Archive for December, 2009

Minty M&M Cookies

December 19, 2009

Minty M&M Cookies

I wish I could remember how I stumbled upon this recipe at Colleen’s Cookbook. I’m thankful for whatever I searched for or clicked on to take me there. This is a good chocolate cookie recipe and I love the M&M Mint Chocolate Candies that go into them. They’re a little larger than standard M&M’s, and the shell is a little thicker. My husband and I had a hard time leaving them alone as I was mixing up these cookies. The ratio of candies to cookie dough is very high, but I wouldn’t change that. The mint flavor from the candy is just right and I love the crunch the thick shells bring to the cookie. Colleen’s recipe called for pecans. I omitted them.

I rarely retype recipes that appear elsewhere on the web, but since I weighed my ingredients and think you might find that helpful I’ll jot it down here. Colleen attributes this recipe to M&M’s but I couldn’t find it on their site, and I accidentally tossed the empty bags before comparing this recipe to the one on the back of the bag. If memory serves me right, I don’t think it’s there. I think the recipe on the back of the bag right now is for a decorative baking use of the candy.

Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies

2 bags M&M Brand Mint Chocolate Candies for the Holidays (reserve one cup)
10.6 oz. flour
1 oz. cocoa powder (I used regular Hershey’s)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. softened butter
5.25 oz. sugar
5.625 oz. brown sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Whisk together four, soda, salt and cocoa in a small bowl.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the flour mixture 1/2 c. at a time.
Stir in the all but one cup of the candy.
Drop by large tablespoons, at least 2 inches apart, onto the parchment paper. Before baking place a few of the reserved M&M’s on the top of each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Yield: 36 cookies
(I got 42)

Cinnamon Goodness

December 16, 2009

Cinnamon Egg Nog SconesWhen I saw the recipe for Cinnamon Eggnog Scones on the Baker’s Banter blog I knew I would have to make them. The cinnamon chips and Cinnamon-Flav-R Bites were in my cupboard patiently waiting their turn to shine. They definitely shine in these scones. I only baked off a few of the scones and the remainder are nestled away in the freezer. Maybe I’ll bake them Christmas morning. They would be a wonderful way to start the day.

If you make these and use the Cinnamon-Flav-R Bites be careful not to soak them too long. Mine all but dissolved. I think I was doing too many things at once and left them soaking longer than I thought I did. It didn’t matter. The flavor was still wonderful. If you look at the photos at the Baker’s Banter Blog you’ll notice that theirs are much whiter than mine. That’s because of the melted cinnamon bits.

I might mention that these have a wonderful balance of spices, and don’t seem at all egg like to me. You see I don’t like egg nog in the least. In fact this is the first time I’ve ever purchased it. So, if you’re afraid of the egg nog like I was, don’t be. This is a great place to use it. The scones turn out with a moist but not wet interior and a melt in your mouth crust on the exterior. They are so much better than anything you can purchase at a store or coffee shop. I would make these again, and in fact will probably look for excuses to make them in the future. Just in case you’re wondering, I purchased organic egg nog. The ingredient list seemed a little less frightening to me.

You’ll find the recipe here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

December 13, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream

Why would anyone living in the upper Midwest make vanilla ice cream when the temperature outside is only in the single digits during the day and below zero night? Truthfully I have no reasonable explanation except this. My local grocery store had half and half on sale for seventy nine cents per pint and I couldn’t help myself from buying some.

In July I bought my husband the ice cream attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer. He’s made a lot of good ice cream since then, but for this batch I wanted to try my own hand at it using half and half and vanilla bean paste. We loved this ice cream, and wish we had made twice as much. It was smooth and creamy, and we loved the flecks of vanilla from the vanilla bean paste.

Vanilla Ice Cream by Sue at Basically Baked

3 cups half and half
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla bean paste ( I used Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, purchased from King Arthur Flour)

Whisk the eggs in a heat proof bowl and set aside. Heat half and half and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium until hot. Whisk a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs whisking constantly, and then whisk the egg mixture into the half and half in the saucepan. Continue to heat this mixture stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 185 degrees. Strain the mixture, and then cool completely in the refrigerator.

When the mixture is completely cool, churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Cure the ice cream in the freezer for one hour before scooping.

One year anniversary!

December 6, 2009

Basically Baked turns one year old today! I’ve enjoyed connecting with those of you who take the time to leave a comment and I enjoy visiting the blogs of those of you who author them.

To celebrate the anniversary I made the Chocolate Bon Bon Drops that Mary Jane Robbins recently blogged about on the King Arthur Baker’s Banter Blog. They’re very easy to make, very tasty and have a festive look to them. You’ll find the recipe here.

The only change I made to the cookies is to garnish them with Holiday M&M’s instead of the pretty chocolate pearls from King Arthur Flour. I don’t own a tiny teaspoon cookie scoop so when I was done mixing the dough I divided the dough into two equal portions, flattened each portion into a 4 x 3 inch rectangle and then wrapped each rectangle in it’s own piece of waxed paper and refrigerated it for about an hour. Then I cut each rectangle into twelve pieces and formed the pieces into balls and baked according to the directions.

The cookies are sort of a chocolate shortbread. I made my glaze with half and half instead of cream and I would have to agree with Mary Jane that the half and half yielded a thinner glaze than might have been desirable. I also thought the glaze was very good but it was very sweet. The cookies are good enough that I don’t think they need the glaze except for the decorative effect. I think some decorative stencils and powdered sugar might yield a pretty cookie and keep the focus on the cookie. By the way… those flecks you see in the glaze are from vanilla bean paste. Good stuff!!

Basic Granola

December 4, 2009

Granola is something I’ve always intended to make, but have never gotten around to actually making until now. I rarely purchase packaged granola because I thought I was the only one here who eats it. The push finally came when I started crumbling up my crunchy Kashi bars and sprinkling them on top of my yogurt or cottage cheese. I knew this was a waste of my Kashi bars and that I could easily make my own granola.

In the past I’ve used the excuse that I didn’t have the right ingredients for one recipe or another. Do you know what? I don’t think there are the ‘right’ ingredients. If you use what you have on hand, chances are pretty good that you’ll come up with a pretty good granola. I did, and guess what? I’m not the only one who eats granola. Apparently if you have good homemade granola around other people will eat it too. Like my husband, who ate a startling amount of this while I was gone yesterday.

I had used some ingredients that have been hanging around in my cupboard for awhile. Like organic brown rice syrup, creamed honey from the farmer’s market, and sesame seeds all of which were leftover from other baking projects. Then there were the almonds and oatmeal which I always have on hand, and the pecans which I was lucky to have.

This is a conglomeration of a number of recipes, using a conglomeration of ingredients from my cupboard. The only thing I bought just for this were the raw sunflower seeds. There are a few of those leftover for a future baking project.

While this is full of good stuff, I don’t pass this off as health food. No doubt there are a lot of calories lurking here with all the sweeteners, nuts, and coconut oil. But, a few sprinkles on top of my yogurt won’t be too terrible for me and I’ll enjoy every crunchy bite.

Basically Baked Granola (Adapted from numerous recipes.)

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 c. sunflower seeds
1/3 c. sesame seeds
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. creamed cinnamon honey
3/4. golden brown sugar
3/4 c. almonds
1 1/4 c. pecans
1 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 1/2 sheet cake pan with parchment paper. Mix everything together in a large bowl as evenly as possible. Spread the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully so that they don’t become too toasted. Use the parchment paper to transfer the mixture to a rack to cool completely. When cooled you might have some big clumps of granola you want to break up before storing.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 2, 2009

About a week ago I was so hungry for a chocolate chip cookie. I’d been wanting to make them for days, but it’s so hard to justify such indulgences when it’s just the two of us here to eat them. I was headed to a meeting out of town with four other friends and our departure time was too early for dinner, but not eating before the meeting meant we were going to have to eat very late. Being the baking fiend that I am I decided this was the perfect excuse to make some chocolate chip cookies to carry us until dinner. In order to make it so they weren’t totally devoid of good nutrition, I conceded and made an oatmeal chocolate chip version. The cookies were appreciated by all, and everyone asked for the recipe so either everyone was really hungry or they’re really good, or both. I froze what my friends didn’t eat and shared them with the kids when they were home for Thanksgiving. I think they were sad when they were gone.

The recipe for these cookies can be found here on the old Baking Sheets blog, and you can read about Anna’s experience with them here where she compares three different oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes back to back.