Tag Archives: sweet recipes

GF Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt

Okay guys, I am all for scratch baking. If you got time and energy (and sometimes a little ingenuity), you can really create some amazing things. However, there isn’t always the time to trial and error your way into greatness. Keeping a mix or two on hand for a baking emergency, especially when you are baking with dietary restrictions. No lie, there is always a GF brownie mix or cookie mix in my pantry. I’ve gone through a few different brands, and though I deviate from time to time, King Arthur is my tried and true go-to.

So if you too would like some pretentious, low effort cookies follow the instructions on the back of the box and add these four ingredients:

  1. 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  2. 1 tsp smoked sea salt (for finishing)
  3. 1/2 tsp vanilla powdered vanilla
  4. 1/2 a heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Put the mix together according to the instruction on the box and then mix ingredients 1,3 &4.
  • Bake as directed.
  • As soon as they come out, sprinkle some of that delicious overpriced salt over the top of those bad boys (sparingly, this stuff is potent) and let cool. Seriously, let them cool for at least 5 minutes or they’ll fall apart when you pick them up. You’re welcome.

Look how pretty! These bad boys are so delicious, and yes, you need to make them. ASAP. Seriously, go get some mix now.


Blackberry Cobbler Quickbread with Spiced Topping & Blackberry Lemon Thyme Butter

Feeling buoyed by my recent success, I decided to continue on my Sweet & Vicious baking streak. This time I selected a recipe that actually allowed for a lot of variance, but still maintained the sass that I am coming to expect from this book. First, I decided on the cobbler quickbread and, after checking my fridge, refined it to the blackberry iteration of the recipe. Then of course, I went all the way by adding the recommended flavor elevator of blackberry lemon thyme butter to pair with the finished product. Here’s how it went:

Notes:

  • This recipe made me so happy! Reading it and mentally running through the steps, it seemed… well… a bit extra, but every little thing blends perfectly into something so delightful that you don’t mind the effort. Just go for it; you won’t regret it.
  • While the base recipe is solid, it is the bells and whistles that really take this over the top. First the spiced topping, that pinch of cayenne brings the most subtle hint of heat which in turn brings out the sweetness in the berries. The compound butter adds an extra level of richness, and the lemon zest paired with the mashed fruit keeps that slight tart that makes this more than just another sweet quickbread.
  • I am having so much fun with this book; the more recipes I try, the more I want to make.

Southern Sartorialist’s Cookie

While my mom was here to lend a hand, I decided to tackle a few of the things on my 31 before 32 list. One of the items she was keen on helping me with was trying out recipes from the Sweet & Vicious Cookbook. We decided on two cookie recipes, the first of which was the Southern Sartoralist’s Cookie. A pretty impressive name to live up to, but we were not disappointed.

Notes:

  • This cookie was so kick ass that we made two batches in three days. The first we took to Andy’s coworkers (all 2 dozen were gone within 3 hours) and the second we made the night before my mom left so she could take them to some of our family in NC. And so she’d have road trip treats, but mostly for family 😉
  • I lucked into some modifications since we made both batches so close together, first we tried this with both dark and light brown sugar and hands down dark brown sugar is the way to go. The other thing I accidentally tweaked was the measurement for the smoked salt. While that stuff is incredibly powerful, I will say that the cookies with a slightly more full 1/2 a tsp (think slightly humped not level) really highlighted the play of salty and sweet in the recipe.
  • I know it is a little more complex than your average rip and dump cookie recipe, but it is well worth the effort. I get a lot of positive feedback on my baking, but rarely have a gotten this enthusiastic of a response. After having one of the left over cookies for dessert the day we made the first batch, Andy even said it was good that he hadn’t tried the cookies when we dropped them off at his office because he wouldn’t have be able to stop himself from eating them all. My mom is on a very strict diet right now (she’s lost almost 30lbs!), but after trying a single bite, she rearranged her daily calorie allotment to make sure she had enough at the end of the day for a single cookie.

Chocolate Lavender Cake with Blackberry Filling & Lavender Frosting

Well guys, I’ve done it. I written the first cake recipe of my 31 before 32 birthday challenge. It was a little labor intensive, mostly because I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted my finished product to look like, but I think things turned out pretty well. Plus, it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. The recipe looks long, I know, but that is also because I included how I assembled and decorated the cake. You don’t have to take it as far as I did; this cake would still delicious without the fussy presentation. Here we go.

Ingredients:

Cake

Blackberry Filling

  • 4 pints of blackberries (minus 10 pretty ones*)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Lavender Frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6-8 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp powdered lavender*
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Either the night or several hours before you bake your cake, combine the ganache ingredients in a microwave dish and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Set aside uncovered for at least 3 hours to cool.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and fold in the chopped lavender after the batter is combined. Split the batter evenly between 3 9″ pans and bake as directed.
  3. While the cakes are baking, combine the filling ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened sufficiently (A). Allow to cool to room temp before using.
    1. Put a plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before taking it out to test a spoonful of hot filling. Take the filling off the heat while testing. Push your finger through the filling on the plate – you’re looking for it to wrinkle and not flood back in to fill the gap.
  4. While the filling and the cake cool, beat softened butter (using a hand or stand mixer) adding the powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
  5. Add in the food coloring and powdered lavender and beat for an additional two minutes.

 

Assembly

  1. Carefully, using a serrated knife or leveler, cut the domed top off of each of the cake layers producing three flat even(ish) layers.
  2. Fill piping bag (or ziplock bag) with 1/3 of your frosting.
  3. Starting with the bottom layer make a frosting ring around the bottom and middle layers of your cake.
  4. Split the black berry filling between the two layers carefully spreading across the cake to the frosting ringed edge.
  5. Stack the middle layer onto the bottom layer and the gently top with the top layer.
  6. Using the rest of the frosting in your piping bag (and a little from the bowl if you need) quickly cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and then place into a refrigerator to set for 25 minutes.
  7. Next, cover the cake in a more generous layer of the frosting, making sure to have a slightly thicker coating on the very top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for an additional 25 minutes.
  8. Next spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, creating drips down the side.
  9. Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and the reserved blackberries. I also elected to use tiny chocolate candies.

Notes:

  • I wanted to try my hand at the “naked” frosting look for this cake, so most of the frosting was on the top and the top half of the side. This way there was still the frosting flavor, but the look was sill achieved because the more frosted bits were covered by the ganache.
  • Andy took the cake to work with him the day after I made it, and it didn’t even make it to lunch time. Which to me is a pretty good indication that the flavors were all balanced. That being said, despite my fondness for lavender, I didn’t want to over do it so that particular flavor could absolutely be turned up if you are baking for an audience with the same fondness. Be careful though; too much and you end up with a soapy taste.


London Fog Sugar Cookies

Still feeling pleased with my recent baking win, I  wanted to try my hand at a similar recipe, these London Fog Sugar Cookies. The cookie part was pretty much the same, and I am a sucker for anything with Earl Grey tea and fresh vanilla. Since we’re currently in what will most likely be our last cold snap of the season, I couldn’t think of a better time to whip up something that pairs great with a hot mug of something.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves (I just cut open one teabag and measured from there)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons decorating sugar (for rolling, optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl or dish, combine the granulated sugar, icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Using your hands, rub the seeds into the sugar to evenly distribute them throughout.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the vanilla sugar mixture. Add egg and vanilla and mix until blended well.
  3. Add the flour, tea leaves, baking powder and salt and mix to combine into a soft dough.
  4. On a clean work surface, roll the dough into a log. Roll log in decorating sugar (if using). Wrap log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours until ready to bake.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Slice chilled dough into ¼-inch thick slices. Bake until the edges are light brown and the middles set, about 6-8 minutes. Be aware that the bottoms will brown long before the sides or tops do, so don’t over bake!
  6. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Will keep covered at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Notes:

  • Since the Thyme Cookies were so surprisingly wonderful, I had really high hopes for this recipe. Before I get all nit-picky, I want to say this was a solidly good recipe; the problem was that I wasn’t wanting merely “good” I wanted “fantastic”.
  • The biggest issue I had with this recipe was flavor. Not that these had a bad flavor, they were just a little bland. The vanilla was very subtle and the earl grey, well if I hadn’t made them myself, I wouldn’t have known it was in there. They were perfectly fine with an accompanying strong cup of tea. All in all, if I decide to make these again, I am going to have to dial the flavors way up.