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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fleur de Sel Double Chocolate Cookies

Nothing inspires me to bake more than tasting something amazing baked by someone else.  I'm always thinking (maybe a little egotistically) "I could make this!"  

The first week after moving in together, Jon and I went a little crazy with eating out.  Since the kitchen was half unpacked, there was only water and Diet Coke in the fridge, and it was 104 degrees I was perfectly okay with that.  We tried a few new places and my favorite was Sunflour Baking Company.  It's close by in Elizabeth and I'm already dreaming about being able to stop by on my way to my new school and getting coffee and one of their yummy pastries for breakfast.  

We stopped by for lunch and while ordering my sandwich I was spying all the baked goods out of the corner of my eye.  After finishing up my grilled cheese, I went back up and bought their Fleur de Sel   
cookie.  It was super dark chocolate with the right amount of chocolate chips and sprinkle of Fleur de Sel on top.

I always like a little salt with my sweet.  Once I made a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies and then realized I left out the salt.  I'm sure someone ate those cookies but it wasn't me.  It made such a huge difference.  I've heard people ask before "Why does a dessert recipe need salt in it?"  My answer, simply "Because it does!!!"  It really does make a difference when working with rich ingredients such as chocolate, caramel, etc.  So, the Fleur de Sel or "flower of salt" is just there to bring out the extra oomph of the chocolate.  Don't skip it.  It will change your baking life.  It may be a little hard to find and definitely costs more than your average table or kosher salt but you fall in love with it you'll find more recipes to try it out on.

For my recipe, I used my old standby-Ina Garten's Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookie recipe except, I substituted the white chocolate for bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips.  They turned out pretty close the the original inspiration.  I was impressed!  I liked that I didn't have to find a whole different recipe from what I already knew worked well.  This bakery will be giving me some ideas from now on.

Fleur de Sel Double Chocolate Cookies-
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli for both)
Fleur de Sel for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter and 2 sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using an ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Sprinkle each cookie with Fleur de Sel.  Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friendly Rose Cake

Yellow roses are suppose to represent friendship and I believe this cake is very friendly.

I mean, who would not want to be friends with a chocolate cake with light yellow buttercream? The chocolate cake was one of my favorites-One Bowl Chocolate Cake. I'm not sure why it's called "one bowl" because you really use 2 but I don't question Martha's methods. I modified my favorite buttercream recipe and it is now my FAVORITE favorite buttercream recipe.
Basically it was this:

4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
8 cups of confectioner's sugar
6 tablespoons of heavy cream
4 teaspoons vanilla (I used clear for this recipe)

Blend the butter until smooth and add one cup of confectioner's sugar at a time. Add heavy cream and vanilla and blend until smooth.

Of course these "rose" cakes have been all over the baking blogs lately but I hadn't seen one quite like this. Most were one color and I thought it would look lovely to do a variation of the same shade. Yellow and chocolate seemed to be a good combination and I'm glad I chose it instead of something more predictable (ahem, pink). Only having one 1M tip made it a little difficult since I couldn't alternate the colors and had to do one at a time. I went back and filled in what I could with the tip and added a few more roses to hide some holes. This is my new favorite tip and I'm excited to use it next time I make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes with yellow roses would be lovely too!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Brownies and Baking Confessions

I have a secret baking confession. Despite being very OCD about using the best vanilla, whole milk, and good cocoa I always make brownies from a box. Well, always until this week.

I could have possibly gone the rest of my life baking brownies from a box, (preferably Betty Crocker Supreme Brownies with the Hersey's Syrup) if it hadn't been for Jon buying me Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented for Christmas. These guys were slightly on my baking radar but I hadn't tried any of their recipes until we made their Chocolate Whoopie Pies (which I forgot to photo and blog). Now their Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my go to frosting of choice. When I saw their brownie recipe from their first cookbook I knew I had to change my ways. The chocolate to butter to vanilla to dark cocoa ratio was unbelievable so I knew it had to work. And work it did, the chocolate flavor that you will experience is better than any brownie/cake experience I've had. They are perfectly fudgy and have that thinner than paper crust on top. What is it about that little crust that is so great?

The modifications I made on this recipe was this: it called for 11 ounces of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate means 60-85% cacao. For me I thought it would be much easier on me (and my wallet) to buy one 11.5 ounce bag of bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips. I bought Ghirardelli since that is the best brand I can find in Salisbury and they are better than most. And that extra half ounce? An extra half ounce of chocolate never hurt anyone! For the dark cocoa I used Hershey's Special Dark that I already had on hand. Oh, and that little tip about buttering your pan, then lining it with parchment paper? Best trick ever.

I'm completely won over. Goodbye little packets of syrup. And in case you still aren't convinced to make these brownies, they are on Oprah's List of Favorite Things. Isn't that enough?

The Baked Brownie - Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11.5 ounces (1 bag) dark chocolate chips

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch glass. Line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Cool until room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.

Baking Lust: Fresh Florals

I've been saving these up for a while now on Pinterest. I know edible flowers are impressive but they still don't beat the real thing in my book.

This cake is pretty much perfection. And the glass cup holding the flowers?! Great idea.

Buttercream and Baby's Breath.

Love this one!

Another pretty purple arrangement.

Love this small cake surrounded by flowers on the glass cake plate.

So rustic and pretty!

Source: via

Chocolate ganache with peach flowers makes a lovely combination too.

Love the yellow with the bright pink and orange flowers.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Thank goodness for summer because my baking time was really being compromised this school year! I'm trying to come up with a list of all I want to bake/accomplish this summer. For now this is all I've done:

Peach & Blueberry Crumbles for Father's Day- except I made one big crumble instead of individual ones. Still just as delicious. I could eat up that crumble part forever.

I'm attempting at least one big baking idea each week. I have a lot of ideas saved up that I have not had time to attempt for no real reason other than practice. This week my goal is a cake with fresh flowers. I'm a little obsessed.

Oh, and I want to go to Paris.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everytime I see a recipe including Nutella I save it. Who knows how many Nutella recipes I have stashed away somewhere on my computer (mostly starred from various blogs). However, after seeing this one yesterday afternoon I knew I had to make this cookie ASAP.

I have to say, this is probably the best cookie recipe find ever. On it's own it would make a great chocolate chip cookie. Then add in the Nutella and it's perfection. Thin and crisp but chewy on the inside- that's how I like my chocolate chip and this fits the description. Super easy to make. I pretty much did the entire recipe during commercial breaks of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I know, I know, Nutella is from Italy so it's a great connection. I was thinking the same thing!

**The super cute paper doily was purchased at Bake it Pretty in Asheville, NC.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Nutella (I maybe threw in an extra tablespoon or two...)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Mix in the Nutella until the dough is smooth.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the mixer a little at a time. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the chocolate chips. Beat briefly just to distribute the chips. (I refrigerated the dough for about an hour here, but it's not necessary.)

Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set (the tops may still be soft). Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Makes 24 cookies.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Key Lime Pound Cake

I was so excited to try it this morning when I woke up that I couldn't even wait til after I went running or to take a photo.

Spring break has finally arrived and I promised myself that with spring break would come more baking. It's not that I haven't baked anything since my last actual baking post (was that the Caramel Cake in January?!) but just not managed to put baking+photos+blog post all together.

When I first saw this cake in Southern Living magazine I knew I had to bake it. Key Lime Pie, well let me rephrase that, Good Key Lime Pie is one of my favorites and you know Southerners love their pound cake so it was a win-win scenario. It's very springtime. The cake has just a hint of lime and the glaze is very tangy. The best part: not dry at all! I hate a dry pound cake.

The cake is easy to make, that is if you like juicing key limes. It's been a while since I've made a Key Lime Pie so I had totally forgotten how annoying that is. After about the 15th lime and maybe 1/8 cup of juice (half of the total) I tried to imagine I was a giant and was juicing regular size limes with my giant hands. That really didn't make it any more fun. Then I was overly anxious to see how much juice I had so I poured it in my 1/4 measuring cup. Halfway there. So I kept on juicing. A few limes later I was overly excited again so I picked up the halfway full measuring cup of lime juice. I hit it on something sitting nearby and juice spilled everywhere. Ahhhh! A few expletives and dozen key limes later I had enough and thus ended my juicing. Well, until I had to make the glaze...

Key Lime Pound Cake

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1. Preheat oven to 325°. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  • 2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (12-cup) tube pan.
  • 3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.
  • 4. Prepare Key Lime Glaze, and immediately brush over top and sides of cake. Cool completely (about 1 hour).