Saturday, February 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

What a crazy week! If you live in the Seattle area, you would have experienced this sort of freak "Snow Storm" that occurred this past Wednesday. Sure it was cold and below freezing but I certainly didn't expect it to snow as much as it did, if at all. I mean, it's almost March!  The weather was extremely strange. At first it was raining. After, the rain died down the sun came out, deceiving all of us Seattle-ites. Soon enough the clouds rolled back in, the temperature dropped even more and that ever so classic, snow that you only see during the Holiday season in December, came falling down.

You may think that it's a good thing that there was snow. I mean Snow days?? Oh yeah! Oh wait, but UW doesn't exactly give out Snow Days as if they were free samples at Costco. Nope, the snow has to turn the hills of Seattle into Mountain Passes for them to give them out. Oh did I mention I had midterms on Thursday and Friday as well? Snow + Midterms = Bad News.

I went to bed thinking there would be school despite the snow and boy was I right. As I woke up, I took a peak out my window and the sidewalks were full of snow and the streets were icy. I took a look at the UW website only to find out that they still opened their doors for classes to start as usual. Did I make it to school? Of course! Thankfully in one piece. ha.  Now that was an adventure. Well, that pretty much sums up my week, what about you? ha.

-Instead of the Icings, I made a basic Cream Cheese Frosting.

Taste: Almost exactly like a Red Velvet Cupcake. A slightly chocolate-ly cookie paired with the tang of the cream cheese frosting

Texture: Cake like cookie with crispier edges and moist center. Topped with the creamy Cream Cheese Frosting.

Red Velvet Black and White Cookies
Recipe via Rachael Ray

1-1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (5 tbsp for the cookie, 3 tbsp for the frosting)
 3/4 cup granulated sugar
 1 large egg
1 tablespoon red food coloring
 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
4 ounces semisweet chocolate

Downsize it:
Make mini cookies using 2-tablespoon scoops of batter

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Using a mixer, beat 5 tablespoons butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, food coloring and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk until smooth.

Place 1/4-cup scoops of batter 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet; spread out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon corn syrup and 2 tablespoons hot water until smooth. In another bowl, combine the chocolate, remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon corn syrup; microwave until melted, about 1 minute.

Coat the cookies with the vanilla, then the chocolate icing. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.

-Aaron John

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blueberry Scones Part Deux

This week, I had this extreme craving for a Blueberry Scone that I actually went and bought two Blueberry Scones this week. With one bite of the Blueberry Scones, time had stopped. Everything moved slowly and images of the past flowed through my mind. What images of my past flowed through my mind you ask? The Blueberry Scone disaster I had about 8 months ago.

Was that a disaster or what? I can remember it as if it were yesterday. The frustration, the despair, the feeling of failure. I couldn't just let that event be. It was time to tackle those Blueberry Scones once again and show them who's boss.

Did I finally triumph over this recipe? No. Were these scones a complete success? Not quite. Were these an improvement from the first time around? Absolutely!

Just like everything, practice makes perfect. I definitely need more practice in the Scone making department but I will get there soon enough! Until then, it's back to square one! These scones will eventually be conquered!

-Instead of heavy cream, I decided to use half and half because the first time I made them, it did not work well with cream.

-I used frozen blueberries in this recipe. It's important to NOT THAW the blueberries when mixing in.

Taste: Buttery and slight sweet "scone bread" with the tang of the blueberries.

Texture: The scones came out to be more doughy than I would have liked. 

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze (Makes 8 scones)
Recipe by Tyler Florence
Blueberry Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones (1 cup half and half)
1 cup fresh blueberries

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Technically you should make this simple lemon glaze in a double boiler (i.e. over a pot of simmering water with a heatproof bowl set on top) but it's even simpler to zap it in the microwave. Mix the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Nuke it for 30 seconds on high. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

-Aaron John

Monday, February 14, 2011

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day sure came fast this year. Today is the day where we see heart shaped everything, people carrying flowers, some with candy, others with stuffed animals and people simply being all lovey-dovey.

When I was in elementary school, I remember the only thing I looked forward to on Valentine's day was the candy and sweets everyone passed out. ha. Didn't you? Now, everything is different, more serious is how I'd like to put it. In fact, Valentines Day can either be this lovey-dovey holiday or Single Awareness Day! The pressure is on today! So go out there and do a little somethin' somethin'.

Decorated Sugar Cookies
What you'll need:
Baked, "Cut-Out" Sugar cookies
Royal Icing

1. Make your Royal Icing and tint it in the color you want to use. In my case, a plain white and a reddish/pink

2. Start by outlining your Sugar Cookie with the Royal Icing. I used a squeeze bottle for this.

3.  Once outlined, take more Royal Icing (that is slightly thinner than what you used to outline) and begin to flood the whole cookie.

4. Once flooded, the fun can begin.

-For a design like the very first picture, put dots of a different colored Royal Icing along the edges of the flooded cookie. Then take a toothpick and drag it through the center of each dot which creates the heart shape

-For a design like the second picture, make lines of different colored Royal Icing that runs from edge to edge of the cookie. Then simply take your toothpick and run it through the icing, up and down.

5. Let the cookies dry for about 24 hrs.

-Aaron John

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Winner Is.....

You've waited long enough and the winning number is....

THREE!! That means Blake has won!! :D Congratulations Blake! I will e-mail you for your $25 Gift Certificate to CSN Stores. Thank you to everyone that entered and a special thanks to CSN Stores for allowing me to do this. Stay tuned. Who knows what I will be giving away! :)

-Aaron John

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Giveaway Entrants And Your Numbers

Hey! So, I numbered all the giveaway entrants in the order you all entered just to make it easier and so you know what your actual number is when I use The winner will be announced tomorrow!! Good Luck to everyone!!

xmadeintaiwan: 1

Domestic Diva: 2

Blake: 3, 4

Shala_Darkstone: 5, 6, 7

Aubrey Laine: 8, 9, 10

Liz: 11, 12, 13

-Aaron John

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chocolate Jumbles

I was looking forward to this weekend all week long! Why? No, it's not because of the Superbowl. If you knew me, you would know that sports and I are not exactly the best of friends. ha. I do have to say, watching football on TV is better than watching basketball or baseball. But that's besides the point. I was excited for this weekend to bake up a storm!

It's been weeks since I've had the time to bake and actually enjoy it instead of rushing the baking process in some of my past posts. At last, no more tests to study for which means baking for fun! First up, these Chocolate Jumbles which comes from Tate's Bakeshop. When reading up on this recipe, it seemed like a great recipe. I mean, the name alone sounds fantastic. 'Chocolate Jumbles'? Such a great name! There's so much more food I want to bake up right now so I'm going to end this post short. I'm off for baking round 2!

Also, if you haven't entered my giveaway for CSN Stores, go ahead and do it! A $25 Gift Certificate towards CSN stores is on the line. Who knows, maybe you'll win. If you want to enter, click HERE to go to my blog post.

-If you can make a chocolate chip cookie you can make these.
-The recipe states to  flatten the dough slightly before baking, which is what I did. However, since the cookie barely spread while baking, the impression of my fingers remained on some. Maybe press down with the bottom of a glass or simply not press them down at all.

Taste: Chocolate cookie filled with nuts to give 'nutty-ness' and even more chocolate.

Texture: Crunch from the nuts and creaminess from the addition of the extra chocolate. Overall, more of a cake-like cookie than chewy. It was somewhat crumbly as well. 

Chocolate Jumbles (Makes 36 Cookies)
By Kathleen King from Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I only had Hershey's on hand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips or chunks (I used semi-sweet chocolate)
1 cup pecans, chopped (I used walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets, or line them with silpat.
In a lage bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix and scrap down the sides of the bowl.

Add the white chocolate chips and pecans. If the dough is too stiff, wet your hands and finish the mixing by hand. (Don't worry, it's not a big sticky mess.)

Using two tablespoons, drop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets. Use and ice cream scoop if you have one. Wet it with warm water between scoops so the dough falls out easily. Press the dough balls down gently with your fingertips.

Bake the Jumbles for 20 minutes. The cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven. Do not overbake them.

Cool them on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and remove the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

-Aaron John

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Time For Another Giveaway!

How's everyone doing this Wednesday? I know there are a lot of Winter Storms happening around the country but Seattle is as sunny as can be. :) Also, since it is a Wednesday, there are only two more days until the weekend! Excited?? I know I am. If the thought of the weekend does n0t excite you, don't worry. I can get you excited. If you follow me on twitter, you would have known yesterday that I was doing a giveaway. Well, the time has come!! Probably everyone's favorite event. A chance to enter a new giveaway!! CSN stores is allowing me to do another giveaway towards their websites! I've said this time and time again but CSN Stores just have a plethora of different items. Modern furniturekitchen utensils, baking tools and so much more. Have you checked them out? Well, you better if you want to win! :) 

CSN Stores is giving you the chance to win a $25 Gift Certificate for any of their online stores! Good Luck to all! Here's how to enter:

You must be a follower of "AJ's Cooking Secrets" through the Google Friend Connect located on the left side bar of my blog to enter this giveaway. If you are not a follower, your entry and/or entries will not be counted.

You have THREE chances to enter!!
1. Leave a comment stating what you would like to buy from CSN Stores with the $25 Gift Certificate, along with your email.
2. Become a fan/liker of my Facebook Fan Page : AJ's Cooking Secrets and leave a comment below stating that you have become a fan/liker. If you are already a fan/liker of my FB Fan Page, leave a comment stating that you are.
3. Follow me on Twitter @aaronjohn04 and leave a comment below stating that you have become a follower. If you are already a follower of my twitter page, leave a comment stating that you are.

Important Guidelines:
-Must be a follower of this blog, "AJ's Cooking Secrets", through Google Friend Connect located on the left side bar for your entry/entries to count. Anyone who "enters" without being a follower of this blog will not be entered into the drawing.
-The Giveaway will last until Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST. The winner will be drawn using The winner will then be announced in a blog post, on my facebook page and emailed that they are the winner. From there, the winner will receive a Gift Certificate Code towards CSN stores.

-Aaron John


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