Tag Archives: baking

Delicious Peanut Butter Brownies

Last Sunday, we had dinner at a friend’s house. As is often the case, I was in charge of bringing the dessert. It was a busy weekend, so when Sunday came around, I knew exactly what I would make. They’re portable. They’re easy. And they’re absolutely delicious…peanut butter brownies.

You may remember, a while back I wrote about candy bar brownies, which are amazing. This is a little twist, taking them even further! For the peanut butter brownies, you need a batch of brownie batter. Feel free to make your own from scratch, or use a store-bought brownie mix. Either way, they’re so doctored up, they’ll be delicious.

To the brownie batter, fold in a 12 oz bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup miniatures, chopped. And I know, it may seem like a lot, but trust me, you want the whole bag! Pour the batter into a greased 13×9 inch pan and bake as you normally would. While the brownies are baking, we’re going to take the next step to put these over the top.Reese'schoppedready to foldbatterbakedThree words…peanut – butter – frosting! Yes, it’s amazing, and the perfect addition to these brownies. Beat 1 stick softened butter until creamy and smooth. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and thoroughly combine. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix until combined. If the frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons milk until the desired consistency is reached.butterpeanut butterpowdered sugarreadyOnce the brownies are cooked and cooled, cut into squares. Pipe each square with a big dollop of frosting. I just used a plastic bag with the corner cut, but feel free to be fancy.browniescutready for frostingdoneNeedless to say, these brownies are always a huge hit. They are perfect for the peanut butter addict, or, really, whoever had taste buds! 🙂 Enjoy!

Crumb Cake at the Shore!

We spend a lot of time at the shore during the summer. I’m fortunate enough to have had grandparents that were incredibly insightful and built a shore house 40 years ago, before the property values soared. So, every year we head down as often as possible. Some friends will harass us that they won’t see us until Labor Day, but I think they’re just jealous! 🙂

When we’re down the shore with my niece and nephews, breakfast often includes crumb cake. My brother will head to Mallon’s in Avalon, NJ, before anyone wakes up. It’s this delicious crumbly cake with tons of cinnamon, brown sugar topping. It’s delicious! This weekend, we’re taking my 3 nephews to the shore, so I thought I’d attempt to make a homemade version for the boys!

In a small bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.floursugarbaking powdersaltmixedIn a medium bowl, whisk 1 large egg, 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons canola oil, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Once it’s mixed thoroughly, add the dry ingredients. Fold to combine.eggsmilkcanola oilvanillawhiskedadding flourbatterGrease and flour a 13×9 inch pan. Spread the batter evenly in the pan, then set aside.grease and flour the panready for the battercake layerIn the small bowl that you used for the flour mixture, add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup light brown sugar, packed, and 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and whisk to combine. Add 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled, and stir with a rubber spatula to create large crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. more flourbrown sugarcinnamonready for butterbuttermeltedadding buttercrumb toppingready for the ovenWhen the cake is done and cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar. Use a sifter or strainer to sprinkle the sugar all over. Slice and dig in!ready for powdered sugarI found this recipe from 2002 for “New York Crumb Cake.” It came from food.com, and it’s a delicious cake, very similar to Mallon’s. The best part is, there is more topping than cake! Enjoy!

A Sweet Treat…Kentucky Derby Pie!

The first Saturday in May means horse racing. At least that’s what I’ve come to find out. It’s the Kentucky Derby. While I’m not a big follower of horse racing, I do have an event to attend tonight to celebrate the race. So, if you’re going to bring something to a Kentucky Derby party, it might as well be Kentucky Derby pie!

Kentucky Derby Pie is essentially pecan pie with chocolate chips. With the addition of bourbon, it’s a sweet pie with a kick. I found this recipe in Southern Living. It’s an easy pie and bakes up beautifully.

This pie calls for a single pie crust. I used my standard pie crust recipe to make a 9 inch pie crust. Line a pie plate, with the crust, crimp the edges, and then scatter 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips on the unbaked crust.pie crustrolled outmeasuringpie crust readyadding pecansadding chocolate chipsPour 1 cup dark corn syrup, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/4 cup bourbon in a large saucepan. If you don’t have bourbon, you can just use any whiskey you might have on hand. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly and boil for 3 minutes. Be careful, the mixture will bubble up a bit, but a large pan will hold everything. After 3 minutes, the sugars will be dissolved, then remove from heat and set aside.corn syrupsugarbrown sugarbourbonbeginning to boilIn a medium bowl, whisk 4 eggs. Add 2 teaspoons cornmeal, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Whisk everything to combine, then slowly add about 1/4 of the sugar mixture, whisking thoroughly so you don’t cook the eggs. Continue to add the rest of the mixture and whisk to combine. Carefully pour the filling over the nuts and chocolate chips. I do this right next to the oven, with the pie already on a sheet pan so it’s ready for the oven. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes, until set.eggscornmealvanillabuttercombiningcombinedready for the ovenTonight, grab your big straw hat, a mint julep, and this dessert, and enjoy the Derby!

Nothing Says Spring Like Strawberry Pie!

It’s been a long time coming, but I think it might finally be spring. Sure, the bulbs aren’t exactly bursting with blooms, but I do see some daffodil buds and tulip shoots. The crocuses are out, so that’s a start. And the trees sort of look like there is some growth…sort of?!?!? Anyway, I’ll take it. It’s spring. And nothing says spring more than strawberry pie.

I’ll admit strawberry pie is not you’re most common. Sure, there’s strawberry rhubarb, which I’m sure is quite delicious. However, strawberry, with its sweet, bright red filling, and buttery, flaky crust just says sunny skies to me. So, for Easter, it was the perfect addition to the table.

To start, I use my standard pie crust recipe. You may remember it from Thanksgiving. You want a top and bottom crust for this recipe. As a side note, I had the chance to roll out the dough on my new granite counter tops…WOW! What a difference. The cold, hard surface made it a breeze to roll out dough. Definitely a plus for the new kitchen!

Roll out the crust for the bottom about an inch larger than your pie plate. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray and carefully line with the crust. Rest the crust lined pie plate in the refrigerator while you roll out the top crust. You want the top crust a little larger than the pie plate so you can create a seal and crimp.ready to rollrolled outready for fillingFor the filling, you’ll need 4 ½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters. In another bowl, combine 1 ¼ cups sugar, 4 tablespoons cornstarch, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Combine with the strawberries, and pour into the bottom crust. Dot with 4 tablespoons butter and cover with the top crust.slicingstrawberriessugar and spiceready for combiningready for piefilledTo seal and crimp, cut the edges, leaving about half an inch of overhang from the edge of the pie plate. Fold both crusts over the top so it creates a nice edge around the entire pie. Pinch the edges to crimp. You can do this in a decorative fashion; however, sometimes I just prefer the rustic look. Cut a few slits in the top for ventilation too.coveredcrimpedFor a shiny top, that also adds a delicious sweetness and crunch, cover the crust with 1 teaspoon ½ and ½ (or milk will do) and sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sugar. It is my secret to a delicious crust, and I do it for all of my pies.making the crunchy toppingBake in a 425 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling. I put the pie plate on a foil lined cookie sheet just to catch any overflow of the juices. And if the crust gets too dark, just cover with a piece of aluminum foil.ready for the oven

So, my next tip, don’t throw away that left over pie dough. Roll it out, brush with 1/2 and 1/2 or milk, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and cut into strips. Bake on a cookie sheet in the same oven for about 10 minutes until golden. These cinnamon-sugar treats are absolutely delicious, and it lets you see just how flaky and perfect you made that pie crust! It’s definitely the perfect snack for the cook.doughcinnamonsugarslicedbakedperfectionIf you’re looking for a pie to make, or just craving something sweet, or something fruity, give this one a try this spring or summer. It is absolutely delicious and just screams warm weather!

Valentine’s Day Cookies…Give Your Heart!

finished cookiesValentine’s Day is an interesting holiday. Sure it can be a wonderful day celebrating the love you have for your significant other. That’s usually how I like to celebrate it. However, if you watch any TV show in early February, you’ll see an incredibly stressful day full of forgotten gifts, mistaken dinner reservations, and horrible cards. Hopefully yours ends up being a wonderful day, and these cute cookies can help you celebrate. Not only are they great for the love of your life, but they’re perfect for kids too.

butterFor this recipe, you can really use any sugar cookie recipe you like. I used my go to sugar cookie recipe from The Martha Stewart Cookbook. It’s pretty straight forward and makes an easy to use dough. The dough cuts perfectly with a cookie cutter.

To start, cream 2 sticks butter, at room temperature, with 1 3/4 cups sugar, until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, and beat until fully combined. Next, whisk 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. In a measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup milk with 1 teaspoon vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until well combine, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.adding eggscreamedflour mixtureready to combinecombinedready for fridgeDivide the dough into quarters. Flour your work surface, and roll out until about 1/8 inch thick. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough. Place them on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes until golden.dividedrolled doughcuttingbaked

Now comes the hard part. One of the hardest things about making heart-shaped Valentine’s cowrong color chocolate icingokies is getting the royal icing red. Once again, I used Alton Brown’s recipe for royal icing that I wrote about in September. It’s easy to make, however, the hard part is getting a deep red color. I tried a few different versions. I tried adding cocoa powder, but it never became the right color, even though the chocolate tasted great. I also gave up and tried buying Wilton’s Red Cookie Icing which was a huge fail. It was way too runny and never solidified on the cookies. Finally, I tried Wilton’s Red Red gel icing coloring. It took a lot of gel to do it, but finally, I had red.

Add the icing to a pastry bag with a small round heartstip. Ice the outline first, then fill in with the icing. The consistency of this icing allows you to drag it to cover the cookie using the tip of the pastry bag. Allow them to dry for a few minutes. They also dry pretty smooth, which looks great.

I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with chocolates, hearts, and most of all, love. Oh, and be careful with these cookies. If you drop one, you’ll have a broken heart! 🙂

It Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without Homemade Pizzelles!

recipeI think I’ve mentioned this before, but I come from an Italian-American household. And, as you can imagine, there are a lot of traditions, and, specifically, a lot of food traditions. There was always the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, soup and pasta always made an appearance with the turkey on Thanksgiving, and, for almost any celebration, pizzelles took center stage. Thankfully, pizzelles still take center stage for Christmas.

In case you aren’t familiar with pizzelles, they are a delicate, waffle-like cookie, usually flavored with anise seeds, anise extract, or anisette. They are made in a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron, cooking 2 at a time, and they are delicious.

Once again, for the recipe, my great-aunt isbutter and sugar the winner. My mom has a lot of different recipes. If you look in her file box, you’ll see cards for Mommom Phil’s pizzelles, or Aunt Antoinette’s pizzelles, or Mommom Bobbie’s pizzelles, but, I have to admit, Aunt Angie’s is the best. You may remember her as the excellent baker with the killer pie crust recipe!

To start, cream 1 cup softened butter with 1 1/2 cup sugar. Next, add 6 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing to combine before adding the next. Then, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon anise seeds. eggsoilvanillaanise seedsAnd now, a note about anise seeds. For my mom and most of my baking relatives, there is no question, anise seeds are the way to go with pizzelles. They give the cookie a subtle liquorice flavor. However, if you prefer, you could use anise extract (although use it sparingly) or anisette. You could also add more anise seeds if you prefer, but I find the teaspoon works well.

baking powder and flourOnce the wet ingredients are all combined, add 4 teaspoons baking powder and 4 1/2 cups flour. I usually add the flour in 2 stages so I don’t make a huge mess, but feel free to combine however you prefer.

That’s the recipe. It’s very easy, and comes together very nicely. For the next part, you need a pizzelle iron. If you have never used one, they are very easy to use, but it does take some time to cook the pizzelles.

batterStart by plugging in your iron to heat it up. Once it’s hot, add about 1 teaspoon batter to the middle of each form. Press down, and allow to cook for just under a minute. You want the pizzelles to be light in color but cooked through. When you open them, the pizzelles sometimes fall right out. If they stick a bit, just use a fork.

pizzelle ironopencookingdoneThis recipe makes about 90 pizzelles, and trust me, you’ll fly through them.

I hope you enjoy your holiday desserts as much as I’ll enjoy these pizzelles. I’m sure there’s a tradition or two out there…feel free to share. And have a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy the time with family and friends…I know I will!ready to eat

Pumpkin Pie for the Holidays

Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. It’s a great way to end the holiday meal.  And, if we listen to the songs, pumpkin pie works for Christmas as well:

I met a man who lives in Tennessee
And he was heading for Pennsylvania
And some homemade pumpkin pie 

shellSo, it’s no surprise that I’ve made my share of pumpkin pies. I’ve also made several for friends and family. After tasting the pie, many people have asked me for my recipe, and I always chuckle. For me, the tried and true recipe is Libby’s. That’s right, I use the recipe right off the can, but it works! This year, like every other, I made Libby’s famous pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

To start, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves in a large bowl. Add 2 large eggs to the mixture and whisk to combine. Add 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin. Next, add 1 12 oz can evaporated milk and whisk to combine.sugar and spiceeggspumpkinevaporated milkall combinedFor the pie crust, I use my standard pie crust recipe. I roll out the crust the crust before making the filling.  Line a greased 9 inch pie plate, and crimp the edges. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

ready for the ovenPlace the pie plate on a cookie sheet close to the oven. Pour the filling into the shell, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake 40-50 minutes longer until a knife comes out clean from the center. Oh, and one trick to cover up the knife holes, cut out some extra pie dough using a festive cookie cutter (leaf or pumpkin), and bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Just place it on top, and your pie looks perfect.

If you haven’t tried this simple recipe, give it a try. It’s so easy, and so good. I’ve also tried making the pie from fresh pumpkin, and it just wasn’t worth it. Go for the can, and enjoy.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are ready for a fabulous Christmas season!