Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger cookies!" At least that's what Bart Simpson would have said if he had a batch of these.

One of my favorite candy bars when I was a kid was Butterfingers. Not only because it's peanut butter and chocolate (which is like the greatest combo on earth), but you just can't beat that "crispety crunchy" texture. So, when I saw this recipe for Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cookies on Merlot's blog, Goddess of Baking, I just knew I had to make them.

I even had an excuse for baking (not that I need one of course) since my sister's birthday was coming up and all she requested was that I send her homemade cookies, lots and lots of cookies. Done!!! I ended up sending her a whole assortment and included at least a dozen of these in the package.

I'm telling you, you will love these cookies. They are wonderfully thick and chewy and full of yummy peanut buttery chocolatey flavor in every bite. Thank goodness I could send them off. Otherwise, I think I'd be tempted to eat them all myself. Yup, my sister's gonna devour these for sure.

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Goddess of Baking)

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 Butterfinger bar (2.1 oz.), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat peanut butter, butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped Butterfinger candy.

Scoop dough onto a prepared cookie sheet. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, 12-15 min., reversing sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 min., then transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweets for a Saturday #54

Yes, this week Sweets for a Saturday is up at its regularly scheduled time. There were lots of awesome treats linked up last week. I honestly think that if there was a cookbook with all those recipes and your mouthwatering pictures in it, it would top the New York Times' bestseller list in an instant. Well, at least you can still enjoy all that sugary goodness here starting with last week's Top 5:

1. Cinnamon Roll Cake - Feeding My Temple

Cinnamon rolls AND cake? Where's my fork???

2. "Homemade" Cookies - Olla-Podrida

These cookies are stamped with love.

3. Corey's Treats - Cooking with K

Chocolate and peanut butter - need I say more?

4. Recession Proof Whipped Cream Frosting - The Traveling Spoon

The secret? No whipped cream required.

5. Cookie Monster Cupcakes - Eat Cake for Dinner

Looks like Cookie Monster has the right idea.

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your treat.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious sweets from this week. If you've made more than one during the week, feel free to link them all up.
  4. Leave me a comment telling me that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on their wonderful additions to this party.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jo's Rosemary Bread

This bread is so good that I've already made it twice. The olive oil in it gives each bite a silky mouthfeel and the herbs and seasonings make it one of the most flavorful breads ever. It's the perfect addition to any dinner and would make awesome rolls as well. Give it a try!

Jo's Rosemary Bread (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

1 c. warm water (110F)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt (I decreased this to 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
2 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Combine the warm water with the sugar and sprinkle in the yeast. Let sit 5-10 min. until foamy. Add the olive oil, Italian seasoning, black pepper, rosemary, and 1 c. flour. Stir to combine.

Add the salt and the rest of the flour, a 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-8 min. until it is elastic and passes the windowpane test (i.e. Pull off a small piece of dough and stretch it with your fingers until it's so thin you can nearly see right through it (like a windowpane). If you can manage to do this, you've kneaded it enough. If not, keep kneading it.) You will probably end up kneading in another 1/4-1/2 cup of flour in the process.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a well-greased bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. At this point, you can cover it with a towel and place it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Or, you can make the dough the night before and place it in the fridge to rise overnight, which is what I did.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and shape it into a loaf. You can either make a freeform loaf and put it onto a cookie sheet, or you can make one 9x5 loaf pan or three mini loaves. After shaping the loaves, cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake about 20-25 min. (mini loaves) or 30-35 min. (large loaf) or until golden brown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweets for a Saturday #53

Oh my gosh, I can't believe that I forgot to post Sweets for a Saturday! I have never forgotten, but I guess there has to be a first time for everything. For whatever reason, I kept on thinking that I had another day. That is until about 10PM Friday night when that light bulb went off in my head and I literally freaked. I promise I'll totally remember from now on.

And now, here are your top 5:

1. Valentine's Day Trash - Cooking with K

One man's trash is everyone else's treasure.

2. Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Butter - The Royal Cook

Just when you thought butter couldn't get any better . . .

3. Joyful Almond, Coconut, Milk Chocolate Cookies - Hannah in the Kitchen

These cookies will have you jumping for joy.

4. Mud Hen Bars - Cooking with K

What's in a name? No matter what you call them, these bars are yummy.

5. Chocolate Covered Brownie Bottom Cheesecake - Angie's Sweet Natured Treats

Chocoholics unite for this cheesecake!

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your treat.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious sweets from this week. If you've made more than one during the week, feel free to link them all up.
  4. Leave me a comment telling me that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on their wonderful additions to this party.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lemon Pie Bars

The first lemon bar received great compliments. However, I still believed that another recipe could be even better and I was sure my family would agree. So, I proceeded on to make Allrecipes' Lemon Pie Bars. Although these use less lemon juice than the Lemon Square Bars, they also have less sugar so I figured they'd be a little more tart. Plus, they have some lemon zest which would brighten up the flavor as well.

Sure enough, my family agreed that the lemon flavor was more pronounced in these bars. Hence, they were better. In addition, I learned my lesson from the first lemon bars and baked these for less time. As a result, the lemon filling was less solid and more gel-like (as my sister puts it), also a good thing. We tried one more lemon bar recipe but it couldn't compare to this one. These are clearly now the favorite in our family.

Lemon Pie Bars (Allrecipes)

2 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter, softened

4 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flour and powdered sugar. Cut in the butter. Mix well until the dough resembles pie dough. Press the dough into a 9x13 pan.

Bake 15-20 min. or until golden brown.

Beat together eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest for at least 1 min. Pour the mixture over the baked crust. Bake the bars for another 15-20 min., or until the lemon topping has set (mine took 15 min.). Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cooled.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sweets for a Saturday #52

Oh my gosh, would you believe that this is the first anniversary for Sweets for a Saturday? I always dreamed this day would come. It's been one fantastic year. I've loved every week of it, meeting so many new amazing bloggers, staring goggle-eyed at the thousands of mouthwatering treats that have been linked up, and reading all your sweet comments. Thank you all for joining in and sharing your talents. Here's to another sugar-high filled year!!!

Last week's Sweets for a Saturday was HUGE!!! There were over 200 treats linked up. Congrats to all those who are in this week's Top 5. Plus, I added another Top 5 to showcase what some newcomers linked up.

1. Hot Chocolate Cookies - Catz in the Kitchen

2. Date Walnut Buttermilk Muffins - SamCyn's Edible Adventures

3. Top 5 Treats from 2011 - Dreaming of White Chocolate

4. Apple Cinnamon Bites - Everyday Insanity

5. Gooey Meyer Lemon Butter Cake - Arctic Garden Studio

1. Melting Snowman Sugar Cookies - Totally Lauren Amber

2. Chocolate Cashew Caramels - Vous Etes Doux

3. S'more Cupcakes - Cupcake Crazy Gem

4. White Chocolate Pumpkin Biscotti - Once in a Lifetime Travel

5. Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars - Everyday Desserts

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your treat.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious sweets from this week. If you've made more than one during the week, feel free to link them all up.
  4. Leave me a comment telling me that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on their wonderful additions to this party.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lemon Square Bars

According to my family, there is this awesome bakery on Oahu that makes lemon bars. They had tasted some of them and raved about them ever since. They believe that no homemade lemon bar can possibly compare. Oh we'll see about that. Challenge, accepted.

Since I had never tasted one of these lemon bars, I would have to rely on their descriptions to try and find a recipe that might match. All they could tell me was that it had a shortbread crust and a filling that was not too tart and not too sweet. Unfortunately, that basically described every single lemon bar recipe that exists.

I still had no idea of how tart or how sweet. So, I decided to try a couple of recipes and see what they thought. The first recipe I tried was the Lemon Square Bars from Allrecipes. It had a moderate amount of lemon juice so I figured it would be good to start there and then work my way up or down the tartness scale.

The only changes I made was to halve the amount of sugar in the crust (since my family wanted buttery rather than sweet) and to use cold butter instead of melted (me and melted butter just don't mix).

I may have overbaked them just a little too much, but it all turned out okay. The bars had a good crust to filling ratio and the filling had a mild lemon flavor. My family thought they were quite good. But, I'm not quite satisfied so I think I'll try another recipe to see if we can up the tartness just a bit.

Lemon Square Bars (Allrecipes)

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter, melted

4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5/8 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and confectioners' sugar. Blend in the melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Combine the sugar, baking powder and 1/4 cup of flour so there will be no flour lumps. Stir the sugar mixture into the eggs. Finally, stir in the lemon juice. Pour over the prepared crust and return to the oven.

Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until bars are set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Very First Pizza

I've always wanted to try making my own pizza from scratch. So, when my mom asked what we were going to make for dinner tonight, I figured, what better time than now? Let's do it!

The pizza crust is very much like a basic bread recipe. The only problem I ran into was when it came time to stretch it into shape. I tried pulling it, I tried tossing it, I tried letting gravity stretch it down. And, either way, the dough became too thin and I got holes in it. Finally, my dad suggested just laying it down and slowly pushing out from the middle. Voila! It worked.

For toppings, I just used whatever we had in the fridge, which turned out to be tomatoes, spinach, and onions. I did caramelize the onions though for a little extra flavor. We also didn't have any pizza sauce or the ingredients to make any. But, we did have a jar of spaghetti sauce. I cooked it down to reduce it and make it thicker.

The finished pizzas were delicious and the crust was crisp and chewy, just as it should be. The spaghetti sauce gave it a little different flavor, but we didn't mind one bit. Slice after slice disappeared. G'bye store-bought pizza.

Pizza Crust (King Arthur Flour)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast (I used 1 pkg. yeast)
7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water (I used 7/8 cup)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt (I decreased this to 1 tsp.)

1) If you're using active dry yeast, dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.

2) Combine the dissolved yeast (or the instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a soft, smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 4 to 5 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. Don't over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.

3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it's very puffy. This will take about an hour using instant yeast, or 90 minutes using active dry. If it takes longer, that's OK; just give it some extra time.

4) Decide what size, shape, and thickness of pizza you want to make. This recipe will make one of the following choices:
Two 1/2"-thick 14" round pizzas
Two 3/4"-thick 12" round pizzas;
One 3/4" to 1"-thick 13" x 18" rectangular (Sicilian-style) pizza
One 1 1/2"-thick 9" x 13" rectangular pizza;
One 1"-thick 14" round pizza.

5) Divide the dough in half, for two pizzas; or leave it whole for one pizza.

6) If you're making a rectangular pizza, shape the dough into a rough oval. For a round pizza, shape it into a rough circle. In either case, don't pat it flat; just stretch it briefly into shape. Allow the dough to rest, covered with an overturned bowl or lightly greased plastic wrap, for 15 minutes.

7) Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan(s). The pan spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the olive oil gives the crust great flavor and crunch.

8) Place the dough in the prepared pan(s). Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. You'll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 15 minutes. Cover the dough while you're away, so it doesn't dry out.

9) When you come back, you should be able to pat the dough closer to the corners of the pan. Repeat the rest and dough-stretch one more time, if necessary; your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible.

10) Allow the dough to rise, covered, till it's noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes (mine took 30 min.). Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.

11) Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it looks and feels set on top, and is just beginning to brown around the edge of the crust, but is still pale on top. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. If you're baking two pizzas, reverse them in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through the baking period.

12) Remove it from the oven, and arrange your toppings of choice on top. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom, and the cheese is melted. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.

13) Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. For easiest serving, cut with a pair of scissors.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sweets for a Saturday #51

Sweet as Sugar Cookies has just gone over the 1000 followers mark! I am floored!!! Thank you to all you loyal readers. It simply wouldn't be the same or as much fun without you.

As for last week's Sweets for a Saturday, it was awesome. There were a lot of new people who joined in and I welcome all of you and hope you'll continue to be a part of the party.

And, to top it off, I am now on Pinterest!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Okay, okay, enough talk from me. Here are your spotlighted Top 5 from last week:

1. Top 10 Favorite Desserts of 2011 - Eat Cake for Dinner

This is only a bite of the deliciousness she has to offer.

2. Top 10 Most Viewed Recipes - The Kitchen is My Playground

Nutella French Toast - 'nough said.

3. Best 2011 Desserts - Aunt Nubby's Kitchen

Amazing decorating skills!

4. Zebra Cake - A Little Bit Crunchy, A Little Bit Rock and Roll

Gorgeous effect

5. Cheesecake Filled Carrot Cake - That Skinny Chick Can Bake

The absolute epitome of carrot cake!

The Rules:
  1. Please link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name", type in the name of your treat.
  2. Please leave a link back to this post in your post or Grab My Button.
  3. Share your delicious sweets from this week. If you've made more than one during the week, feel free to link them all up.
  4. Leave me a comment telling me that you've linked up.
  5. Please visit at least two others and comment on their wonderful additions to this party.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was kind of bummed when I found out that we wouldn't be having a reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club this month. I had been assigned to the Beantown Baker and was totally excited since I've been a longtime follower of her blog. She has so many amazing recipes and I couldn't wait to make one of them and post about it. But, hey who says there needs to be an official reveal day? I decided to go ahead and do the assignment anyway.

I chose her Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies since I had some candy canes lying around the house. As I made them, I was kind of worried that the peppermint flavor would be a little overwhelming. But, to my surprise, I tasted one after they were baked and the flavor of the peppermint and chocolate chips actually blended together perfectly. The cookies were also delightfully chewy. My family enjoyed these every bit as much as I did.

Thanks Beantown Baker for opening my eyes to a new cookie recipe.

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Beantown Baker)

1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 c. crushed candy canes
1 2/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop cookie dough onto prepared pans. Bake 12-15 for smaller cookies, 14-17 for larger ones or until the tops are a light golden brown.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe is linked to:
These Chicks Cooked
Bake with Bizzy
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweet Party

Monday, January 2, 2012

Black Bottomed Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Day. As for me and my family, we all got together for a New Year's Eve lunch filled with tons of delicious food. We made Korean fried chicken, wontons, macaroni salad, and nishime (traditional Japanese stew). My grandma made her special fried shrimp. I also contributed by making these Mini Black Bottomed Pumpkin Cheesecakes for dessert.

They're totally easy to put together and absolutely scrumptious to eat. Plus, their small size makes them the perfect ending after a big meal. The only change I would make next time is to use gingersnaps instead of Oreos for the crust. But, otherwise, everyone loved them.

Mini Black Bottomed Pumpkin Cheesecakes (from Picky Palate)

8 Oreos, finely crushed
1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine ground Oreos and melted butter into a bowl until wellcombined. Spoon into a 12-cup muffin tin that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with muffin cups. Press into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat. Bake for 10 min. then remove from oven.

In a stand or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and pumpkin until smooth. Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined. Pour evenly into the 12 cups, filling each about 3/4 full (about 2 Tbsp. per cup). Bake for 25-28 min. or until cheesecake is cooked through. Let cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This recipe is linked to:
A Little Birdie Told Me
Full Plate Thursday
Bake with Bizzy
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweet Party