Saturday, January 29, 2011


Yesterday around 8:00 AM, I was contemplating when I would have time to bake this weekend. With the plethora of tests I had this coming week, would I have time to bake? But if I didn't bake up something, my blog followers will leave! So, in the spur of the moment and with a grin on my face, I grabbed my mixing bowl, took my butter out of the refrigerator and got to baking. After all, I only had 2 1/2 hrs before I left for class at 10:30 AM so I needed to be quick.

I already planned on making Snickerdoodles so I ran to my computer as fast as I could, typed in "snickerdoodles" into the foodgawker search, found the best looking one and decided to make the recipe. See how "spur of the moment" this was? ha. I then grabbed my laptop, ran to the kitchen and measured out my ingredients in less that 5 min. Fast, huh?

I quickly made the dough and let it chill. While chilling, I went to take a shower. I can't waste any time you know? After my shower, it was time to bake. With the dough slightly chilled and the oven preheating, I scooped out the dough, rolled in cinnamon-sugar, baked them off, cooled them, took pictures and left for class. Now that's what I call fast work! :)

Can you believe that I pulled off these cookies in about a about 2 hrs, starting from cold ingredients? Shocking?! I know... Here's how I did this in about TWO hours.

-Slice your butter as thin as you can and place them around your mixing bowl. This speeds up the process of getting them to room temp. Should take about 30 min.

-Take your cold eggs and place them into a glass filled with hot tap water. It brings your eggs to room temp. in about 10 minutes.

-While your cold ingredients are coming to room temp, don't waste any time. Go ahead and measure your flours, sugars, leavening, etc. so you can "dump and mix" when ready

-In chilling this dough, I went ahead and placed it in the freezer for about 30 min. Time Saver!

-Preheat your oven after your dough has been in the freezer for 15 min. For your oven to properly be preheated, it takes about 15 minutes anyway.

Taste: Sweetness and 'spiciness' from the outer coating of cinnamon-sugar and a slight tang from the cream of tartar.

Texture: Crunchy yet chewy edges with a soft, cake like center. 

Recipe From Rebel Without A Sauce, adapted from Martha Stewart

2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups sugar, plus more if needed (1 1/2 for the dough, 1/4 for the cinnamon sugar)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

-Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and 1½ cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.
-Refrigerate the cookie dough for 1-2 hrs

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
-Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough
-In a small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup sugar and the ground cinnamon.
-Roll the balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar.

-Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes.
-Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

-Aaron John

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake

Did anyone hear of the news of Regis Philbin this week?! He's leaving Live with Regis and Kelly! If you're anything like me, you must be extremely saddened by this news! If anything, this was the number one show I would watch on the weekdays if I had the chance. Now, what is it going to be? Live with _____ and Kelly, Live with Kelly and _____? My prediction is going to have to be Neil Patrick Harris. I do have to say, despite being saddened, I really hope Regis has a great retirement! He def. deserves it!

In honor of Regis Philbin, I made cheesecake. Why? When I think of cheesecake, I think New York. When I think New York, I think Regis Philbin! I have to say, some people really despise cheesecake. I, myself, am not a HUGE fan of cheesecake but I'll still eat it. I guess it sort of reminds me of eating frosting with something crunchy. As weird as that sounds, that's really what cheesecake is to me. ha. This cheesecake was delicious though!

-I would actually like to try cooking this cheesecake without a water bath. The crust on the edges of the cheesecake became "doughy" and unpleasant.
-Even though I wrapped my pan with 4 layers of aluminum foil, water still seemed to make it's way in?
-I would also toast the crust instead of refrigerating it before the cheesecake batter is poured in.
-My cheesecake cooked for about 70 minutes instead of the 45 minutes. 45 minutes was just not enough because the cheesecake was still extremely "jiggly".
-Instead of using the blueberry sauce, I decided to macerate sliced strawberries with about 1/2 a lemon and a couple tablespoons of sugar and use that instead

Taste: Tangy yet sweet cheesecake, with acidity from the strawberries to cut the richness of the cheesecake. Plus that classic "graham cracker" flavor from the crust, my fav. part!

Texture: Creamy cheesecake filling and a bit of crunch from the crust, except for the edges of the cheesecake of course. Oh water bath...why must you be that way?

The Ultimate Cheesecake
Recipe by Tyler Florence
2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 dash vanilla extract
Warm Lemon Blueberry Topping, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula spread a layer of Warm Lemon Blueberry topping over the surface.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.

Warm Lemon Blueberries:
1 pint blueberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons sugar
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.

-Aaron John

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

What is it about Oatmeal Cookies that are so good? Is it the oats that give texture to the dough? Is it the actual dough itself in how it's just sweet enough? Is it the crunchy edges and the chewy center that the cookie has right when it comes out of the oven? Or, is it the "Mix-In's" that you can add? Whatever your answer, we are all brought together by the love of an Oatmeal Cookie. 

Whatever your favorite oatmeal cookie is, they all start off the same way, cookie dough batter with oats. After that, add spices and your "Mix-In's". Some prefer raisins, some like chocolate. Some like cranberries, other like cherries. All-in-all, Oatmeal Cookies are essentially healthy. They have oats which give fiber, dried fruits are an energy boosting food, and chocolate is an antioxidant. Plus, with the addition of cinnamon, you make this cookie a superfood! I mean, haven't you seen those McCormick commercials?

Either way, Oatmeal Cookies are healthy. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. ;)

-Bake the cookie for less than 13 min. I used a 1 tbsp scoop and found 13 min was too long.

Taste: The cookie has a slight sweetness, nutty-ness from the oats, and chocolate was...well...chocolate!

Texture: The cookie ended up being too crisp for my liking. I only baked it for 13 minutes and it was hard. I suspect, baking it for less time, maybe 10 minutes, would be best. But, the oats gave a nice chewy texture to the cookie.

Oatmeal ChocolateChip Cookies (Yields 18 large cookies)
Recipe from Who Wants Seconds?

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees, and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, by hand or by mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or a large rubber spatula. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Place dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets by large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons each), leaving at least 2 inches between. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Slide cookies (on parchment) onto cooling rack. Let cool, and store in airtight container.

-Aaron John

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Well, the first week back to school really placed into perspective what I need to do to get through this quarter. I will have to study harder than I've ever had to before and with that, I'm fully prepared to do so. Who knows if I can bake as much as I would like to. I definitely will try and do my best. As of right now, I did bake something! :)

To start off my quarter on a good note, why not make some Chocolate Chip Cookies with a little something extra, Walnuts! I've said this before and I'll say it again, I love the versatility that a Chocolate Chip Cookie gives. Add anything you want and it becomes a whole new cookie. So, instead of a Chocolate Chip Cookie, I decided to add in some Walnuts since for 1. I had them laying around so why not use them? and 2. I felt I needed to add a crunch to these cookies.

Popping these cookies into the oven and waiting for them to come out so that I can devour was painstaking. The smell of chocolate and walnuts filled the air, my sweet tooth desired something that was, of course, sweet and my body that needed something fattening and so called 'bad for you' to some, and yet soooo good for the soul! These cookies, definitely hit the spot..

-Make sure you have all your ingredients at room temperature
-The original recipe is actually for fried cookie dough. I tested it out by baking the dough instead and it worked fine.

Taste: Chocolate-y and sweet but not too sweet. That mixed with chopped walnuts to give nutty-ness, rounded out the flavors.

Texture: The edges were crisp and chewy and the center was gooey and moist. Yum!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie (Makes about 3 dozen)
Recipe by Anne Thornton. Adapted by Me.
Cookie Dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the cookie dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a standing mixer, cream the butter until it is lighter in color. Slowly add in the sugars and cream it until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until they are incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture on low speed, and then mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Take 1 tbsp of the dough and roll it into balls. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet and put them into the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Once firm, bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown and the center is still a bit soft. Cool on a wire rack.

If you want to make the actual deep fried cookie dough, follow the above steps and continue on below.

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg (or 1/4 cup pasteurized eggs)
1/4 cup seltzer water, plus more, if needed
Vegetable oil, for frying
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

For the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the egg and the seltzer and whisk well to combine. Add more seltzer, as needed, until the batter is the consistency of heavy cream.

In a large, heavy bottomed stockpot, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

Coat the chilled cookie dough balls in the batter and very carefully place them into the hot oil. Fry no more than 3 at a time, since you do not want the temperature of the oil to drop. Using a slotted spoon, turn them over a few times until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and serve warm.

-Aaron John
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Milano Cookies

Well, Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a safe, yet wild, New Years Eve! ;) The year of 2010 was full of events for me, personally. From un-deciding and deciding on a major, to starting this blog, to entering Project Food Blog, doing giveaways for you loyal followers and so much more. I definitely had a great time doing it all. If this was the "past" I can't wait for what the future holds! 2010 was great but 2011 is about to be so much better!

So, what is my New Year's Resolution? Spending less time stressing and more time enjoying. Especially in regards to everything school related, I definitely need to "stop and smell the roses" instead of constantly thinking of every step I need to do, to get somewhere. What's your resolution?

With my blog, my resolution for this year is to try and recreate favorite foods that everyone loves. This is why today's blog post is about a favorite, Milano cookies. There's just something about how the cookie crumbles in your mouth and that taste of the dark chocolate that keeps one wanting more. Aren't they so addictive?! So, how did these cookie fare with the original? Well, you'll find out. Once again, Happy New Year everyone! Let's make it a fantastic one! :)

-I used a pastry bag with a Wilton 22 tip to pipe out the cookies
-I ended up baking the cookie for about 17 min instead of the 15 min
-I wanted the classic Milano Cookie so I decided not to make the mint cream

Taste: Pretty similar to a real Milano cookie. A slightly sweet cookie with a contrast from the bittersweet chocolate in between.

Texture: Extremely crunchy cookie with layers of chocolate. Not exactly the iconic "crunch" of a real Milano cookie but for a home-made version, it was pretty good. 

Mint-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies 
Recipe from Try It You Might Like It (from September 2010 issue of Everyday Food)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract (They have great organic peppermint extract at Trader Joe’s.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixture, beat butter and granulated sugar on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Transfer dough to a quart-size zip-top bag; with scissors, snip a 3/4-inch hole in one corner (or use a pastry bag with a plain tip). Pipe 54 cookies (3/4 by 2 inches), 1/2 inch apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake until cookies are light golden at edges, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer immediately to wire racks and let cool.

Melt chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave, about 1 1/2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds. In another bowl whisk together confectioners’ sugar, peppermint extract and 4 tsp water.

With a table knife, spread chocolate on flat side of half the cookies and mint glaze on the other half. Sandwich cookie halves together. I ended up chilling the cookies again to get the chocolate and mint glaze to set.

-Aaron John


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