Cinnamon and Toasted Nut Biscotti

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I have been wanting to make biscotti since well before Christmas. I had origianlly intended to make peppermint biscotti drizzled with chocolate and package with hot cocoa mixes to give as gifts. Well, somehow time got away from me and I never go around to making the biscotti and went with plan B for gifts.

I decided this was the weekend to try my hand at some biscotti but decided to try a cinnamon nut version since I feel peppermint season has past me by.   I did some searching and  found this recipe on allrecipes. I did adapted it a bit to suit my tastes and the ingredients I had on hand.

This recipe came together much quicker than I had planned despite needing to bake it twice. Infact  these only took me about an hour start to finish. I had always thought it would take me hours from start to finish, that is partly why I never got around to making biscotti before Christmas. Let me tell ya, I don’t know why haven’t made biscotti sooner! I loved this recipe.

The smell of the toasted nuts and cinnamon permiated my kitchen and tempted my tastebuds while the logs of dough were baking. It took all of my willpower not to eat one of the biscotti before the second baking.

I couldn’t be more pleased with these. They baked up nice and crisp with a golden brown exterior. They have a delicate cinnamon flavor that is enhanced nicely buy thte flavor of the  toasted nuts. Usually I do not care for crispy cookies but these are a true winner in my book. I can’t wait to make them again.

I rate this recipe a 9

Cinnamon and Toasted Nut Biscotti
adapted from allrecipes
3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts,  toasted
1/4 cup chopped almonds,  toasted
1 cup Cinnamon Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Evenly spread nuts over baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven about 10-15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes until evenly toasted and fragrant. february-089
Remove from sheet and allow to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add to the batter and mix until almost combined. Gently fold in the nuts and cinnamon chips.  

Shape dough into two equal logs approximately 12 inches long. Place logs on baking sheet, and flatten out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Be sure to leave enough room for them to spread out slightly. (I baked mine side by side on two pans, rotating half way through baking)

Bake for about 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until edges are golden and the center is firm. Remove from oven to cool on the pans. When loaves are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to slice the loaves diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet.

Bake for an additional 10 minutes, turning over once. Cool completely, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Outrageous Brownies

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These were outrageous indeed! I have had this recipe saved on my computer for over a year. The past few times when I have been craving brownies I fall into my comfort zone and use a recipe that has yet to fail me. However, this time I decided to pull out Ina’s recipe as it has been calling my name, begging to be made since Christmas. When I needed a dessert to bring to work last week I jumped at the opportunity to whip these up.

These came together so easily and quickly. I was actually suprised that they only took me about 15 minutes to prepare.  I cut the recipe amount in half (reflected below with my changes in parenthesis) and baked in a 9×13 pan.  I did adapt the recipe a bit, I subbed some milk chocoalte chips for semi sweet chips to stir into the batter. I only sprinkled nuts on top and did not mix them into the batter because I did half the pan with nuts and half without. I much prefer them with the nuts! I baked mine for about 23-24 minutes and they came out perfectly. Watch carefully not to overbake. You should remove when there are a few crumbs stuck to the tester when inserted in the center of the brownies.

These are deep, rich, flavorfull and definatly live up to their “Outrageous” title. They have a light and crisp exterior. The interior of the brownies is dense, with their texture teatering on the border between brownie and fudge. Usually I don’t care for brownies that are too fudge-like but these really did it for me. Oh, Ina, how you have captured my heart.
While good warm, I do prefer them cool from the fridge rather than room temperature. I think chilling them definatly compliments and enhances the texture and flavor of the brownie.  While I think kids would like these brownies,  I feel the target audience for these brownies is the adult palate.

If you are looking for a brownie that eats more like a dessert then look no further. These will be great with a scoop of icecream, cool whip or with some fudge sauce  served as dessert.

I rate these brownies a 9

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten 
2 sticks  unsalted butter (I used salted)
2 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I subbed 1/2 cup Milk Chocolate to stir into batter)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs (I used large)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee powder  (I used 1 TBS)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup +2 TBS cups sugar
1/2 cup + 2TBS  all-purpose flour (1/2 cup for the batter and 2 TBS for the chips and nuts) (I did not toss the nuts with flour because I sprinkled them on top)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups diced walnut pieces (I used 1 cup and just sprinkled on top before baking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan.
Melt together the butter, 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler.
Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Mix in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture.
Toss 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 TBS flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts.

Bake for about 30 minutes (mine were finished in 24), or until tester just comes out clean.

Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough (I did not do this). Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into bars.

Peppermint Brownie Cups

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I am at it again! I can’t seem to get enough of chocolate and peppermint this time of year! This time I used one of my favorite recipes and adpat it a bit. I based this recipe off of this recipe and this one.  I wanted to mix it up a bit and this time decided bake them in muffin cups instead of in a cake pan. Even if you don’t use my recipe, feel free to try your own brownie recipe as the base for these yummy treats!

These have become one of my favorites this holiday season. Aside from being delicious, they are cute and festive. The perfect combination of chocolate and peppermint with a dense brownie texture. I love that they are individually portioned making them perfect for any Holiday party, treat tray or to pack in a lunch!

The best part is unlike baking a pan of brownies, these are a snap to portion for later. If you are anything like me, you rarely bake brownies unless you know others will be consuming them as well. If not you have two options, eat a few and allow the rest of the pan to stale or eat the entire pan yourself in a day or two (I usually do the latter of the two options.)  The solution my friends?? Bake your brownies in a muffin pan!
I baked these on Wednesday night and took a few to work. I froze the rest of these after they baked and cooled. I sealed them individually in heavy duty freezer bags and placed them carefully in the freezer (you don’t want anything to crush them so you may need a good deal of freezer room). To enjoy, I just took one out of the freezer and allowed to come back to room temp. So yummy! I microwaved it for 7 seconds to warm up and enjoyed with a mug of hot chocolate!

If you are looking for a treat that is sure to please now and later, you have to give these a try!

 I rate this recipe a 9

Peppermint Brownie Cups
6 TBS butter
6 oz  semisweet chocolate (chopped
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
2 cups Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Lightly spray liners with cooking spray.

In a heat-proof bowl, melt together butter and chcolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until smooth. Allow to cool for 5 mintues.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk or beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggdecember-057s and peppermint extract mixing until combined and smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.

Carefully pour batter to prepared each muffin liner filling about 2/3 full. Sprinkle a few Andes Peppermint chips over the top of each individual brownie. . Bake for 18-23 mintues or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs.

*Baking time will depend on your oven, watch carefully so you don’t overbake! Mine were done in 20 minutes.

Allow to cool before removing from muffin pan.
Keep brownies in cupcake liners until ready to serve  to help prevent them from drying out.

*I got 14 brownies, it will depend on how you fill the muffin cups on how many you get.

Peppermint Oreo Bark

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Look at that picture, how can you resist?

With all of the baking I do during the month of December, I love treats that require few ingredients, easy preperation and take minimal time from start to finish. Here is a no-bake treat that you are sure to love during this Holiday season. What better combination than Oreo cookies, peppermint and white chocolate? 

The hardest part for many will be melting the chocolate. Make sure you are melting very slowly using good quality white chocolate and not the white chips in the baking aisle. If you want you could  also use almond bark, candy melts or milk/semi-sweet chocolate. I really like the white chocolate in this recipe, it is not overly sweet and provides a creamy and smooth base without competing with the Oreo and peppermint flavors

This treat is perfect with a cup of hot cocoa and will be a treat loved by children and adults!

I rate this recipe a 9

Peppermint Oreo Bark
6-8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into pea size pieces
10 oz. Vanilla Almond Bark
1 TBS Crisco or Parafin Wax
1 cup Andes Peppermint Chips
10-15 Oreos broken into peices
 

Prepare a 13 inch rimmed cookie sheet by lining with Reynolds Quick Release aluminum foil. Set aside.
Melt the white chocolate chips, almond bark and Crisco in a heat safe bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir after each interval and continue heating and stirring until smooth.
Sprinke 1/4 cup of the Andes Peppermint chips and 5 Oreo cookies (broken) over half of the baking sheet.
Gently pour the melted chocolate mixture odecember-044ver the Andes Peppermint chips and Oreos. Smooth with the back of a spoon (spray with PAM first). Evenly sprinkle the remaining Andes Peppermint chips and broken Oreos over the warm melted chocolate.
Chill until firm.
Remove from freezer/fridge and break into pieces.
Store in air tight container in a cool place.

Chocolate Mint Fudge Brownies

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With the Holidays around the corner I have been trying out recipes to put on my goodie trays. I love the flavor of mint around the holidays, especially when paired with chocolate. With those two flavors in my mind I decided to bake up some goodies. What better Holiday treat than Mint Brownies?  I made up this recipe as I went along but based it off of these.
 
These brownies are wonderful and exactly what I was trying to create. The texture of these fall somewhere between a ‘cakey’ and ‘fudgy’ but lean a little  more toward the fudgy side. In my opinion they have the perfect texture. The brownies themselves have a wonderful minty flavor that is is not too overpowering but rather enhanced by the peices of Andes mints spekled through out each bite. The light green color of the mints will make these perfect for the holidays. I love how festive they look and will round out my holiday goody tray perfectly! If you are looking for a rich chocolatey brownie that will compliment a cup of hot cocoa on a chily night, these are for you.
 
Next time I think I will  bake in mini muffin tins drizzle with melted white chocolate tinted with green food coloring for a little more pizzaz. I can’t wait to try these again!. 
 
I rate this recipe a 9
Mint Fudge Brownies

6 TBS butter
6 oz  semisweet chocolate (chopped
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp mint extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Andes chips (or mints, chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paperdecember-015

In a heat-proof bowl, melt together butter and chcolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until smooth. Allow to cool for 5 mintues.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk or beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs and mint extract mixing until combined and smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the 3/4 cup Andes chips.

Carefully pour batter to prepared pan, and smooth top with an offset spatula. Evenly sprinkle remaining Andes chips over top of the brownies. Bake for 25-20 mintues or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs.
Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Oreo Fudge Bars

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After a disappointing cookie recipe last week, I decided to hunt down a recipe that sounded like a winner. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and tweaked it a bit based on my own preferences and the reviews of those who have made them.

I changed the name of these bars to better reflect their goodness. These bars are rich, fudgey and full of Oreo goodness! Trust me when I say to cut these bars small as a little goes a long way! Despite being so rich and fudgey, they are not overly sweet in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, they are definately sweet and will satisfy a craving in no time but not so much so that your teeth hurt just eating one.

If you are not a chocolate lover (I know there are a few of you weirdos out there) do not make these as you will be highly disappointed! However, if you need an easy recipe that is rich and fudgey these are for you. These bars will be perfect for the holidays and I can’t wait t make them with the Winter Red Oreos or the Peppermint Oreos. I may substitue the Andes Peppermint baking chips on top instead of using the mini chocolate chips to enhance the Peppermint flavor for the holidays. The only downside is they will not ship well and should really be kept chilled until a few hours before serving.  When serving for dessert I recommend cutting into squares and drizzling melted white chocolate over the bars, as I have done in the picture below. What a pretty presentation for such a simple recipe. MMMM good.

I rate this recipe a 9

Oreo Fudge Bars
adapted from allrecipes.com
1 16oz. package of Oreo cookies 
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp satl
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat Free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (could use another 1/2 cup  semi-sweet chips if you like)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
 

Preheat the oven to 325. baked-goods-015
Line a 9×13 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
Set aside 6 Oreo cookies for the toppings.
In a small food processor grind the rest of the cookies. If you don’t have a food processor, just pound with a rolling pin until the cookies are fine crumbs. Add the salt to the crumbs and stir to combine.
Melt butter and gently stir together with the cookie crumb mixutre. 
Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  
Coarsely chop the remaining cookies into chunks and set aside.
Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocoalte chips together with the condensed milk and vanilla.
Stir frequently until smooth.
Spread evenly over the prepared cookie crust.
Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips and the Oreo cookies chunks over the top of the filling. Press down gently into the chocolate topping. 
Bake for 20-22 minutes oven.
Allow to cool on counter for 1 hour. Chill in fridge until completely cold and set before cutting into bars or it will make a big mess.
*These are not too great hot from the oven but are great after chilling and the filling has set!

Double Butterscotch Cookies

I love fall, the cooler weather makes it the perfect time for baking. Usually, when baking for myself, I lean toward recipes that involve peanut butter or chocolate or a combination of both! Today I turned to a new cookbook I received for my birthday, The Taste of Home Cookbook. I would highly recommend you add this cookbook to your collection. It offers everything from appetizers to desserts and many of the recipes are simple and use ingredients often already found in your kitchen.

After paging through all of the cake, brownie cookies and bar recipes I decided I was in the mood for some cookies. What drew me to this recipe was that these cookies are meant to be slice and bakes. You prep the dough, form into logs, wrap in Seran Wrap and chill until ready to bake. When the craving hits, you just cut off slices of dough and bake as many as you like. How perfect is that for times when you crave only a few cookies or when you have friends stop by unexpectedly and you want to serve up some yummy treats in a snap?

I was very impressed by this recipe and the dough was sooooo yummy.  I prepped the dough as directed but then instead of forming all of the dough into logs as the recipe states, I baked some right away as drop cookies. Let me tell you, as much as I love chocolate and peanut butter, these cookies were great! They have a depth of flavor lacking in most cookies and were so tender (bordering on cakey but not overly so). After cooling they remained tender and the brown sugar/butterscotch flavor became more pronounced and was enhanced with the pieces of pecans and toffee bits.

I formed the remaining dough into logs as directed and chilled. After 5 hours I sliced and baked cookies from the chilled logs of dough. These cookies were great as well. They were not puffy like the first batch and had a nice crisp exterior that you can see in the pictures.

I imagine you could bake thicker slices for a thicker cookie but I followed the directions and sliced mine 1/2 inch thick. Next time I may slice them thicker and see if that changes their texture. If I had to choose between baking the dough right away as drop cookies and forming into logs to slice and bake later I would choose the former. I enjoyed the texture more. Either way, however, these cookies are great. Next time I may form the dough into balls and then chill and freeze until ready to bake to keep the convenience of baking a few at a time and still achieve the texture I enjoyed more!
*I have included pictures of both the drop and the slice and bake cookies.

I highly suggest you make these soon. Bake a few right away and form the rest into logs for later. You  be the judge of which way you prefer to enjoy this winning recipe! I loved them and will be making them time and time again. I may even add mini chocolate chips next time to jazz them up, but honestly, they really don’t need anything more in my opinion!

I rate these cookies (drop method) a 9
I rate these cookies (slice and bake) an 8

Double Butterscotch Cookies
Taste of Home Cookbook (recipe is halved)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening (I used trans-fat free butter flavored Crisco)
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 TBS vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup English Toffee bits (like Heath bar bits)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I toasted mine first)

Preheat oven to 350 (if going to bake immediately)
In a large bowl cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the toffee bits and nuts.
*If baking immediately, drop dough by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes until edges are set and light brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Shape dough into 2 12 inch rolls Wrap each in Seran wrap. Chill for 4 hours or unitl firm.
When ready to bake:
Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lighlty browned. Cool for 1-2 minutes on sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

*UPDATE: Ok, seriously, this dough tastes FANTASTIC out of the fridge, I am slicing off pieces just to eat! The flavor is amazing after chilling 1 day and the nuts and toffee bits only enhance the deep butterscotch flavor! It tastes a lot like an uncooked blondie!