Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars

San Francisco is a city that is often recognized for fostering a healthy lifestyle among its residents. Now that I live here I must embrace this healthy lifestyle and transfer it to my baking. I know that pumpkin has some wonderful health benefits so I figure that if I make a snickerdoodle cookie base, layer it with pumpkin pie-ish filling + top it with cinnamon sugar it must be good for you. Make these, eat a lot of them + you will have glowing skin, boosted immunity + balanced hormone levels.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bars
Recipe from here
Snickerdoodle Layer
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla

Pumpkin Pie Layer:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Snickerdoodle layer: Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
Pumpkin Pie Layer: In a large bowl mix together butter and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour over the snickerdoodle layer + smooth over the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 33-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

apple cranberry crisp

In keeping with the theme from my last post (which was in August... oops), I have been focusing on recipes that require very few ingredients and simple techniques- without sacrificing any flavor. Being that we are in the height of apple season, I ran out to the market this morning and picked up the freshest organic fruit I could find to make these easy yet delicious Apple Cranberry Crisps.

Ready in a mere 45 minutes and relatively healthy (until the ice cream gets placed on top, yum), these Apple Cranberry Crisps are a perfect five-spoonful treat for a Sunday evening curled up on the couch.

Apple Cranberry Crisp
adapted from here

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch diced pieces
1 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 8 inch pan or six 5 ounce ramekins and set aside.
2. For the topping, combine butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mash ingredients together well with hands until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add in pecans and set aside.
3. Toss apples, cranberries, sugar, zest and juice together in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan(s). Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit. Bake until bubbly and the apples and cranberries are tender (about 30 minutes).
4. Let the crisp cool slightly. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

blondie. baking. bonding.

Seven strangers picked to live in a house... this is what I walked into when I arrived in San Francisco. I moved into a mini Pacific Heights mansion with 6 people I (sort of) didn't know + although there are no cameras or Jersey Shore drama this place is pretty amazing. I've been baking a lot for my new roommates since I moved in; maybe maintaining a kitchen stocked with treats is my attempt at bribery to ensure that I "make" friends here in California, but that's besides the point.

Last night we had our first ever joint baking experience. We sat around watching TV, discussing the idea of doing a triathlon together + after searching for one unsuccessfully, we decided to bake something instead. My helpful sous chefs Jason + Stew made some freshly ground coffee, toasted + chopped peanuts + documented the experience with my camera. From fitness to fatness, at least we're all going down together.

Enjoy this recipe for peanut butter blondies with a kick of espresso, a suprisingly delicious combination. We collectively decided that they could have used even more coffee/espresso flavor, the recipe reflects these changes.

Peanut Espresso Blondies
1 cup + 2 tbsp browned butter*
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 -3 tbsp finely ground coffee or espresso**
2/3 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil + coat with non-stick spray. Brown butter in a sauce pan then pour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in brown sugar, vanilla + eggs. Once combined add dry ingredients + nuts, stir until incorporated. Pour mixture into pan + dollop peanut butter over the top. Using a knife marble the peanut butter into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until blondies have turned golden in color + puffy in appearance.

*I'm obsessed with brown butter, I think it makes everything better but you can use plain melted butter if you prefer.
** I used 2 tbsp but would definitely use 3 tbsp if not more next time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

Katie and all of the bridesmaids

I have been scared out of my mind for the past month, wondering if the bridal shower I was helping to plan would turn out how we all imagined. All of the bridesmaids helped to plan my best friend Katie's bridal shower, and I was in charge of the desserts (and the favors). At first I wanted to make petit fours, then I decided against it in favor of cupcakes. But then the search for the perfect bridal shower cupcake went into effect. I wanted something that Katie would love and would also tie in with the other food and decor. Katie loves red velvet, so I made a batch of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But I had to make another type of cupcake, so I went with lemon poppyseed cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and lemon zest. Sims came up with the great idea to use lemons as card-holders to designate what each item was, so everything went well together. I was so excited that everything turned out beautifully, and here's a few pictures of the brunch. We were so lucky that Michelle offered up her gorgeous home to host the shower, and Katie got so many great kitchen items that I think I'm going to have to start cooking at her house when they move in at the end of the month!

The spread


Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat your over to 350 degrees, and line cupcake or muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the eggs, lemon zest and lemon extract, and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Frost with your favorite buttercream recipe and garnish with lemon zest.