strawberries. A New Year sounds great to most as it is a physical reminder for a fresh start and a good chance for one to tackle their dreams and goals. It’s interesting, because only about 8% of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. Make sure you are one of those 8%. Who ever said you can’t be? It’s important to have attainable goals that you can slowly work towards so that you do follow through with results.

For the cake above, I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Full recipe can be found here on Pittsburgh Eats Needed blog.

Recipe Tip:

  • To get the strawberries straight along the sides, use a 9 inch springform pan and line parchment paper around the inner circle. Once you release the springform pan and remove the parchment paper, the strawberries will remain in place.
  • Use cake flour as indicated in the recipe for a fluffier, and lighter cake. If you prefer it more dense, then use all-purpose flour although it may turn out drier than expected and you can try moistening it by spraying the cake with a 1 part sugar 2 parts water mix that has been boiled and cooled.

2015 will see a lot more of my Ultimate Food Bucket List being completed and more restaurant reviews as I explore the food scene. Keep posted for more exciting posts and news every week!

New years cake

Any recipes or cooking techniques you would like me to cover for 2015? Feel free to share :)

 

NY Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake almost didn’t happen. The night I had planned to make it for a lunch we were holding the next day, I conveniently forgot where the springform pan’s base was. I sat for a while on Pinterest trying to get inspirations for another dessert to make, but nothing was appealing to me. Once I had the idea to make this cheesecake, I just couldn’t forget it and that was the problem. I tried again, opening every cabinet and looking between pans that the springform base could be hidden in. Just when I was about to call it a night, my mom yelled over to me and there it was in her hand. Apparently it was in our outside refrigerator; an area that I never thought to check. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that is really worth making because the end product never fails to satisfy. Check below to enjoy your own home-made version as well!

new york cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham wafers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 of the 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the wafers in a food processor and blend until they are small crumbs
  2. Pour the crumbs in a bowl and add the 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter
  3. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the pan
  4. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling
  5. Put the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated (1 minute)
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix so that you do not have any lumps of cream cheese remaining
  8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute or until well mixed
  9. Before you pour the filling into your crust, cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil (so no water gets in)
  10. Pour the filling into the aluminum wrapped springform pan
  11. Put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water (so the water is halfway up the pan)
  12. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes
  13. Reduce to 250 F and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until only the center is a little wobbly when you shake the pan
  14. Cool and refrigerate overnight and decorate/serve the following day

Tips

  • For the design, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and dipped strawberries in it. For some strawberries, I covered them with chopped almonds and for the others, I dipped them in a ready made strawberry glaze.
  • If you do not have graham wafers (as I did not), be creative and improvise with ANYTHING that you have. I used waffle cones that we had and just put those in the food processor. I have also used animal crackers in the past so anything will work.
  • Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it cracking because then the outer edge will not bake faster than the center (the hottest the water bath can get is 100 C).
  • Short 1 minute video for how to assemble a water bath here

Recipe modified from ZoomYummy

new york cheesecake

new york cheesecake

 

For more ideas check out some of my past cheesecakes below:

reeses cheesecake

 

pecan cheesecake

 

cheesecake

 

 

First Daring Baker’s Challenge- Sachertorte

Success! I’ve joined the Daring Baker’s community and completed this month’s challenge: Sachertorte- a classic Austrian dessert.

This October’s Daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Korena from Korena in the Kitchen. Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake filled with an apricot glaze,  topped with chocolate ganache, and served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. The history behind the making of the Sachertorte is pretty interesting. It originates back to 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chefs were ill at the time and so his apprentice, Franz Sacher, concocted this fancy dessert that is now famous internationally. His son, Eduard, later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where the cake is made with its closely guarded recipe. The cake is so well known that it can be ordered online and shipped worldwide too.

Sachertorte

Sachertorte

 Printable Recipe Here (with step by step pictures too)

Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 ½ oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% Lindt Smooth Dark)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Lindt Chocolate

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by spraying it with cooking spray and dusting it with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fill a saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put it on top of the saucepan (make sure that the bowl is not touching the water). Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium until light and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the egg whites and one tablespoon of granulated sugar and beat on high until foamy. Gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and continue beating until you form soft, shiny peaks.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and whip vigorously into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Be sure to be gentle so that the egg whites are not deflated.
  8. In another bowl, combine together the flour and salt and mix until combined. Sift half of it over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift the remaining flour over the chocolate and fold until combined.
  9. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome as it bakes, but will flatten as it cools.
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Remove the bottom pan and parchment paper. Turn the cake right-side up and allow to cool completely.

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)

Ingredients
1¼ cup (14 oz) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Cake Assembly

Directions

  1. Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.
  3. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top.
  4. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
1 cup  granulated sugar
½ cup water
4 0z good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. It might thicken up quite a bit. If it does, return it to low heat and add a few drops of water if necessary to thin it out to a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny.
  4. Off the heat, stir the glaze for 30-60 seconds to cool it slightly. Immediately pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge (allowing the glaze to spill down the sides) and then in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter. Note: Any excess glaze can be stored in a container in the fridge and added to a mug of hot milk to make hot chocolate.

Writing Chocolate

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (1.8 oz) chopped good quality chocolate
  • ½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny.
  2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. It might pay to do a practice run on waxed paper before writing on the cake.
  3. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word ‘Sacher’ in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.

Final Assembly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

Directions

  1. Let the cake come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Whip the cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters). If desired, sweeten it with icing sugar to taste.
  2. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Tips:

*Store up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature

*Highly recommended to check out the great series of videos found on Epicurious of a pastry chef making this Sachertorte recipe from start to finish, with some very useful tips on technique

Sachertorte

Stay posted for more recipes and next months Daring Baker’s Challenge!

 

Boston Creme Donuts

bostoncremedonuts

Looking for a dessert that won’t turn your whole kitchen upside down? How about one that transforms a seemingly simple can of Pillsbury Grands into a delectable dessert that is indeed grand? If you have an appreciation for this golden halo of fried pastry, then you will love when you learn just how easy it is to satisfy your donut desires.

Within 30 minutes, you can have a plate in front of yourself with a chocolate ganache glazed donut filled with a french vanilla creme. And the best thing about it, you don’t have to leave your house to enjoy warm, fluffy homemade donuts! Perfect for a light morning breakfast with coffee or even as a midnight snack for those late cravings, you definitely do not want to miss out on these delights.

Boston Creme Donuts

Makes: 8 donuts

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

For the donuts

  • 1 package Pillsbury Grand biscuits (contains 8 biscuits)
  • Canola oil

For the filling

  • 1 box JELL-O instant french vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 1 cup whole milk  (can use fat free for a healthier alternative)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the ganache

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Filling

  1. Whisk together the pudding mix with the milk for about 2 minutes and then set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, beat on high the heavy cream with powdered sugar for about 3 minutes until soft peaks form
  3. Fold in the pudding mix and refrigerate until ready to use

Donuts

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet (should be about an inch high)
  2. Separate biscuits and fry each side for 2-3 minutes
  3. Set on a plate covered with a few paper towels to dry and cool

Ganache

  1. Add heavy cream, milk, butter, vanilla, and corn syrup in a medium pot
  2. Over medium heat, wait until the butter is melted
  3. Change to low heat and add in the semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips
  4. Whisk until smooth and remove quickly from heat to avoid overheating the chocolate
  5. Whisk the powdered sugar in until you have a smooth ganache and set aside
  6. Add a few drops of milk if the ganache seems too thick to coat the donuts when you are ready

Assembly

  1. Spoon the filling into a large pastry bag (or ziploc bag) with any tip
  2. Press the tip into the side of the donut and squeeze until the donut appears full
  3. Dip the donuts in the ganache or use a spoon to spread the ganache over it

Recipe Adapted from ShugarySweets

Tips:

-For variations you can also use a chocolate pudding, if you prefer a chocolate filling

-Add toppings such as shredded coconut, slivered almonds, sprinkles, or more

-Use fat-free milk for a healthier alternative

ingredbc

Ingredients for the French Vanilla Creme Filling

bc2

Making the French Vanilla Pudding Mix

step2bostoncreme

Adding in the heavy cream and powdered sugar whipped mixture to the French Vanilla pudding

bostoncremee

How the consistency should look for your French Vanilla Creme Filling once mixed

frieddonuts

Golden brown fried Pillsbury Grands biscuits

bostoncreme

Your final dish: Boston Creme Donuts

 

What is the most interesting donut that you have ever made or tasted?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake

reeses cheesecake

Have you ever liked Reese’s so much that you needed it in more than just your cereal or average candy bar? Don’t get me wrong, nothing can beat the original Reese’s peanut butter cups. You know something is good though when you leave a pack of it out on the countertop and return to find that it has disappeared. So if you are planning on buying the Reese’s and making it the same day, you may be fine. Those who are planning for later in the week, mmmm… You may want to store the Reese’s somewhere safe and hidden. Any who, I always love a good occasion to celebrate. Events = a chance to test out a Pinterest recipe or make some dessert that I’ve been craving. A few days before I made this cheesecake, I actually had made a Strawberry Glazed NY Style Cheesecake for some relatives who were visiting from out of town. I didn’t make the Reese’s flavored cheesecake for them, because it is a hit or miss flavor. People usually either hate or love peanut butter, so I decided not to take the chance. A few days passed and my brother took his LSAT, so I was like- hey, why not make some cheesecake- everyone loves it. It was a success. And you can only guess what I made when some friends came over for dinner a week later… Yes. Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. In reality, I’d rather wait a few weeks before making another cheesecake again just so that it becomes that much more exciting to see a slice of cheesecake (rather than ugh, not again). And that, my friends, was the end of my mini cheesecake baking marathon.

Reese’s Cheesecake

Printable Recipe

Brownie Crust

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 whole peanut butter cups

Directions

Preheat: 350 °F

  1. Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract
  3. Add eggs to the mixture and then stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt
  4. Pour and spread the brownie mix in the springform pan
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes
  6. Chop the peanut butter cups into pieces and place on top of the brownie crust
  7. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake filling

Cheesecake Mix

Preheat: 325 °F

Ingredients

  • 32 ounces of cream cheese (4 of the 8 ounce packages), room temperature
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, while beating on low
  3. Mix in the sugar, peanut butter, cream, and vanilla extract until well incorporated
  4. Before you pour the cheesecake mix into the prepared pan, wrap the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil so that water cannot get into it
  5. Fill a large glass or disposable baking dish (that will fit your springform pan) with about an inch of water
  6. Place your springform pan in the baking dish into the oven
  7. Bake at 325 °F for about 1 hr and 30 minutes
  8. Cool to room temperature before placing into the refrigerator and chill overnight for best results (3-4 hours will do though if you are in a rush)

If you are looking for other cheesecake recipes, check out my Original NY Style Cheesecake or even my Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake.

Recipe adapted from Hugs and Cookies Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake blog post here

reeses cheesecake

What is the most unique flavor of cheesecake you have tasted?

 

 

Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake

pecan cheesecake

Cheesecake. A delightful and creamy dessert, that has the ability to turn your day into the perfect one. Although, many are horrified at the task of making one, it is actually pretty simple. The wait can be quite painful though, as you have to leave it in the fridge overnight. Patience is definitely one of the top lessons learned after baking one of these. There’s just something special though about making mini versions of anything, especially cheesecake. They are best shared by two after a meal or can be eaten alone for a filling dessert. Pecan flavored desserts are a classic so I ventured to make a mini cheesecake in this flavor and it was a success!

Printable Recipe here

Chocolate Cookie Crust

Length of Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 18 Oreos, without the creme filling
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted (1/2 stick)

Directions

  1. Crush the chocolate cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs
  2. Add the crumbs to a small bowl along with the melted butter
  3. Mix well and press the crumb mixture in your spring form pan evenly
  4. Refrigerate the crumb lined springform pan while you make the cheesecake mixture

Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake Filling

Length of Time: 20 min preparing, 1 hr 35 min in oven, 1 hr cooling, & overnight in fridge

Ingredients

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese until smooth
  2. Stir in the brown sugar, corn starch, and corn syrup
  3. Add the eggs, one egg a time, mixing well after each addition
  4. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract
  5. Lastly, mix in the melted chocolate and chopped pecans
  6. Pour the filling into the chocolate crust
  7. Fill a large baking dish with an inch of water
  8. Cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil so water can’t enter and place in the water bath
  9. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees
  10. Reduce the heat to 250 and bake for an hour and 20 minutes (or until the center is almost set but jiggles slightly when you shake it)
  11. Wait for it to cool and refrigerate overnight before serving

Toppings

Sprinkle chopped pecans and drizzle melted chocolate over the finished cheesecake

Tips

  • For the crust, any type of cookie will do. Sometimes when I run out of Oreos, I will make half of the crumbs from graham cookies or even animal crackers!
  • If you are not a fan of chocolate, simply do not mix in the melted chocolate chips
  • You can make a marbled version of this cheesecake (pictured below is one that I made- I split the cheesecake filling in half and flavored half with chocolate and left half of it vanilla flavored, and then I filled the mini springform pan with both mixes)
  • For other combinations, you can try making a Nutella flavored cheesecake but subbing Nutella for the melted chocolate chips
  • You can order the mini springform pans from Amazon or get them from a local store like Target

pecan cheesecake

pecan cheesecake

What’s your favorite kind of cheesecake? What are some unique variations that you have tried?

Feel free to share any tips you have learned along the way while making cheesecake :)

Pharmacy Themed Fondant Cake

Pharmacy Cake

So I have a photo album waiting for me full of fondant cakes, multi-colored panna cotta, green tea swirl cookies, and even a red velvet cake that I made with beets… That’s not all. There are more pictures than I can keep up with posts haha. So definitely stay posted to witness these beautiful recipes and try them out yourself too! Also make sure that you LIKE the facebook page here so you don’t miss a single post :)

I’m going to try to keep this post short and simple. Up above is a pharmacy fondant cake that I made last year for a close family friend’s mom who got her Ph.D. in Pharmacy. This cake is one of my favorites from the fondant cakes that I have made so far. The best part of making it, other than sampling it, was getting to use the edible food markers! While I was making it, my little sister wanted to help out, so I let her make the cupcakes. We had an edible pink mist spray that she used to color the fondant for those.

For cakes like this, I feel like a general description of how I made it will be much more beneficial than my actual writing out each and every step. This pharmacy cake is a four layered cake; the flavor that you choose for the cake is all up to you. I used the traditional Wilton buttercream recipe and I could have done a better job of sealing the cake, because it did not turn out as smooth as I would have liked. I added orange and yellow food coloring to the buttercream to color it around the typical pharmacy bottle look. As for the fondant pieces, it is basically as you see it. I measured the cake and cut the fondant with scissors for the circle. For the edging, I used a toothpick to make the grooves for the cap. Lastly, for the label, it was a square that I cut out and just wrote on with the edible food markers. It would be helpful, if you are recreating the Walgreens logo, to have an actual medicine bottle out. That way, you can get every curve and swirl of the letters correctly. If not, you can also print out a large copy of the Walgreens logo to have a better template. Feel free to comment below if you have any additional questions and I will try my best to help :)

 

 

Batman Fondant Cake, Chocolate Trifles, & Tropical Punch

Batman Cake

Finally MCAT and finals free!!! This was the first thing I baked after depriving myself of baking while studying. My sister’s birthday was originally the week before my test. I know, what perfect timing… I told her, if she wanted me to make a cake that she’d have to move her party to the week after. This time, I made her cake the day before her party (best decision ever btw). Last year I decided to make her cake the day of and was still decorating it till even after guests started to arrive, which was pretty stressful. You can check out her last year’s Chinese Takeout Box Cake here.

If you look closely at the picture, you can actually see the Batman sign that I wedged in the cake, burning haha. Someone yelled out that it was on fire after I had lit all the candles. Without thinking, I blew them all out, pulled out what little was left of it, and had to relight all the candles.

Choc Cake Trifles

Other than the cake, I also decided to make these small chocolate trifles. I found these plastic disposable cups from Dollar Store. Definitely made for an easy clean up, which is always a great goal to have for any type of party!

Batman IceCubes

Of course, I had to top it all off with these Batman ice cubes for the punch. I guess I was so excited about these, that I forgot to even take a picture of the punch!!

**Check below for recipes for the Batman Fondant Cake, Chocolate Trifle Cups, & the Tropical Punch**

Batman Fondant Cake

-For a quick overview, the cake was made from four layers that I stacked.

-The two that I used for the base were vanilla. For the top two layers I used a Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Cake recipe found here

Vanilla Sour Cream Cake

Makes: two 8 or 9 inch cakes

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Whisk the egg whites, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl
  2. Combine together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and lightly mix
  3. While the mixer is on a low speed, add in the butter (chunk by chunk) until the mixture is crumbly
  4. Now add your milk and egg mix to the crumbly mixture and mix for a minute
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated
  6. Add the sour cream next and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds
  7. Spread the mix in a cake pan (use springform pan for ease of removing the cake)
  8. Bake the cake for 23-30 minutes or until well done

Tips:

-If you want the cake to come out cleanly, line the pan with parchment paper and use a springform pan as well

-Instead of black fondant, you can color the white fondant with black gel food coloring & you can also buy edible black paper for the buildings and Batman signals

-The yellow parts on the cake are white fondant colored with yellow gel food coloring

-The toppings for the cake are wire cake toppers from Hobby Lobby & I printed out Batman signs that I cut out to paste onto them, because I had run out of the of the edible black paper

Mini Chocolate Trifles

Makes: 25 cups

Ingredients

  • Leftover cake pieces, about 1/2 cake
  • 3 boxes of instant chocolate pudding
  • 10 Oreos, crushed
  • 1 can of whip cream

Directions

  1. Make the pudding according to the instructions on the box
  2. Cut the cake into small pieces, size does not have to be exact
  3. Fill each cup with a few small pieces of cake
  4. Top with a few spoonfuls of pudding
  5. Add whip cream on the pudding with a handful of crushed Oreos
  6. Serve and enjoy

Tropical Punch

Makes: Two large punch bowls (50- 4 ounce servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 46 fluid ounce can pineapple juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 2 two-liter bottles of lemon-lime carbonated soda

Directions

  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil for 2-3 minutes
  2. Stir in the pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice
  3. Divide the mixture into three large ziploc storage bags and place in freezer
  4. When ready to use, mix the lemon-lime carbonated soda with the juice mixture

 

Batman Cake

Batman Cake

 

 

3 Rice Krispies Recipes in 1: Nutella, Peanut Butter, & Pumpkin Spice

Chocolate Loaded Rice Krispies

Chocolate Loaded Rice Krispies

The best recipes are always those that are impromptu! This one was created with a few friends that I had invited over. There was nothing planned in particular, as we are usually a spontaneous type of group and any type of baking episode that we create is always a memorable one; one where we usually double or triple the actual amount of baking time. No worries though, the time spent is invariably amusing and full of whimsical moments & shenanigans to look back at and laugh upon haha. As a big fan of simple recipes that are effortless, after eyeing the new bag of Rice Krispies on top of the fridge, I knew that we must attempt the unfailingly, delicious task of making Rice Krispy treats. I checked the recipe online and turns out that I had all the ingredients we needed (always a happy sight!). We ended up not following the exact recipe and added our own creativity to this delightful bite, which I highly recommend you do as well with your favorite chocolates or whatever you might have waiting to be used in your pantry. Some of the added goods included mini Reeses bites, mini chocolate M&Ms, peanut butter, & a satiny Nutella glaze to finish it off.

HomeMade Peanut Butter & Chocolate Rice Krispies

Printable Version Here

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 10 ounce marshmallow creme/bag of marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: various candies/chocolates/pretzels

Directions

  1. Spray a medium 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray
  2. Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  3. Stir in the marshmallow creme until incorporated and remove from heat
  4. Mix in the peanut butter and vanilla extract
  5. Move to a larger bowl if the saucepan is not big enough and add the 5 cups of Rice Krispies cereal
  6. Gently mix all the cereal with the marshmallow mixture and add any of your optional chocolates
  7. Press the Rice Krispies mix into the prepared dish and refrigerate until set (about 30-60 minutes)

Different Flavors to Try:

*Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispies: add 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice

*Nutella Rice Krispies: add a 1/2 cup of Nutella to your mixture

Few Tips:

*This is an easily adaptable recipe to what you like, for example if you do not prefer peanut butter then take that out or if you like extra m&ms in your rice krispies then add a whole cup of them

*For a chocolate icing simply melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, add 1/2 cup of Nutella to it, & drizzle all over

Pumpkin Spice & Nutella Rice Krispies

Pumpkin Spice & Nutella Rice Krispies

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Cake Balls

Hershey's Chocolate Cakeballs

Hershey’s Chocolate Cakeballs

So…. This was my last night’s baking episode. I haven’t made cakeballs in a while, because I have been experimenting with a few variety of other recipes. Anways, my mom recently achieved a new designation at her work, which gave me an opportunity to make these deelish cakeballs for her to bring to her workplace. What better way to express my congratulations than with food haha? So, with my mind already made up, I baked into the wee hours of the morning. Seriously till like 3 am!

When making this, baking the cake and making the balls is probably the easiest part. The time-consuming part is the dipping and decorating, depending on how extensive you want the decor/colors to be. There is a lot of waiting in between because you want to freeze the cakeballs for an hour before you dip them so that they do not fall apart.

Check out a few links from my previous blog posts below:

*Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe

*Recipe for how to make the cakeballs 

*Different ideas for decorating cakeballs

 

 

 

 

EPIC, EASY, & EFFORTLESS DESSERTS

I don’t even know how long it’s been but here’s for a food packed post to have made that wait worthwhile. I have all these pictures accumulating and just waiting for their moment to shine in a post. Most of my baking is done for occasions like a friend’s birthday or if I am going to a dinner party. Oh and can’t forget my cravings either haha. You know, especially when you see an epic mouthwatering dessert that you just must taste. At what better than recreating it to your liking? Or even when you go to a restaurant and have one of their specialities & think of how nice it would be to be able to make it at home for a midnight snack or what not. Not only that, when you bake you know EXACTLY what it going in your food. It for sure puts all those worries about mystery ingredients to rest.

Looking for something quick to make or just ideas in general? Check out these three easy to make assorted desserts! IMG_2250 Twizzler Chocolate Sandwiches

-Bake your favorite flavor of cake & let it cool (Hershey’s cake recipe here)

-Cut it into 3 x 3 inch squares & cut those in half to make a sandwich

-Fill the inside with buttercream, recipe found here

-Using a piping bag, top the cake with icing & place your candies accordingly IMG_2806

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes topped with Glazed Strawberries

-Bake your favorite cake in the mini bundt cake pans (found mine at World Market)

-Make a chocolate ganache to cover it, a combo of about 9 oz of chopped chocolate with 1 cup of heavy cream

-Top it off with a strawberry dipped in a fruit glaze (bought the glaze already made in the grocery store fruits section) IMG_2044 Chocolate Drizzled Pecan Pie with Raspberries

-My ALLTIME favorite pie recipe because you simply mix all the ingredients together and throw them in a pie shell (product is too epic and leaves your taste buds feeling out of this world!)

-You can find the recipe for the pecan pie in a previous blog post of mine here

-Melt some baking chocolate and drizzle it over the pie (i put the melted chocolate in a ziploc bag with the corner cut to make it easier) & for some color add fruits on top

What’s your favorite go-to recipe?