Butter ‘Finger’ Cookies

Today’s post is another one for all the people who may be reading this and think that they can’t bake. I understand. I used to feel that way too. But believe me when I say that there are some recipes out there that are near impossible to mess up. I don’t just mean box mix recipes, either. Despite what you think, it IS possible to bake certain things from scratch, and not have to worry about blowing it because it’s just too simple.

I’ve made these cookies numerous times before when I needed a dessert to take somewhere to pass at a social function, and either didn’t have a lot of time or just didn’t feel like doing much work. Everybody loves butter cookies. These come together in minutes and bake in pretty much the same amount of time.

You probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients to make this in your house already. I think the best part is that you don’t have to worry about rolling them out and fooling with any cookie cutters. Just spoon all the dough in a bag (and yes, you *can* just use a ziploc bag and snip off the end) and pipe it out in tiny little sticks. They don’t have to be straight. In fact, I purposely piped mine into kind of oval-ish shapes so that when they baked, they would resemble little ‘fingers’.

I used vanilla emulsion, but this dough can be flavored in pretty much anyway you want. I think they’d be wonderful with lemon or orange. Once they’re done baking, you can dip them in chocolate and sprinkles to jazz them up. These are a perfect little snack to have alongside coffee, tea or cocoa. They transport very well and the freshness also lasts when stored in a sealed plastic container.

Get into these, y’all. They’re worth it.

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Butter 'Finger' Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla butter emulsion (like LorAnn Oils, but vanilla extract will work fine too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla emulsion.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or a gallon size Ziploc plastic bag fitted with a decorating tip (I used a Wilton 6B tip, but if you don’t have one, it’s not necessary, they just won’t be ridged) and pipe it into curved or straight sticks that you space about 2 inches apart on the sheet. Once finished, refrigerate the sheet pan for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little bit more sugar. Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #267, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl.

Halal Style Chicken and Rice

My older sister lived in NYC for two years while she was getting her Masters. I remember that while she was there she told me about the halal carts that she bought food from in the street. She raved about the Halal Chicken, and was so positive that I would rave about it too, if I were there to try it.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t made it out to New York to try street Halal Chicken. But today’s post, I think, is a decent substitute to tide me over until I do–because that day is coming. I’m sure of it.

When food in general is called ‘halal’, it refers to food that is processed or prepared in a certain way as to be permissible under Islamic dietary laws. Halal meat is supposed to be slaughtered and cleaned in a specific way. When you refer to Halal chicken in another context, such as street food, most people (especially in the US) are going to think of it as a chicken and rice dish with primarily Mediterranean flavors.

My take on Halal Chicken starts with a yogurt marinade. I learned a few years ago when I made Chicken Shawarma that marinading chicken in yogurt is an excellent way to keep it from drying out while cooking. I wouldn’t leave the chicken in it overnight though, as the marinade does have lemon juice. Sometimes if chicken sits too long in an acidic marinade, the acid in the lemon could begin to break down the proteins in the meat, and it will end up cooking mushy. A few hours is all this one needs.

I used my electric griddle to cook the chicken, but if it’s a bit warmer where you are and you’ve got one, I think that grilling it would give even better flavor. If you’ve got neither one of those, a cast iron or regular skillet will work fine as well. When the chicken seared on my griddle, I found that the residual yogurt created a blackened crust on the outside of it that is often associated with halal chicken. It smelled soooo good while it was cooking.

The rice and white sauce come together easily and quickly. The turmeric and cumin are a must to give the rice that warm, smoky taste. I also cook mine in chicken broth to give added flavor. I’m so proud that when my sister tried this, she announced that it tasted JUST like the halal chicken she used to buy on the streets of New York. High praise indeed. If you’re like me and have never been to NYC and still want to find out what the fuss is about the halal chicken, maybe you’d like to try this out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Halal Style Chicken and Rice

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole fat plain yogurt
  • 2 1/2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

For the Rice:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain Basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper

For White Sauce:

  • 1 cup of whole fat, plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Place the chicken breast in gallon size resealable plastic bags, or in one large container.

Combine the lemon juice, herbs, spices, garlic, olive oil and yogurt together in a blender. Taste and adjust for seasoning, then pour over the chicken breast.

Turn the sealed bags over a few times to make sure marinade throughly covers chicken. Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat in a skillet, or you can use a griddle, like I did.

Cook chicken until browned on its sides, about 4 minutes per side. If need be, you can finish it in the oven; place a wire rack over a foil lined sheet pan and bake chicken for about an additional 5-10 minutes. (The inner temp should read about 165 degrees Fahrenheit)

Keep chicken loosely covered with foil while you make the rice.

Melt the butter in the bottom of a medium size pot. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not quite browned, about 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir. Add the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the heat the high and allow to come to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

For the sauce: combine all of the ingredients together and taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with pita bread, lettuce and tomatoes and hummus.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #266, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Iced Orange Cream Scones

Watching Downton Abbey always makes me have this random and somewhat impractical wish to drop everything, go off the grid and open a tea room somewhere.

I didn’t use to like it at all, but I’ve gotten into drinking a lot more tea over the past few years. I’m partial to spicy ones, both for flavor and because they really help cure some of my digestive woes.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of running a tea room would be the menu planning. Tea rooms menus feature all kind of dainty and delicious looking treats. I have yet to tackle making cucumber or watercress sandwiches. I still haven’t checked off the Victoria Sandwich Cake from my Baking Bucket List (soon come though). There is one staple from the tea menu that I’ve made my share of: the almighty scone.

I’ve been trying to bring my scone making technique up to par with my biscuit making one, especially as the method for making them is so similar. I have a whole post dedicated to laying out the steps for what I consider to be the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I intend to do one for scones too, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a recipe I tested along the way to getting to Scone Nirvana.

It starts with one very crucial ingredient: heavy cream. Heavy cream not only helps with the crumb of the scone, the added fat in it helps with a higher rise. I also let the scone dough rest in the fridge overnight. It gave the gluten time to rest and firm up so that when I cut them out, the edges weren’t as easily compressed as they could be if they were still soft. They baked up so beautifully that I seriously considered leaving them plain, but I decided to go along with my original idea of trying out how they would hold up to a thin layer of icing. The answer, again, was beautifully.

If my whimsical tea room idea were a reality, this would without question be going onto the menu. Although they’re technically scones, the crumb is so delicate and fluffy that they honestly reminded me of a dense cake. The icing process does admittedly require some time and attention, but it’s worth it. They’re divine, with or without a cup of tea on the side.

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Iced Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons butter) frozen
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

For Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of water, enough to make a thin glaze
  • orange zest, for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla in a small bowl with a fork and set aside.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture. Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each. Cut the squares into triangles. (You can also leave some as squares if you want to keep them a little bigger; the sizes here are up to you).

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they’re cool, if you wish, you can cut each scone in half once again to make even tinier scones. Or, you can leave them as is.

For the icing: stir together the powdered sugar and enough of the water to make a glaze that is not so watery that it’s runny, but not too thick so that it won’t run down the sides of the scones.

Line another baking sheet with foil and a wire rack and set next to your bowl of icing.

Place a scone upside down into the bowl of icing. Gently lift it out, right side up and balance it on a spatula (the kind you’d use to flip pancakes) As the icing starts to run down the sides, use a fork to help spread it around evenly. Place the iced scone on the wire rack and sprinkle with orange zest.

Repeat process with the rest of the scones. Allow to sit for at least one hour, until the icing has hardened.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #265, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

 

Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Laissez le bon temps rouler, everyone.

That’s French for “Let the Good Times Roll.” It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot at this time of year, as it’s usually the time for Mardi Gras. I have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, I’ve never even been to Louisiana. I do really like Cajun food, though. For now I guess that’s as close as I’m going to get.

Gumbo, jambalya, beignets, and pecan pralines are just a few of the things that come to mind when it comes to Mardi Gras food, or Cajun food itself. There’s also a little dessert called King Cake that gets associated with both, and will be the focus of today’s post. It may be called a ‘Cake’, but I prefer to think of King Cake as a very enriched delicious sweet bread that’s filled with delicious sweet stuff.

The fillings can range from cinnamon sugar and pecans, cream cheese, marzipan, or fruit. The most common is cinnamon sugar with pecans. The top of the cake is drizzled with a thin glaze or icing, then showered in purple, green and yellow sprinkles–the common colors of Mardi Gras. Most King Cakes are filled with a small plastic baby to signify the Baby Jesus. The person who finds the ‘Baby King’ in their piece of cake is supposed to have a lucky year.

I made my first King Cake two years ago. I kept things simple, with a twist, and filled it with chocolate. I didn’t get around to making one last year, so I knew that going into this year I was going to be sure I didn’t make that mistake again. I did want to shake things up and make it a different way than I did before. I also wanted to do more than just a cinnamon sugar-pecan filling.

I have one complaint with a lot of the cinnamon sugar fillings in bread that both I’ve seen, and tried : the cinnamon sugar often ends up getting absorbed into the dough while baking, and by the time all is done, there’s not much of it left. I wanted this King Cake to be truly decadent and full of…filling by the time it was finished baking.

I found a recipe for a King Cake that does just that on LemonBaby.co. The filling in Amanda’s recipe is made from a mix of melted butter, cream cheese and brown sugar and toasted pecans. The dairy gets simmered together with the sugar until it forms a smooth sweet sticky spread, then the nuts get mixed in just before it all is slathered on the risen dough. Most King Cakes are shaped into rings, but for this one I choose to make a loose braid that I then wound into one big mass. Feel free to do whatever you like with this one in shaping.

Huge props to Amanda for this recipe. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The pecan praline filling doesn’t get absorbed by the dough at all during baking, and the cream cheese gives it a nice tang of flavor to counterbalance all the other sweetness that goes on in a King Cake. It would pair perfectly in the morning with a cup of coffee.

King Cake requires some time, but the effort is definitely more than worth it.

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Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Recipe Courtesy of LemonBaby

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk
  • Purple, green and yellow sanding sugar or sprinkles

 

Directions

Pour the warm milk into a glass measuring bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the one tablespoon of sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract and mix on medium until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually, in about three increments, mixing on medium speed just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

. (The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours–2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the cream cheese over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar with a wire whisk. When the mixture starts to bubble, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside to cool completely.

When dough is finished rising, turn out onto a clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles.

Roll the risen dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle on top of a piece of parchment paper. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. (This will probably get messy; it’s ok, just tuck in what you can of anything that falls out.)

Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cake to a large sheet pan (preferably one without sides). Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the one egg together with the tablespoon of water in a small bowl and brush egg wash all over the top of the cake with a pastry brush.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. (You may have to cover it with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.) Inner temp of the bread should be 200-205 Degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make icing, stir powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk at a time together in a bowl with a fork. Add enough of the milk until it reaches the consistency that you like. Use a fork to drizzle over the top of the King Cake. Sprinkle the purple, green and yellow sanding sugar on top in a pattern. Allow to sit for about one hour until the icing has dried.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #264, co-hosted this week by Angie and Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Red Velvet Cookies

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

I know I’m overdue for a new post and I didn’t want to let this holiday go by without finding an excuse to bake something red and/or Red Velvet Flavored. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me here on the blog and I like keeping up with tradition.

This year I’m keeping it’s nice and simple and bringing over a batch of cookies. Red Velvet flavored cookies.

Aren’t they pretty?

A couple weeks back I made a post where I sang the praises of moon cake molds as stamps/cutters for making the prettiest cookies you ever did see. I’ve done it before in several existing posts on the blog, and I still can’t recommend them enough. They take ordinary cookie dough and turn it into sheer, edible art.

The dough for these cookies is pretty straightforward. They’re flavored with melted chocolate, cocoa powder as well as LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion, another product for which I can’t recommend strongly enough. Most people think that Red Velvet flavor is really ‘just’ chocolate. I used to think that too; this emulsion proved me wrong. Red Velvet definitely has chocolate flavor, but LorAnn’s emulsion gives it that tangy aftertaste that automatically makes me think of a red velvet cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Su-blime.

Be sure to refrigerate your cookie dough until it is thoroughly chilled. I usually let mine chill overnight in the fridge. The colder it is, the better it will hold it’s shape/design. Have extra powdered sugar on deck for you to dip your cookie stamps in, as well as for the dough itself. I try to avoid using flour to roll out cookie dough, as adding extra flour just adds more gluten, which dulls the flavor and can make them taste bland.

Enjoy!

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Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Springerle Joy

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons Red Velvet Emulsion (Like LorAnn Oils)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry, powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the baking powder, dry milk and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the Red Velvet emulsion, vanilla extract, melted chocolate chips and cocoa powder.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, in about 3 increments, stirring just until combined.

Scrape dough out into one disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into quarters. Keep the other 3 portions in the fridge while you work with the one.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes.

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Allow to sit on baking sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to cool completely on wire racks.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing these at this week’s Fiesta Friday #263.

Snickers Cookie Bars

I’m really not too much of a ‘candy’ person anymore, with one very important exception: chocolate bars.

I don’t think I will ever stop loving chocolate bars. I still remember the first one that I was ever allowed to have as a kid: a Nestle Crunch Bar. After that, I think it was a Payday. I’m also a fan of Twix, 100 Grand, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s with Almonds, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream, Krackle, and Butterfinger.

Major pass on Almond Joy, Mounds, Milky Way and Three Musketeers. Those I don’t like.

You may have noticed one glaring omission from that list. It was intentional, for reasons that you’ve probably guessed. I’ve been considering making today’s recipe for several weeks now, but I was nervous about it. Finally, I made a split second decision and just decided to go for it.

And here we are. My tribute to the best, the ULTIMATE candy bar ever made.

I think I was nervous about trying this for several reasons: first, the candybar it’s inspired from is just so perfect all on its own. Nougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate; why mess with that kind of sheer perfection?

Second, no matter how many times I’ve done it, and done it successfully, the process of making caramel still makes me nervous every time.

Still, since I had all the ingredients I needed on hand I decided to just go for it. Couldn’t hurt to try.

There’s not a whole lot of labor required for these, but I do recommend giving yourself time to do it in stages. Unlike our favorite candy bar, the first and bottom layer of these is a very rich cookie. The dough comes together in minutes. Once it’s baked and cooled off, you can move on to the tricky part: the caramel.

Here’s the thing about caramel: as much as making it makes me nervous, the truth is that if you have a working thermometer that you pay close attention to, you’ll be just fine. This one is far from the most difficult I’ve made and because we’re making caramel and not candy, it doesn’t take very long. After the caramel peanut layer has been given time to set, things get super simple. You melt some chocolate, spread it on top and sprinkle some peanuts on top of that and you’re done. Waiting for the whole thing to set up before cutting into it is the hardest part, honestly. Because these are very sweet and rich, a little bit of one goes a long way in satisfying a sweet tooth, which means there’s more to go around.

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Snickers Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

For Cookie Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp and cubed
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Caramel Peanut Layer

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup, light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts

For Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • One tablespoon of softened butter, cubed.
  • A couple tablespoons of chopped peanuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in, in about 2 increments, mixing just until blended and a soft dough forms. Press the dough into a pan and use a spatula to make the top as smooth as you can.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour while you make the caramel.

Melt the butter in a high-sided saucepan with at least 2 qt capacity. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar and heavy cream. Cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves completely and liquid comes to a boil.

Cook until caramel reaches temp of 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit. (I STRONGLY recommend a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer for this). Remove from heat.

Stir in the peanuts. Spray a spatula with cooking spray and spread the caramel over the cooled cookie layer. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (I let mine sit overnight just to be on the safe side).

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and keep stirring until the butter dissolves completely. Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the caramel layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Let sit for an additional 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set and harden up before using the parchment paper to lift up out of the baking dish and cutting into squares.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #261, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Golden Sandwich Rolls

I have a theory. I can’t prove it beyond question but, I just don’t think I’m wrong.

Theory: A lot of people are scared of baking because of poorly written recipes–especially poorly written recipes for bread.

I struggled a lot in some of my more advanced science classes in college, and I’ll always remember especially struggling when having to complete an experiment as part of the assignment in labs. The directions were almost never very detailed–at least, not detailed enough for me to understand them.

Baking is, essentially, a science experiment. A poorly written science experiment is most likely going to go poorly, especially when the person reading the directions is not familiar with the material. The order in which ingredients are added in a science experiment matters–the same is true with baking just about anything.

Adding the flour into a cake batter before the butter and sugar is creamed will result in a cake that has the texture of a rubber tire. Mixing an egg directly into hot milk (rather than tempering them first) will result in scrambled eggs instead of custard. Room temperature, unchilled chocolate chip cookie dough will result in cookies flat as pancakes, every time.

Baking directions need to be clear and concise, leaving very little room for interpretation because more often than not, there isn’t much room for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read bread recipes (in cookbooks authored by very famous bakers, or on very popular websites, by the way) and seen them read something like this:

“Combine all ingredients together to make a smooth bread dough, and allow to rise.”

Like…what?

How is someone (who is not a baker) supposed to follow that?

Using yeast used to make me nervous too. In the beginning when I was first starting out learning how to bake, I too avoided bread recipes because when I read through a lot of the recipes, they just weren’t clear enough to where I felt comfortable enough to try. I get it guys.

Whenever I post a bread recipe on this blog, I try to ensure that it’s written as clearly and concisely as I can make it. I know that I do make some things that seem ‘advanced’, but I still want them to be accessible for people who aren’t used to baking and may want to try it out.

Today’s recipe is another where I tried to write it out to make baking with yeast incredibly easy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it’s nearly fail-proof. They’re a simple golden, rich sandwich roll that I think would be perfect for sliders, or breakfast sandwiches (which is how I’ve been enjoying them). Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to give them added flavor. The crumb inside is soft and fluffy, yet also toasts very well. This is one experiment that I can guarantee won’t go wrong, and that you’ll be very happy that you tried it out.

Golden Sandwich Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice
  • 3 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 5 1/2-6 cups of all purpose flour (you may not need it all depending on time of year and your location)
  • sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Place the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the dry milk, remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, pepper, dried herbs and beaten eggs. Use the paddle attachment to mix the ingredients until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the softened butter, mixing just until butter is absorbed (it’s okay if it looks a little curdled).

Add the flour in one cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

(The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.

Place two sheets of parchment paper onto two sheet pans. Turn dough out onto your clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles. Divide it into 2 halves, keeping one half covered with plastic wrap while you work with the other.

Roll dough out into a rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch cutter (square or circle, doesn’t matter) to cut out individual rolls. Place the rolls on the lined sheet pans. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Cover both sheet pans of rolls with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels. Allow to rest and rise until puffy and grown (they may not be doubled in size, but they should’ve grown at least a little) about 50-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray the tops of the rolls with cooking spray and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15-20 minutes (check them early, mine baked quickly).

Remove to a wire rack to let cool completely.

*Thump the bottoms of the rolls with your thumb and forefinger; a hollow sound means they’re done. Bread in general is finished at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.*

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #260, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.