Monday, May 31, 2010

Grammy's Chocolate Cookies

Happy Memorial Day!

I don't know if you can tell, but I'm on a cookie kick lately.  I've been wanting to try out some new recipes.  Today was no different.  We've been home from the beach since yesterday afternoon with no real plans for the day so I thought I'd try a recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookie Cookbook...Grammy's Chocolate Cookies.  These are delicious and simple to make.  The dough requires refrigeration for an hour, so don't make them if you are in a rush.  I thought I'd share the recipe with you, since I really thought they were delicious.  This recipe is a great "go-to" recipe since most bakers having all of the ingredients already in their pantry...


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sanding sugar, for rollings

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine.  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture; beat to combine.  Form dough into a flattened disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about an hour.
3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls (I used a 1 inch cookie scoop).  Roll each ball in sanding sugar.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper  (I used silpats), about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes (I baked 9-10 since my cookies were smaller). 

These cookies are chewy and sweet.  As much as I'd like to eat a ton of them, they are so rich that one or two hit the spot.

I put them in my cookie jar, which I hope to use more often.  My dream is to be that mom who always has fresh baked cookies in her cookie jar.  Someday...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Day/Jack's birthday!

A weekend at the beach...

I've been lucky enough to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who allowed me to freeload off of them for many summers when I was younger.  They have a beautiful beach house on Long Beach Island, and I spent many teenage summers working, sun bathing, and swimming in the ocean.  Now, as an adult, they are still as generous and invited us to spend Memorial Day weekend with them.  I offered to bring desserts, and they asked that I make some cupcakes to celebrate their grandson's (our godson's) third birthday, which is Tuesday.  I decided to attempt to combine the celebrations and made red, white and blue star cupcakes.  I made a chocolate fudge cake recipe and Martha Stewart's Dark Chocolate icing.  The icing is certainly rich and smooth but a little difficult to work with since its a little runny.  I think the butter may have been too soft, and I didn't allow the chocolate to cool enough before combining it into the icing.  I'm hoping it will set up a little better as the day goes on, but we'll see. 

 I used a basic fondant recipe for the stars and numbers and some left over star sprinkles.

I found the cupcake liners at HomeGoods a few months ago.  Aren't they adorable?  This particular brand (which I am failing to remember the name of and have already thrown out the wrapper) is quickly becoming my favorite cupcake liners.  They are thick enough that you don't need to use cupcake tins, and the colors stay bright and visible, even after baking. 

I hope Jackie likes them!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

An American Classic...

Who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie?  Simple.  Delicious.  Enough said.  I, like most people, was using the recipe off of the back of the Nestle Tollhouse bag of chocolate chips.  Although they made for decent cookies, I was getting frustrated by the inconsistency of the batter.  Sometimes they were soft and chewy, but most of the time, they were crisp and spread out too much on the cookie sheet.  I decided to go for a new recipe.  Martha Stewart's Chewy Chocolate Chip  cookie recipe.  I compared the two recipes, and Martha's called for the same total amount of sugars, but decreased the white sugar and increased the brown sugar.  After some reseach, it completely makes sense.  Brown sugar contains molasses, which is what gives a cookie its chewy texture.  They turned out FANTASTIC.  Perfectly chewy and delicious.  Martha's recipe also calls for course salt, which I thought was strange at first, but after tasting the cookies, I realized that it reallly cuts the sweetness and adds a nice taste.  This will now become my "go-to" chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Christening Cupcakes

God Bless Everly Grace...
Remeber Miss Everly? Well, she was baptised today in a gorgeous heirloom gown that her mother, uncle, and grandfather all wore. Everly's grandmother called me a few weeks ago and asked if I could make cupcakes for the occasion. Well, she left a voicemail at home, which Matt on purpose accidentally deleted. After some research, I found her number and was able to call her back. She asked for some pretty chocolate cupcakes as the cake she was ordering was vanilla; however, she gave me free reign as to how to decorate them. Seeing as Miss Everly is so pretty, I knew they had to be pink! I used a chocolate fudge cake recipe and Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Butter Cream. I topped them with pink chocolate crosses and light pink sugar pearls. So sweet and dainty...just like Everly. The cake, in my opinion, was just ok, but the frosting was delicious! If I didn't know how many sticks of butter went into one batch, I'd probably eat it out of a bowl with a spoon!

I found the mold for the chocolates in the stack of ones my mother gave to me a few years ago. 

Here they are displayed next to the beautiful cake at Everly's Grandmother's house...

They seemed to be a hit as there were very few left at the end of the afternoon...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Brunch

Happy Mother's Day

Matt and decided to host a brunch for our mothers and brothers for Mother's Day.  Despite the brunch being easy to prepare and set up, it was delicious.  I honestly think I could have gone into a food coma.

Here is the table and the counter set for breakfast.  I don't have a dining room; therefore, sometimes, we need to make people sit at the counter. 

Here are the desserts.  I made Citrus Orange Pound Cake Cupcakes with Citrus Orange Buttercream Icing.  I'd like to say that I made the cookies, but I didn't.  I was going to make something similar to these, but after walking around Chestnut Hill with my mom, aunt, and cousin on Saturday, we stopped at The Night Kitchen Bakery.  They had these cookies there, and  I thought, well...that'll do.

Strawberry first attempt at scones. 

More pictures of the set up.  Here is the buffet of food and the main table.

Paula Deen's Praline French Toast Bake.  So easy and so unbelievably delicious.  The only problem with this was when the pan overflowed in the oven....smoke city.

Bacon Cheddar Quiche.  I wish I had more of this because it was the only thing we had run out of...
Oh, and the strawberry almond salad.  Very summery and yummy. 

Mom and my brother, Johnny, were the first to the buffet. 
Ben was a good sport, and sat at the counter...

We definitely had plenty of leftover cupcakes as most people were too full to partake.  (Well, except for Jimmy and I.  We took an eating break, then soldiered on).   Everyone, therefore, got to take some home in these cute boxes. 

My 30th Birthday.

No longer in my 20's...

I'm not going to write a ton because I'm sure my sister-in-law will write in detail about this cake on her blog, but I wanted to show you the AMAZING cake she made me for my birthday this year.  I wish I had a more adequate word, but amazing is the only thing coming to mind.  So delicious and rich, I loved it.  Oh, and she added pink...what more could a girl ask for?