Friday, November 18, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

A twist on my all-time favorite coffee cake recipe (Two Dudes One Pan's Sour Cream Coffee Cake), this Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake is the perfect morning indulgence to take you to a temporary bright-and-delicious coffee cake fantasy world, and help you forget the cold, rainy and gray weather going on outside. The juicy blueberries and vibrant lemon zest are the perfect accompaniment to the melt-in-your-mouth sour cream cake and buttery sweet crumble topping. 

Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake

for streusel topping:
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

for cake:
3/4 c unsalted butter, at room temp
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c granulated sugar
1 c sour cream
2 c blueberries
zest of half a lemon

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

To make streusel, mix sugar, flour and salt in small bowl. Add in butter, mix in with a fork until you have little chunks.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Whisk eggs, 2 tbsp water and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy. Add sour cream in two additions. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients, then 1/2 of liquid, mixing until nearly incorporated. Add 1/2 or remaining dry, rest of liquid, and rest of dry, mixing until fully incorporated. Fold in blueberries.

Pour batter in pan and top with streusel. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

How can you go wrong with buttery-golden berry deliciousness?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Pie baking at its finest

I know I've posted an excess of pumpkin recipes lately, but it's the holidays and with Thanksgiving just a week away, who can blame me? When it comes to pie, no questions asked, I'm for pumpkin all the way. These pumpkin pie bars brought my appreciation for pumpkin pie to a whole new insanely delicious level. With a moist, almost cheesecake like pumpkin filling nestled between a buttery crust, crunchy topping, and sweet white chocolate chips, this really is a new, and very successful, twist on classic pumpkin pie. I couldn't thank one of my new favorite blogs, Annie's Eats, enough for introducing me to this fabulous recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
original recipe

For the crust and topping:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
12 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 c old-fashioned oats
1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Butterscotch, white chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate chips for topping

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil, extending over the edges of the pan. Lightly grease foil.

Combine flour and sugars in a small mixing bowl. Add pieces of butter and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and chopped pecans.

Reserve 1 c of crust mixture and set aside. Add remaining crust mixture to pan and press evenly onto the bottom. Bake crust alone for 15 minutes, preparing filling while it is baking.

To make filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Mix until smooth and well combined. Once crust is done baking, evenly spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crust mixture and chocolate chips, as desired. Bake for 25 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, using foil overhang to lift bars out when ready to slice.

Don't the white chocolate chips look like mini toasted marshmallows?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Pumpkin Squares

After an unsuccessful attempt at crustless- pumpkin pie bars, I decided to toss out the strange idea of a hand-held pumpkin pie and stick to a more traditional pumpkin dessert (however, I did find a very promising recipe for pumpkin pie bars, this time WITH crust, that should be making an appearance on the blog shortly!). When in doubt, one should always go to a proven source, so who other than Martha Stewart to turn to? An obvious choice for a classic pumpkin dessert- Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares. Some reviewers commented that they were similar to a pumpkin blondie, but I found them to be lighter than typical blondies, and more of a moist pumpkin cake or really fluffy bread.

Having recently discovered my love for butterscotch chips (how I never tried them before I do not know), I tossed in a few of those along with the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Following recommendations, I cut back on the chocolate (and butterscotch) chips to a total of 1 cup, rather than 12 oz as the original recipe calls for. I also replaced a quarter of the butter with applesauce, although next time I may replace more, after reading that they were overwhelmingly buttery and moist. I know there are plenty firm believers that this isn't possible, but I figured I'd take their advice. I really don't think the applesauce takes away from the squares at all, and why not feel a little better about yourself for eating dessert!

Delicious! Martha, you never fail to disappoint.

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Pumpkin Squares
original recipe- Martha Stewart

2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c canned pumpkin puree
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line bottom and sides of a 9 by 13 inch pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Set Aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth, beat in egg and vanilla. Add in pumpkin puree. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet until just combined. Fold in chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Evenly spread batter in prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang, lift cake from pan and cut into desired size.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins... the perfect breakfast to-go

Finally, muffins you can feel good about eating! Or if not good, then at least better than you normally would... The perfect breakfast packed into a little piece of morning heaven. Not too sweet and loaded with nutritious yet tasty bananas, peanut butter, and oatmeal (covering all our important food groups here!), these will definitely become my go-to recipe for when I'm craving something a little more special than my standard yogurt breakfast, but don't want to start my day with a diet-buster. Oh, and of course I had to add in a handful of chocolate chips, typically not considered part of a healthy meal, but just a little chocolate to start out the day can't hurt.

The original recipe calls for applesauce and low fat buttermilk, neither of which I had at the moment, so I used oil and my own buttermilk creation (1 tablespoon white vinegar per 1 cup milk). However, I'm a huge proponent of baking with applesauce whenever possible, and highly doubt that these muffins would be any less moist or delicious using applesauce due to the generous amounts of tasty peanut butter and banana already included.

These really reminded me of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies I made last week, which isn't surprising considering they had almost exactly the same main ingredients. They had the same pretty, pale-golden color and smooth pillow-like exterior.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins
original recipe- annie's eats
makes approximately 18 muffins

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (or oil if you prefer)
3/4 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
6 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 c low-fat buttermilk
1/2 to 1 c chocolate chips if desired

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease or line 18 muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, banana, peanut butter, and buttermilk until smooth.

Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among muffin cups, and bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Eat warm and with a glass of milk, if that's your thing (personally, I can't stand milk but can imagine it would be a perfect pairing with these muffins if you do like it)!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars-Thanksgiving, here we come!

Deciding to try something new for Thanksgiving, I came across this recipe for chocolate pecan pie bars and immediately considered it a contender for the competitive prize of a position on my Thanksgiving menu. I've never had pecan pie before, and I'm not the biggest fan of nut-based desserts (unless it's peanut butter, of course), but the chocolate addition in these bars drew me in. I also much rather prefer a layer of crunchy crust to traditional pie crust which I feel takes away from the deliciousness of pie filling with its doughy-blandness, another reason why this recipe spoke to me. Basically, with my slew of complaints, what I'm trying to say is pecan pie doesn't sound all that great to me, but as if the recipe was created in my honor, these bars totally undid all that was unappealing and replaced it with everything I love.

Crunchy shortbread-like crust and sticky, sweet-and-salty pecan and chocolate filling make these bars ultra-decadent and definitely converted me into a pecan pie (or at least bar) fan. I'm very happy to have found a new addition to my Thanksgiving repertoire!

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

for the crust:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c packed brown sugar

3 large eggs
3/4 c corn syrup
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chunks/chips
1 1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.

For the crust: Mix flour, butter, and brown sugar until crumbly. Press into prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly brown.

For the filling: Beat eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-20 minutes, or until set.

Cool in pan on wire rack completely before cutting into bars. I advise eating these with one hand and holding a toothbrush in the other. They are so sweet you feel the cavities coming on immediately! Not to mention their sticky-goodness will give you a chocolate pecan-filled smile. But these tiny troubles are completely worth the deliciousness that is these bars.

These chocolate pecan pie bars really are the perfect, easy addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday menu!

White Chocolate Mocha Cookies

What better cookie for a coffee shop than a coffee flavored one! I love everything coffee and chocolate, and these cookies combine the best of both worlds. The bold flavor of the espresso is perfectly balanced by sweet, melty pockets of white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the cookies have a moist, almost brownie-like center. When you really want to treat yourself, swap your morning cup of coffee for one of these and you'll be going strong all day long!

White Chocolate Mocha Cookies
original recipe- budding baketress
makes 1-2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
3 tbsp instant coffee granules (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of espresso grinds instead)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/4 c granulated sugar (The espresso grinds were very bitter, so increased my sugar to 1 1/2 c)
3/4 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c white chocolate chips

Preheat oven 375 deg F. Lightly grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix flour, instant coffee (or espresso), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter until fluffy. Add sugars and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add in vanilla.

Slowly add flour mixture to butter and mix until just incorporated. Fold in semi-sweet and white chocolate chips. Scoop dough into tablespoon (or larger...) sized balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Best enjoyed while still hot and ooey-gooey fresh out of the oven!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies- "The 3-in-1 Cookie"

Peanut butter, chocolate chip, and oatmeal... the three most loved, baked, and eaten cookies in existence. We've all been faced with the torturous dilemma of having to choose just one of these three yummy treats to eat, or giving in to cookie-pressure and buying all three, quickly shoving two of them in your bag or pocket (or mouth...) to prevent possible social isolation and/or harassment as a result of your cookie addiction. What if I told you that I've found the solution to your cookie conundrum? Well, it's true! Now we can eat all three cookies in just one moist, gooey, buttery, delicious, and not to mention possibly the prettiest, package of cookie paradise. 

All of my troubles were answered with the discovery of this recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and I guarantee that yours will be too if you make these unbelievably, insanely, knock-your-socks-off tasty cookies. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies 

**I actually quadrupled the original recipe when I baked them. Believe me, you'll want A LOT of these. But I'm guessing most people probably don't want 5 dozen cookies laying around their house, so this recipe makes a more realistic amount.

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, at room temp
1 c creamy peanut butter
1 c granulated sugar
2/3 c light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 c rolled oats
2 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream together butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla for about 3 minutes. Add eggs and beat to combine. Gradually add in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.

Form dough into large balls, approximately 3 tablespoon sized, and drop onto prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container, but DEFINITELY eat one while it's fresh out of the oven. You won't be sorry!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Basic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

"It's's bananas!". Without a doubt, the ultimate classic breakfast treat is moist, slightly chewy, sweet banana bread. The fact that it was even once considered a nutritious meal only served to increase its popularity. Despite our admittance (sadly) of its true nutritional qualities, or rather lack of, banana bread still holds a place in our hearts. Bake it in smaller, cuter muffin form and toss in generous cupfuls of chocolate chips, and it holds an even bigger place... or at least it does in mine! Having only ever baked vegan banana bread (a Babycake's recipe that I still love and happens to only be a slightly different vegan-ified version of this one), I figured it would be nice to try something different, and discovered this ultra-basic, easy to make banana chocolate chip muffin recipe.

Basic Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 24 muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
6 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 deg F. Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside.

Combine bananas, sugar, eggs, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour in muffin pans.

Bake 25- 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped. Enjoy warm!