Tag Archives: snack

Salted Caramel Banana Macarons

Salted.

Caramel.

Banana.

Macarons.

Can you say “yum?”

In all seriousness, these are yum.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning. The very beginning.

A little over a year ago, I had the pleasure of going on a trip to London and France (Paris and Arles in the south). And let me tell you…all those things you’ve heard about French pastries being the best things in the world…those aren’t lies. Those of you who have gone to France, am I right? *Insert everyone nodding their heads yes!*

(photo taken by me)

Breakfast every morning was divine (I even became a local at this one cafe!)…freshly baked bread and a croissant, with the choice of spreading on jellies and/or butter. There is literally no way to describe how good this was. And if you thought butter was good in America, you’d be wildly impressed with French butter – it’s that much better!

Besides indulging in breakfast (and lunch, and dinner), I also made many stops to little patisseries. Of course, I had to go to Ladurée, famous in particular for their macarons. Being the dessert-lover I am, I not only indulged in many macarons, but also a heavenly pastry with rose water and raspberries. Yep, be jealous. This was a food lover’s dream!

Yep, that's the rose water and raspberry dessert. (photo taken by me)

And on a complete side note, some of you may be wondering how much weight I gained after all of this eating. Well, prepare to get even more jealous: the answer? None. Yep, I gained no weight. I think it had to do with how walkable a city Paris is…I mean, you just want to walk everywhere.

But back to the main story: So, I guess you could say I became officially in love with macarons during this trip. But really…how could you not? Macarons are adorable and tasty, and I was in Paris – the place where undoubtedly you’ll get the world’s best macarons.

Ever since returning from that trip, I wanted to make my own macarons. But then I heard all those horror stories about them, which I’m sure you’ve heard:

“Macarons are impossible!”

“Macarons are so finicky!”

“Macarons never turn out!”

“Don’t try making macarons – you’ll never get them right!”

Naturally, I was scared away from the task, although the curiosity and obsession with macarons never left me.

And then, over a year later, one fateful day (dramatic!), there I was: watching Anne Thornton’s Dessert First on the Food Network. And what was she making?! Macarons!

I thought to myself, “If a TV show geared at the home baker is encouraging you to make macarons, you make macarons!” Right? Right!

That very next day I got the few ingredients I was missing that I needed to make them. And then, I made them.

And guess what?! They turned out perfectly!

They were not impossible.

They were not finicky.

They did turn out.

And, boy, did they turn out well!

I don’t know if it was a good recipe, luck, or what it was, but they turned out. And I loved them.

Moral of the story? Don’t let myths keep you from trying something you really want to make.

Or, maybe you just need to find a really good recipe.

Or, maybe you just need pure luck.

But try these for me.

You won’t regret it.

(I should note that the recipe does not make a ton….but that’s fine, as long as that’s what you expect.)

Salted Caramel Banana Macarons

adapted from Anne Thornton’s Dessert First

1 ¼ cup almond meal

1 ¾ cup powdered sugar

3 large older egg whites* (i.e. not freshly bought – preferably older than 4 days)

3 tablespoons meringue powder

fleur de sel, enough to sprinkle

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 teaspoons heavy cream

¾ teaspoons fleur de sel

1 ripe (not overripe) banana

*Preparation: Separate the egg whites when the eggs are cold – just out of the refrigerator. However, before moving on, allow to come to room temperature.

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper

Sift together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Begin sprinkling in the meringue powder as you beat. Increase the speed to medium speed and beat until soft peaks form. From here, keep beating cautiously until you have firm glossy peaks – do not beat until you have stiff peaks (i.e. meringue should not stand up straight when a whisk is lifted from the mixture).

Gently fold in about 1/3 of the almond meal mixture. Once combined, add the remaining almond meal mixture in 2 more batches. Being gentle is key. Incorporate the ingredients fully, but do not over-fold.

Put a pastry bag with about a ½ inch tip (or plastic bag with a tip cut off) in a glass or cup. Fold the top of the bag over the lip of the glass/cup. Fill the pastry bag with the mixture.

Pipe 1-inch circular mounds of batter onto the prepared pans. If the mounds do not smooth out on their own, using a wet fingertip, tap the mounds gently to create a smooth top. Another option would be to tap the pan on the counter…but I’d recommend the finger-tip option. Let the cookies sit for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle each cookie with fleur de sel. Allow the cookies to rest 30-60 minutes more, depending on the humidity.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, 1 sheet at a time. They should not be browned, but they shouldn’t look too underdone either. Let the cookies cool.

Make the filling:

In a saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Let the sugar melt and turn into a caramel – but do not stir the mixture, and do not rush this process. Carefully, as steam will be released, add the butter and heavy cream. Stir until incorporated, and then add the fleur de sel. Let cool.

In a small bowl, mash the ripe banana with a fork (don’t worry about the texture seeming strange…it’ll work in the end!). Add the cooled caramel to the mashed banana.

Spread the filling on the flat side of a cookie. Make a sandwich by sandwiching the flat side of another cookie against the filling. Continue this process for the rest of the sandwiches.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to mature for at least 24 hours…but honestly, you’ll want one before, and I found that there wasn’t a huge difference in taste between the more freshly finished and 24-hour matured versions. So, go ahead. Enjoy them now! (And think of Paris….*sigh*).

Woah. Time Flies.

My goodness how time has flown by without a post! But don’t you worry…I have been baking, and I have been taking pictures, so I do have quite a bit to share with you! In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peek to…shall we say…get your mouth-watering?! Get ready, ’cause your mouth is going to water (well, I am perhaps a bit biased, having tasted all of these creations and all!).

YES! I made macarons (first time!)!

 

German Chocolate Cake...need I say more?!

 

Now force that jaw up and keep the mouth-watering to a minimum until I can get back here with the recipes and more details!

(Literally!) Melt-In-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

I’ve got another Baked recipe to share with you today! On a side note, before I get to today’s actual topic, I should mention among the other items I’ve made from the Baked cookbooks, I’ve made the Grasshopper Bars. Holy. Moly. Those things were divine. I brought them to a party, and they were quickly decided to be the favorite thing there. I was asked for the recipe countless times. Seriously…they were amazing. And as if I haven’t already pushed you enough to do so, I want need you to get these Baked cookbooks! Think of me not sharing the Grasshopper Bars recipe as an extra nudge to do so! 🙂

But you came today for Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, didn’t you? If you look in either of the Baked cookbooks, you actually won’t find such a recipe. These are a slight adaptation of one of the recipes, created not because I had little faith in the original recipe, but rather due to the ingredients I had on hand. You see, these were originally supposed to be Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks (not semi-sweet…milk chocolate, the recipe description clearly states!) But who doesn’t love a good Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie?!

These were great. Like, really, really, really, really, really great. Melt in your mouth great. No, seriously, they literally melt in your mouth!

The description in the cookbook says that they’re “the type of cookie you will have to hide or lock down if you want [them] to remain in your cookie jar for more than a few hours” (Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, page 140). Sadly for your waistline, I’m here to report that this is only too true. These cookies will disappear faster than you can believe.

And now, I encourage you to make these delightful cookies. Then, I dare you to control yourself by not eating more than one at a time. Sorry, but you won’t be able to do that. They’re just that good!

(Literally!) Melt-In-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes (softened=out and cut up in cubes for about   

15 minutes)

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup creamy peanut butter

*chocolate kisses (one per cookie)

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each until incorporated. Add the vanilla and peanut butter, beating just until incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour and mix until just incorporated; you don’t want to overmix.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (in a pinch, you can refrigerate for less time, or freeze for some of the time…I did a bit of both so I could get the cookies in the oven and into my tummy faster!).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into equal balls. Place on prepared sheets, leaving at least 2 inches around each dough ball. Very gently press each cookie dough slightly, but do not press too hard, and do not press it flat! Sprinkle the tops lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately place a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes or so, and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely (well, you can eat them before that point if you wish!).

Enjoy!

*If you wish to make cookies as in the cookbook, instead of putting chocolate kisses on top, fold in 6 ounces good quality milk (not semi-sweet!) chocolate, coarsely chopped, into the cookie dough before you chill it.

Grilled Nutella Sandwiches

Do you see the title of this post?! Grilled Nutella Sandwiches? Nutella Sandwiches?! Yep, you read correctly.

The best part about this recipe, besides the taste of course, is the fact that there are no rules! Want to load up on the Nutella? Go ahead! Want to load up on the brown sugar butter coating? Go ahead! Want a HUGE sandwich? Go ahead!

With four measly ingredients, these are an absolute snap to whip up. And you’ll want to.

Please excuse my images – or lack there of. As I’m sure you can relate to, I could barely photograph this puppy before I downed it!

Grilled Nutella Sandwiches

Adapted from Bon Appetit

 

For one serving:

2 slices challah (or another white bread)

1 tablespoon (or so) nutella

1 tablespoon (or so) butter

1/2-1 teaspoon (or so) light brown sugar

Spread the nutella on one slice of bread. Use as much or as little as you like! Put the other slice of bread on top to make a sandwich.

Melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the sandwich in the brown sugar butter mixture. You may decide to increase (or decrease) the amount of butter and/or the brown sugar…it’s up to you!

Coat a skillet with non-stick spray (or more butter, if you’re feeling indulgant). When it’s hot, put the sandwich in. Press down with a spatula to compress the sandwich. Switch the sides and continue press every once in a while. Cook until both sides are golden brown…or darker, if you wish. After all, there are no rules!

Enjoy!

Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

I’d like to give myself a little pat on the back for this one….because I can take credit, can’t I? Afterall, I came up with the idea to mesh two great recipes into one.

Buuuut…back to the title. Genius? Wanna see the proof that I’m not lying? People, these MAY be genius material!

Yep. Maybe you’re not convinced yet. Well, let me show the math it takes to get to the end result. Maybe that’ll help you.

TWO (2) of Alton’s chocolate chip cookies

+

a slathering of cookie dough cream cheese filling

=

ONE (1) perfect Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling (and let me answer the question posed in its name…yes, it’s genius!)

Still not convinced? Maybe some more pictures will do the trick.

Still not convinced? Well, I do have an answer for you. It’s one word – therapist! Seriously, if you aren’t convinced, I don’t know what’s wrong with you (with all due respect!)!

I made these lovely creations for a party Rachel was attending. When she tasted the finished product, she said I had out-down myself. Now that’s a compliment. When Rob tasted them, his eyes nearly rolled back…they were that good! But now I ask you, how could they not be?! I mean, cookie dough lovers rejoice…this recipe is for you!

*As a note, if you really wanted to, you could just make these cookies (if so, don’t freeze-roll-freeze-slice-bake, but rather freeze-scoop-bake). I’d venture to say they’re better than the (Supposedly) Perfect Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Actually, I’d say they are. And of course, you could also just make this filling and use it as a dip, as it was originally created to be used for. And if you did either of these options, I’d still respect you. Because they’re perfectly good on their own, of course. But why would you do that when you can combine them?!!?!?!?!? Really, it’s not even a choice, if you ask me. But do as you please (but really?!?!?!?!?!).

Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

Adapted from Food Network and How Sweet It Is

 

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

½ cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

8-oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cups chocolate chips

Make the cookies: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat, swirl the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn. You don’t want to overcook it. Remove from heat. While butter is melting, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in your main mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend. Mix again. Let sit another minute. Add the egg, yolk, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take out of the freezer, and using waxed paper to wrap the dough in, form about 1.5 inch logs out of the dough (you will have several logs). Chill in freezer for 15 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, meanwhile.

Slice off evenly cut rounds of dough from the logs (if you aren’t using a log, keep it in the freezer). Place on baking sheets and bake until just golden brown (4.5 minutes in convection oven was perfect). Let cool on sheets for several minutes and then transfer to wire racks. Before placing more dough on sheets, let the sheets cool (place in fridge, if you want).

Make filling: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool a bit.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined.

In food processor, crush chocolate chips slightly (the chips, for the most part, will still hold their shape). Beat crushed chocolate chips into cream cheese mixture.

When cookies are completely cooled (you may refrigerate them to speed up the process), take one cookie and slather on some filling (the amount, my friend, is up to you!). Top with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies to make the rest of the sandwiches.

*For the cookies: If you don’t have bread flour, use all-purpose. You can also use 2 tablespoons milk in place of the combination of 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream if need be.

Enjoy these genius cookie creations!

Butterfinger Blondies

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not a huge Butterfinger fan at all. There, I said it. So why did I make these? Rob, Madison, and Rachel all love them, so I decided to make something for them. Nice, right?

Not so nice? When I loved these bars so much I wanted to steal them from them. True story. I mean, wow! These are great!

Sure, these might not look super duper impressive, but trust me…their taste is! And who ever said blondies were known for looking impressive?! They’re kind of a humble snack dessert, aren’t they?! And aren’t those types of desserts sometimes the best?!

I urge you to make these. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if you like Butterfingers or not…you will like these! Ooey-gooey-scrumptiousness!

Butterfinger Blondies

Adapted slightly from Natalie’s Killer Cuisine

2 1/4 cups all purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (I was low on dark, so I used some light as well)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 11oz bag bite sized Butterfingers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Unwrap all of the Butterfingers and place them in a food processor. Grind them up until you have pretty fine pieces (this could be a matter of preference though).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a second mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and beat in eggs and vanilla, mixing only until eggs are incorporated.

Fold in flour mixture followed by most of the butterfingers. Reserve some (about ½ cup-ish) for topping.

Pour into pan and spread to edges. Sprinkle remaining Butterfinger pieces over top and bake for 28-30 minutes.
Let cool completely, then cut into bars.

Pumpkin Cookies with Salted Penuche (Caramel!) Frosting

I’m baaaaack (for an explanation on my absence, hop on over here!)!!! I can’t tell you how great it feels to be baking again! To be honest, I had planned to start my mini baking extravaganza tomorrow, but today saw a recipe I just had to try. So, naturally (as I’m sure many of you can relate to), I got right to whipping these up!

Penuche. Doesn’t it sound fancy! Don’t let it intimidate you though! But what exactly is a penuche? Well, it’s a type of caramel made with brown sugar and butter (and if you just saw the word “caramel” and freaked out a bit again…trust me…it’s not too tricky!). As I’ve told you many times before, and I’m sure you’ve gathered, I love salted caramel items. When I saw this frosting was a caramel flavor, I immediately realized that a sprinkling of sea salt on top would be just perfect…and what do you know? It was!

Take a look at the pictures. First up…fresh out of the oven!

Then, make some penuche!

Mmm, mmm, mmm! It’s addicting! Now, frost the cookies.

And you know these cookies would be delicious as is, but why not make them even more yummy? Add a sprinkling of sea salt!

Notes:

The Process: These were quick to whip up. The only issue one might have is with the penuche. As long as you watch the sugar and butter very carefully as to make sure it doesn’t burn, it should come out perfectly!

The Verdict: Mmmmmmmmmm. I love the traditional combo of pumpkin and cream cheese, but I’d never really had this flavor profile of pumpkin and caramel. Let me just say that this recipe will definitely be a keeper! Absolutely delicious! Madison adored them, and was puzzled as to why I didn’t make a bigger batch! Lesson to be learned: Make them, but make a lot!

Pumpkin Cookies with Salted Penuche (Caramel!) Frosting

Adapted from Daily Crave

Makes about 48 small cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.  

In a separate bowl, cream together shortening, brown and white sugars.  Mix in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Add the dry flour mixture and combine.

Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 10-14 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Frosting:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the 3 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then stir for about 1 minute while it thickens. Be careful not to let it burn at any point! Cool slightly, then stir in the milk little by little, and beat until smooth. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until frosting has reached desired consistency. Spread on cookies. Sprinkle a small dash of sea salt atop each cookie. Enjoy!

*Note: You can make bars instead of the cookies. To do so, pour the batter into a 9-inch-by-13-inch greased pan and bake for around 25-35 minutes.