Black and White Cookies (with a Halloween Twist)

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There are a few things in this world that are wonderful enough to justify an unconditional love from yours truly. In no particular order they are as follows: my family, butter, licorice, rain, a warm bed, my dog, my roommates, sugar, books, high heels, New England and my CU Independent new section.

Last week I had the divine pleasure of combining a few of these things into one big, warm, lovey-dovey display of my affection– black and white cookies.

The black and white cookie (for those of you who have yet to taste its sweet perfection) is my kind of dessert. Part cookie, part cake and a whole lot of sugar and butter make these treats one of my favorite.

With a fall potluck (hence and orange and black frosting) with my news team, family weekend a day later and Halloween right around the corner I decided to bake something from the heart.

Now, as some of you may know, most of my recipes I try to “healthify” a bit with some substitutions to make my desserts a bit friendlier to one’s body, but sometimes people, you just need to say, “to heck with it!” and make that full fat, all sugar, all decadent cookie and enjoy it! So that’s what I did with this recipe. And let me tell you…I knew they were going to be a hit the minute I had my dough ready to go. Seriously, this is probably some of the best dough I have ever tasted in my life. I couldn’t stop eating it! A full half a cup of raw, uncooked dough managed to find its way into my belly.

The end result was just as heavenly with a lovely moist cookie covered with a professional looking frosting glaze that tasted even better after a day or two of just sitting out.

So whip out those sticks of butter, throw in an extra little bit of sugar and a whole lot of love, and whip up a big batch of these cookies just in time for the holiday spirit that’s settling in.

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Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.

I was cooking for quite a few people so my recipe yields around 35 cookies. If this is too much, just cut the recipe in half.

Cookies:

5 cups flour (I used a half white all-purpose and half wheat blend)

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 egg white

Frosting:

Vanilla

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup boiling water

Food coloring (if desired)

Chocolate

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted)

3 Tbls confectioners sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Make a dry mixture with the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

Use the buttermilk and vanilla to make a wet mixture and set that aside as well.

Beat together butter and sugar until well incorporated with few lumps and a white color.

Add eggs all at once and combine well.

Beginning and ending with the dry mixture, alternatively beat in the dry and wet mixes at small amounts at a time.

Grease cookie sheets with cooking spray. Add 1/4 cups of batter to the sheets about 2 inches apart. Make sure you keep them at least this far apart! These cookies expand A LOT more then you would think!

They weren’t even done rising at this point if you can believe it.

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Bake in the middle of the oven until tops are barely golden and the cookies spring back when you gently touch them with a finger. For me, this was about 11-14 minutes.

Remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting. Chill in the refrigerator if necessary.

While your cookies are baking and cooling make your glazes.

Boil the water. I kept adding more water and had a pot of it constantly boiling because I found that the vanilla glaze in particular gets a bit thick after it cool down and you will want to keep it from hardening before you frost the cookies.

For the vanilla glaze, mix together the vanilla and sugar in a small bowl. Add tablespoons of boiling water until a smooth paste forms. I added a few drops of yellow and red food coloring to make mine a bit more festive. Feel free to leave this out or make our own fun frosting color.

Frost one half of the cookies with this frosting.

For the chocolate frosting, melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl. I used a microwave and nuked the chips for 30 seconds and then ten additional seconds until it was fully melter. Be careful with the time, you don’t want to heat it too long and burn the chocolate.

Add powdered sugar and boiling water one tablespoon at a time until you have a nice, smooth chocolate glaze.

Frost the other half of the cookie with this frosting.

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Chill cookies in the fridge until the frosting sets, around 20 minutes or so.

If you want to keep these cookies for a few extra days (or give them away as treats to your loved ones as I did) wrap them individually in clear plastic wrap to preserve freshness and make handling more sanitary.

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

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Have you ever wanted something too much? So much that when you don’t get it, it keeps you up at night? And then you get angry with yourself for even allowing your emotions to reach that level? Well, that happens to me- a lot. Especially with men.

I woke up this morning extremely early, extremely frustrated and extremely antsy. I don’t want to get into details but let’s just say my night did not turn out as planned. So what is a girl to do? Bake, the answer is always bake. I figured that if I could make my roommates happy then maybe a little bit of my pain would go away, and you know what-it kind of worked.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Dough:

3 1/4 tsp dry yeast

3/4 cup skim milk

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg

1 egg white

2 1/2 cups white flour

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

Filling:

1/4 cup sugar (white of brown work fine)

1 1/2 Tbls cinnamon

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Glaze:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

5 tsp skim milk

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm milk and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add butter and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir well.

Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Dough will be sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes or until the dough starts to pull away in long, thick strands) Add enough of remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. I used about 5 Tbl. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place or an hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down. Roll into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar mix, leaving a 1/2 border around the rectangle of dough. Add chocolate chips, pressing them lightly into the dough with the back of a spoon.

Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Pinch seam to seal. Cut the dough into 12-16  rolls, depending on how big you want them to be. Place the rolls, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size

Right before they went into the oven.

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Aren’t they puffy and delicious looking? I sprinkled them with a bit more cinnamon and sugar to really give them a lot of flavor.

Bake rolls in the oven in the pan they are in for 18 minutes at 375 degrees , or until just browning so the inside will be soft.

While this is going on, add the powdered sugar and the vanilla together in a small bowl. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until a thick glaze is formed.

When you remove the rolls from the oven, allow them to cool in the pan. Drizzle with glaze and serve warm. Reheat extra rolls in the oven before serving.

Let me tell you these were delicious. The chocolate chips added just the right amount of melt in your mouth goodness, the outside was slightly crusty and they tore apart beautifully. I devoured mine in record speed. There’s nothing like a warm, sugary breakfast treat to melt a frozen heart, trust me.

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The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

It’s been one of those weeks. You know, the kind that makes you want to do nothing but sit at home under a warm blanket, watch trashy television and breathe. With exam season in full swing and a slew of other stress causing incidents, I was craving a little comfort.

And nothing says comfort to me like a chocolate chip cookie.

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Every time I eat one of these cookies I am instantly transported back to my childhood. To a time where stress wasn’t even a word I understood, let alone suffered from. Chocolate chip cookies were usually made from the tube in my household, but they were delicious because they came from my mom with love, and a little help from my brother and me.

This recipe was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe but I took quite a few liberties which included the use of two kinds of chocolate. The ending result was a perfectly puffy, crunchy on the outside, and ooey-gooey and melty on the inside chunk of delight-at less then 100 calories.  As I ate one late at night, okay two (with a little frozen Cool Whip inbetween-my version of the perfect ice cream sandwhich), with a glass of milk I stretched a wide grin. If I closed my eyes I could almost see my kitchen back in Vermont and my mom sitting at the end of the table. Life is good again.

Makes about 4 dozen (Depends on your cookie size, I used a tablespoon size)

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

I cup Splenda (If you’re anti-artificial sweetener use plain old white sugar)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 Tbls honey

1 tsp vanilla

2 large egg whites

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped Hershey’s bar pieces (about one whole bar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop one Hershey’s bar into chocolate chip sized pieces. Don’t worry about uniformity, this cookie is about comfort not perfection. Place these and the chocolate chips aside. MIx the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and also set aside.

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Cream butter and sugar until both are soft and look white. I always use wet hands hand first to incorporate the butter properly, then switch to a spatula.

Add vanilla, egg whites and honey. Mix well.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients, folding small amounts in and adding more only when the previous ingredients are completely mixed into the dough. Stir in chocolate chips and Hershey’s pieces.

Now this is the hard part-do not eat all the dough. I know, I know, homemade cookie dough like this is one of God’s greatest creations-and temptations. A few cookie sized spoonfuls were lost to the hungry mouths of my roommates and myself, but we managed to restrain ourselves (just barely).

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Mere seconds before it entered my mouth.

I took half of my dough and put it in the freezer to bake next week and send to my roommate Julia’s brother, whom I don’t know at all but whom Julia assures me will be forever grateful for fresh baked goods. If you don’t wish to save any dough this batch should yield about four dozen cookies because I got an even 2 dozen with half the dough.

Using a tablespoons, position balls of dough about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie tray.

Bake for 8 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are browned and tops just-barely turning golden. Cool on a wire rack, or eat them right of the tray just like you used to.

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Whole Wheat Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Cream Frosting

That’s a whole lot of lemon huh? Luckily for my roommate Evan, I happen to love anything tart. Seriously. Give me a frut dessert over a chocolate one any day of the week.

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The inspiration for this lovely lemon cake came compliments of Evan. If you’ve been reading, you’ll know I baked two dessert for my last roommates birthday so I offered (quite willingly) to bake Evan a little birthday treat as well. His only request? Lemon, and according to him, I satisfied that craving.

Looking through my cookbooks and websites, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted so I was forced to improvise a bit. I ran out of sugar, so I had to use all Splenda. While this wasn’t ideal, it did lower the calorie count of the cake and the whole wheat flower balanced out any lost flavor nicely.  The cake turned out a bit denser then I would have liked, and the curd a bit runny but the end result was a thick, healthy, lemony masterpiece.

The moral of this story? Improvise, create and learn! Take all your baking experience and whip something up. It could turn out to be delightful.

Keep in mind that I am baking at a high altitude so I added a 1/2 cup extra flour to the batter, 1 tsp extra baking powder, an extra egg white and an extra 4 tbls of milk. If you’re baking at a more normal altitude just omit these additions.

Cake:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened and cut into chunks

1/2 cup whipped butter, softened

1 1/2 cups Splenda

7 egg whites

2 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon Curd:

1/2 cup Splenda

2 Tbls grated lemon rind

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 Tbls unsalted sweet cream butter

Lemon Frosting:

2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbls sweet cream butter, softened

6 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese

2 tsp grated lemon rind

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Dash of salt

Extra lemon curd, to taste

Directions:

I made the curd first in order to allow it to chill long enough for me to make the cake in time. Before you grate the lemons, roll and push them on a hard surface. This way the juice from the lemon will go into the rind and make your curd more flavorful.

Beat Splenda and eggs in a medium bowl. Gradually beat in lemon rind and juice.

Spoon the mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it becomes bright yellow in color and you can smell a fragrance coming from the saucepan. This took me about 7 or 8 minutes.

Spoon mix into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill completely (curd should become thicker).

While your curd is getting itself ready in the fridge, start the cake batter.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees (370 for us high altitude folks!).

Mix flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg whites one at a time (I cracked them right into the bowl one by one). Stir in vanilla.

Beat in flour mix and milk alternating with dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with dry ones.

Pour batter into a round, 9-inch nonstick pan. I only had to bake the cake for about 18-20 minutes each. This was probably due to the whole wheat flour and the altitude. I would advise checking on the cake after 15 minutes and then continue to check the cake until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

While my cakes were cooling, I started the best part of any cake experience-the frosting.

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Just look at that hand-whipped frosting! Yummmmm…

Combine cream cheese, butter, lemon rind, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth and fluffy with no visible lumps. I added some leftover curd I had and it really improved the flavor. Try not to eat it all before it goes on the cake!

To assemble your creation, cover one cake with a thing layer of frosting, to form a foundation for the curd. Spoon the curd on top of the frosting like so.

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Carefully place second cake on top of the frosted/curded (yes, I believe I just made that word up) cake, bottom side up for easy frosting. Place a large dollop of frosting in the center of the cake and smooth it out towards the edges. Frost sides of cake if desired. Chill until frosting sets and keep refrigerated until serving.

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Traditional birthday cake

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This cake was not one of my brighter moments, but it includes a recipe for the best butter cake I’ve come across so I figured why not?

My roommate Ally’s birthday is today and we decided to throw her a last minute, spur of the moment party. We got drinks, decorated a little and I thought everything was ready… but then my roommates Julia and Erica decided that the birthday girl needed a cake. Keep in mind that this was an hour before guests were supposed to arrive and a small amount of panic gripped my heart. A cake? But I have no confectioner’s sugar! No chocolate! How can I make frosting from scratch?! But I strapped on my apron, pre-heated the oven and got to baking.

While the ending result wasn’t pretty looking (give me a break, I had an hour) it did turn out delicious especially with the fresh bananas I used to redeem myself from the use of store bought frosting. In the end, Ally had a yummy birthday cake so I consider it a success. I will post a better cake with frosting recipes in the near future though. Pinkie swear.

Butter Cake:

2 1/4 cup flour

2 1/2 baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 oz. unsalted butter, cut into chunks

2 large eggs

3 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat sugar and butter in additional bowl until creamy. Add one egg to mix and blend. Add vanilla and other egg.

Slowly stir in about a fifth of the  flour mixture, follow with a splash of the milk. Keep alternating flour and milk, making sure you end with flour. Pour half of batter into 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Bake until golden brown or until toothpick come out clean. This should be around 22 minutes. I always set the timer for 15 though, and check every additional 2 minutes.

Cook cake in pan for 5 minutes, then invert pan and let cake cool to room temperature. Repeat with remaining batter.

DSC01363This is the first layer, covered with fudge frosting (canned I’m sorry to admit) and sliced bananas. I only had to use one large banana but more is always better!

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Zwetschgenkuchen

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One of my roommates’ parents recently sent him a fantastic Jewish cookbook. Flipping through the pages I stumbled upon a zwetschgenkuchen recipe. Now, while I cannot pronounce this pie-like dessert, I was intrigued by the main ingredient of plums. We have a few plum trees that grow in our backyard, and in an attempt to save these treats from the hungry deer that also live in our backyard, we picked a few bags recently. The ending result was delicious if I do say so myself. I added extra sugar to both the crust and filling recipe to balance the tartness of our wild plums, which worked better then I imagined. The crust turned out light and flakey (even though I did burn it a bit-whoops), and the filling was juicy and all around delectable.

Crust:

1 lemon grated, for zest

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

4oz unsalted butter, slightly warmer then chilled temperature, diced

2 egg yolks

Filling:

14 small plums, quartered and pitted

3 tbsp plum preserve (I used homemade)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

Grease a 9 inch pie pan with olive oil cooking spray. Blend half of lemon zest and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add flour and mix. Add in butter and mix with hands (or spatula if you’re more comfortable with that). The mixture should start to clump together. Pour egg yolks over batter and mix until a ball of dough begins to form.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead into a more rounded ball shape. Flatten into 1 inch disk and wrap in palstic wrap. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.

Place dough on top of plastic wrap and then cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Gently roll into a 1/4 inch round circle. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, flip dough and gently ease into pie pan. Remove other sheet of plastic wrap and shape dough to pie pan, trimming excess dough as needed. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

While waiting, mix sugar, cinnamon, and remaining lemon rind. Once dough has chilled, coat with plum preserve. Arrange plums around the pie pan and sprinkle sugar mix on top. Do not be afraid to use a lot of sugar! I did!

I baked my pie for about 35 minutes, but my oven is a little messed up and old. I would recommend checking the pie every 5 minutes after the 30 mark. Remove when crust is golden and crispy, and plums are bubbling.

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