Happiness Project Recipe #25: “Thank You” Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cookies!

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As a THANK YOU to my husband, twin sister and closest girlfriend for painting Arianna’s nursery room yesterday, I found myself in the kitchen at 2am whipping up a new chocolate cookie recipe (oh the joys of pregnancy insomnia). With Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. And so you ask, “ANOTHER recipe involving chocolate and peanut butter??” But of course! Who would I be without some chocolate involved? *wink* And no, I’m not hesitant at all about expressing my adamant LOVE for this plump, decadent morsel! This is by far one of the best chocolate cookies I’ve ever tasted! Now I’m sitting here staring at a tupperware container half filled with these peanut buttery swirled beauties while unsuccessfully attempting to restrain my hungry, pregnant self from consuming them all in one mere sitting. This is not an easy thing to do, my friends. Not at all. So in an attempt to feel less guilty about my obsessive tendencies towards gleeful, unbridled consumption, now it’s your turn…

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped frozen peanut butter cups

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper. Freeze your 1-1/2 cups peanut butter cups for 30 minutes before chopping them up with a serrated knife into small pieces. They will be much easier to handle when frozen.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. In another large bowl on a stand mixture, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Blend in the egg, vanilla extract and milk until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Gently fold in 3/4 cups of the chopped peanut butter pieces.

Using either a cookie scoop or rolling by hand (I always roll my cookies by hand), drop 1 to 1-1/2 inch dough balls onto your lined cookie sheets. Gently press in the remaining 3/4 cups of chopped peanut butter pieces into the top of each dough ball (FUN!!). Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before serving or store them in an airtight container (for up to 3 days).

Drooling yet? *wink*

Happiness Project Recipe #24: Lemon Cream Sugar Cookies!

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Since Lemon just happens to be my 2nd favorite dessert flavor, I knew that I just HAD to create a new Lemon recipe for my family’s 2012 Christmas gathering! Particularly since my Mom was the very person who first turned me on to this lovely, citrus filled delight many a year ago. So casting aside my usual chocolate drenched ambitions, I finally tried my hand at a new sugar cookie recipe. One in which I joyfully incorporated my all time favorite indulgence: frosting! Although the 1st trial run with a classic buttercream frosting turned out quite well, the superior frosting snob that I am simply could not settle for anything less than absolute perfection. Hence this now pleasantly altered buttercream recipe, featuring cream cheese as it’s star flavor! The result? Sugar cookie perfection.  At least I think so.

Cookies:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup butter flavored crisco

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)

2-1/2 cup all purpose flour

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Frosting:

1/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confections sugar, sifted

pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl on a stand mixer, cream the butter, crisco and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon zest. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the milk & lemon juice until well combined.

With a small cookie scoop, roll your dough into 1 to 1-1/2 inch balls, placing them on a Silpat lined or lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Using either your fingers-tips or a spatula, gently press each dough ball flat. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown ever so slightly. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Onward to the frosting! In a large mixing bowl, on a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and glossy. Slowly beat in the vanilla extract. Add in the confections sugar and salt until well combined. Last but not least, stir in up to 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.

And now to what you’ve all been waiting for: frosting these heavenly bite sized cookies! As with anything involving frosting and cookies, decorating can be as messy or as pretty as you so chose it to be. Using either a spoon, a butter knife or even a pastry bag fitted with a large round decorating tip, frost, frost, frost away! And don’t forget to add in your favorite colored sprinkles! Sprinkles make everything better =)

Happiness Project Recipe #23: Cookies & Cream Cheesecake!

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Oh cheesecake! Oreo. Cheesecake. The best of both worlds combined into one tasty, decadent bite! During my 1st trimester, one of my daily cravings was the single serving vanilla cheesecake from Jack In The Box. A craving which I couldn’t help but indulge in far more often than what was technically considered healthy. So even now at 31 weeks, it’s no surprise that I’ve once again become a wee bit obsessed with this one particular dessert. Hence this new, very fun recipe. With Oreos. Did I mention Oreos? *wink* The ONLY downside to this yummy, drizzled concoction? These little niblets are almost too decadent for single mass consumption. Trust me. I know. Don’t believe me? Try these. I dare you.

36 Oreo Cookies (24 for crust bottom, 12 for cheesecake batter)

1/4 cup salted butter, melted

4 (8) ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (for drizzle garnish)

Preheat your oven to 325F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil,  leaving enough side foil to hang over the edges of the pan.

Finely crush up 24 Oreos for the crumb bottom. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl and then mix well with the crushed Oreos. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Yes, this will be quite sticky so have patience while gently and firmly pressing out the entire mixture, making sure to create nicely formed edges at each corner.

For the cheesecake batter, using a large bowl on a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fully incorporated. Blend in the sour cream and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Roughly crush or chop up the remaining 12 Oreo cookies and gently fold them into the batter. Now pour the batter over the cookie crust.

Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are firmly set and the center is nearly fully set. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before covering with plastic wrap and chilling in the fridge for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Once the cheesecake is sufficiently chilled, take the cheesecake from the fridge and remove from the pan, using the foil overhang. Using a small pairing knife, cut up the cheesecake into whatever desired sized pieces you want. Set the cut pieces onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet: you might get a wee bit messy with the chocolate drizzle.

For the drizzle, heat up the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl until fully melted. Using either a pastry bag with a small, round decorating tip or a Ziploc bag (sniped at the bottom corner), pour the chocolate into the bag and drizzle as much or as little onto the cheesecake pieces as your hungry heart desires.

If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready for consumption. Mass consumption. Party-worthy consumption.

Your friends and family will worship you forever for this!

Happiness Project Recipe #22: Classic Crumb Coffeecake!

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After taking an unexpectedly long blog hiatus (& then being swarmed by friends inquiring about all of the holiday recipes I’d created), I’m finally back! Since most of Decembers Christmas baking consisted of cookies, cupcakes and more cookies, I couldn’t help but cave in to my longing for a good new cake recipe. And since coffeecake has always been one of my favorite cafe foods, crumb coffeecake became my first most priority! Although I was a little light handed on the cinnamon-cocoa filling, I was quite pleased with this very classic crumb recipe. So here it is, with all of it’s yummy, crumbly goodness…

Crumb topping:

1 1/4 granulated sugar

1 1/2 all purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Cinnamon Filling:

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Cake:

3/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups whole milk

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly butter two 9inch round cake pans.

To make the crumb topping, whisk togther the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add in the melted butter, stirring until well combined and crumbly. Set aside.

For the cinnamon filling, using another medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Now for the cake! In a large mixing bowl, on a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugars, baking powder and vanilla extract until well combined and smooth (2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk until well mixed.

Now, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream/milk mixture, in 3 batches, until just combined. Remember to scrape down the sides & bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula in-between each alternating batch (to prevent any unmixed lumps from forming).

Pour the  equivalent of 1 1/3 cups cake batter into each round cake pan, spreading the batter evenly all the way out to the sides of each pan.

Evenly spoon all of the cinnamon filling over the cake batter, sprinkling all the way to the pans edges.

Spread out the remaining batter on top of the filling. Using a spoon or butter knife, gently swirl the batter together with the filling, in a circular motion.

Last but not least, sprinkle the crumb topping over each cake, using as much or as little as you like. I only used half of the total crumb topping for mine.

Bake both of your round cakes for 50-55 minutes, until the edges start to bubble up slightly and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for a good 15-20 minutes before cutting up and serving, straight from the pan. If only consuming 1 cake per sitting, cover the 2nd cake pan with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Want to add a little extra kick to each serving? Drizzle some melted semi-sweet chocolate over each cake slice or better yet, serve with a scoop of lovely vanilla ice cream. Yumminess!

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