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S’more Sandwich Cookies

I love s’mores! Any time someone is even considering asking for a s’more dessert, I emphatically encourage them to go in that direction just so that I can add another s’more experiment to my growing library.

If you’ve followed along on some of the other experiments that use chocolate ganache, you know that I’m still on my journey to finding my process. My trials continued on this bake as well. While the ratios of chocolate to cream were fine, I did not let it sit out to cool so that it would pour as a thicker chocolate layer. Instead, the thin stream of chocolate cascading over the cookies soaked into the cookies and covered everything in a thin brown sheen. I’ve now added, in big friendly letters, a note to LET THE GANACHE COOL next time.

The graham and the marshmallow components ended up being brand new challenges for me. Making homemade marshmallow has been on my baking bucket list for a while and I had just asked a friend for her recipe since her homemade marshmallow tasted amazing! The recipe for the marshmallow comes from a cookbook and I do not have permission to share it. However, it is an egg-free recipe and utilizes raw honey and maple syrup in place of sugar!

The marshmallow was way easier to make than I had suspected and came together very easily. One trick I learned quickly, though, is that the marshmallow creme sets fast! I started plopping marshmallow creme onto the cookies and ended plopping gobs of marshmallow by the end. This round, I used my hand mixer. Next time, I’ll likely use my stand mixer so that I can re-whip the marshmallow while I’m filling the cookies, keeping it on the creme consistency a bit longer.

Marshmallow creme
Whipping up some marshmallow

I’m equally excited about how the graham cracker cookies turned out! I found a recipe on TogetherAsFamily.com for s’more cookie cups. The cups looked like exactly what I was envisioning for my cookie sandwiches. While mixing the ingredients together, I became distracted. It wasn’t until the cookies were in the oven that I realized I had never added the white sugar. The good news is that the graham cookies still tasted great! Graham is such a versatile base that these cookies can and will be used in many different sandwich cookie combinations.

Graham cracker cookies
Graham cracker cookies

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Graham Cracker Cookies

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar (accidentally omitted)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking soda. Stir with wire whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl and with a handheld electric mixer, blend the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy and combined.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.

Dump in the bowl of dry ingredients, mix on low speed until just combined. The dough will be crumbly.

(Together As Family’s baking instructions are for mini muffin cups. I modified them for a whoopie pie-style cookie)

Grease whoopie pie tins. Spoon or place dough into the bottom of each well. For a thinner cookie, just coat the bottom. For a thicker cookie, fill the well at least half way with dough. Press the dough down flat. Depending on the thickness of your cookies, you should make around 24 total (this makes for 12 sandwich cookies).

Bake for 6 minutes. Look for the edges to be brown (bake slightly less for a softer cookie and slightly longer for a tougher cookie). Let cookies cool in the tin for 15-20 mins before moving to a wire rack. If you try to move them too early, they will fall apart.

 

Constructing the Sandwich Cookie

 

JCFK6430
S’more sandwich cookies before ganache

Scoop a hefty spoonful of marshmallow onto the top of one graham cookie. Spread around to get even coverage. Add as much or as little marshmallow as you prefer. Place a second graham cookie, top down, onto the marshmallow and press down lightly to squish the marshmallow but not break the cookie. Once the cookie sandwiches are all made*, prepare your ganache.

For this round, I did a half milk chocolate, half dark chocolate mix. Either a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream will work well here. Microwave your cream for 30-45 seconds (until hot). Pour the cream over your chocolate pieces and let sit for 2-3 minutes to melt. Stir, ensuring all of the chocolate melts and blends with the cream. (The step I keep missing) Let the ganache sit out for 10-15 minutes to thicken. When ready, either pour the ganache over the cookies to coat or, with gloved hands, dip and roll each cookie into the chocolate. Let sit on a wire rack to set for several hours. When you’re ready to serve or package, slide an uneven spatula under each cookie to separate it from the cooling rack.

*One recommendation that was made was to freeze the cookies for about an hour before coating with ganache. This may prevent the chocolate from soaking into the graham cookie and will help set the ganache quickly.

Serve and enjoy!

S'more sandwich cookies
S’more sandwich cookies. First draft.
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French Silk Pie Domes

Dome molds seem to be growing in popularity lately. You can use them to make domes or spheres using cake or chocolate or mousse. There are a multitude of combinations that the dome molds can be used for, so I needed to try them. I found a set of three silicon molds of different sizes on Amazon.

I wasn’t sure what my first experiment in the molds was going to be until I realized that Pi Day was coming up and I was planning on making a French silk pie anyway. Why not put it in a dome?

This creation resulted in two new challenges:

  1. Cutting out shapes from an Oreo pie crust
  2. Tempering chocolate without the aid of a chocolatier.

First things first. I had to find out whether my circle cookie cutter was going to be the right size. The circular disks of pie crust needed to fit within the sphere so that they would be covered. They ended up being a perfect fit for the largest mold! Now, it was on to pie!

I decided to use the French silk pie recipe I had made previously. It worked out really well and seemed like it would be a good fit for this experiment.

The crust was prepared following the recipe and instead of placing it into a pie dish, it was pressed out onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. I didn’t press it out too thin since I wasn’t sure how much the crust would break to begin with, but this crust held up pretty well and I definitely recommend pressing it out so that it’s not too thick. The thickness of my disks resulted in the crust being difficult to cut through with a fork. The crust was easy to work with after it had cooled a bit but wasn’t at the point of being completely cool. The butter was still soft, making the surface workable, but not so tough and crunch that it broke. Using the cookie cutter as you would with sugar cookie dough, I was able to get several disks out of the sheet. The leftover pie crust worked well as either a snack or was crumbled to use as a topping.

 

Setting the disks aside, it was time to try my hand at the chocolate domes. For this round of tempering, I used Baker’s milk chocolate baking bars. Now, tempering chocolate is a very frustrating process until you learn how the chocolate you’re using works. Even then, things like temperature and humidity (i.e., the weather that day) can destroy your process. Other details, like the % cocoa, the type of chocolate (milk vs. dark vs. white vs. semi-sweet, etc.), and the brand of chocolate all impact the way the chocolate behaves and the temperatures it prefers for tempering. In 2017, I took part in a tempering class offered by a local shop, The Secret Chocolatier. The class was fun and very informative and they send us home with treats we had made and notes for when we wanted to try this on our own. My notes sat in my binder for two years before I decided to try tempering again. I decided to use the temperatures on the notes as a guide, a place to start, since they had worked well before. The chocolate we tempered in class was a darker chocolate whereas the one I was tempering was milk chocolate, so I wasn’t expecting it to turn out perfectly.

To temper the chocolate, I broke apart two 4 oz. bars of Baker’s chocolate. This would give me enough to melt and enough to use as seed. I prepped my double boiler by adding a 1/2″ of water to the bottom and set the stove temperature so that the water was barely simmering. To melt the chocolate, I placed 1.5 bars into a metal bowl and placed that on top of the simmering pot. It didn’t take long for my thermometer to show me that I had the heat up too high as the temperature zoomed past the 115°F I was aiming for. Note: the process I am about to describe is not how to temper chocolate. Typically, if the temperature gets too high, it’s best to scrap the chocolate and start over. I decided to cool it back down and reheat it. After adjusting the burner temperature to low/medium-low, I placed the bowl back over the pot and got the chocolate heated to 115°F. Removing the bowl from the pot and placing it on a pot holder on the counter, I stirred the chocolate until it reached 88°F. Then, I added a piece or two of the remaining chocolate. This was error number 3. I had misread my notes from the chocolatier on when to add the seed. As soon as I realized my mistake, I popped the bowl back on top of the pot to reheat the chocolate to 115°F. Even when you temper correctly, there can still be a lot of this back and forth, so it’s always good to have extra seed chocolate on-hand. After getting the chocolate back up to 115°F, the bowl went back to the pot holder and, this time, I added a piece of seed chocolate immediately while stirring. The seed chocolate helps to bring the temperature down and get the crystals in the sugar to play nice. After adding two pieces of seed chocolate and stirring, the chocolate reached 88°F. It was time to pop the bowl back on the pot for a very brief stint to get the chocolate heated up to 90°F. After hitting that temp, the bowl was removed once more and the chocolate was ready to be placed into the molds.

Chocolate tempering prep
Melting chocolate and seed chocolate for tempering

At first, I tried using a silicon pastry brush I had on hand to paint the molds with chocolate. The chocolate and the brush did not get along. I have seen others use a paint brush instead of silicon to do this, so I will be looking into getting a small one of those for food purposes and future chocolate experiments. Since the brushing technique was not working, I used a spoon to place a good amount of chocolate in each sphere and rub the chocolate on the sides. Then, by lifting and tilting the mold, I worked on getting as even a coating as I could. Once satisfied, I turned the mold upside down to let the extra chocolate drip out (be sure to do this over a baking sheet or paper towel or some other surface that is the length of your mold). Once there was no chocolate pooled in the bottom of the mold, I set the mold aside to let the chocolate set. In my excitement, I used the rest of my melted chocolate to make solid chocolates in the smaller sphere mold. Only after I had started cleaning up did I remember that I should have probably saved some of that chocolate to re-temper and add a second or third coat to the large spheres so that they weren’t too thin. Since this was a rough draft, I decided to see how the thin spheres played out and made a note to make them thicker next time.

Filled chocolate molds
Hollow chocolate spheres and solid chocolate spheres in-mold

Once the chocolate spheres were set, I started popping them out of the mold. They broke apart at the edges since they were so thin and they were somewhat in temper, but they were still spheres!

Chocolate sphere
First try at a chocolate sphere

Now that both the pie crust disks and the chocolate domes were successes, it was time to make the pie filling! There was no variation on the filling. I made it the same way I had before. Once the filling was made, I spooned filling into each upside-down dome. It was surprising that the thin dome held the filling as well as it did! I was expecting it to break or collapse under the weight. Once I saw it held, I filled the dome up and placed a sphere on top. In my final concept, I would build these in the mold and then use some of the tempered chocolate to seal the dome. For this experiment, I skipped this step as I was more interested in seeing how the parts worked and how the different chocolates worked together. I placed the dome, still on its head, in the fridge for the pie filling to set. As soon as that clock hit the 3-hour mark, I had to pull one out! Holding my breath, I flipped the dessert over and it held together beautifully!

All of this chocolate needed a whipped cream topping, so I sprayed some Reddi Wip (check out their coconut milk whipped cream option!) on top and sprinkled some of the crumbled pie crust. Time to cut in and see how this idea worked!

Chocolate silk pie dome
Chocolate silk pie dome reveal!

The milk chocolate dome ended up being a good compliment to the dark chocolate Oreo crust and the semi-sweet pie filling. A dark chocolate would work well, too. Surprisingly, the thin chocolate dome worked really well, too. It was fairly easy to break through while eating and held the dessert well. The two take-aways from this rough draft of a dessert were to make the crust thinner for easier cutting while eating and to make the dome slightly thicker so that it doesn’t break as easily.

This was a delicious success! And now I’ve worked out all of my panic and second-guessing in my first solo outing of chocolate tempering. It can only improve from here!

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Cannoli Filling and Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is not something I’ve had on my to-bake list, but finding the right recipe for cannoli filling has been. I grew up having cannoli from Long Island, so the bar has always been set pretty high. Last year, I took a stab at making a cannoli filling using a recipe for cannoli dip. As you may recall, it was more of a learning experience than a dining experience.

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Failed cannoli dip filling and failed ganache

For my second attempt at a cannoli filling, I tried a recipe by Ginger Barragan of Moonlight Bakes Bakery. Since her recipe utilizes pastry cream, I ended up adding it to my to-bake list. King Arthur Flour is a great source for recipes, so I decided to give their pastry cream a spin.

Having watched shows like Chopped and the Great British Bake Off, making pastry cream had become a bit intimidating. It seemed too easy to ruin the cream and end up with inedible scrambled eggs. The one piece I kept forgetting about was that they were working against a clock. It is easy to see how one slip up can ruin the whole batch, but overall the process was simpler than expected.

Since these experiments were for the filling and the cream, I decided to bake and torte a single devil’s food cake as a vehicle for eating the results instead of going whole hog with fresh pastry. Those challenges are for a later time.

While the cannoli filling isn’t where I want it to be, it is very tasty and a great place to start while honing in on the right ingredients and proportions. I highly recommend giving both of these recipes a go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Pastry Cream via King Arthur Flour

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 large egg yolks*
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
1 cup heavy cream (optional)**

*if you’re looking for something to use the egg whites for, try Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC).

Before starting, set up a bowl with a strainer in an ice bath (place the bowl into a larger bowl, add water and several ice cubes between the two bowls, keeping the inner one dry).

In a medium saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups of milk and all of the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.

Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning into scrambled eggs when you add the simmering milk.

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, with a whisk, until mixture thickens. Once the cream comes to a full boil, stop cooking immediately or it can curdle and separate.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine strainer into the bowl set in an ice bath. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract (I sliced the butter so it melted faster and mixed more easily). ***If you would like to flavor the pastry cream, do so here*** (See King Arthur link for flavoring suggestions)

Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool.

Will keep covered in the fridge for up to five days before it begins to weep.

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Cannoli Filling via Ginger Barragan

3/4 cup pastry cream
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (depending on brand, your cheese may need to be strained through cheesecloth overnight. A dry ricotta like Kraft Polly-O (my favorite!) can be used immediately.)
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used more than 1 Tbsp. add to desired density of chips)

Stir pastry cream, ricotta, and powdered sugar until well-combined. Mix in chocolate chips. Chill for 1 hour before filling shells or using in cake.

CGNL6900
Cannoli filling in a torted 9″ round of devil’s food cake.
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Chocolate Mousse

After using just egg whites in the Italian meringue buttercream experiment, I had many yolks left over and didn’t want them to go to waste. In looking up desserts that utilize only egg yolks, I found one of my favorite decadent treats – chocolate mousse!

There are many different ways to make chocolate mousse and each way provides a different flavor and consistency. For my first go at chocolate mousse from scratch, I used a recipe from Betty Crocker. This is a very easy recipe to use and resulted in a very tasty dessert. After making the straight mousse, I mixed macadamia nuts and coconut into one serving and paired a second serving with a dark chocolate cake. Both combinations were delicious.

For the chocolate, you can use any type you prefer. I had a random assortment of semi-sweet, dark, and milk baking chocolate and chocolate morsels left over from other experiments, so I used them all and ended up with a mostly semi-sweet flavored mousse. Both the baking chocolate and morsels melted and mixed just fine. This recipe seems like it will take flavors and various mix-ins quite well, so have fun with it and top it off with some whipped cream!

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Chocolate Mousse

4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped (or broken into pieces)

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl with an electric mixer on high speed for about 3 mins or until thick and lemon colored.

Gradually beat in the sugar.

Heat 1 cup of the whipping cream in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat until hot (mine went from somewhat cool to nearly boiling very quickly, so keep an eye on the cream). Gradually stir at least half of the hot whipping cream into the egg yolk mixture. Then stir the mixture back into the rest of the hot whipping cream in the saucepan. Cook over a low heat for about 5 mins, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate until melted (I recommend having your chocolate ready in a medium bowl and pouring the heated mixture over the chocolate. Let this sit for a couple of minutes so that the chocolate has a chance to melt. This makes stirring a lot easier.)

Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until just chilled (mine was closer to an hour and a half than two hours), stirring occasionally. You’ll notice the mixture taking on more of a mousse texture each time you go to stir. Even though it’s firming up, it still stirs very easily. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. When you place the mixture in the fridge, cover and place an empty medium mixing bowl in the fridge with it.

Once the mixture is cooled, take both bowls out of the fridge. Beat 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream in the empty chilled bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Folding mixtures together does take some time. Be sure to work the mixtures from different areas of the bowl so that any pockets of chocolate or whipped cream that form are broken up and combined.

Pipe or spoon the mixture into serving bowls (or on cake or into prepared dessert cups, etc.). Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

xcpa1716
Chocolate mousse cup (double serving) with whipped cream
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Andes Mint Fudge

Andes mint fudge.

This was a simple experiment that turned out quite well. Use your favorite fudge recipe and use Andes mint baking chips in place of the chocolate. For example, my recipe calls for 12 oz of chocolate. The Andes mint baking chips came in a 10 oz bag, so I did those 10 oz plus 2 oz semisweet Nestle chips. Varying the amount of Andes mint chips to chocolate chips or chocolate bits will change the strength of the mint in the fudge. Being a mint lover, the strength from the 10 oz/2 oz mix was very enjoyable.

 

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Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve

A quick recap from the last post: I was recently asked if I would donate some goodies to a fund raising event for a local chapter of The Harry Potter AllianceCavendish Brewing Company was hosting a Yule Ball and was interested in treats for their room of requirement as well as pieces for the auction. I couldn’t resist supporting a good cause and coming up with themed bakes!

The second recipe to share from this experience is for my Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve cake. This is pretty simple to put together and tastes amazing! This was an auction item for the night.

Start with a chocolate cake. I made a devil’s food cake but dark chocolate would work very well, too. I baked this one into two 9” rounds.

Then, make a Nutella buttercream. My Baking Addiction’s recipe utilizes a lot of powdered sugar and produces enough buttercream to top a large batch of cupcakes or very generously frost a 9” cake. I still had enough leftover buttercream to mix it with my cake scraps to make three large parfaits! Check out the recipe and notes on the site: https://www.mybakingaddiction.com/nutella-cupcakes/

To really help bring out the flavor of the Nutella, be sure to generously add baked and chopped hazelnuts and top with a chocolate ganache. For the ganache on this cake, I used a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream to chocolate.
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Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve

Bake a devil’s food cake in two 9” round pans. Once the cakes have cooled completely, trim the tops so that they are flat. Save cake scraps for later. Add a generous amount of buttercream to the top of the first round. Make sure the buttercream layer is level. Sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts on top. Place the second round on top of the buttercream and nut layer. Add buttercream to the top of the new layer. Frost the sides of both cake layers. Work frosting until the top and sides are smooth. Save extra buttercream for later. Pour the chocolate ganache over the entire cake. Decorate with more chopped hazelnuts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 13-oz jar of Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 lbs confectioner’s sugar, sifted
6-8 Tbsp heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and Nutella until well combined, thick, and fluffy (about 5 mins). Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and continue mixing until well-blended.

Add vanilla and 3 Tbsp of heavy cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 Tbsp of heavy cream (I used 5) until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy (about 3 mins).

Chocolate ganache:
6 oz milk chocolate baking chocolate, broken or chopped into pieces
6 oz heavy cream

Heat heavy cream on the stove or in the microwave. For the microwave, heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Cream should be steaming but not boiling. Keep a close eye on it.

Pour heated cream over the chocolate pieces. Let sit for 2-3 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir using a whisk until the chocolate and cream are well-blended into a rich chocolate sauce. Pour ganache over cake (cake should be sitting on a cooling rack that is over a cookie sheet covered with plastic, parchment, or wax paper to catch the drippings).

Using the leftovers:
Place the scraps left from leveling the cake rounds into a bowl. Add all of the extra buttercream to the scraps. Stir until combined. Spoon mixture into cups, layering with hazelnuts. Top with whipped cream or serve over vanilla ice cream. Serve as parfaits.

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Brookies

Brookies, or brownie cookies, are always a nice treat. You get to enjoy the flavor of a chocolate cookie and a chocolate chip cookie at the same time. What’s not to like? For this bake, I gave this recipe by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe a spin. I really like how this recipe includes the weights for the dough balls to give you a starting point for proportions. After I saw how the first sheets came out, I started making some cookies with a larger percentage of chocolate chip relative to brownie as an experiment. You really can’t go wrong here. You can make these cookies as balanced or imbalanced as you’d like. The only tweak I’m making the next time I make these is to leave out the salt, but that’s due to personal preference. Give this recipe a go and make a fun treat chocolate-lovers will enjoy!
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Brookies

Brownie cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) lightly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups + 3 Tbsp (7.25 oz) flour
1 cup (1.5 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

Chocolate chip cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 Tbsp (10.75 oz) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sweet aside.

Brownie cookie batter:
I’m a medium bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy (around 1-2 mins). Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat the mixture for 2-3 mins until light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate while making the chocolate chip cookie batter.

Chocolate chip cookie batter:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth (about 1-2 mins). Blend in the egg, yolk, and vanilla, mixing for 2-3 mins until the batter is very light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter with the chocolate chips and mix until no dry streaks remain and the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

Both:
Pull out dough to make smallish balls. Use a 0.5 oz ball of brownie batter and a 0.65 ball of chocolate chip batter. Press the two balls together and use your hands to shape the cookie by flattening and turning it to smooth out the edges, forming a flattish but thick shape. Continue until all of the batter is used. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them out to allow for some spreading during baking. Bake for 8-10 mins. The brownie side may crack a bit. Under-cook slightly for a softer and more chewy cookie. Let cool for 1-2 mins on the sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

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S’mores Pie

S’mores are one of my favorite summer treats. When this recipe by Wishes and Dishes came across my feed, I had to try it! The graham cracker crust was a version I hadn’t tried before and I like how it turned out. I’m sure I’ll use it again with other recipes. I also had a big win with this recipe – I remembered to build the sides of the crust! I was sure to heavily emphasize my notes about the sides so I wouldn’t forget. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
S’mores Pie

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham crackers if you are making the crumbs yourself)
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz marshmallow creme (1 container)
6 whole full-sized Hershey’s bars
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet morsels)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9” pie pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until combined. Mix in the egg and then the vanilla extract. Next, mix in the flour, then the graham cracker crumbs, and finally the baking powder.

Divide the dough in half.

Press one portion of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.

Using a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, add the marshmallow creme on top of the crust. Spread evenly. Separate the chocolate bars into individual rectangles (aka pips) and place each pip on top of the marshmallow creme. Evenly distribute the mini marshmallows on top of the chocolate bar pieces (I added an extra handful of mini marshmallows).

Using the remaining portion of the crust, pat sections of dough on top of and around the marshmallows. They will not be completely covered which is what you want. The dough is soft so do this in pieces.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. I added a small handful of more chips.

Bake for 20 mins until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

Cool completely before cutting.

As an added touch, I crushed the remaining single graham cracker in the sleeve and sprinkled it on top of the baked pie.

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Chocolate Pear Cake

Some family was recently traveling in Italy and started sending my photos of some goods in the local bakeries. They’re returning back this weekend and asked about two different cakes. After some Googling and talking with some fellow bakers, we determined that one was a chocolate pear cake and the other was an Italian apple cake. Today I tried the chocolate pear cake using a recipe by An Italian in my kitchen.

It smelled delicious while it baked and looks very tasty now that it’s done. Looking forward to everyone tasting it tomorrow.
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Chocolate Pear Cake

2 large pears either William, Anjou, or Bartlett – I used Bartlett
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, dark chocolate (I chopped up some full-sized morsels instead)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour or parchment a 9” cake pan. I used a spring-form pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and milk until combined. Set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the pears.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Then, slowly add the vegetable oil and beat until combined (about 1 min). Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt mixture. Beat until combined (about 1 min).

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Top with pear slices, sliced side down. Sprinkle with mini dark chocolate chips.

Bake for approximately 45 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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S’mookies

Last night, I came across a video by So Yummy that highlighted different desserts you can make with take and bake cookie dough. Of course, right after seeing the s’mookie and pinwheel brookies, I knew I had to give these a go. Today’s bake was the s’mookies because we love s’mores at our house!

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S’mookies

Cookie dough (I made fresh dough using the classic Nestlé Toll House recipe)
1 package of graham crackers
1 package of regular sized marshmallows
1 package of Hershey’s chocolate bars

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break a graham cracker in half and place each half on the sheet. Break a Hershey bar in half and place each half on the graham cracker half. Take one marshmallow, tear it in half, and place each half on top of the chocolate so that the marshmallow halves are side-by-side. Be sure to leave plenty of space on your sheet as the cookies will spread and be a decent size. I made six cookies per cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 375F (or temp for the specific cookie dough you’re using).

Prepare your cookie dough. Take 1 Tbsp of dough and form it into a thick but flat disk. Place the disk on top of the marshmallow and push down slightly to ensure the stack is balanced.

Place sheet in the oven for 15 mins or until browned to desired doneness (time may vary depending on amount and type of dough). Let cool on the tray or parchment paper for several minutes before moving cookies to cooling rack.

Notes from my first go:

For my first tray, I only used a quarter of a Hershey bar and noticed that it causes more of the cookies to collapse and cook lopsided resulting in more melted marshmallows and over-cooked graham crackers. Using half a bar gave the cookie a nice base.

Also in my first tray, I used 1.5-2 Tbsp of dough. This resulted in huge cookies and way too much spreading. The flavor wasn’t quite right because the proportions of chocolate to dough to marshmallow and graham cracker were off. You need enough dough for the cookie to form around the s’more but not so much that it overtakes it.

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French Silk Pie

Pies are a pastry that I am very new to and need more practice on. This experiment is a great example of why practice is good with baking. The crust is a common combination of crushed Oreos and butter. The amount made a very nice thick crust*. The filling is not my recipe but I do not have source information for it, so this is posted without proper sourcing. I will update this post should I find the information.

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French Silk Pie

Oreo Crust
25 Oreo cookies, crushed
5 Tbsp unsalted, melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix cookies and butter together. Press into 9” pie plate. Be sure to press crust up along the sides of the plate. (*I forgot this step so all of my Oreo mixture was on the bottom of the plate.)

Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool completely. I left mine on the cooling rack for a while and then placed it in the fridge while I made the filling.

Pie Filling
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 large eggs
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
8 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes and softened

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream to stiff peaks – around 2-3 mins. Cover the bowl and place the whipped cream in the fridge.

Combine eggs, sugar, and water in a large, heat-proof bowl set over a medium saucepan filled with 1/2” of water that is barely simmering. Don’t let the bowl touch the water. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat until egg mixture is thickened and registers 160F – around 7-10 mins (mine took 11 mins to reach the proper temperature). Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to beat egg mixture until fluffy and cooled to room temperature – about 8 mins.

Add the chocolate and vanilla extract to the cool egg mixture and beat until incorporated. Beat in butter a few pieces at a time until well combined.

Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Scrape the filling into the pie shell and refrigerate until set – at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings or sprinkles.

Whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine and whip until it reaches desired consistency.

OreoCrust_NoSides
Oreo pie crust. I forgot to build the sides!
French Silk Pie
French Silk Pie
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DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’ve ever stayed at a Doubletree hotel, chances are that you’ve enjoyed one of their tasty chocolate chip cookies. I asked around for a decent copycat recipe to try and was sent to The Little Kitchen’s recipe.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Doubletree cookie, so I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison for flavor, but these are some pretty tasty cookies!
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Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup rolled oats
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (I used 1 bag of regular sized chips and 1/2 bag of mini chips)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Pulse oats in a food processor until semi-fine or fine. Since I don’t have a processor, I used a hand chopper.

In a small mixing bowl, add the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

To a medium bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and eggs. Mix until you have a smooth mixture. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula at least once.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula, being careful not to over-mix. Drop in the chips and nuts and mix until both are evenly distributed. Be careful not to over-mix or the cookies will have a cake-like texture.

Use a large cookie scoop (I used a regular tablespoon) to scoop dough into a lined baking sheet. Place dough balls close to each other for easier storage. Freeze or refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours (I left mine in the freezer overnight).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove dough balls from storage and place on a new baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place dough 1 1/2” – 2” apart. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until desired doneness. Let cool on a the baking sheet for a few minutes to harden a bit before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.