Patty’s double chocolate peanut butter cookies

Today was a great day. I met someone I really admire (and got her autograph!), and we have company, Boyfriend’s brother stopped in for a visit. I’m told he is a master of chocolate chip cookies, so I wanted to make something a little different. I started with the chocolate chip cookie recipe my sister taught me, and improvised.

Will these cookies blow him away? Just stay right there, and find out!

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 2 dozen or so

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42.

Cost per cookie: $1.75

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • cookie tray

Ingredients:

  • ¾ C Golden Crisco
  • 1¼ C light brown sugar, packed lightly
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • 1¾ C flour
  • 3 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • ¾ TSP baking soda
  • 1 C peanut butter Chipits
  • 1 C milk chocolate Chipits

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C / 375°F.

2. Cream the Crisco and sugar together.

3. In a glass measuring cup combine egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat into sugar.

4. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Gradually add to wet.

5. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips.

6. Roll dough into balls, bake 10 min.

7. Cool cookies in pan for 2 min before transferring to wire rack to cool.

8. Pour some milk and enjoy.

Verdict: These were pretty awesome. Will definitely make these again.

Playlist:  The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddesses

 

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Pride goeth before the cake

The dessert I made last night kind of imploded.  You’ll see what I mean by the end of this post. This morning as I stood in the kitchen, surveying the aftermath, and wondering “What the hell is that?”, three irritating platitudes sprang to mind:

  • you learn more from your mistakes than your successes
  • cooks can eat their mistakes
  • too many cooks spoil the broth

The über-annoying thing about platitudes (aside from how often one hears them) is when they turn out to be true. Measure twice, cut once. Ugh, spare me.

Last night I made three separate disasters.  It would probably have been a good idea to stop after the first failure, but I went for the hat trick anyway. Because I am committed. Since the post I was planning for today isn’t coming,  you’ll have to make do with my latest failures.

#1: Let them eat cake!

the incredible collapsing birthday cake ™

This beauty was Boyfriend’s birthday cake.  He loves oatmeal cake, and I had never made one before. He gave me the recipe used by his family and it seemed easy enough. Where did it all go wrong?

Probably my selection of a bundt pan for a cake with a heavy batter. Never doing that again. Ripped apart by its own weight when I removed it from the pan.  This resulted in a panicked call to Older Sister # 3, who suggested “Turn it upside down and frost like a motherfucker, he’ll never notice!” — it’s true, he didn’t.

#2: Oh fudge!

stirring…stirring…. WTF?

Hmm that certainly isn’t normal.  Never seen that before.

Tyler Durden called: “Where’d the fat go??”

I was melting chocolate on low heat to make fudge, and suddenly, this strange oily substance rose to the surface.  “Okay,” I remember thinking, “what’s up with that?  Did it seize?”

Treating it like seized chocolate failed miserably. I think the result speaks for itself. I turned off the stove and came back to observe later.  All of the fat had risen to the surface and congealed. This was a nightmare to clean.

#3: Rage on the marble slab

“Burnt cream” indeed!

This was particularly upsetting, my beautiful crème brûlée, ruined!!

Normally this lovely custard is topped with a thin layer of sugar, like a pane of rich brown glass. But this is what happens when using cane sugar that hasn’t been thoroughly dried, and too much of it.  The glass-like quality turns into a lump of burnt rock.

#4: The invisible mint sauce

mint….sauce??

On a whim I decided one night we just had to eat lamb with freshly made mint sauce, despite the fact that neither of us had ever cooked lamb before, or made mint sauce.  But that was okay, we had a bag of fresh mint picked from a friend’s garden.

I’m still not sure where I went wrong, but all the liquid evaporated, leaving soggy mint leaves (and no sauce) behind.  This was served on undercooked lamb and raw potatoes, attempts to broil Parmesan potatoes… did not work out.

#5: Pillars of the cake

coming soon to a restaurant near you, Torn Bottom Cake! ™

This was a double layer chocolate cake for my friend M. Both layers were mysteriously missing large chunks of their batter, which was stuck to the pan. That seam along the bottom right is where half of the cake ripped entirely off and got smashed back on.

Now, before baking this cake, I made sure the pans were well greased and dusted with cocoa.  I used my ninja frosting skills and filled all of the holes with buttercream frosting. Birthday Boy didn’t notice. BUT I KNEW. >.<

#6: A square of two gingerbreads

1st attempt: gingerbread top loaf!

As you can see, I did not actually use a square pan, oops. And half the loaf remained in the pan. After a few days I tried again, confident that if I used the correct pan things would go my way.

Certainly not “just like Mom’s.”

2nd attempt: it’s all over but the crumbs now

My first two gingerbreads were disasters.  Dare I try a third?

#7:  The cookies are (not) rising

peanut butter flat breads ™

molasses spice flats ™

What we have here is a failure to rise. The cookies are expanding out but not up. Despite making dough that included two leavening agents, my cookies never rose.

Boyfriend would disagree that these are disasters because they tasted good.  I believe that if it doesn’t look proper, into the disaster pile it goes.

#8: Bread on a wire

Save time on slicing, make “cracked loaf” ™

For the busy household, cracked bread saves precious minutes of the day, who has time to slice a loaf of bread anymore??

#9: So easy a child could make it

1st attempt: never do this on the stove

Confession: I’ve never made Rice Kripsy squares. Awhile ago (okay a long while ago), I picked up some marshmallows, planning to make them. And completely forgot about them until the other day.

I looked up the official Rice Kripsy square recipe, which says to use a stove top. It seemed so easy. Unaware that stale marshmallows do not react like fresh ones, I got to work.  I called up Mom to chat and tell her what I’m making.  She suggests using the microwave instead.

Too late now!!

I glance at the clock, and the sauce pan, wondering why over 25 minutes have passed but the marshmallows have not melted. At all.

Boyfriend walked in the door. “What is the amazing smell?”

I am feeling proud of myself, still unsure if the weird brown mass in the pan is normal.

He walked over to the stove.  “What the hell is that?”

I calmly explain it’s my first batch of Rice Kripsy squares, obviously!

He looked at me, puzzled.  “Why aren’t you using the microwave?”

I explain that the Kellogg’s website said to use the stove.

So he calls up his mother.  We have now consulted two mothers plus the official recipe. It’s a group effort now. There is no way this can fail.

He helps me pry the strange buttery marshmallow mass from the pan, and get started on a new batch, using a glass bowl in the microwave.  Boyfriend was kind enough to microwave and stir, microwave and stir.

I wait, wondering when the marshmallows will finally melt. Then I turn around, and see him pouring the cereal into the unmelted marshmallows.

“What are you doing!?!”

“They’re not melting, they’re just shrinking!”

“And you thought it was a good idea to add the cereal anyway?!”

2nd attempt: “There is only one Lord of the Squares, and he does not share power!”

Now I am confused, sad, and downtrodden, complaining that everything I bake turns to hell.

Boyfriend hugs me and says, “No, no, you can make stuff I can’t even pronounce and it’s delicious, we’ll get fresh marshmallows and try again.”

I am reminded why I care for Boyfriend so much after this pep talk.  Every cook needs a cheering squad.

#10: If a cake implodes in the oven, does it make a sound?

the cheesecake that wasn’t

And finally, here is the result of last night’s poll. After two failed batches of Rice Krispy squares, I was determined to make something, anything, and plus I had just asked my readers to vote in a poll and felt commited at this point.

Because I had a vision. I wanted to make an apple cheesecake, on a bed of honey graham crackers, with a layer of homemade caramel sauce and minced apple, and a cream cheese filling mixed with apple sauce and honey.

Oh, how beautiful it seemed in my head! And you know, it does taste pretty good. But from the moment I took it out of the fridge and began slicing it, two great cracks appeared, and it slid apart. In fact, it seemed liquid.

I consulted Older Sister # 2, who determined it was probably a combination of too much liquid, not enough cream cheese, and not enough cooking time. This makes sense.

This morning I showed the fallen cake to Boyfriend who (if you can believe it) laughed in my face.  He says he didn’t laugh and he doesn’t remember laughing – possibly because he hadn’t drank any coffee yet? Whatever!

I’m going to try again, and it’s going to work, and maybe, if you are really nice to me when you get home, you can have some.

Keeping those silly platitudes in mind, I have realized three important truths:

1. Eating your mistakes when they are raw is foolish.

2. When attempting to make something new that everybody in the world knows how to make but you, do it before anybody else gets home.

3. If you don’t remember when you bought the marshmallows, maybe get fresh ones.

Untitled post is untitled

Tonight I’ll be making a cheesecake bar dessert, but in the meantime, I read a fantastic book recently; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

It’s a personal account of the disastrous Mt. Everest climb of 1996. The first IMAX movie I saw was  Everest, which (unbeknownst to me) was filmed during the same time that the events of the novel occurred. I will definitely watch the film again soon.

Today I’m on the hunt for a specific item, a 10.5″ x 15.5″ baking pan deep enough to hold a 9″ x 13″ pan, for a water bath, for tonight’s dessert.

However, I sort of overslept and Boyfriend was kind enough to nag me out of bed before he left for the day, and I’m cold. Brrrr. Before venturing outside I am waiting for A) my hair to dry and B) the store to open.

I had a good weekend, finally completed the first Super Mario Galaxy with 120 stars (mad skills!), and a good friend dropped by to visit. Also made a lasagna. The only low point was accidentally updating my BlackBerry to OS 6 – I intended to update the desktop manager and back up my phone, but instead upgraded my OS, and now my RAM is almost gone. Oops.

Just the other day something wonderful happened. I became an aunt, again! Older Sister # 2 had a baby girl, named Sherbert!

Older Sisters # 1 and # 3 have gotten to visit the bebe and to my surprise, I’m very jealous. Overall I do not like children, and that includes infants, but all the same I’m really excited about my niece. I guess because she’s MY niece.

I also intend to find a super-awesome present, so as this bebe grows up I’ll retain my title of favourite aunt who gives cool presents.  Although my older sisters have the home field advantage of being geographically closer to Sherbert, I have the Big City Shopping advantage. If they think that online shopping will even the field, they couldn’t be more wrong.

I’m not competitive, not at all. Boyfriend thinks I’ve lost my mind and laughs at my recent behavior because normally, the only thing baby-related that piques my interest is Baby Smasher. So yes, I’m quite thrilled to be an aunt again!!

Current playlist: 80’s

Patty’s Belgian chocolate Irish Cream cheesecake

Let your senses guide you to this decadent chocolate cheesecake, made from Belgian chocolate and Baileys Irish Cream, on a crust of crushed chocolate cookies. One little slice goes a very long way.

Recipe, instructions, and pictures below. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: one 7″ cheesecake, with 16 portions

Cost per slice: $2.75

Total cost if you have none the required ingredients: $61.00

This post is to commemorate my first cheesecake.  I had 2 goals: create my own recipe, and make a cake without cracks. Lofty goals indeed!

I hit up the St. Lawrence Market to re-stock my supply of Belgian chocolate. I buy my hard-to-find ingredients at Domino Foods, they sell delicious Callebaut chocolate. As for the pan, you don’t actually need a springform pan to make cheesecake, but it makes things easier, and those pans can also be used for other delicate desserts. I have four sizes; 9″, 7″, 6″, and 4″. I consulted Older Sister 2 for some advice, and got started.

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • electric beaters
  • frosting knife or thin blade
  • 7″ springform pan
  • parchment paper, plastic wrap, & heavy tinfoil
  • 9″ x 13″ deep baking pan

Crust ingredients:

  • 1¼ C chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 TSP vanilla bean paste
  • 4 oz of Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • ¼ C Baileys Irish cream

Good to know before you start:

Some recipes, including this one, require that the crust be baked at a higher temperature, and once the filling is added it’s baked at a lower temperature. Don’t forget to adjust the oven heat.

Cheesecake will collapse and crack if exposed to sudden temperature changes, don’t open the oven door during baking, and don’t place the finished cake in a drafty area to cool. (A cracked cheesecake tastes fine.)

Never insert a knife or toothpick into a cheese cake to test it, see step 10.

When serving, let cheesecake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes for best flavour.

Step 1 – use centre rack. Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 350°F to bake the crust. If using a bain marie, (which prevents cracking), fill kettle and turn on Low, now.

Step 2 – grease springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Optional step: line outside of pan with heavy tinfoil to use in bain marie.

Step 3 – mix the cookie crumbs with melted butter:

Step 4 – press crumbs firmly into bottom of pan to form crust, bake in oven for 10 minutes AND THEN LOWER OVEN TO 150°C / 300°F.

Step 5 – chop chocolate with a serrated blade and set it aside. Er… this was supposed to be 4 oz… but it’s more like 8 or 12. Oops.

Step 6 and 6.5 – gently beat the cream cheese, not too much and not too fast. Try 2 minutes on Low, and continually scrape down the sides of the bowl. I wish I had a Kitchen Aid mixer!

Don’t over-beat because that will add too much air to the mixture, creating air bubbles which collapse during the baking process, causing cracks.

After the cream cheese is beaten, add the sugar and beat until combined.

Then beat in the eggs (one at time), until combined.

Finally beat in the vanilla, and set aside.

Step 7 – melt the chocolate and stir in the Baileys. Normally I melt chocolate in a double boiler to temper it, but that is pointless for a dish destined for the oven. Instead, microwave on High for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted.

Step 8 – beat chocolate into cream cheese mixture (gently!)  I originally was going to use my red mixing bowls, but I read that cream cheese rises up high in the bowl so switched over to a big metal bowl instead.

Step 9 – “pour” mixture onto crust – since I used too much chocolate my filling was very dense, it had to be scooped out of the bowl, smooshed down, and smoothed out.  If your filling is normal (runnier), gently shake the pan to even it out and remove air bubbles.

Optional step: I set my springform pan into a 9×13″ baking pan, set that in the oven, and carefully poured hot water from the kettle into the larger pan. This  created a hot water bath that rose halfway up the side of the foil-wrapped springform pan. That served 2 purposes: a) prevents top from drying out, b) prevents cracking.  The hot water should never come in contact with the ingredients.

Step 10 – DID YOU LOWER THE OVEN TEMPERATURE EARLIER?

Bake cheesecake 50-60 minutes at 150°C / 300°F.

How do you know it’s done? The same way you check custard; gently shake it.

If the entire thing jiggles, give it another 5 minutes and check again.

If the edges are firm but the centre jiggles, it’s perfect.

It nothing jiggles at all it’s overdone.

Step 11 – remove from oven but do not open the springform pan.

Carefully use a frosting spatula or thin blade to loosen the pan away from the cake, go slowly around the edge of the pan, all the way down to the bottom. This will prevent the cake from tearing or collapsing when the spring is released after chilling. Be careful and take your time.

Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

The cake will firm up as it cools.

See the dark ring around the bottom of the pan?  That’s from the water bath.

Step 12 – cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least for 8 hours

Here’s my cake the next day, see the part in the centre that looks pale? That is where the plastic wrap touched the top. Oops.

Step 13 – remove tinfoil, and very carefully open the latch on the pan, and lift it away from the cake, hopefully it will stay intact:

Step 14 – cut the cake with a sharp, hot knife, cleaning the knife after each cut.  This prevents the filling from tearing or getting crumbs on it.

Alternatively, you can use a tight line; unflavoured dental floss, piano wire, or a new piece of fishing line – whatever works for you.

Cut it half, and then into fourths – I got 16 pieces out of this.

Step 15: serve and enjoy!  Cheesecake tastes best after standing at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Verdict:

I liked this and will make it again, with some adjustments.  The flavour was intense. I finished my slice throughout the day, 2 bites at a time.

I used 1/2 Cup of Baileys and found that was too much, that’s why I say above to use 1/4 Cup. However, the 4 people who have tasted this said the Baileys flavour was just right, so you might need to experiment with this.

Next time, I’ll definitely measure the chocolate more accurately, I need a better kitchen scale. I’ll let the cream cheese sit at room temperature for longer, 40 minutes wasn’t enough. I will also beat the cream cheese more, I was afraid of over-mixing and ended up not mixing enough, there were a few white bubbles in the filling. They tasted fine but were aesthetically irritating.

Overall I’m quite pleased with the result, it was my first cheesecake, and my own recipe, and it turned out wonderfully!

It’s not easy being cheesy

I made my first cheesecake tonight!

Normally when I bake something for the first time, I’ll follow the recipe exactly to get a feel of what the regular process it, to learn the batter consistency, and get a sense of what the finished product should taste like.  But tonight I was feeling adventurous.

Now, perhaps that was not the brightest idea since I have no basis to judge what consistency is normal. So before I began I consulted with Older Sister 2, a cheesecake adept.  She gave me a few pointers and so far, everything seems normal.

It’s cooling right now, pictures and taste test tomorrow… we’ll see.