Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elvis Lives! ... in Chocolate Bark Form

You know what happens when you combine two awesome things? You get something even more awesome. (For example, my parents made me!) So, I've combined a holiday favorite (chocolate bark) with one of Elvis's favorite foods.

Chocolate bark (you can find a Halloween version that I threw together here) is gaining popularity as a go to dessert for the holidays; it's easy to make and you can get really creative with it. Basically, you just melt any type of chocolate you want, spread it on some wax paper and throw a bunch of good-tastin' stuff on it.

Are you familiar with an Elvis sandwich? You should be. It's peanut butter and banana (and often bacon) on thick (usually toasted on the griddle) white bread. Amazing.

As Elvis would say, "A little less conversation, a little more bacon." So, let's get to the good stuff.

If chocolate bark and the Elvis sandwich had a baby (a tasty, tasty baby), it would probably look a little something like this...

(Shout out to Kyle for the awesome light box he made for me. My images should suck significantly less now.)

Elvis Bark


Ingredients
  • Bread = 12 oz. white chocolate chips
  • Peanut Butter = 1/2c each Reese's Pieces (halved) and Peanut Butter Chips
  • Banana = 1/2c dried banana chips (I broke them into smaller bits)
  • Bacon = Duh! BACON! (About 8 to 10 slices, crisped and crumbled)
Directions
  1. Cover cookie sheet with wax paper.
  2. Combine halved Reese's Pieces, banana chips and bacon in a bowl until they are "All Shook Up".
  3. Melt white chocolate chips and spread evenly on wax paper.
  4. Sprinkle pieces/banana/bacon mixture over white chocolate and press into chocolate.
  5. Chill in fridge.
  6. Melt Peanut Butter Chips and drizzle over chilled bark.
  7. Break apart and tear into it like you were Elvis and it was a bottle of your favorite barbiturate.
This turned out to be a hunka-hunka burning awesome. That being said, I actually made a chunk of it sans bacon, and I preferred that version (blasphemy, I know).

Two marriage proposals were issued in relation to the Elvis bark tonight: one was to me, the other was to the bark itself. Should I be jealous?

Easy Breakfast Pastries...Three Ways

Daddy always says, "An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure." (Quick digression: whenever I'm watching a feelings-heavy movie on TV, Kyle asks me, "Is this Steel Magnolias or regular magnolias?")

Any-Julie-Roberts-dies-in-the-middle, these pastries are another in the list of goodies that I made for the workshops at the beginning of the month. I'm hesitant to even say I made them because I basically just bought ingredients and layered them. There are three (hence the name) fillings: white choc. cream cheese mix, raspberry jam drizzled with white chocolate and lemon curd dusted with powdered sugar.



Breakfast Pastries

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling (This recipe is for a full batch, but I only made half)
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-oz white chocolate, melted
  • 3T sugar
  • 1t vanilla extract
Other Stuff
  • already made puff pastry cups
  • more white chocolate, for drizzling
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • lemon curd
  • raspberry jam
Directions
  1. Cream together ingredients for cream cheese mix. And find a big, strong man to help you open up those jars of curd and jam.
  2. Bust out the pastry cups and fill with 1/2 tablespoon of desired filling (lemon, raspberry, or cream cheese).
  3. Bake according to directions on back off puff pastry box.
  4. Let cool completely.
  5. Dust lemon curd with p. sugar and drizzle white chocolate over raspberry.
The addition of the white chocolate to the cream cheese gave it a rich and smooth texture. Make sure to let the lemon curd cool completely or else the p. sugar will just melt right in. Oh and be careful when drizzling the white chocolate. I wanted it to be thin and random over the raspberry jam, so I did a bit of flinging. My kitchen walls and I were covered in flecks of white chocolate by the end.

The cream cheese pastries were the first to go, followed by the raspberry. If you just want to use only one filling, go with the cream cheese. You could even top it with a jam if you feel so inclined.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bacon Pumpkin Pie

What makes everything better? All together now... BACON! Pumpkin pie....meh. BACON Pumpkin Pie? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing! And easy to make, too. Just whip out your favorite pumpkin pie recipe and throw in some crispy, crumbled bacon.

Having never made a pumpkin pie before, I lacked a favorite recipe, so I was totally cool with following the recipe I got from
Bacon Unwrapped. As suggested, I used the pie recipe on the back of a can of Libby's pumpkin puree, not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling.

(You can see bits of bacon here, here, here and here.)

Bacon Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t ground ginger
  • 1/4t ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin (if you don't use Libby's, I won't tell.)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • Whipped cream (Libby's says "optional." I heartily disagree.)
  • 10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Directions
  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture.
  4. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  5. Mix in crumbled bacon.
  6. Pour into pie shell.
  7. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  8. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
  9. Top with whipped cream before serving. Again, NOT OPTIONAL!
I'm only now getting more into pumpkin, and I mainly put bacon in things because other people seem to love it so much but MAN-I-SCHEWITZ this was a faboosh combo. As I ate the sweet pumpkin, with the salty bacon and the completely necessary whipped cream I could hear the Police song "Synchronicity I" playing in my head...

December Dessert - Buckeye Balls

My dessert-for-a-year winner tried these peanut butter-y treats at a friend's house and just had to have some of her own. Although I've never made Buckeye Balls before, there were on my to-do list, so I was quite pleased that she requested them.

Buckeye Balls are named as such because they resemble a buckeye nut. A buckeye nut kind of looks like an eyeball: the ball of the eye being darker (the chocolate coating) and the iris being the lighter part of the nut (the peanut butter peeking through). My Buckeyes? Not so much buckeye looking as completely covered in chocolate. Meh, I'm totally okay with that.

OH MY GOSH GUESS WHAT!!! This recipe contains cereal!!! I was going to have to change my blog to thebaconbaker (ooo, that actually has potential) if I didn't make something with cereal in it soon.

I got the recipe from my coworker, Jillian, who makes Buckeye Balls for Christmas pretty much every year. So away we go...


Buckeye Balls

Ingredients
  • 1/2c butter, softened
  • 2c creamy peanut butter (I used the HT brand. Holla!)
  • 3c Rice Krispies
  • 1lb. (about 4 to 4 1/2c) powdered sugar
  • 1pkg. chocolate baking bark
Directions
  1. Cream together butter and peanut butter to make peanut butter butter. (That amuses me; don't ask me why.)
  2. In a large large large large bowl, mix together p. sugar (sift into bowl) and Rice Krispies.
  3. Add pbb mixture to cereal mixture and mash together using your hands (HURRAY!) until fully combined.
  4. Scoop and roll tablespoon-sized (1 inch) balls and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Melt baking bark and coat.
These were pretty darn great! It makes a bunch and it is actually less work than making cake balls (similar directions).

I haven't gotten feedback from Wanda yet; however my sessy (sexy and sassy) friend Ryan (Shout out!) really enjoyed them. And he doesn't do sweets (sometimes he won't even try my creations!), so that says a lot.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mini-Crescent Rolls Three Ways

So I watch this awesome show Chopped on Food Network. Chefs compete to create an appetizer, entree and dessert that features ingredients from mystery baskets. Each course has a different basket and one chef gets "chopped" after each round. I love it for the creativity that the chefs have to use on the spot to figure out how to incorporate whatever is in the basket into a tasty dish.

I'm mentioning the show because a. it's awesome and 2. in the entree round it's common for a chef to decide they are going to cook something "three-ways." So it seemed like a appropriate title for this post...but I feel totally pretentious for using it.

Again, these were for the morning of one of our workshop days. Most of the stuff that I made was not from scratch, so it shouldn't surprise you that I used Pillsbury crescent rolls. Just to give you a heads up, there aren't many specifics for the amounts of each ingredient. I kind of just went with the flow for the most part.

(Starting at the top left and going clockwise: hazelnut, almond, cinnamon sugar.)

Mini-Crescent Rolls Three Ways

Ingredients

Rolls
  • 3 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • Nutella
  • Almond Paste
  • Cinn/Sugar
  • Butter
  • chopped hazelnuts
  • egg white (for egg wash)
Toppings
  • chopped and toasted almonds
  • 1c powdered sugar
  • 3T milk
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • more Nutella
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prep some baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using one can of crescents per flavor combo, slice each roll in half starting from the shortest end of the triangle so you end up with 16 long, skinny triangles.
  3. Almond crescents: Spread almond paste (maybe 1/2 to 1t) on each slice and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  4. Hazelnut crescents: Spread Nutella (maybe 1/2 to 1t) on each slice, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  5. Cinnamon roll crescents: Spread butter on each slice, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  6. Arrange on prepared baking sheet, brush with an egg wash and bake for 6 to 10 minutes.
  7. Let the rolls cool.
  8. For the toppings, mix the powdered sugar and the milk in a bowl, then divide equally among three bowls.
  9. Add almond extract to one, vanilla to another and Nutella to the third (the amount should be based on your preference of flavor). Feel free to mess with the milk the powdered sugar ratio to get a good drizzling consistency.
  10. Drizzle the almond icing over the almond crescents and then sprinkle with the chopped toasted almonds. Drizzled the vanilla icing over the cinnamon sugar crescents and the Nutella icing over the hazelnut crescents.
Jillian particularly liked the almond crescents and declared that she was now dating one. I hope things work out for those crazy kids.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holy Deep-Fried Cake Balls, Batman!

Counter-top deep fryer? Best. Idea. Ever. We've already deep-fried a number of things: pretzels, Doritos, Reese's Pieces, Oreos, jalapenos, pot stickers, mini-Hot Pockets called Hot Shots, basically anything we could get our hands on. But the best thing by far (BY FAR!!) were the cake balls.

Again, like with the cupcakes, I did not coat the cake balls in chocolate. But I did coat them in a tasty batter. The batter I used is usually used for deep-frying Twinkies. It's got vinegar in it, which cuts the sweetness of the batter to keep it from overpowering the actual thing that is being fried. Worked great.



Deep-Fried Cake Balls

Ingredients
  • 1c milk
  • 2T vinegar
  • 1T oil
  • 1c flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • one batch of cake balls, frozen (your choice, but I used Funfetti)

Directions
  1. Ready your cake balls and your deep fryer.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, sans the balls (kind of like a eunuch, tee-hee!).
  3. Coat the cake balls in the batter. Fry until light to golden brown (eh, as soon as the batter looks done, take them out)
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! These were soooooooooooo amazing. Ryan (Mr. I-don't-do-sweets) even had to admit that they were good. I am so making them again, and I hope it's sooner rather than later.

Oh! Before I end, I should make sure I mention that these were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD! (In case I wasn't clear before).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes

Some people think it's weird that I baked my own cake for my birthday. But it's my birthday and I'll bake if I want to, bake if I want to, baaaaaaaaaake if I want to. And I always want to. (Ha! That song is so going to be stuck in your head now!)

You know I'm a fan of the meta-desserts, so I took inspiration from one of my favorite food blogs, Bake It in a Cake. I thought to myself, "What the most awesome thing I could bake inside a cake?" DUH! MORE CAKE!!!

So Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes were born!


Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes

Part 1: Cake Balls


Ingredients
  • 1 box Funfetti cake (with corresponding eggs, oil, water)
  • 8 oz Funfetti frosting
  • As many extra multi-colored sprinkles as you can jam in there
Directions
  1. Bake cake as directed and let cool.
  2. Crumble up cake into HUGE bowl. Mix in all of the frosting and tons of sprinkles.
  3. Scoop into tablespoon-size balls and let chill.
Part 2: Chocolate Cupcakes (I used the Cake Mix Doctor's Sour Cream Choc. Cupcakes)

Ingredient
s
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients at low speed until incorporated, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Line cupcake pan.
  3. Scoop 1T of cake batter in each cupcake pan.
  4. Place one cake ball into each T of batter.
  5. Top with an additional heaping 1T of cake batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (it may take more time, but start with that) and let cool completely.
Part 3: Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla. Add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.
  2. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Then, frost those meta-awesome-cakes up, roll the tops in sprinkles and prepare to eat the best birthday cupcake ever! EVER!!

They were moist and fabulous, and exactly what I was hoping for. It was time consuming as I had to bake two totally different cakes (and the scooping and rolling of the balls takes time), but man was it worth it. WORTH IT!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fruit Swirl Coffee Cake

We have workshops going on at work right now for our high-end clientele. We provide breakfast-y things, coffee/tea, fruit, snacks, etc. every day. This time around, I wanted to try out baking the breakfast-y things myself instead of purchasing them from the store.

I knew at one point that I definitely wanted to make coffee cake, but it took me a hot minute to decide on the recipe. I didn't want to make just one flavor option, so this recipe from Betty Crocker/Bisquick actually turned out great as it made two cakes. Switching out the fruit was simple.


Fruit Swirl Coffee Cake

Ingredients

Coffee Cake
  • 4 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 can cherry pie filling AND 1/2 can peach pie filling
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of 1 (15x10x1-inch) pan or 2 (9-inch) square pans with shortening or cooking spray. In large bowl, stir all coffee cake ingredients except pie filling; beat vigorously with spoon 30 seconds.
  2. Spread two-thirds of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) in 15x10-inch pan or one-third of the batter (about 1 1/4 cups) in each square pan. Spread cherry pie filling in one pan and peach pie filling in the other (filling may not cover batter completely). Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls onto pie filling.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown. Meanwihle, in small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake. Serve warm or cool.
These turned out well and looked all shiny and lovely. The clients enjoyed both options, but the peach was finished up before the cherry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Irish Christmas Cookies - November Dessert

Another boozy treat, but this time it's not for me. These cookies were requested by my free dessert each month winner.

This request coincided nicely with my buying the Jameson for the Irish Cake Bombs, so I had that on hand. And it's that time of the year when people start making fruit cake. Lucky for me or else I would never have found candied citron at a regular grocery store. (A Southern Season carries it year round, but I swear that's where the Minotaur lives, so I try to avoid it).

I would give props to K-roger for hooking me up, but then they didn't have any golden raisins. LAME!


So after a few trips here and there, I was ready to bake (well,
I'm always ready to bake, but I may not always have exactly what I need).


Irish Christmas Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1c butter, softened
  • 1c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2c flour
  • 1/4c Irish whiskey
  • 1/4c candied citron, chopped
  • 1/4c golden raisins, blanched ("Buh?" you say? I'll explain) and chopped
  • 1/4c almonds, chopped
Directions
  1. Soak the raisins in the whiskey for an hour or two (aka blanching).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F and bust out that glorious, glorious invention you know and love: parchment paper and slap it on a cookie sheet.
  3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  4. Beat in the eggs until well blended.
  5. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
  6. Add the whiskey along with the fruit and nuts, and mix well.
  7. Drop cookie dough (tablespoon-sized) onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (Surprisingly, I wasn't lied to this time around. 8 minutes was perfect. Thanks oven thermometer!)
  9. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets with a spatula (thanks for clearing that up; I was going to use my face) while still warm. Place on wire rack to partially cool.
  10. Store the cookies in an airtight container with a slice of white bread to maintain their soft, fruity texture.
I wasn't in the office when Wanda picked up the cookies, so both she and my co-worker (and buuuuuuuuuddy) Jillian, were confused when they saw a random piece of bread in this bag of cookies.

I wasn't impressed; just not my thang, but Wanda enjoyed them, and I quote, "
OHMYGOSH!! They are DELICIOUS!!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BACON Oreo Truffles

Do you remember the commercials with that old lady that's always asking, "Where's the beef?"? Of course, you do. Well that's like me...only with pork, bacon to be exact. I could also be compared to the Frank's Red Hot Lady b/c "I put that $h!% on everything!" I actually also put Frank's on everything (well, I at least used to). Unfortunately, I had to switch over to Texas Pete's Hotter Hot Sauce awhile ago but only because I can't find Frank's Xtra Hot ANYWHERE! Lame.

Anypig, when I saw the recipe for Oreo Truffles, my first thought was, "Where's the bacon?" Did you know there's a pig shortage? But does the increasing price of bacon hinder me? Ha! Never! You can't put a price on awesome. And that's just what these babies are.

(Oh my gosh, do you see the chunks of bacon????)

Bacon Oreo Truffles

Ingredients
  • 1pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups crushed Oreos (creme included)
  • 12 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • white chocolate bark
Directions
  1. Process Oreos into a fine crumb in a food processor.
  2. Mix Oreo crumbs and cream cheese until blended.
  3. Stir in crumbled bacon.
  4. Roll tablespoon of mix into ball shape (should make around 48). Let chill.
  5. Melt bark and dip truffles into bark.
  6. Let chocolate set and then enjoy the heck out of those things.
Who doesn't love Oreos...and bacon? So when you put them together, well, that's some Harry Potter magic right there. I'm getting low on ways to say that they were faboosh and everyone really enjoyed them, so we'll just leave it at that.

No marriage proposals this time around, but a few choice words were uttered. I'll take it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Super Simple Pumpkin Tiramisu

My brother and his wife recently bought a townhouse and wanted to host Thanksgiving. So we made the trek up to MD on Wednesday night and I busted out this award-winning dessert for dinner the next day.

I know what you're thinking, "Becky, did you say 'award-wining'?" Why, yes, I did. Thanks for asking. Wanna hear the story? Of course, you do.

Last year our church held a pumpkin-themed cooking/baking contest. They had a few categories: entree, dessert, most creative and overall greatest-pumpkin-based-food-you'll-ever-eat-in-your-entire-life-prepared-by-the-most-awesome-person-you'll-ever-meet-in-your-life. Guess which category I won for my Pumpkin Tiramisu? Suffice to say I thought it would be a good idea to reprise this recipe for Thanksgiving.

I found the recipe on Epicurious.com. And this Super Simple Pumpkin Tiramisu didn't lie to me (unlike the penuche frosting)! It IS super simple!


Super Simple Pumpkin Tiramisu

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2c chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 8oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 15oz. pumpkin pure
  • 1 1/2t pumpkin pie spice
  • 2pkgs (3oz. each) halved ladyfingers
  • 1/4c rum
  • 2oz. thin ginger snap cookies, crushed
Directions
  1. Beat mascarpone, pumpkin and pie spice until well combined (no streaks of cheese).
  2. Beat whipping cream and sugar until peaks form.
  3. Fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated.
  4. Line bottom of 8 1/2-inch spring-form pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 1 package ladyfingers, overlapping and crowding to fit. Brush with 2T rum.
  5. Spread half of filling over ladyfingers.
  6. Repeat with second package ladyfingers, remaining 2T rum, and remaining filling. Smooth.
  7. Wrap tightly in plastic, then foil. Chill overnight. (Wanted to make sure you saw this.)
  8. To unmold, run knife around inside edge of pan. Release and remove pan side.
  9. Sprinkle with ginger snap cookies immediately before serving.
Based on the reviews, I switched up the recipe just a bit. (The recipe above reflects my changes). I doubled the pumpkin pie spice (it needed to be stepped up a notch), beat the pumpkin mixture together first (for a smoother consistency), and used ginger cookies instead of another kind (Oh snap!) that I don't feel like going back to see how to spell correctly. I think all of these changes were an improvement as it won me an apron (!) last year.

You have to put the cookies on the top only right before you cut it because they can soften up quickly and the texture of the crunchy cookies really adds to the final outcome.

This is truly a great fall recipe that you can put together in a jiffy (the night before you need it, that is).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Candy Corn Bark

What do ghosts where when it rains? If you guess "ghoulashes," you would be correct. I would also accept "Boooooooooooooooooooots." High-oh!

This was surprisingly my only Halloween-specific treat this year...so far (I've got a few packs of Halloween Peeps that I'm saving for when we get a Fry Daddy).

Chocolate bark has become popular recently. I think it's a wonderful way to make a quicky (typo and it stays! oh my!) and easy personalized treat. Just melt a bag of your favorite type of chocolate chip; spread it on some wax paper; throw whatever your heart desires atop the chocolate and let it cool.

These particular ingredients had a Halloween flair to them.

Candy Corn Baking Bark

Ingredients
  • 12oz white chocolate chips
  • 1/2c or so pretzels, broken
  • 1/2c or so Oreos, broken
  • 1/2c or so candy corn
  • 1 bottle Halloween-themed sprinkles
Eh, with measuring the mix-ins, you just kind of have to feel things out.

Directions
  1. Make sure all of your mix-ins are ready to go.
  2. Cover baking sheet with sheet of wax paper.
  3. Melt entire bag of chips and pour onto wax paper.
  4. Spread chocolate over wax paper with spatula.
  5. Distribute mix-ins evenly over chocolate and press in.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, then break apart and enjoy.
Easy to make and even easier to eat. We had a bunch of the college kids from church over on Sunday for crazy pancakes. I have a few leftover mix-ins from that lunch that I might have to throw in to a batch of chocolate bark for next week's trivia night. That's where I took this batch of bark and it was a big hit.

I am actually very interested in trying a handful of different combos of chips and mix-ins. And, yes, both cereal and bacon will be involved. Duh.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Congo Bars (aka Blondies with Coconut)

Whenever I hear the word "congo," I think "Amy, pretty." and "Ugly gorillas, ugly. Go away." It's the movie with the monkey that signs and wears a machine that makes it seem like she's talking. But I digress.

Any-non-chocolate-brownies, I am still on a fall-oriented baking kick. Blondies remind you of fall, right? Well, if they don't, they should because that's why I made them.

Technically with the addition of toasted coconut they become Congo Bars. I don't particularly understand why coconut makes the descriptor "Congo" apt, but I'll go with it.


Congo Bars

Ingredients
  • 7 1/2oz AP flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 12T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 10 1/2 oz brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (Why do recipes specify LARGE eggs? Are they really that much bigger?)
  • 1 1/2t vanilla
  • 1/2c semisweet chocolate chips (ATK says to use these instead of butterscotch)
  • 1/2c white chocolate chips
  • 1c pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2c unsweetened coconut, toasted
Directions
  1. Purchase this immediately. Don't make any more brownies, blondies, or other dessert-y bars without it. And spray with veggie oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a different bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix (...or else. BUM BUM BUM!)
  6. Fold in the semisweet and white chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and the nuts.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch (22 to 25 min).
  9. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely.
To toast the coconut: Bake at 350 degrees, stirring 2 to 3 times, until light golden, for 4 to 5 minutes.

The Baker's Edge? We have one; it's awesome. That is, if you have a preference for edges. And brownies, etc. bake more evenly in this pan.

These Congo bars were thick and rich. I had really wanted to use butterscotch chips, but ATK said that the flavor didn't stand out enough and their tasters had responded much more favorably to semisweet. ATK has yet to let me down, so I was happy to follow their advice. I think it turned out well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Guinness, Baileys and Jameson Cake Balls: Attempt 1

On Wednesday nights, we go to a local pizza joint for team trivia. It's fun times, tasty food and an opportunity for me to try out my baking on some new people. This week I was commissioned to make a dessert that contained alcohol. "Done and done." I thought. I hadn't made cake balls in a while, so I knew I wanted to work something out with those AND my past experience with baking an this kind of cake was a good one. I just needed to figure out a way to get it done quickly and easily. Success!

Let's break these suckers down...


Guinness, Baileys and Jameson Cake Balls: Attempt 1

Ingredients


Cake

  • 1 box choc. cake mix (and required eggs and oil)
  • 1 bottle Guinness (to be used instead of water)
Frosting

  • 1 can (8oz) white frosting
  • 4T Bailey's
  • 1/4c p. sugar
Whiskey Syrup
  • 2T Jameson Whiskey
  • 1/4c water
  • 1/4c sugar
  • vanilla baking bark
Directions

  1. Bake cake as directed, but use beer when it calls for water.
  2. Cool cake completely and crumble into a large bowl.
  3. Mix Bailey's and frosting until incorporated and then mix in powdered sugar until smooth.
  4. Add frosting to cake crumbs and mix and mash until combined.
  5. Scoop into tablespoon-sized balls and chill in freezer for 30min.
  6. Meanwhile, heat water and sugar on stove over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely.
  7. Take sugar mixture off of the stove, add in the whiskey and let it cool.
  8. Remove cake balls from freezer and drunk (typo and it stays) ...or DUNK them into the whiskey syrup.
  9. Put the cake balls back in the freezer for a good long while.
  10. Melt the baking bark (more instructions later due to shoddy results) and coat the cake balls.
  11. Booze it up!
These little cake balls were more than troublesome. The whiskey syrup coating caused the baking bark to seize up after two or three cake balls were dipped. I wasted a lot of time and baking bark trying to figure out how to coat these miscreants. I finally figured out that I had to just melt a bunch of bark, and distribute it among several bowls so I wouldn't ruin the whole batch.

They were a pain pain pain pain pain. But they were worth it.
They were super moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and you could really taste each flavor of booze. Lots and lots of moans on this one. 

I still have a few in my fridge if anyone is interested.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin up the Jam...or Dip

Just wanted to remind you that it is fall. And the best way to do that is to make something involving pumpkin.

I got this recipe from one of my bible study cohorts. As I have mentioned before, we try to make things that are gluten-free on those nights. I thought this was a particularly good outcome of the gf experience.


Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients
  • 60z. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2c brown sugar
  • 1/2c canned pumpkin
  • 2t maple syrup
  • 1/2t cinnamon
Directions
  1. Put first 3 ingredients in bowl and beat with mixer really well until cream cheese lumps are out.
  2. Add syrup and cinnamon and beat until smooth.
  3. Cover and chill for 30 min.

The recipes suggested that I serve the dip with apples or ginger snaps. But I served it with apples AND ginger snaps. Fall-i-est. Combo. Ever.

It's smooth and creamy and it goes great with both the apples and the cookies. I would recommend it as a quick and easy appetizer/side/dessert to take with you to a party or put out when you have a few guests coming over.

Chocolate Covered Twinkies

We went to the NC state fair in October and it was AWESOME! By the time I was done trying everything I wanted to, I was oozing oil. Good times. I went with my friend Sara (among a handful of other rockin' people) and she almost got herself a chocolate-covered Twinkie...but I talked her out of it.

"Pshht!" I said. "I could totally make those for you and it won't cost you $3." So that's what I did.


Chocolate-Covered Twinkies

Ingredients
  • Twinkies (as many as you want to make)
  • baking bark
  • accompaniments (I chose sprinkles, coconut and chopped peanuts)

Directions
  1. Free (typo and it stays...or freeze) the Twinkies.
  2. Ready your accompaniments so you can roll the covered Twinkies in them immediately after they are dipped.
  3. Melt your chocolate.
  4. Dip the Twinkies in the chocolate and then roll them in whatever. Optional: Cut the Twinkies in half. I found it was easy to coat them this way.
  5. Let them chill and serve those babies up.
The sprinkles were the clear winner. I would just suggest foregoing all other topping options. I liked when the chocolate was cold and crunchy, but Kyle preferred the Twinkies after they had warmed and the chocolate didn't crack when you bit into the sugary goodness. They were super good and ridiculously easy to make.

Sara was pleased she waited. (At the fair, she got a Bloomin' Onion instead of the Twinkie.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Variety Is the Spice of Life: The Cookie Cake Pie Edition

I originally ran across the concept of a Cookie Cake Pie earlier on in the year and decided that it need to become part of my regular rotation. But I've just been finding so many other new and equally enticing recipes that I put this one on the back burner.

The ingredients are simple: one pie crust, one batch cookie dough, one cake mix (the "snack size" that makes 12 cupcakes is perfect for this; otherwise, you should only use half the mix), and frosting. The directions are just as easy: slap that pie crust in a pie plate, smash the cookie dough down in there and top with cake batter, bake it, cool it, frost it.


Everything can be a pre-made or a box mix. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

But here comes the tricky part; try to stay with me now: exactly what kind of crust, dough, batter, frosting do you use? The possibilities are endless! I couldn't commit to just one combination, so I made two of these bad boys.



Cookie Cake Pie Version 1
Ingredients
  • one pre-made pie crust (ain't not shame in my game)
  • one batch white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies dough
  • one snack-sized chocolate cupcake mix (and the necessary eggs, oil and water)
  • one 8oz can buttercream frosting
Directions
  • In pie plate layer pie crust, cookie dough (smash it down in there) and cake batter.
  • Cover the crust with foil for the first 20 to 25 minutes of baking.
  • Bake at 350 until the cake is fully baked (it took around 35 to 45 minutes) and everything else will just kind of work out.
  • Cool completely and frost. Then slice that baby up and enjoy!
The buttercream frosting is a new thing from both Duncan Hines and Pilsbury. I used the Duncan Hines buttercream this time around and found that it pretty much tasted like vanilla frosting. Seeing as I do not like canned vanilla frosting (fluffy white all the way!), I was not impressed. But this version was still tasty over all.

Now be sure to clean those spectacles before you read this next part just to make use you don't miss the important difference.


BROWNIE Cake Pie Version 2
Ingredients
  • one pre-made pie crust
  • one batch pre-made brownie bites (these were quite elusive, shout out to TollHouse on this one)
  • one snack-sized funfetti cupcake mix (and the necessary eggs, oil and water)
  • one 8oz can fluffy white (holla!) frosting

Directions...same as above, sucka!

As Michelle Tanner would say, "Yummy in the tummy!" Like I said, this is a fun and easy recipe. And the only thing to limit you is your own creativity. I'm still contemplating mixing up the pie crust to a graham or an oreo. I'll be sure to let you all know how that turns out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

This is one of my mom's staple recipes that always goes over well with a crowd. And it was another one of the recipes mom and I made for the party. I don't have all the details, but I think she got it from a Pilsbury baking book.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Chocolate chips and cheese? I don't know how I feel about that." But I assure you that (a) it's not what you think and (2) you will regret not making it for your next function.


Forget what you think you know about cheese balls; this one's for after dinner, not before. If you don't like chocolate chips or cream cheese, forget about that, too. You'll like this.



Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

Ingredients
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2c butter, softened
  • 1/4t vanilla
  • 3/4c powdered sugar
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 3/4c mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4c pecans, chopped
  • chocolate graham crackers (for spreading)
Directions
  1. Cream together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Gradually add sugars and beat until just combined.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Shape into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for another hour.
  6. Unwrap cheese and roll it in the chopped pecans. Try to get as many nuts to stick to it as you can. (That's what she said?)
  7. Serve with the grahams.
Oh. My. Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooodness. This stuff is Tony the Tiger grrrrrrrreat. Tons of people at the party were asking about what was in it and were looking for the recipe from the mama.

Now the original recipe just says to spread this mess on a regular graham cracker, but if you can find chocolate graham crackers, they really take this entire concoction to a new level.

Who Put the Dip in the Dip Duh Dip Duh Dip?

It was me!

My folks had themselves a p-a-r-t-y on Saturday night, so I went up to visit. Beforehand, my ma and I made some tasty treats. One of them was this SUPER easy (I used to date a guy like that) Nutella Cream Cheese Dip. It was so easy to make that if I called it a Nutella Cream Cheese Milk Dip, you would know all the ingredients.

Please, please, please tell me you have experienced Nutella. It's a chocolate hazelnut spread that you'll often see equated to PB. Oh man, it's good. Like eat it directly out of the jar good.


Nutella Cream Cheese Dip
Ingredients
  • 1/2c Nutella
  • 1/2c cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/3 to 1/2c milk (depending on how thin you want it)
Directions
  1. Cream together Nutella and cream cheese until no white streaks are left.
  2. Beat in milk until creamy (a few minutes). Like I mentioned, you can keep adding as you see fit.
  3. Let is chill. (But you'll want to take it out to give it time to warm up a bit so it's easier to spread.)
It goes great with apples. I threw some mallows and pretzels out there, too (as you can see). It turned out great and was a hit at the party.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bacon Rice Krispies Treats

Dear Bacon,

We've been apart for far too long.

Hogs and kisses,

Becky

Get it? Get it? Hogs, not hugs! Because it's bacon...

Aaaaaaanyways, while peddling my baked goods around Duke Camp Out this weekend, I was asked if any of them contained bacon. The answer, surprisingly, was no. Regardless, word of my bacon exploits spread and I was requested to make a treat of e-pig (and she's back!) proportions.

I have made Bacon Rice Krispies Treats once before. It was for a church breakfast gathering. WAIT WAIT! Before you judge, think about it: bacon, cereal (with marshmallows) and butter. This is just your run-of-the-mill breakfast fare. And they were a hit; Nobel Prize worthy, I was told.

Like I am prone to do with these types of treats, I won't be putting up a full recipe. But I'll still give you the need to know.


Bacon Rice Krispies Treats

Ingredients
  • Your favorite Rice Krispies Treats recipe
  • 1 pkg. cooked and crumbled bacon
Directions
  1. You know the drill.
Tip: Mix the bacon into the cereal before you add it to the mallows.

Yes, you read correctly: one whole package of bacon. But if you look at the picture, you'll notice the proportions work out well. I find that broiling the bacon is quick and easy and a good way to get it extra crisp.

I took these to Trivia Night. There was moaning (and not the wailing/gnashing of teeth kind, the good kind). And THEN I let them try the bacon treats. High-oh! I kid! I kid!

I also got a "If you weren't married..." from a hot guy with an accent. That should count for at least double.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I should really start posting non-baking dishes. For instance, these cookies we an ending to a fabulous Chicken Pot Pie with a side of Cranberry Relish. Again, it's the season for pumpkin, so expect a few more pumpkin-y recipes from me before winter hits.

I was looking for something easy, not too sweet and not super bad for you. I think these cookies did the trick. The recipe uses a pre-made oatmeal cookie mix, so I basically just had to throw in a few ingredients and then whatever mix-ins I desired.

I found this recipe via Libby's (providers of pure pumpkin puree). Did you like the alliteration there? Just showing my folks that the money they poured into my English degree is paying off.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1pkg. oatmeal cookie mix
  • 1/2c pure pumpkin puree
  • 3T veg oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1c of whatever mix-ins you want. (I chose 1/2c of craisins and 1/2c of white choc. chips.)
Directions
  1. Preheat that oven to 375ยบ F.
  2. Combine cookie mix, pumpkin, oil and egg in large bowl.
  3. Stir in mix-ins.
  4. Drop by tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased (always parchment lined for me) baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned and set in centers (mine took about 7). Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
The boys put a hurtin' on the pot pie, but they (sans Kyle) aren't big on sweets. So the dent in the pile of cookies was relatively insignificant. I took the rest of the cookies along to my Tuesday night Women's Bible Study.

I always want to abbreviate on my calendar as BS...funny, but not accurate. Yes, not appropriate either, but being appropriate, as you might have guessed, is not something I consider a priority.

I got lots of compliments from the ladies on the cookies, but no marriage proposals this time around. Tough crowd.



Monday, October 4, 2010

Meta-Dessert #3: Gooey Pecan Pie Brownies

Saving the best and most decadent for last! Yes, Gooey Pecan Pie Brownies. And don't be thinking that I just threw a few pecans and some caramel into a pan of brownies. This is an entire frozen Pecan Pie chopped up and baked into two Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie mixes. Now that's what I call a meta-dessert.

Go big or go home, suckas!

This recipe is from the Cake Mix Doctor (I'm telling you this chick knows what's what). When Kyle and I read the ingredients, we started laughing from the sheer ridiculousness. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Warning: Be sure to gird your loins before taking a look at these babies.


Ok, I'll give you a moment to compose yourself. Nope, you still have a bit of drool riiiiiiight there. Yup, you got it. Moving on...

Gooey Pecan Pie Brownies

Ingredients
  • 2 boxes brownie mix (Like I said, I used Betty Crocker Supreme with the Hershey's syrup in it.)
  • 2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 frozen Pecan Pie
Yes, those are the ingredients.

Directions
  1. Again take a moment.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 9x13 pan.
  3. Mix brownie mix, melted butter and eggs in a BIIIIIIG bowl until incorporated (about 40 strokes). Heehee...yes, I'm like a 12-year old. And if you know why I was giggling, you are, too. Don't judge.
  4. Keep pie in freezer until ready to use (it's not really frozen frozen). Remove from pan and chop into 3/4 inch pieces (I think mine were a little smaller than that).
  5. Fold pie chunks into brownie mix and spread into prepared pan. Smooth down with spatula.
  6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the edges are set and the middle is only a little soft to the touch.
  7. Let cool completely for at least 1 hour.
  8. Cut them into bars and pray to Jesus that your heart doesn't stop from the awesomeness upon consumption. (Although what a way to go.)

So good. Soooooooooooooooooooooooo good. Chopping up the pie wasn't difficult, but folding it into the already ridiculously thick batter was a chore. Of course, it took way longer for them to bake than 55 minutes, but that seems to be a theme throughout my baking. Yet when I tried to out maneuver that trickery with the muffins, it backfired. Blast! (The visual: me shaking my fist in a "Curses, foiled again" manner).

And even after the extended baking time, they were quite gooey. (I suppose that's part of the reason for the "gooey" in the name, aside from the pie itself). But I needed to get them out of the oven so they could cool, and I could take them to my men-folk.

By merely reading this post you've already added inches to your thighs. But it is worth every nanometer. Suffice to say I received a number of marriage proposals over the weekend.

I will be making these again. Oh yes, I will be making these again.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meta-Dessert #2: Blueberry Muffin Pop Tart Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a classic breakfast item...so are Pop Tarts. So the geniuses at Kelloggs created a Blueberry Muffin Pop Tart. This is the description from the website: Mash two super-tasty breakfasts together, and this is what you get: sweet, sprinkly icing on a golden muffin crust packed with blueberry bits filling.

And because I am a SUPER genius, I thought, "Let's take this one step further and put the Blueberry Muffin Pop Tarts...IN A MUFFIN!" Oh my gosh, did your head just explode?

Although I had great success with the ATK Blueberry Muffins previously, I wanted to try out a something new, so the base of my muffins is courtesy of Alton Brown.

Check out this awesome picture. You can see the gooey chunks of Pop Tart. Yes!


Blueberry Muffin Pop Tart Muffins

Ingredients
  • 12 1/2oz. cake flour
  • 1t baking soda
  • 2t baking powder
  • heavy pinch salt
  • 1c sugar
  • 1/2c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1c yogurt (I used low-fat vanilla)
  • 8 Blueberry Muffin Pop Tarts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  3. Remove crust from Pop Tarts and chop into 12 pieces each.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients reserving 1T of the dry ingredients and toss with the Pop Tarts. Stir mixture for a count of 10.
  6. Add most of the Pop Tarts (save like 12 pieces) to mixture and stir 3 more times.
  7. Using a 1/4c measuring cup, add the mixture to greased muffin pans. Place one piece of Pop Tart on top of each muffin and press down lightly.
  8. Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
  9. Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely. (The Pop Tarts on top might stick though, so pick them up every once in a while).
The original recipe called for baking them for 20 to 25 minutes. And I think I tried to do the total 25 they wound up too brown in my opinion, so I say bake less at first and then see how it goes. You definitely need to let them cool though because the Pop Tart goo will probably blazin' hot when it comes out of the oven. Plus it gives the Tart a chance to solidify.

They were hella tasty, albeit on the dry side. I think next time I'll try the Pop Tarts with the ATK muffin recipe that I've used before.

Meta-Dessert #1: Reese's Rolo Cake Bars

This weekend was grad school camp out for Duke basketball season tickets. Basically it's 36 hours of sleep deprived debauchery. A handful of beer-filled boys being stuck in one spot for an extended period of time is a great opportunity for me to top off that beer with some baked goods.

I had a few ideas in my head and realized that I had a meta-dessert theme happening, each treat more intense than the last. We'll start with Friday nights concoction and move on from there.

I've make these cake bars a couple of times before only using Rolos, but this time around Kyle suggested adding in some Reese's Pieces. Good call, sucka. The original recipe was from Allrecipes.com; however, I totally followed the recipe incorrectly the first time. It turned out so well that I just continued to make it my way. So no need to link to anything else.

This picture isn't the greatest, but it's going to have to do.


Reese's Rolo Cake Bars
Ingredients
  • 1pkg yellow cake mix
  • 2/3c sweetened condensed milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1/4c melted butter
  • 36 Rolos, halved
  • 1/2 to 3/4c Reese's Pieces
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9x13 pan.
  2. Mix together cake mix, milk and butter.
  3. Smash half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes (until golden brown).
  4. Remove pan from oven and press Rolos, cut-side down, into the warm cake. Then, evenly pour Reese's Pieces over the cake.
  5. Crumble the rest of the cake mixture over of the Rolos and Reese's Pieces. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until cake mix is baked through.
  6. Cool cake and cut into bars to serve.

Oh my gosh these things are awesome. They are all crunchy and gooey and crumbly at the same time. I think they were a good start to the weekend. They got rave reviews and were polished off quickly.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Great Pumpkin...Bread

It's officially fall! Time to bust out the pumpkin and apple recipes. I decided to start the season off right with one of Kyle's favorites.

I'm not particularly a fan of pumpkin bread. I don't know why. But Kyle sure likes it, and he is partial to this particular recipe. That being said, this is a flavorful, dense and moist bread. And it's dairy-free, which is a bonus for me should I choose to eat some. Shout out to Kyle's mom for hooking me up with the recipe.

It's again time for Conversations with Kyle. I'm sure you notice the chunk missing from the bread. I went to take a picture of the bread and it was there. Trying to figure out how that happened went a little something like this...

Becky: Kyle, there is a chunk missing from the bread. I was hoping to take a picture of it. Did it fall apart or did you tear a piece off?
Kyle: Neither. I bit it off.
Becky: ...

Are you sensing a pattern with how many of my conversations end with my husband?

Yes, Kyle took a bite directly from the loaf of bread. I guess he was done sharing.


Pumpkin Bread
Ingredients
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 1c vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2c all-purpose flour
  • 3c sugar
  • 1 1/2t baking soda
  • 1 1/2t salt
  • 1 1/2t ground allspice
  • 1 1/2t ground nutmeg
  • 2t ground cinnamon
  • 1c chopped walnuts
  • 1t baking powder
Directions
  1. Mix pumpkin, oil and eggs.
  2. In a BIIIIIIIIG bowl, sift together dry ingredients (nuts, too).
  3. Pour the pumpkin mix over the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly.
  4. Split between two greased loaf pans (I use regular-sized glass pans) and bake at 300F for 60 to 75 minutes.
We don't usually put the walnuts in the bread; however, it makes two loaves so we thought we might as well try it out in one of the loaves. Ironically, once we put the nuts in the bread, we didn't think there were enough. The original recipe calls for 1/2c of walnuts split between two loaves but I doubled it in the recipe above to reflect our new opinion.

OH! So, I said before that I am not particularly a fan of pumpkin bread in general (there are other things I'd rather have) but the batter, oooooooo the batter. I could sit down with that bowl and eat that mess with a spoon. Soooo tasty.

If you are looking for a baked good to give as a gift, this bread is a sure bet. I like how it makes two loaves so we (read: Kyle) can keep one and then give away or share the other.