Monday, August 30, 2010

An Albino Brownie

(above) Chewy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Blondies
Bar cookies are super easy and quick to make. Why? Simply press dough into the pan and bake! Life is a lot easier with out scooping, rolling, cutting and shaping dough into neat individual cookies. I was really surprised when I found out that none of my friends knew what blondies were. Blondies are basically vanilla brownies or brownies minus the chocolate. These blondies are chewy, sweet and buttery. My brother thinks that these blondies are a bit granola-bar like but I disagree. They are more like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in bar form. The chocolate chunks were a wonderful addition as nothing makes your day like biting into a chunk of melty chocolate goo. Of course, you can add whatever you like to the blondies such as M&Ms, nuts and chocolate chips, or you could just make them plain. Light bulb moment: white chocolate chip macadamia nut blondies. Those would be amazing!
(above) You start by creaming together brown sugar and butter.

(above) I decided to coarsely chop 4oz of semi-sweet chocolate to create chocolate chunks.

(above) I added some extra oats and chocolate chunks to sprinkle on top of the blondie before baking.

(above) This recipe makes 16 pieces of blondie.

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Blondies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks + extra for topping
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter. Line bottom and two sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on both sides. Butter paper, and set pan aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add in flour mixture; mix just until combined. Mix in 3/4 cup oats. Mix in chocolate chunks. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Using an offset metal spatula or table knife, smooth batter evenly. Sprinkle with remaining oats and extra chocolate chunks, pressing gently to adhere. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan 30 minutes.
  4. Using overhang, transfer blondie (still on paper) to a wire rack to cool completely. Place on a cutting board (peel off paper); using a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


(above) 5-Star Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
If a recipe has almost 3,000 five-star ratings from people all over the world, you know its got to be good. Today I tried this recipe from and was not disappointed. Why do I like this recipe?
  1. Its easy and surprisingly quick to make.
  2. The cake is pretty much as good as carrot cake can get.
  3. I'm going to consider it healthy. It has a lot of carrots in it, really!
  4. The frosting is now my stand-by cream cheese frosting.

I halved the original recipe to make twelve cupcakes. I also made quite a few alterations after reading the reviews it got on the website. I used a half light brown sugar and half-white sugar combination in the cake and added a quarter teaspoon of allspice and an extra half teaspoon of cinnamon to the half-batch I made. I also used a little more than half the confectioners sugar called for in the frosting. As you can see, each cupcake got a generous dollop of frosting, which was perfect since the frosting (with the alteration) wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. I love the frosting for its rich and creamy texture and flavor. You can see from the photos that it pipes nicely as well.

(above) The wet ingredients + the sugar(s).

(above) I halved the recipe and used 1 1/2 cups of shredded carrots (around 1 1/2 large carrots).

(above) Halving the recipe gives you twelve perfectly sized cupcakes.

(above) I like how the tops of the cupcakes don't have too much of a dome.

(above) Making the frosting (cream cheese left, butter right).

(above) I didn't use a frosting tip to ice these. Instead, I used a frosting bag with just the coupler. I like the look of these!

(above) Carrot cupcakes.

Five-Star Carrot Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
Adapted from
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
    In a large bowl, beat together 4 eggs, oil, white sugar, brown sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Divide evenly into two 12-cup cupcake pans.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool on a wire rack.
  3. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Notes: The above recipe has my alterations included. It is also makes double of what I made today since I halved the recipe. You can find the original recipe here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Movie Night?

(above) Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

I love sugar on my popcorn. I have been witnessed dumping spoonfuls of sugar into bags of the plain popcorn sold every week at school to the chagrin of my disgusted friends. "Sugar? On popcorn?!", they think. I really don't think they should be that shocked though because it's pretty evident that I have a ridiculously big sweet tooth. Because sugar + popcorn = really really delicious, I decided to make my own caramel corn.
In this recipe, popped popcorn is thrown in a simple caramel sauce and baked in the oven until crispy; the result is a wonderfully crunchy, sweet caramel popcorn. It wasn't exactly like movie theater popcorn though, because the coating wasn't as smooth and shiny. Nonetheless, this popcorn was delicious and a perfect snack to stash away in zip lock bags. I would highly recommend that you let the caramel sauce cool down before pouring it over the popped popcorn to avoid popcorn shrinkage. I also cut the baking time to around 25 minutes. I might try adding in chopped cashews as the recipe suggests to add different flavors and textures.
(above) Half a cup of popcorn kernels makes a surprisingly large amount of popped popcorn.

(above) A big pot of fresh, plain popcorn!

(above) Butter, brown sugar, water and salt create the caramel coating.
(above) The popcorn coated in the caramel - before baking.

(above) Caramel popcorn!
Crunchy Caramel Corn
Serves 6
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking sheet
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt

  1. In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, stir together 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 cup popcorn kernels; cover partially with lid to allow steam to escape.Cook over medium heat until popping slows, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand (covered) until popping stops, 1 minute.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Place popcorn in a large bowl; if using cashews, add to bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly. Working quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.
  4. Spread popcorn evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and shiny, about 40 minutes. Transfer hot popcorn to parchment-paper-lined baking sheet; let cool. Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola Bites

(above) Peanut Butter Granola Bites
It's hard to believe that school is already starting after two wonderful months of summer. To be honest, I'm kind of excited for school to start - I actually miss it and I can't wait for cross country season to start. Oh yeah, and I'll also be a senior in high school.
After seeing Joy the Baker's post on these granola bites, I just had to make them. These granola bites taste a lot like Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and might even be able to pass of as being healthy. They sound like the perfect pre-workout snack and maybe even breakfast. I customized these chewy granola balls by adding in some dessicated coconut and chocolate chips. I stirred in the chocolate chips when the granola mix was still warm, so there were swirls and gobs of chocolate throughout the granola bites. You could also use mini-chocolate chips and stir them in once the granola mixture has cooled off a bit so that they don't melt. Oh, and a helpful tip. Let the mixture come to room temperature for easy scooping.
(above) I used Rice Krispie cereal and unsweetened dessicated coconut.

(above) Combine butter, peanut butter and honey in a pot and warm it up on a stove.

(above) The warm peanut butter mixture is poured and mixed into the dry ingredients.

(above) I added in 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips into the granola mixture. I added them in when the mixture was still a bit warm, so most of them just melted into the granola.

(above) I used a cookie scoop to scoop out the granola mixture.

(above) I recommend scooping out the granola after it has firmed up a bit (around room temperature).

(above) Scoop out the granola bites on parchment paper.

(above) Transfer the chilled granola balls into mini-cupcake liners.

Peanut Butter Granola Bites
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes 24 balls
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup cold cereal like Rice Krispies
1 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the maple syrup or honey, peanut butter and butter. Heat until the butter is melted and the peanut butter is loosened.
  2. Combine cereal, oats and coconut in a medium bowl. Pour the warm peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and fold tom combine. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the peanut butter mixture. Allow the mixture to cool a bit for easier scooping. Mix in chocolate chips if desired.
  3. Using a small scoop, scoop mixture onto a wax paper lined baking sheet. Press balls together with clean and damp fingers if they break apart a bit. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to harden and set. Place balls in cupcake liners and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.