Baked Goodies


carrot cake cookies

As a carrot cake lover, I was intrigued when I started seeing carrot cake cookies. Not a fan? It might help to think of these cookies as a convenient delivery system for my very best and favorite frosting: bourbon salted caramel. I halved a recipe from Land o’Lakes and adapted ever so slightly, adding coconut and my own frosting. I’d rather bake, share and enjoy a small batch than drown in cookies. Though, if I had a choice, drowning in these cookies wouldn’t be so bad. At all.

CARROT CAKE COOKIES WITH BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup coconut
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup carrots, shredded (you’ll need about 2 medium carrots to shred 1 cup)
½ cup pecans, finely chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In your mixing bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat till well incorporated. Sift (or whisk) together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well combined. Stir in carrots, coconut and pecans.

I used my Zeroll #60 (pink) scoop to portion the dough. Barring a scoop, drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. I baked mine 6 minutes on the upper rack of the oven, then swapped front to back and top to bottom for another 6 minutes, for a total of 12. I found the cookies easiest to move to the cookie rack after letting them sit a minute or so after taking them out of the oven. As the cookies cool, let’s make the frosting.

BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

First, make the salted caramel. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, whisk together:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
good pinch of salt

Continue to whisk till sugar dissolves, then cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the frosting together.

3 oz. cream cheese (I got away with Neufchâtel, so can you), softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Cream together butter, cream cheese, bourbon and vanilla. Gradually blend in powdered sugar. Then blend in salted caramel. This makes plenty of frosting, so you can frost generously and should still have some extra frosting to enjoy on a spoon or your fingers!

Enjoy with a cuppa tea, a glass of milk and/or a good friend.

carrot cake cookies and a cuppa

 


A brilliant idea crossed this kat’s path recently–cheesecake batter baked between a layer of CCC (that’s chocolate chip cookie) dough with more dough dropped over the top. Two great tastes that taste great together–all in one easy pan! And the crumbled cookie dough on top adds a delightful layer of crunch in contrast to the creamy cheesecake. As an added bonus, letting cookie dough drop through your fingers kinda feels like making a sandcastle. A showstopping, scrumptious sandcastle you can eat!

Oh, did you notice the sunny yellow hue of the cheesecake layer? That sunshine comes straight from New Hampshire where my friend Michele’s hens lay the most phenomenal eggs on the planet. They take these straight to eleven on a scale of 1 to 1o. So, turn it up and let’s get things started!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS

CCC layer
1 stick butter (salted), softened
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup dark chocolate, chopped (I love my Valrhona Guanaja feves)

Cheesecake batter
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter and line an 8 x 8″ pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the CCC layer
Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Separate dough into roughly two halves–a little more dough for the bottom works nicely so you can cover a lined/buttered 8 x 8″ pan with ease. Pat down evenly. Put the pan in the fridge while you work on the cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer
In your mixer, combine cream cheese (I used Neufchatel, lower-fat), sour cream, teaspoon of vanilla, egg and 3 tablespoons sugar. Spread cheesecake batter evenly over CCC dough.

With the remaining CCC dough you set aside, drop it in small pieces through your fingers. Got that sandcastle feeling going? If so, you’re doing it right.

Time to bake now–into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. In my oven, it was 37 minutes on the money. Look for pieces of the dough starting to turn golden brown and the center of the cheesecake part should be set (not jiggling). When it’s finished, it should look like this.

Cut, cool, store in the fridge. These are WOW at first bite. I know because it was the first word out of my mouth after my first nibble. Funny enough, hours later, didn’t my mom take a bite and say the exact same thing? 🙂 Enjoy, amici!

Bada bing brownie

Buongiorno, amici! I’ve missed baking and sharing new things. Hope you’ll find these Bada Bing brownies (a.k.a. triple threat brownies, sex you up brownies) were worth the wait! Their original name is slutty brownies (GEEZ!), but why should any homemade, made-from-scratch treat wear a shameful name or label?! I like to think it’s because the original recipe is made from boxed brownie mix and cookie dough in a tube (PFFF! Fuggedaboutit!). As always, we can–and will–do better than that. And it’s so much sexier this way.

Bada Bing brownies

Thanks to my friend Suzan for helping me find my way back to doing something new after introducing me to the concept of these brownies recently. Word on the street is, they might even elicit an unexpected “I love you.”

I’m using my favorite brownie recipe, modified from the Ghirardelli canister, and a modified version of my favorite CCCs to make these the most Bada Bing (bada boom) brownies EVAH!

BADA BING BROWNIES

The CCC base layer
1 stick salted butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoon granulated sugar*
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar*
(*alternatively, use 1/4 cup granulated sugar instead of combining half granulated, half turbinado)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dark chocolate Valrhona, chopped

You’ll also want to have 16 Oreos on hand.

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg and vanilla; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks/shards with a spatula. Press into lined 9-inch pan. Press in evenly spaced Oreo cookies in a single layer. Cover and send to fridge to rest while you prepare the brownie batter.

Bada Bing first two layers

I used an insert to help keep these in order. Barring that, you could line a 9-inch pan with parchment paper, but I’ve always found that to be a pain in the, um, assets. 😉

For the brownies
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Valrhona dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter.

Sift together the dry ingredients together. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks. Remove CCC/Oreo layer from fridge; spread the brownie batter evenly over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or till the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Using a toothpick to test doneness isn’t really helpful here. Somewhere between 45 and 50 is the magic number in my oven. If I get more scientific about it as time goes by, I’ll come back to modify this recipe and let you know.

Bada Bings how youve grown

These cut easiest and best when completely cooled. Of course, in my family, we love our sweets, hate to wait and dug right in! But you’ll have greater success if you can be patient.

In loving memory of James “Jimmy” Mosca (May 25, 1931-February 13, 2017). Forever in my heart, I will love you always. I miss you every day. Thank you for always looking out for my mom and me.

Janey and Jimmy

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Maybe you call them bird’s nests. Maybe you call them thumbprint cookies. By any name, they’re very tasty little shortbread cookies, rolled in chopped nuts, then filled with jam.

I intended to fill them with peach jalapeño jam, as I have previously. That is, till I remembered the peach jalapeño jar in the fridge is actually filled with ruby red vodka. OOPS. That left two filling options: smoked pear or fig. And the fig–fichi for figs in Italian–was the clear winner!

my-fichi-bring-all-the-girls-to-the-yard

If my fichi don’t bring EVERYBODY to the yard, I’m not sure what will because DAMN, these are DELICIOUS!

THUMBPRINT COOKIES

1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans (I’ve also used a combination of pecans and almonds)
jam of your choice*

*I used Sclafani Genuine Abruzzo Fig Preserves–and will do so from now on!

In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat till combined.

In separate bowl whisk together flour and salt. Add flour/salt mixture to the batter in thirds and beat just till combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper third and lower third. Preheat to 350 degrees F.

In small bowl, whisk egg white till frothy.

I used my small Zeroll 60 scoop (measures two teaspoons) to form even balls of dough. Dunk each scoop of dough into the egg white, then roll in the nuts. Use the end of a wooden spoon or spatula to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

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Bake 5 minutes, then switch top to bottom/front to back and bake 5 minutes more (for a total of 10 minutes). Remove from oven. Fill with jam. Return to the oven to bake 5-7 minutes more (5 in my oven). Let cookies cool on baking sheet before moving them to a cookie rack to cool completely. Makes about 16 cookies. Yes, there were 16. I tasted one for quality control. 🙂 And it was goooooooooooooood!

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It’s a rainy, blustery Sunday, perfect for baking and warming up the house a bit. Can’t wait to slice one of these up for a banana bread sandwich with cream cheese!

P.S. It smells fabulous in here.

BANANA BREAD WITH PECAN STREUSEL TOPPING

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick), softened
1/4 cup oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (the riper, the better)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pecan streusel topping
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter
¼ cup chopped pecans
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl; cut in butter with a knife–or fork together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four mini-loaf pans.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Beat oil, butter and sugar.

Add eggs and bananas. Beat well. Add sour cream, vanilla, bourbon. Beat some more. 🙂 Gradually add dry ingredients (in three or four additions). Combine well.

Pour batter into mini-loaf pans. Top with streusel.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes (in my oven, anyway) or till toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I like to think Nanny would be impressed, even though there’s a wee smidge of bourbon in the recipe. She used to make mini-loaves of her own banana bread to sell in the store.

bourbon swirl brownies

KATTY’S BOURBON SWIRL BROWNIES

For the brownie batter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate & Cocoa
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks (I chopped up Valrhona feves)

For the bourbon swirl batter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla

the horses are on the track

“The horses are on the track!”  Giddyup, let’s do this!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan with butter.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for about a minute until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar and flour till well incorporated. Add 1 egg, bourbon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.

Next, prepare the brownie batter. Combine 2 eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate with flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with eggs/sugar/vanilla mixture. Pour into buttered pan, reserving 1/2 cup of batter. Pour bourbon swirl batter over brownie batter. Spoon the remaining brownie batter in large dollops over the cheesecake mixture. Use a butter knife to swirl the batters and create a marbled effect.

Bake till top begins to brown at edges and pulls from the side of the pan, about 45-50 minutes. In my kitchen, 46 or 47 seems to be the purr-fect number. Set on a rack to cool.

Would you like one? 🙂

1 3/4 cup unsifted flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout (or Guinness)
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (dissolved in the stout)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine dry ingredients in large mixer bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
Combine Guinness and instant espresso powder; stir into batter–batter will be thin.
Pour into greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2″ pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Frost.

What really makes an Irish Car Bomb out of this cake is the frosting, so let’s get it together!

IRISH CAR BOMB FROSTING
3 oz. Neufchâtel, softened
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark (originally Jameson’s, but what is not to love about Maker’s?!)
1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
good pinch of salt

Cream together butter, cream cheese, Maker’s, Bailey’s and vanilla.Gradually blend in powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. And now, it’s time to frost–then eat!
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Happy St. Pat’s, amici! And happy spring!
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