Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lesson #187: Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I was driving by Chick-fil-a last week and I saw an advertisement for their Peppermint Milk Shake. I had two thoughts: that sounds really yummy and I think that I've made a version of that ice cream last year. Of course, I had to get a milk shake for research purposes :)

I came home and found an ice cream recipe that I posted last year and modified it to add bits of milk chocolate throughout. That was a good idea! This is a cooked custard based ice cream with candy canes steeped into the custard. During the last few minutes of churning I added crushed candy canes and chopped milk chocolate. DELISH!

LESSON LEARNED: Don't add any food coloring to this ice cream. As it sits in the freezer, it becomes "pinkish".

Recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lesson #186: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Last week I had a crazing for one of those buttery, hot, soft pretzels you can get at the mall. Since I wasn't going to make a special trip to the mall, I decided to look around the internet to find a good soft pretzel recipe. I knew I could trust a source like King Arthur flour, so I went ahead and tried this recipe. The finished product tasted just as good (maybe even a little better!) and saved me a trip to the mall. Here's the finished product with some step-by-step photos along the way.

 First, add all the ingredients to the bottom of a mixing bowl.

Knead with the mixer or by hand until the dough looks smooth.

 Place the dough in a zip-lock bag.

 Let it rise until doubled.

Divide the dough into 8 sections.

 Roll each into a log and let sit for a few minutes.

 Stretch out the dough and twist into a pretzel shape.

Give the pretzels a two minute bath in a baking soda/water mixture. This is what helps them brown.

Sprinkle generously with salt before baking.

Bake until golden brown and brush with lots of butter while warm.

Wait a few minutes and enjoy! I took a break from grading papers and read a magazine!

LESSON LEARNED: These pretzels are best served warm. Especially straight from the oven

Recipe for Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lesson #185: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

The holidays are the perfect time to enjoy fudge. Not surprisingly, I like to make my own!

This sweet treat is ULTRA creamy and smooth with just the right balance of chocolate & peanut butter. I took some to share with my students this week. A few people remarked they could eat a whole container of this fudge. I replied, "Me too!  That's why I brought it to my classes!"

LESSON LEARNED: You need a candy thermometer for this recipe. If you don't cook the fudge to the right temperature, it will not set correctly.

Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lesson #184: Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow

I've just started to think about holiday baking and this recipe was first on my list. I love the simplicity of this recipe. It requires no baking and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. The hardest part of the recipe is crushing the candy canes or mints.

The recipe is only 4 ingredients: Chex cereal, white chocolate, candy canes/mints, powdered sugar. It requires a little melting, mixing, and shaking and -viola - you have a wonderful dessert!  

LESSON LEARNED: Package up little bags of this mix to give to your friends.

Recipe for Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lesson #183: Sweet Potato & Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

This recipe is for a novelty ice cream. How many times have you tasted sweet potato ice cream? If you are like me, the answer is zero. At least until you try this recipe! :)

It really, truly does taste like sweet potato. That can either be a good or bad thing. The sweet potato ice cream base is flavored with cinnamon and molasses and the toasted marshmallows add a little extra sweetness & smokey flavor. I liked it enough to have a few spoonfuls of it, while my husband ate a few bowls of it. For him, the best part about this is the toasted marshmallows which are folded into the ice cream after it's churned.

LESSON LEARNED: Toast the mini marshmallows over a gas burner or use a kitchen torch. Work quickly - they melt fast!

Recipe for Sweet Potato and Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lesson #182: Chocolate Craving Cupcakes

So, I totally had a chocolate craving the other day. In addition, I checked out the new Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery cookbook from the library. It was a deadly combination!

I've been experimenting with some of the recipes in the cookbook and I just happened to have all of the ingredients for this DELICIOUS cupcake. A more accurate description might be a devil's food cupcake with a chocolate chunk pastry cream icing.

I brought these cupcakes with me to a family Thanksgiving gathering last weekend. They were DEVOURED by the end of the night. That's a good sign that it's a winning recipe :)

LESSON LEARNED: Since this cookbook is written by professional pastry chefs, the ingredients are listed in grams. I wrote the recipe using these measurements - make sure you take the time to measure the ingredients with your digital kitchen scale.

Recipe for Chocolate Craving Cupcakes

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lesson #181: Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

Whew! Between the craziness of the end of the semester (I'll be glad when I'm not teaching four classes on the same day) and the holidays, it's been hard to find time in the kitchen. Luckily, I've had a little time to experiment with a few new recipes.

As part of the Thanksgiving celebration I hosted, I made this pumpkin spice caramel corn recipe. It was pretty low stress since I used my favorite caramel corn recipe that I've made a dozen times and added pumpkin spice for flavor. I think it appeared more complicated than it actually was to make - just the way I like it!

LESSON LEARNED: You could transform this recipe by adding a teaspoon of your favorite spice to the recipe.

Recipe for Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lesson #180: Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I had a chocolate craving earlier this week! I whipped up a bunch of these cookies, ate two, and stashed the rest in my freezer for later (probably as part of the dessert table for Thanksgiving).

If you are a chocolate lover, these cookies are AWESOME. They are crispy-chewy like a brownie  - but in a cookie form. GENIUS! They are also studded with chocolate chips just in case the semi-sweet chocolate dough isn't enough chocolate for you. :)

LESSON LEARNED: By freezing the dough in a shallow container for 20 minutes, it makes the dough much easier to scoop.

Recipe for Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lesson #179: Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream

We are in LOVE with this ice cream! Rich pumpkin puree is combined with honey and Chinese five spice in this sweet cream ice cream. Chinese five spice contain warm spices such as cloves and cinnamon with a touch of pepper. I think it tastes very similar to a chai flavor. Since chai lattes are one of my favorite things, this ice cream is pretty darn DELICIOUS!

LESSON LEARNED: You can roast your own pumpkin for this recipe. I was running short on time, so I used the canned variety. It was still delicious!

Recipe for Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lesson #178: Toasted Marshmallow Creme Brulee

Whenever we go out to a nicer restaurant, creme brulee is always on the dessert menu. It's one of those desserts that sounds really fancy, but is super simple to make at home.

This creme brulee custard is infused with toasted marshmallows. YUM! It's sweet and smokey! In fact, this was the first fun thing about the recipe - charring marshmallows over my high power gas burners :) The custard is baked, chilled, topped with liquified marshmallows, caramelized with a blowtorch (my second favorite part!), and chilled again. If you have a little patience this is worth the time!

LESSON LEARNED: This is the perfect make ahead recipe. I kept the finished dessert in the refrigerator for three days with no problems.

Recipe for Toasted Marshmallow Creme Brulee

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lesson #177: Alien Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! This post is more like a craft project rather than a baking project, but I thought it would be a fun idea to share. Just in case you are looking for an edible craft project. Here's the final product:

Kinda looks like an alien, right?

 First, you bake a batch up cupcakes using the silver foil liners for their "spaceships".
 While the cupcakes are cooling, mix neon green food coloring into store bought frosting. You need to use store bought because you melt it in the microwave and homemade frosting won't melt and set up properly.
 Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the cupcake and top with a doughnut hole. Freeze the cupcake for 10-15 minutes.
 Get your chocolate sprinkles (for the eyes) and black licorice (for the antennae) ready!
 Place the unused frosting in a measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds - stirring after 15 seconds. Make sure the frosting is liquified and slightly warm. Dip the semi-frozen cupcake into the frosting (I didn't get a picture of this step - it's a little messy!). Attach the sprinkles and licorice to the cupcake. Let set.
 Package up the cupcakes so you can share them with your friends!
LESSON LEARNED: It becomes easier to dip the cupcakes once you practice on a few!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lesson #176: Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

This is the perfect dessert for those windy, rainy, and cool Fall days. I love combination of textures and temperature in this crisp. The apples are soft & squishy, the oatmeal topping is crunchy, and the vanilla ice cream is smooth & creamy. My favorite way to eat this is to heat up the crisp is super warm, then top it with the ice cream. Some of the ice cream melts into the crisp creating a wonderful vanilla sauce. YUMMY!

LESSON LEARNED: Store the leftover crisp in the refrigerator and heat it up when you are ready to enjoy!

Recipe for Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lesson #175: Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

I couldn't resist this combination of sweet & salty in the form of an ice cream sandwich. I've noticed a trend on other food blogs discussing these dark chocolate cookies. I decided to take the recipe up a notch by sandwiching the cookies between ultra-creamy vanilla ice cream. Use the best ice cream you can find - or make your own!

LESSON LEARNED: Refrigerate this cookie dough at least an hour before you bake. I refrigerated it a whole 24 hours before baking...this really allows the flavors in the cookie to develop.

Recipe for Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lesson #174: Pumpkin Toffee Cookies

These cookies SCREAM fall! This dessert is a soft & cake-y spiced pumpkin cookie with bits of English toffee scattered throughout.  I made a big batch for my classes last week. I thought I would have enough to share with at least two of my general psychology classes, but they went over so well that my first class ate them all! I've learned that I have to rotate which classes I give treats to. :)

LESSON LEARNED: Around the holidays you can find bags of English toffee bits. If they are not available, break up a bar of toffee.

Recipe for Pumpkin Toffee Cookies

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lesson #173: Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Hello Fall! We are in full swing in Ohio with falling leaves and colder temperatures! The season has definitely influenced my baking because I've been making a ton of Fall-flavored desserts.

This is a tender buttermilk coffee cake that is perfect anytime of day. The cake has a swirl of cinnamon & sugar throughout and is topped with a walnut crumb topping and chopped apples.  I enjoyed a piece with a cup of hot tea!

LESSON LEARNED: Use whatever apples you have on hand. I used a mixture of sweet and tart apples - this cake turned out great!

Recipe for Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson #172: Pumpkin Pancakes

I had a bit of leftover pumpkin from making these pumpkin cream cheese muffins, so I decided to incorporate it into a pancake.

Every weekend I try to make a different breakfast instead of our usual cereal, toast, and fruit we have during the weekdays. I usually do a sweeter breakfast one day and a savory breakfast the next. My sweet breakfast options are usually some form of waffles (I have an awesome recipe I should share on the blog!) or pancakes.

These pancakes are have traditional "warm" Fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Pureed pumpkin is mixed in to create a wonderful orange hue. Drizzled with maple syrup these are a great addition to your pancake repertoire.

LESSON LEARNED: This recipe makes a lot of pancakes. I divided them into stacks of 3 or 4, wrapped them with plastic wrap, and froze for later. That way, you can grab a pack out of the freezer, microwave for 1-2 minutes, and you are ready to eat.

Recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lesson #171: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These pumpkins scream "welcome to fall". That is, along with all the fall leaves, wind, and lower temperatures here in Ohio. :)

These muffins are similar to the ones you can find at your favorite coffee house this time of year. They are a moist pumpkin muffin with a dab of cream cheese baked right into the middle and topped with a sugary cinnamon crumble.

I brought a couple dozen of these to one of my classes last week. Almost everybody in my first class took a muffin so I would consider these a success!

LESSON LEARNED: These muffins require a little prep time. The filling is a combination of cream cheese and powdered sugar. This has to chill in the freezer for a few hours before you assemble and bake the muffins.

Recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lesson #170: Coconut Cupcakes

Last Friday was my birthday, so I decided to make these coconut cupcakes as part of my birthday dinner. The day was pretty low-key  - ending with me making dinner for my family (this was my choice - they offered to take me out!).

These cupcakes are very rich and indulgent - everything a cupcake should be! The base is a buttermilk cake with a generous amount of coconut in the batter. The cupcakes are topped with a cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with more coconut.

LESSON LEARNED: This recipe makes over 2 dozen cupcakes. This was way too much for my family gathering - luckily we were visiting friends the next day so I took half of them with me. :)

Recipe for Coconut Cupcakes

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lesson #169: Peanut Butterscotch Fudge Bars

These cookie bars are part rice krispie treats and part butterscotch fudge....ahh the best of two kinds of sweet treats! A thin layer of peanut butter rice krispie treats is covered by a generous layer of homemade butterscotch fudge and the entire bar is topped with chopped peanuts. Yummy!

LESSON LEARNED: These stay fresh in a covered container at room temperature for 3 days.

Recipe for Peanut Butterscotch Fudge Bars

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lesson #168: White Chocolate Ice Cream

This ice cream is INCREDIBLY smooth and creamy. You start by making a vanilla ice cream custard base and end by whisking in pieces of chopped white chocolate until they are melted and ultra smooth. Justin prefers this ice cream topped with a rich chocolate sauce. YUM!

LESSON LEARNED: Use a high quality white chocolate in this recipe because it's the star ingredient - meaning the one you taste the most.

Recipe for White Chocolate Ice Cream

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lesson #167: Tin Roof Ice Cream

No oh! The seasonal ice cream store down the street is closed for the winter. That means that I'll be breaking out my ice cream maker to experiment with new flavors. :)

First up: this tin roof ice cream. It's a super creamy vanilla bean base with chocolate covered peanuts and fudge ripple sauce folded in after it's freshly churned.

LESSON LEARNED: Use either dark chocolate or milk chocolate covered peanuts in this ice cream depending on how rich you want the chocolate flavor to taste. We used dark chocolate which I thought was maybe too intense for the ice cream.

Recipe for Tin Roof Ice Cream

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lesson #166: Lemon Chiffon Pie

This pie is ULTRA lemony and has an AMAZINGLY silky smooth texture. We loved it so much in our house that we had to give some of it away so we didn't eat the whole pie. If you have a lemon lover in your life, this would be the perfect dessert to make for them.

The only thing that is a little tricky is giving yourself enough time to make the multiple components of this pie. You have to pre-bake a pie crust, whip up the lemon topping (which involves squeezing a bunch of lemons to get fresh juice), make a meringue to fold into the lemon filling, and top with homemade whipped cream. Trust me - it's worth all the effort!

LESSON LEARNED: Use fresh lemon juice to achieve to give this pie the lemon flavor it deserves.

Recipe for Lemon Chiffon Pie

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lesson #165: Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

Whew! I haven't posted for a while, but these cookies are well worth the wait :)

I modified a peanut butter sandwich cookie recipe I made last year to include chocolate hazelnut spread. My brother's girlfriend works at Smucker's in Orrville, OH and she bought me some of their new chocolate hazelnut spread. The cookies are chock full of the spread, rolled in sugar, and sandwiched between a fluffy chocolate hazelnut frosting. YUM!

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure you refrigerate the dough before you bake - it's much easier to roll the cookies into teaspoon sized balls.

Recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lesson #164: Raspberry Ice Cream with Mini-Chocolate Chips

Over the last few weeks, I feel like I've been rushing to make all my favorite summer flavors into ice cream. This recipe is for an ultra-creamy vanilla ice cream with spoonfuls of raspberry jam and mini-chocolate chips mixed in. It's definitely a great end-of-the-summer combination!

As you can tell from the photo, I took it while the ice cream was freshly churned and I didn't get too many of the chocolate chips in the picture. Trust me- they are there! :) This ice cream was so good that I quickly snapped a few pictures, put away my camera, and enjoyed the ice cream outside.

LESSON LEARNED: It's easy to take any good ice cream base and mix in your favorite flavors!

Recipe for Raspberry Ice Cream with Mini-Chocolate Chips

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lesson #163: Chocolate S'mores Cookies

Because it's nearing the end of summer, I couldn't resist making one of my favorite summertime treats into a bite sized cookie. In fact, at the beginning of summer, I made another version of these cookies! :)

This time I swapped out some of the flour for unsweetened cocoa powder and added a ton of mini marshmallow bits. I rolled out the dough into bite sized balls and took a whole container of cookies with me during my first week of classes. They were quickly gobbled up by my intro to psychology students!

LESSON LEARNED: I never get tired of the combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker!

Recipe for Chocolate S'mores Cookies

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lesson #162: Peach Cobbler Scones

This is a YUMMY breakfast treat! Ultra-fluffy buttermilk biscuit dough is wrapped around sliced peaches and sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar. It's the perfect way to use up extra peaches at the end of the season.

LESSON LEARNED: You can freeze these unbaked scones. Simply pop them into the oven still frozen and add a few minutes to the bake time.

Recipe for Peach Cobbler Scones

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lesson #161: Peach Crumble Pie

I haven't made a peach pie since these vanilla bean peach pies last year, so I decided it was definitely time to bake a peach pie again. I really have a dislike towards runny, undercooked peach pie fillings, so I turned to a pie book I checked out from the library for help. In this peach pie recipe, the thickener is quick-cooking tapioca. I don't normally have this item in my baking pantry, so I had to go in search of it, but it really did the trick! The peach pie filling was perfectly set by the time it finished baking. :)

LESSON LEARNED: Use peaches which are ripe, but still firm. They are much easier to slice!

Recipe for Peach Crumble Pie

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lesson #160: Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I've been on an ice cream making kick lately! I guess the ice cream I made for the fair a few weeks ago inspired me to get out my ice cream maker and try a few new recipes. I made a half batch of this ice cream because I thought that Justin would not like the flavor and I didn't (sigh!) want to be forced to eat the whole thing. I was wrong, however, because Justin ate just as much of it as I did. Guess I'll have to get busy making another flavor :)

This ice cream is super creamy with bits of chocolate chip cookie dough studded throughout. The ice cream base combines both brown butter, brown sugar, and molasses to replicate the taste of cookie dough. I thought it was FABULOUS!

LESSON LEARNED: Mix in the bits of cookie dough at the very end of churning so they don't sink to the bottom of the ice cream maker!

Recipe for Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lesson #159: Cherry Crumble Pie

I was perusing the library last week and I happened upon a cookbook entitled "Perfect Pies". It's written by Michele Stuart who owns a pie bakery and won a bunch of national awards for her pies. So far I've baked two of her pies and I'm completely in love with the book!

The first recipe I tried is for a cherry crumble pie. It combines fresh cherries over a flaky, buttery crust and topped with a brown sugar & cinnamon crumble. Really - it's like half cherry pie and half cherry crumble. We ate a few slices and then I had to give some away so we won't eat the whole thing! Trust me - you won't be disappointed with this pie :)

LESSON LEARNED: If the crumble topping isn't your thing, double the pie dough recipe and make a double-crust pie.

Recipe for Cherry Crumble Pie
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