Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

This is probably my favorite cookie recipe to make and to eat (and that's saying something because I don't usually like to eat the things I bake. Weird, I know.) What I love about this is that it's super easy. You can start with just the oatmeal part (or even keep it that way if you like it as it is) and literally just throw whatever you have on hand into it and it'll come out absolutely delicious. Ask anyone I've ever given baked goods, this is definitely my go-to.

The Ingredients:
-1 cup butter, softened (you can also substitute this with vegetable shortening instead and it'll give you a mostly crunchy cookie, which my family prefers)
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 eggs, room temperature
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 cups quick cooking oats
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (if you don't have any chocolate chips, just chop up your favorite chocolate bar!)

The Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, making sure the eggs are fully incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
5. Add half the dry mixture to the wet and mix until it's incorporated, then mix in the rest of the dry.
6. Add the cranberries and chocolate chips and stir in by hand.
7. Spoon out onto an ungreased baking sheet. I usually lay down a silicon mat or some parchment paper.
8. Flatten the cookie dough onto the baking sheet before baking (this cookie doesn't really spread out much during baking)
9. Bake until the cookies are golden brown.
10. Enjoy with some coffee or a glass of milk!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cream Puffs Filled With Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream

I must say, I’m quite happy with the results. In the past, I’ve had puffs unpuff and flatten within 15 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Not exactly what you want when you need to make a hundred cream puffs by the next night. But this recipe is basically fool proof, even someone who has never baked from scratch would be able to pull off these pretty puffs.

If you usually use foil or nonstick spray to bake with on cookie sheets, I would suggest using parchment paper (NOT the same as wax paper) or a silicon mat for this (sans the nonstick spray) just cause the puffs tend to really stick to foil. I know the silicon mats can get pretty expensive but if you bake as much as I do, they’re definitely a great investment (plus, there’s less to throw away!)

The ganache and the whipped cream are pretty straightforward as well. The only thing is I forgot to set my bowl of ganache on top of a towel or something to keep it warm after I melted the chocolate and I had set it right on top of my cold counter so the ganache cooled down a lot faster than I had anticipated and made it a little more difficult to do a pretty drizzle of chocolate on top of the finished cream puffs.

The Ingredients:
For the puffs:
-1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
-1/2 cup butter
-1 cup water
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 eggs
For the whipped cream:
-2 cups heavy whipping cream
-3 tbsp powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tsp corn starch
For the chocolate ganache:
-2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 tbsp light corn syrup
-6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

The Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
3 Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough pulls away from the pan. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
4. Beat in eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated.
5. Spoon the dough onto your baking sheet, keeping them at least 2 inches apart. If you’re feeling fancy, you can pipe them out instead and you’ll probably end up with even prettier puffs. 
6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the puffs are solid and dry to the touch. Allow to cool completely before filling.
7. Whip the cream, sugar, vanilla and corn starch at high speed until you have your desired stiffness. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
8. When you’re ready to serve, slice the puffs in half like a sandwich.
9. Using a double boiler (or a heat safe bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water), melt the chocolate into the corn syrup and cream. Continually stir until everything is melted and smooth. Do this right before serving.
10. Fill the bottoms of the puffs with the ganache and top it with whipped cream.
11. Serve and consume!