With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Monday, April 23, 2012

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Every once in a while, I get into a baking funk.

It seems to be when I get overwhelmed and everything stresses out a little bit and even the though of putting some melted chocolate onto some Oreos seems like far too much effort for an afternoon.

And then out of nowhere, I find I'm back in the kitchen and ready to go again.  And truth be told most likely what breaks me out of the funk is my favorite treat to make.... cookies.

All it takes is one cookie fresh from the oven to make me swear to myself that I will never ever eat a pre-processed baked good again.

I have nothing against them.  At all.

It's just, at one point in your life you have to experience the bliss of

Oven + Cookie Dough + 12 minutes + Mouth

You cannot beat it.  Trust me on this one.



These cookies are positively to die for.  Banana bread and chocolate cookies combined into one treat, soft and pillowy, nutty and chewy, but most of all utterly delicious.  

And of course the perfect thing to get me (or anyone!) back into the kitchen.

Make them.  Share them.  Love them.

Enjoy.


Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
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Servings: 2-3 dozen

Ingredients:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large or 1 1/2 small)
- 8 oz chopped chocolate (I used a mixture of dark and milk - whatever floats your boat)
- 1/2 cup of roughly chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

To toast nuts, spread on a baking sheet and toast for 6-8 minutes, stirring once, until golden and fragrant.  Let cool completely.  Chop.

To make cookies Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Whisk together dry ingredients (flour to baking soda) in a bowl and set aside.  Put butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until well combined.  Reduce speed to low.  Add egg and vanilla. Beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in banana.  Mix in flour until just combined.  Stir in walnuts and chocolate chunks.

Dough dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mats using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, spacing them approximately 2 inches apart.  Bake 11-13 minutes (rotating the sheet halfway through) until golden and just set.  Let cool on baking sheets on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Then transfer the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely.  

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hunger Games Cupcakes

As I've already made clear, I'm a big Harry Potter fan.  When the final movie came out over the summer I admit I was a little bummed that such a big part of my childhood was coming to a close.

As for Twilight, the other big teen book series that came out after HP, I honestly couldn't even pick it up.  It just wasn't my speed.

I kind of just resigned myself to the fact that I would never love another book series as much as I loved Harry Potter, and that was that.

Then one day, I went to the movies and while watching the previews I was subsequently struck by the awesomeness of the Hunger Games trailer.


                                               

I knew that even if I hated it, I had to read it.

Long story short, I didn't hate it.

In fact I really loved it.  I'll save my comments on the story for another time. (Because let's be honest we all know I'm bound to make some more Hunger Games cupcakes at some point or another) but out of the series of three books, the 2nd "Catching Fire" is my favorite and the 3rd "Mockingjay" is my least favorite.

For all of you who haven't read the book or seen the movie (which has already made over 300 million dollars so the odds are you probably have) the Hunger Games takes place in the futuristic country of Panem where every year children are selected from their district to fight to the death on national TV.

To all of you who have read the books, making these cupcakes made me feel like a combination of Cinna and Peeta, in the best way possible obviously.



This week has been crazy busy so I'm going to do a how-to post on how to make these cupcakes either over the weekend, or next week, so if you would like to make your own Mockingjay cupcakes stay tuned for that.  I just couldn't wait to share these with you any longer as is though.  I love them.

And maybe some Effie and Haymitch cupcakes are in your future too.  Only time will tell.

But for now, enjoy and may the odds ever be in your favor.

..... come on. We both know I had to.

Hunger Games Cupcakes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
-12 cupcakes any flavor
- 1 batch vanilla buttercream
- red and orange food coloring
- 12 oreos
- 1 bag of chocolate candy melts (or chocolate chips)

Directions:
Bake 12 of any flavor cupcake from any recipe in red foil liners.  Let cool completely.  Tint one batch of buttercream half red and half orange.  Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

To decorate, lay out a sheet of wax paper.  On a piece of plain paper draw an outline of mocking jay symbol.  Or print one out, an example being here. Place under wax paper.  Melt chocolate candy melts in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  When melted ladle into a plastic squeeze bottle.  Working fast, fill outline of mockingjay with chocolate.  Move paper under wax paper and repeat until 12 mockingjays have been made.  Set aside to set (or place in freezer to speed up process if desired). 

Split oreos in half and cut up into small irregular pieces.  Set aside.

Using a butter knife, swirl red buttecream over cupcakes.  Swirl in orange buttercream slightly, not mixing so much that the colors blend together completely.

Place oreos around the rim of each cupcake and top with each mocking jay figure.

Enjoy.


Recipe Inspiration: A Mary Original (Although there are a ton of Hunger Games cupcakes out there at the moment!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Birthday Oreos


This isn't a real recipe.

Not even by my standards, where simple often times reigns supreme.

Great friends are hard to come by.  Truly great friends even more so.  I'm lucky enough to have quite a few that I can call that.

Some old, some new.  All wonderful in their own ways.  

One of my oldest friends Indira has always been a truly great friend.

So since she had to work not only all night on her birthday but also her entire birthday weekend (what a trooper) I knew some simple birthday oreos were in order.

And truth be told they turned out so much more wonderfully than I could have ever imagined.

Sometimes it can stay as basic as some oreos, chocolate, and sprinkles thrown together.

And these just make life good.

Enjoy.


Birthday Oreos
Servings: 8-10 oreos

Ingredients:
- 8-10 oreos
- 1/2 bag of candy melts or chocolate chips (any color/flavor)
- sprinkles

Directions
Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Set aside.  Pour the candy melts or chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on medium/high heat stirring every 10-20 seconds until smooth.  Using a fork, dip each oreo into candy melts/chocolate, and cover completely.  Tap oreo on fork on side of bowl so excess chocolate falls away.  Place on baking sheet.  (Alternatively you can also just swirl the melted chocolate with a butter knife on top of the oreo.)  Immediately top with any sprinkles of your choice.  Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes to firm up.  Enjoy!

A Mary Original