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4.18.2014

Peanut Butter Samoas Bars


  Props to my sister for those well-kept nails (you don't ever want to see mine).

  Ohoho yes I went there.  I so went there.

  But these didn't just happen.  First of all, new house, new oven.  New discoveries.  As in, gas stovetops are great, but for some reason the oven likes to brown the crap out of anything I put in there so that's just fine.

  Not fine.  Got some tweaking to do with that.


  So these were inspired by Diethood's awesome-looking gluten-free bars.  Those pictures man, they just got me.  Got me good.  Got me so good I didn't even read through the recipe, just started making them.  They're gluten-free, so what big whoop.  Much big whoop, actually.  The base is just egg and peanut butter baked together.  Like some funky unsweetened eggy custard.  That's fine if you're into that, but...not what I was led to expect.  I wanted creamy.  I wanted peanut butter.  I wanted Reese's and stuff.  Not eggs.


  So I brainstormed on a boring spring break day in the trailer kitchen.  I wanted something simplistic, with no fricken eggs and baking and messing with fussy oven stuff.  I recalled The Wannabe Chef's amazing little peanut butter bar recipe, and from there the ideas just kept flowing.

  The only unsound idea was the graham cracker crust.  It had good intentions, but it just isn't worth it.  It falls apart, doesn't stick to the peanut butter, and really doesn't do much for texture or taste.  So whatever, I'm ditching it for the recipe, and that makes it gluten-free anyway so everyone's happy.


  Look at 'em, just look.  They are beautifully messy.  My first contribution to the obnoxious amount of girl scout cookie recipes out there that there's probably some kind of online food blogger community for.  So proud.

  Also, much rich.  Little nutrition.  High calorie.  Very addict.  But enjoy.


  Also, please welcome the latest contribution to our family, and apparently my new kitchen helper.  We've had her for some amount of months now and she's already grown like crazy while I've been college-ing.  The face kills me every freaking time.  Finola is happy to meet you and would love to lick your face, but alas the computer screen separates her from you.  Done talking vicariously for dogs now, please make bars and eat them k bye.

  

Peanut Butter Samoas Bars
Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, runny or no-stir
  • 7 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 10 oz + 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 7.5 ounces store-bought or homemade soft caramels
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • A few pinches of salt

Directions:
In a large, microwaveable bowl, melt together the peanut butter and butter until completely liquid.  Remove from microwave and stir in powdered sugar.  Press the peanut butter mixture into an even layer in an 8x8 inch square pan.  Melt together the 10 ounces of chocolate chips and remaining tablespoon of butter and mix.  Pour over the peanut butter layer and place in the freezer (or fridge) while you make the topping.

In a medium pan over medium-low heat, toast the coconut, stirring frequently, until golden brown.  Place in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a double boiler (or a medium metal/glass bowl placed over a pot of simmering ((and only simmering, not boiling)) water), combine the caramels, milk, and salt and stir until melted and combined.  Pour the caramel mixture over the toasted coconut and stir to combine.

Immediately press the coconut/caramel mixture onto the peanut butter/chocolate layers, be sure to initially spread it in even chunks as it is quite sticky and will adhere to the still-warm chocolate.  Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and drizzle over the top with a fork.  Place the finished product in the fridge to chill and set up thoroughly, at least 2 hours, or until the chocolate drizzle has hardened.  

Chisel into bars and allow to come to room temp before serving.  Be wary of portions, these are lovely, but rather rich.

Sources:
inspired by Diethood, peanut butter chocolate bars from The Wannabe Chef, and samoas topping from Just a Taste



3.21.2014

Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


  These little circular delights have been sitting in my drafts since winter break, and I just couldn't stand leaving them there any longer.  They are the last things I baked in the home we just moved out of, and baking is all I can think about doing right now, despite the fact that I'm in the library surrounded by piles of homework.  I get some kind of sweet delight in not doing homework when I'm going to the library, it's about as rebellious as I can let myself get this semester.

  I like the library, and it's a good thing, since I spend half my life here now.  Whether it's with friends, by myself, doing homework, studying, or running around leaving funny notes at empty desks.


  So, yeah, I'm a nerd.  A nerd that doesn't like school, go figure.

  To cap the brief happenings of my blog in the lull bewtween posts here, I did an interview with the awesome tea company, The Seventh Duchess.  Check it out here.  Otherwise, my humble ol' shammy is being put into St. Patty's roundups, along with my Guinness Pie, if you're into that good stuff.


  And can I just share a quick highlight from this semester?  My super awesome friend pulled me out of a homework/school is dumb funk one day and we made banana bread muffins.  In doing so, I made a new friend, purely because he happened to smell our fantastic muffin concoctions, and had a spontaneous party in the dorm kitchen due to tweets about my baking.  That pretty much made college worthwhile, right there.  People are too good sometimes.


  But, anywho, about dem cookies.  This recipe comes to you courtesy of Your Cup of Cake, a fantastic gal that I did guest post for a while back on Baked Nutella Doughnuts.  Lizzy is an awesome lady with my kind of hair, and while she makes gorgeous cupcakes, she's also an expert at puppy chow variations.  I like it when she puts out a recipe that's seemingly simple, but turns out really awesome, like these cookies!  She has a few cookbooks out that are definitely worth your time, and I've been loving her single lady/personal posts she's been putting out lately.


  These guys are chewy, coconut-y, and somehow the hint of nutmeg with creamy chocolate morsels just really works.  They're perfect for lazy afternoons watching SNL with your sister.  During which I may or may not have discovered my new favorite Kristen Wiig skit.  I <3 her.


  Peace out, eat cookies, and happy spring my friends.



Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (or coconut flakes)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Cream for 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium for 1 minute.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just combined and only a few dry streaks remain.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the coconut, pecans (if using), chocolate chips, and oats.  

Shape the dough into about golfball-sized balls a few inches apart on the cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft and puffy.  Let cool on cooling racks and store in air tight containers.

Sources: adapted from Your Cup of Cake


12.28.2013

Brown Butter Caramel Apple Dutch Baby


  Friends.  It's been a whopping four months since I last posted.  Guess what we have to catch up on?  Well, firstly, my blogiversary was December 16th, so happy two year birthday to Indigo Scones!  You know, I meant to get a post up about it, but it was in the midst of finals for me, sorry about that.  I made a bigger (if somewhat belated) deal out of it last year, that should make up for it.  Goodness knows what next year will be.  Also, college.  That's happening.  Obviously.  And...I've missed this space.  So freaking much.


  Honestly, so much has happened to me in the past few months. So consider this my end-of-the-year/Christmas/blogiversary/catchup/new fall-ish recipe post.  I'm sorry to do this to you, but that's just how it worked out.

  I don't feel like the same person I was when I last hit publish on a blog post.  I made you tiramisu ice cream sandwiches, I rambled on about baking and spared you from the pre-college stresses going through my head.  You're welcome.

  Long story short, the past few months involved some painful first experiences in what is so romantically called "matters of the heart," my first time being away from home weeks at a time, the discovery that we're moving from my childhood home, learning who my real friends are, and finding out that college may not be the answer to my career calling.

  That's a relatively short list, but it's enough.  Each one of those things took up so much of my time, and are a bit sad.  But then I had a thought.  Or, rather, one of my best friends took my depressed head, screwed it back on correctly, and made me look at things differently.


  She only addressed the "matters of the heart" category, but that was enough to get me thinking.  Yes, I got hurt, but it wasn't enough to merit me thinking about it all the time, and it's an experience I will never forget and learned so much from.  And being away from home?  I never really got homesick, actually.  I learned I can handle living mostly on my own.  Moving away from the house/town I grew up in...well, at least I still have the family and memories that went along with it.  I learned who my friends are the hard way a couple times this year, but the benefit of that is you're left with some awesome people.  And there's a possibility I may not return to college next year, but that only means I can explore more opportunities, and go after what I want to.


  That doesn't make everything easier, but it gave me perspective.  I have to try and find it quite often lately, but at least I try.

  I hope that sort of explains where I've been, and I hope you know that I missed all of this dreadfully.  There were many times I'd sit, frustrated with homework in my dorm, when all I wanted was to get my hands on a camera, my fingers typing a blog post, and to be in a kitchen with ingredients.  I almost didn't finish the year, I wanted out so bad.  But I made a last minute decision to stick with it and do spring semester.  And if I'm honest, a large chunk of the reason why was because I couldn't leave the friends I'd made on my floor.  They are some of the best people I've met, and they support me like nobody else but fellow struggling college students can.  They've been there through all the rocky patches this semester, and I intend to finish the year with the rest of them.

  I really am going to miss my postcard of a farm home, and the view from my window.  We've lived here for so long, but I know we're going towards bigger and better things.

Photo credit for top photo to my friend Nellie

  But, in other news, I've been keeping somewhat busy over break with good friends and baked goods galore.  I hope Christmas was as lovely for all of you as it was for me.


  Now...I suppose some of you actually want to talk about this here pancake.  I'm awfully sorry if you're a first timer here and are wondering what you just got into.  My posts are generally never this long, I do apologize, but my absenteeism called for it.


  I came home often in the midst of fall semester, but only had time to make a little something in my kitchen.  I tend to gravitate towards a nice, somewhat quick breakfast in those instances.  I get some crazy dreams, and when I wake up, a morning alone in the kitchen is just therapy for me.  That's what I needed when I made this pancake.  I just wanted to forget, throw everything in a bowl, whip it up, and then bake it.  I'm not always capable of a large appetite, but I eat what I can and leave the rest for wandering family members.

  I came across the idea for this particular dutch baby from this post, and I've meant to make it for quite some time.  It was entirely worth the wait.


  I caramelized some apples, whipped some batter, poured it all into a pan and called it a day.  It was beautiful, and smelled heavenly.  And it tasted like everything you'd expect it to from the pictures.  I love when things just come together, and that's something I really needed to experience when I made this.

  And with that, Happy New Year to the few readers I hopefully still have out there!  Here's to 2014, I have no idea what it will bring, but at this point anything new will do!  I think I can take it.  Thank you for bearing with me in this major time of transition in my life.  I appreciate you.  



Brown Butter Caramel Apple Dutch Baby
Yield: one 8 or 9-inch pancake, enough to fill up a couple bellies.  Recipe can be doubled using the same pan, or two 6-inch skillets.  

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if doubling the recipe, don't double this amount, it will still grease the pan(s) just fine)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 10 thin apple slices (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons caramel sauce, plus extra for topping if desired
  • powdered sugar for topping, if desired

Directions:
Preheat the oven to  425 degrees F.  In an 8 or 9-inch cast iron skillet set over medium low heat, melt and brown the two tablespoons of butter.  When the butter is just browned, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple slices.  Cook until the apples are softened but still slightly firm, you want them to hold their shape in the oven.

While the apples cook, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, eggs, half-and-half, apple cider, vanilla, and caramel sauce in a medium bowl.  Your batter will likely have a few lumps, that's ok.  When the apples are done cooking, pour the batter in the skillet over the apples.  Slide the skillet into the hot oven.

Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until the center looks set and the edges have risen and are golden brown.  It will rise and puff around the pan while in the oven, but will deflate as it cools.  Top with extra caramel sauce and powdered sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.  

Sources: inspired by Things We Make, pancake recipe adapted from Orangette


8.20.2013

Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwiches


  It can't be humanly tired to be this possible.

  I definitely just said that to myself.  Which tells you two things: 1- I talk to myself, and 2- There may be some incoherent ramblings in this post.  Bear with me.


  My across-the-ocean baking bud Irene and I are back at it!  You recall our last collaboration, the earl grey chocolate cake?  That was a good one.  This time round it was Irene's turn to choose our recipe.  Buuuut instead of choosing something specific, she decided to go with a theme.  An ice cream theme.


  The minute I read her email I had bells going off in my head.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

  I've had my eye on Playful Cooking's tiramisu ice cream for awhile.  Good lord, what's not to love?  There's actual mascarpone in it and everything.  I'll admit, I was skeptical, but I tried a fingerful fresh out of the ice cream maker and was blown away.  It was tiramisu, in ice cream form.  Like, exactly.  The coffee, the mascarpone, it was all there.  All that was missing was the lady fingers.  Which got me thinking...how crazy awesome would tiramisu ice cream sandwiches be?


  So the idea was conceived a long time ago, but only last week did I finally do something about it.  You may not know this about me, but I've certainly tried my hand at tiramisu.  I've made it completely from scratch, in cupcake form, and made a festive version for my sister's birthday strewn with chocolate curls.

  How is it that these things have not made it onto my blog?  Honestly, it beats me.  I guess I was nervous about piping ladyfingers or something and decided to just test it out, but honestly it is not hard.  Tiramisu is danged easy, and hella delicious.  It's one of my favorite desserts.


  The only thing is it is a bit time-consuming.  But listen, if it's labeled quick & easy, it's not worthy of your tastebuds.  I'm sorry.

  Anyway, I made my idea a reality.  I only had one shot at this, and while I'd love to say that it was totally spot-on, it wasn't.  They are wonderful sandwiches and we gobbled them quickly, but there are a few minor changes I've made to the recipe below.  Nothing huge, just the amount of soaking the ladyfinger biscuits need and some proportional things.  You can handle it, I have no worries.


  You see I found the ladyfinger bit to be a little dry, thus the increased soaking in the coffee syrup.  Darn, huh?  Plus, the ice cream does tend to squeege out the sides a bit when you bite into it, but I don't know what to tell you there.  It's an ice cream sandwich.  They're messy.  Grab a napkin, lick your fingers, and get over it.  Also, I found that these were infinitely better after sitting in the freezer overnight, and they're less likely to squeege out the sides the longer they've been sitting frozen.  So be warned, it's a good two-day process to make these.


  So these aren't your atypical squishy enjoyable little sandwiches.  They're a bit more refined than that.  Ladyfingers are fluffy, eggy, sponge-like cookies; not the sticky chocolate-y things you're used to having encompass your super creamy vanilla ice cream.


  But that's totally ok.  You're biting into a coffee-soaked cookie of ladyfinger goodness, and into a creamy layer of mascarpone and coffee-infused ice cream.  The bitter cocoa powder will linger on the roof of your mouth for just a second as you delve into the sweet center, and your teeth may freak a bit if they're hyper sensitive to cold things (like mine), but they'll survive.  Eating these in themselves is an art, and a lovely one at that.  I promise that if you like tiramisu, you will love these.

  Check out Irene's post on Pear Frozen Yogurt!  Dang can she make awesome food.



Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yield: about eight, 3-inch sandwiches

Ingredients for the ice cream:*
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup freshly-brewed strong coffee 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kahlua
*Heads up, you're gonna have leftovers of the ice cream.  Thank me later.


Ingredients for the ladyfinger cookies:
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting later on

Ingredients for the soaking syrup:
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
  • 3 tbsp. Kahlua
  • 6 tbsp. sugar

Directions:
To make the ice cream, pour milk and cream in a saucepan and turn on the heat.  Slit vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the beans out using a small spoon and drop them in the pan along with the vanilla bean pod.  Place mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  In the mean time, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to a creamy consistency in a medium bowl.  Add the mascarpone cheese and whisk until combined.  Continue heating the milk until it is simmering, but not boiling.  Pour 1/4 cup of hot milk slowly into the egg yolk mixture while whisking simultaneously.  Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan of hot milk and give it a mix.  Cook the mixture on a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the custard looks thick and coats the back of a spoon with a thin film.  Pour the mixture in a container and put the container on an ice bath for about an hour or allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight.  

Line a 9 x 13″ pan with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to chill.  Add the espresso powder, coffee, and Kahlua to the chilled custard mixture.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instruction.  When the ice cream has reached a soft serve consistency, spread some of the ice cream into the pan in an even layer about 1 inch thick.  Freeze until firm. 

To make the ladyfingers, pencil eight 3-inch diameter circles onto one side of two sheets of parchment paper (making a combined total of 16 circles).  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with the prepared parchment paper, placing the penciled sides down. This will help the parchment stick to the pan, which you will need it to later on.  Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter will deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter inside the circles you've drawn, be mindful not to mound them so you don't get huge biscuits, keep it one layer and stay inside the lines.

Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness. Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar. You may also use a pastry bush to help it along.

Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until they puff up, turn very lightly golden brown and are still soft. Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack. Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

To assemble the sandwiches, whisk together the coffee, Kahlua, and sugar in a small bowl. Take the ladyfinger cookies and soak each side in the sweetened coffee mixture for about 2-3 seconds. They should be moist but not soggy. Transfer to a work surface to await the ice cream. Take a 3-inch circle cutter and cut circles out of the frozen layer of ice cream, sandwiching them between two ladyfinger cookies. Immediately transfer each completed sandwich into a large container or several smaller containers and place in the freezer. Let them sit for an hour or so to freeze together, then remove and quickly sift a not-too-generous layer of cocoa powder over the tops of the sandwiches. Wrap individually if desired, otherwise just return the covered container(s) back to the freezer. At this point it's preferable to let them sit overnight to let the flavors meld, but just be sure to do at least two hours. Enjoy!

Sources: ice cream adapted from Playful Cooking, ladyfingers adapted from SprinkleBakes, soaking syrup adapted from Annie's Eats, and sandwich method also adapted from Annie's Eats. The idea is an Indigo Scones original.


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