Archive for July, 2010

Monster Cookies and Texas Sheet Cake

July 25, 2010

One of the reasons on my list to blog is to have an easy place to share favorite family recipes with my kids so despite the lack of photos I’m blogging about these recipes.These are both recipes that are super easy to make, and are a hit wherever you take them, so I think the kids will want to know where they can find the recipes. I made both of these for a large family gathering this weekend and received a lot of compliments and a lot of requests for the recipes. That’s always a good sign.

Monster Cookies aren’t something I make very often. In fact I only make them every couple of years for this particular family gathering. The recipe makes an enormous batch of cookies, but can easily be halved. I don’t know what it is about these cookies that people love so much. I like the cookies just fine, but other people, particularly my nephews love them, which I always take as a compliment because their mother is a wonderful baker, and these young men know a good cookie when they eat one.

The other thing I made was Texas Sheet Cake. I haven’t made it in years. I have a couple of recipes for it, but this time I went with the version that Anna posted Memorial Day weekend and I’m so glad I did. It was a huge hit and adults and kids both wanted the recipe. It is moist, with a wonderful rich frosting, that is a little flaky on the top. It serves a lot of people and is so simple to make. Instead of retyping the recipe, I’m going to link to Cookie Madness for the recipe.

Back to the Monster Cookies. Whenever I read the recipe, my instinct is to put in more chocolate chips and M & M’s than called for but I always go ahead with the recipe knowing I can add more if needed. Extra chocolate isn’t needed here. Somehow they end up being just right with peanut butter, and oatmeal goodness balanced with just the right amount of chocolate from the chocolate chips and M & M’s. The day I made these I had a lot going on and was only able to bake about half of the cookies before I had to leave the house to tend to some other chores. I put the dough in the refrigerator and baked the other half later in the day. I liked the texture of the cookies baked later in the day a little better. The chill time seemed to make them a little sturdier without making them hard. If you have the time to chill the dough go ahead, but if you don’t, don’t worry about it.

Monster Cookies

8-10 cups old fashioned oatmeal
4 t. baking soda
2 2/3 c. crunchy peanut butter (I used Skippy Super Chunk)
1 c. softened butter
2 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 t. corn syrup
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 8 oz. pkg. M & M’s
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats and soda and set aside.
In a very large bowl combine peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Stir in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Stir the oat mixture into the peanut butter mixture. Mix in the candy pieces and the chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until just brown. Do not over bake. (Baking might take anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on your oven.)

Butterscotch Pie

July 18, 2010

Butterscotch Pie

When I was in third grade my classmates and I all contributed a recipe to a recipe booklet that we made for our Mom’s for Mother’s Day. Our teacher apparently rewrote the recipes we submitted onto mimeograph paper and made copies of the recipes for us to bind together between construction paper covers that we decorated with Crayons. I’m pretty sure my front cover was originally pink and my back cover was purple. When I was home visiting my parents my mother gave me the one I made knowing I would get a kick out of it, and I did!

Booklet Cover

The recipes include one recipe for chili, and all the rest are for baked goods. The baked goods span everything from cookies, cakes, pies, bread and desserts. It’s a real treasure trove!

The recipe I submitted was for Butterscotch Pie. My Mom and I both found this interesting because neither of us remembers being smitten with Butterscotch Pie. I guess it just sounded good to my third grade brain.

Anna at Cookie Madness recently made a few Butterscotch Pies and came up with a winner. Her post is what jogged my memory about butterscotch pie. But, before I made hers I had to do a spin on this one. This recipe calls for a seven inch pie plate which I don’t own, so I made two little pies in my beautiful single serving Emile Henry Pie Dishes. I made some major changes in putting this together, but for the filling I used the same proportions of ingredients. I think you’ll be able to read the recipe as I submitted it in the photo, but I’ll type it up the way I made it today. I used the microwave for the filling. The recipe didn’t state what type of crust to use. I wasn’t in the mood for roll out pie pastry so I took a short cut and opted for a graham cracker crust. I made the simplest of all meringue toppings. The kind we would have made way back when I was in third grade.

My Recipe

We haven’t tasted the pie yet. I’ll let you know what we think of it.

Butterscotch Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 25-30 pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 8 minutes while the oven preheats. When they’re toasted lightly chop them

For the crust: Combine 1 c. crushed graham crackers, 1 T. sugar and 3 T. butter. Divide evenly between two mini pie dishes and bake for 8 minutes.

Filling:

25-30  toasted and chopped pecans
3/4 c. brown sugar (5.65 oz.)
2 T. flour
2 T. butter
1/4 t. salt
1 c. warm whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the pecans on top of the pie crust.
Combine brown sugar, flour, butter and salt in a 4 c. Pyrex measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir until well combined.
Add the milk and whisk together. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Whisk well. Microwave for 3 minutes and whisk again.
Whisk the three egg yolks. Add a small amount of hot milk mixture to the egg yolk and whisk well. While whisking, add the egg yolk mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Microwave for one more minute whisking at 15 second intervals. The mixture should mound slightly when drizzled from the end of the whisk. Stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the hot pie crust.

Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/4 t. salt
6 T. white sugar
Combine the egg whites and the salt and mix on high speed with hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Place on top of the hot filling and Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

We tasted the pie after dinner this evening. It’s very tasty. I’m glad I put in the toasted pecans because they temper the sweetness a little. I would make this recipe again. It set up nicely, and didn’t run at all.  My husband tells me that Butterscotch Pie is his Dad’s favorite. I had no idea! I’ll definitely have to make the  full size version for him someday.

Butterscotch Pie Sliced

English Muffins

July 16, 2010

English Muffins with raspberry jam

One of the nice gifts I received for my birthday was a set of English Muffins rings. I’ve always wanted to make them but had never taken the plunge. Receiving the rings removed one of the hurdles. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another English Muffin from the store. These are so much better! They are moist but not at all gummy on the inside. They have a nice thin outer crust, and they toast beautifully. The holes inside are not as big as those inside store bought English Muffins but if you fork split them there are plenty of nooks and crannies to hold the butter and jam. I’ll take the freshness and flavor of these any day, and I won’t miss the holes one single bit.

These were especially good with the homemade raspberry jam made by my husband.

The recipe can be found on page 125 of Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart.

Unsplit English Muffins

Turtle Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

July 10, 2010

Turtle Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

First off I apologize for the photo. I snapped these off pretty fast and didn’t get a good photo. By the  time I realized how poor they were the cookies were gone.

This is a recipe my Mom let us make in the summer when it was too hot to have the oven on. It also kept a couple of us busy for a little while on a hot summer day. My older brother and I both liked to cook and bake which worked out well for my Mom. The funny thing about this recipe is it is written in my sister’s handwriting. To this day she isn’t a big fan of sweets, and she avoids time in the kitchen as much as possible so I’m not sure why she’s the one that wrote down the recipe. It might be the only recipe ever in her handwriting, so I’ll be sure to hang on to it as proof that she must have dabbled in the kitchen at least a little.

Sadly, I never made these for my kids growing up. Until recently our only waffle iron was a Belgian waffler with very deep grooves and I didn’t think it would be good for these cookies. Our new Belgian waffle iron doesn’t have such deep grooves so I thought it was time to give this recipe a try. The cookies are soft, and in my opinion benefit from a day in a tightly sealed container. The browned butter icing is an update. When we were kids we just mixed up powdered sugar and butter with a little milk and vanilla and called it good. I loved the browned sugar icing on these.

Turtle Cookies

1.5 c. sugar
1c. margarine (I used butter)
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
2 c. flour

Preheat the waffle iron to the medium setting. (I had to use a lower setting and cook them longer.)

Cream together the margarine and the butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the cocoa, salt, and flour and stir until just mixed.

Drop onto heated waffle iron. Bake for 1 minute. (Mine turned out better at a lower setting with a longer cook time.)

Frost the cookies. (We made either chocolate or vanilla depending on our mood.)

Browned Butter Icing

1/4. c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. cream or milk
1 t. vanilla

Place the butter in a stainless steel pan over medium heat. (Not non-stick. You want to be able to see the butter brown and non stick pans are too dark.)
When the butter is melted swirl the pan occasionally and watch closely as the butter browns. Don’t walk away from it or it will get too dark. When the butter has golden flecks remove from the heat and put it in a bowl to make the frosting. If you leave it in the pan it will continue to cook and may get too dark.
Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Frost the cookies.

German Chocolate Cake

July 3, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

After the ugly cupcakes last week I thought twice about posting this German Chocolate Cake because it won’t win any photo contests either. Two things changed my mind. First of all it tastes really good. Second without either of us knowing what the other was making both Anna and I made the same cake!

At our house a cake like this is an occasion cake. My husband recently celebrated his birthday and he loves German Chocolate Cake so that was a perfect excuse to make it.

The cake layers baked up unevenly and I worried that the texture would be disappointing but it was very nice. The cake was moist and had a fine crumb. When I make special occasion cakes I almost always use superfine sugar. I think the texture of the cake is better with superfine sugar, but that could be my imagination.

My husband and I both loved the frosting for this cake! I wondered about adding the chocolate to it, but I’m not sorry I did. It tastes wonderful, but the cake is very monochromatic with the addition of the chocolate to the frosting. If appearance isn’t an issue this is definitely a good recipe. It’s a little less sweet than some other recipes. Perhaps a double recipe of the frosting and covering the whole cake would be the answer to hiding some of the appearance problems? The cake would still be monochromatic but super yummy!

It was really difficult to slice this cake and have a photo worthy slice. The pecan and coconut impede the progress of the knife through the layers, and as I mentioned it wasn’t pretty to begin with. Or, maybe I need to improve my slicing skills?

Here’s a direct link to Anna’s cake on the Cookie Madness blog.

German Chocolate Cake

6 oz German’s sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 cup water
2 1⁄2 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 lb butter, softened
1 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Frosting:
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
12 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces and softened
2 ounces German’s sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped pecan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line them with parchment rounds and flour the sides. Set aside (I’ve had good luck with flour-added baking spray plus parchment).

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and slowly pour hot water over it. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then stir until melted and smooth.

Sift together the cake four, baking soda and salt.

In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in the melted chocolate. By hand or using lowest speed, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk (beginning and ending with the buttermilk).

Beat the egg whites to almost stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Fold about 1⁄2 cup of the batter into the egg whites to lighten it up, then fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the three cake pans and bake on middle and lower racks for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. ( I only baked mine for 30 minutes. I suggest you check the cakes as early as 25 minutes.)

Cool the cakes for a few minutes and remove from the pans. Remove the parchment, invert cakes back to upright and cool on racks.

Frosting:
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a 2 quart saucepan until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, butter, and chocolate. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it is smooth and thick enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Keep heat low or egg yolks will scramble.  Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut and pecan.
Let the frosting cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thickened but not quite solid, stirring it couple of times.

Spoon about a third of the frosting on top of one cake. Spread it out almost to the edge. Place a second cake on top of the frosting, repeat with another third of the frosting. Place the last layer on top and frost just the top of the cake, letting a little drizzle down the sides. The frosting is too fragile and soft to frost the sides.


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