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Sunday, December 30, 2007


Yesterday I signed up for a Wilton cake decorating class! I've been meaning to do this ever since I found out they were offered but never got around to it. The Wilton style of cakes isn't really mine but I'm still excited about learning the basics of cake decorating.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

First recipe using the new mixer! Yay.
I received the Barefoot Contessa Parties book for Christmas and immediately went through it to find a recipe to make using my new mixer. I decided upon these cookies, a reverse of the basic chocolate chip. Once I finally found some good quality white chocolate (3 grocery stores later) I got to use my mixer and wear my new apron. It was pretty much a great night already and then the cookies were delicious! I think they made me change my mind about white chocolate. Thank's to Ina I now like coconut and white chocolate. Up next: carrots- well only if they can be baked into something.

Here is the recipe:
Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
~Barefoot Contessa
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 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped

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 chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. 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.

Best Christmas Present

Kitchen Aid Mixer!

It's very large compared to what I'm used to working with (glass bowl and hand mixer) but I'm so in love.

I also got a cake decorating organizer (or tackle box as my brother called it), a fancy zester from Williams Sonoma, and a creme brulee set. My mom got me the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and I've already picked out a lot of new recipes to try. I think my New Year's Resolution is going to be to try out at least 1 new recipe per week.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Raspberry Cheesecake

Raspberry Cheesecake

~Barefoot Contessa(she's a genius)

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)

1 tablespoon sugar 6 tablespoons

(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature

2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry

3 half-pints fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


I made this for my Christmas party with my freinds. This is the third cheesecake recipe I have tried and it is maybe my favorite. Then again I said that about the first two...but this is a good basic cheesecake that can be paired with a variety of toppings.

The baking part is a little complicated. When I first put it in at 450 degrees I watched it to make sure it wasn't going to burn the top. The cheesecake rose quite a bit and I was thinking how ugly it was going to look. Once the heat is turned down I finally realized it wasn't going to burn and it did not get any darker on top. Once it cooled in the fridge it settled back down and was flat on top.

The topping was easy to make and I used strawberry jelly. You could not really taste the difference so I'm sure any red jelly would be fine. This is a really dramatic cheesecake. My friends and I couldn't wait to cut into it. It isn't like most American cheesecakes and the filling is very light and fluffy but still has that great cheesecake flavor. The lemon zest is a must! Don't leave it out because it adds a lot of freshness to the filling. I can't wait til I have an occasion to make this again!!!

Jam Thumbprints

Jam Thumprints
~Barefoot Contessa

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
Raspberry and/or apricot jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until just combined, and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale, they should each weigh 1-ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Really easy recipe, really great cookies. I gave these away to basically everyone I know for Christmas. My batches made exactly 36. They look really pretty with the apricot and raspberry jams. I actually used apricot preserves because I couldn't find jam which was fine. They could be made without the coconut since some people don't like it but I think the toasted coconut is what make them so pretty. I'm a sad that I was so busy baking these to give away that I only got to eat a few myself.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ina's Coconut Cupcakes

I've seen the episode of Barefoot Contessa several times where Ina makes these cupcakes. Before I saw the episodes I never liked coconut. Just seeing these cupcakes converted me. I was hoping they would live up to all of their hype and finally had the chance to make them for my friend's birthday. I was elated when Amy said she loved coconut in everything. Sadly her birthday celebration plans fell through so I was left with 24 coconut cupcakes to myself. Which was peachy because they are delicious!

The cake batter was very simple to make. Something about the first few ingredients (perhaps the 5 eggs) makes it look slightly curdled but I read in her cookbook not to be alarmed. The recipe made exactly 24 cupcakes and I believe would make 2 round cake layers as well if you wanted to make it into a cocount layer cake.

I've made a lot of cream cheese frosting and this recipe was one of my favorites. The almond extract really finishes it off nicely. It is a lot of butter but I never really worry about calories when I bake anyhow. There was a good amount of frosting left over but not enough I think to half the recipe.

So with all my leftover cupcakes, I had lunch with my grandparents who loved them. I still have some which I think I'll take to school and leave in the teachers lounge tomorrow.

The Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I've not quit baking! Much to the opposite actually. I've just made so many new things and been overwhelmed by my real job (blah) that I've not had the time or energy to get back on here.

Quick rundown of a few things I've discovered.
  • marscapone cupcakes with strawberry glaze- the best summer cupcake
  • double chocolate cookies- I took them to a new teacher meeting at school and everyone instantly loved me
  • pumpkin cheesecake- a new thanksgiving tradition
  • pumpkin cheesecake praline pie- very fancy and my family still loved it
  • Ina Garten's chocolate cake- I did a shoddy decorating job but I'll get around to doing it better next time

I'm leaving a lot out but I can't remember it all at once.

I was really looking forward to Halloween at school so I could make cookies and decorate them for my kids. I made over 100 since I teach all 5th grades which is about 70 students. Plus I wanted more for fellow teachers, friends, and family. It was a daunting task but it turned out okay. Making black royal icing was slightly tricky and I should have gone with the cocoa trick. The kids like them and thought I had went out and bought them.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Honey Ricotta Cheesecake

I really like honey. I like cheesecake. This recipe combines the two and it was a very successful first attempt at making a real cheesecake. After spending graduation money on a food processor instead of things for my future classroom I wanted to be really ambitious and make something more complicated. I've always heard that cheesecakes are tricky and have to be done specifically to come out right. When I went shopping for the ingredients and found the biscotti in the cookie aisle I couldn't decide between traditional biscotti which is almond flavored or lemon biscotti. I finally got the lemon and it really turned out well for a crust. I'm sure the plain biscotti would be just as good or any other kind. It didn't seem that bad. The only thing was nearly scalding myself trying to get it out of the oven with the pan of hot water. I already have scars on my arm from other baking mishaps but I wasn't really wanting any more. I cooked it the exact time it specified and it was very golden on top with some darker spots not burnt. And most importantly it didn't crack! If it cracks it is supposedly overdone. So that was exciting for my first cheesecake experience. I spent all afternoon working on the cheesecake and was pretty sad when I read the very last part of the recipe that said you had to keep it refrigerated for 8 hours. The next day for lunch I finally got to try it and I drizzled some honey over it for dramatic effect. So first cheesecake verdict? Maybe one of the best things I've ever made. The lemon biscotti crust held up well against the ricotta/cream cheese combination filling. It was creamy but not mushy. The honey made it just the right amount of sweetness without being too rich. I was not at home on Friday night and when I got back Saturday afternoon there were only 2 pieces left. When my brother got home he even hugged me over it. His friend (who told me was from New York and knew cheesecakes) even complimented me. It went so fast that I'm kinda sad more people didn't get to eat it but I'm sure I'll make another soon. I can't believe I just wrote so much about a cheesecake...

Honey Ricotta Cheesecake
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

8 ounces purchased biscotti
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup orange blossom or clover honey
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.
Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the honey and orange zest. Add the eggs and pulse just until blended.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour and 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Peanut Butter Cookies

I always forget about peanut butter cookies. When I was little I used to make them with my grandmother but since then I think I've only made them once. I saw a recipe for them yesterday and was reminded of their wonderfulness. The recipe is simple. I didn't have to take a trip to the store for any special ingredients which is always a plus. I did not have any peanuts, however. So I just left them out. I'm not the biggest fan of nuts in cookies anyhow. The dough was a little soft and kept sticking to the fork with the first pan I made so I put the bowl in the fridge for several minutes.

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Adjust rack to center of oven and heat to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the egg and combine, then add the peanut butter. Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat until incorporated. Stir in the peanuts. Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll in the remaining sugar and place on a baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Using the back of a fork, gently press the cookies to form a crisscross pattern. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until just golden. Cool on racks.

My batch made 32 cookies.

The cookies were great. Light, crispy, melt in your mouth, and everything else you would expect a good peanut butter cookie to be. They aren't too filling so with a glass of milk I could eat way more than I should.