Sunday, June 26, 2011

Depressing News, Ramblings of a Baked Good, A Rant About Catch Phrases, Random Latin Words, Confessions of The Nonpareil Baker, A Top Ten List, and The Longest Post Title Ever

Are you ready for some seriously depressing news? Like... seriously.

I missed my blog's first birthday. Whaaat?

I had big plans for this momentous occasion. Nonpareil plans, if you will. I was going to bake something that would say,
"Hey, Allix. Good job. You started a blog. And you kept doing it for a whole year. And it helped you change your life. You don't hate your job anymore. And your boyfriend likes you more because you discovered the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever. And your dad likes you more because you made him monster cookies twice. And your sister likes you more because you made her red velvet cupcakes on her birthday. And your mom likes you more because you made her butter pecan cake with extra frosting. And your coworkers like you more because you brought them sugar cookie bars and peanut butter brownies. Even the waiter at the mexican restaurant whoyourfamilyisfriendswithbecausetheyeatstheresooften likes you more because you made him peanut butter surprise cookies. And on top of all that, you like your life more because you make cinnamon rolls and brownies and cupcakes and cookies all the time. And you get to eat them right after they come out of the oven. And no one can tell you that you're not allowed to lick the batter off of every. last. spoon. "
I know. That's kind of a lot for one baked good to say. But it was going to happen. And somehow I missed it. FAIL.

On a side note, don't you hate it when a word or phrase is momentarily trendy, and then people latch onto it and use it ALL THE TIME?

Exempli gratia:
  • "I wet my pants when I was up to bat at my little league baseball game and ran away crying...FAIL."
  • "I put a 1/2 cup of salt in a batch of chocolate chip cookies instead of a 1/2 teaspoon... FAIL."
  • "I left a bag of miniature Reese's on my bedroom floor, and my dog ate the whole bag, including the wrappers... FAIL."

Other favorites: "not gonna lie," "just sayin'," and "pretty sure."

Uggghhh. Anyway, all of those things really happened to me. See what's happening here? We're getting to know each other. Love it.

Eew. That's another one.

So, this post was only supposed to be about my extreme disappointment in my inattentiveness to this blog's milestones. But somehow I ended up using Latin words and ranting about catch phrases. Just know that a belated birthday post is imminent. And whatever I decide to make will convey everything written in that block quote above. Prepare yourself.

Until then, I recommend that you pass the time by trying one of my ten favorite recipes from the past year (listed chronologically, not preferentially):

1. Yeast Raised Doughnuts

2. Sugar Cookie Bars

3. Pumpkin Scones

4. Cranberry Bliss Bars

5. Chewy Brownies

6. The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

7. Cinna-Buns

8. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

9. Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies

10. Monster Cookies

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies


Let's be real. I don't need to convince you that these brownies need to become a part of your life. They're brownies... with peanut butter filling swirled generously throughout. That should be reason enough for you to re-prioritize your day in order to make these brownies happen.

But maybe you're particularly set in your non-brownie ways. In which case, you should also know that these brownies would probably make you feel better if the City of Puyallup Photo Enforcement Program, which is inexplicably located in Cincinnati, sent you a $124 ticket for failing to stop c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y before making a right turn at a red light.

Probably. I'm extrapolating a bit here.


Do yourself a favor: make these brownies. Cut them into squares that are a little too big. Eat at least two (corner pieces, of course). Give the rest to people you like.

I think I should be a life coach.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen and Brown Eyed Baker

For the brownies:

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped finely
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the peanut butter filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 & 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the brownie batter, following the recipe for Chewy Brownies.

2. Combine all of the peanut butter filling ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk them together until completely combined. Drop spoonfuls of the filling all over the brownie batter, and use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate and peanut butter together. You might not need all of the filling; use as much or as little as you prefer.

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, perhaps with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Allow the brownies to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting them into squares.


I'm telling you... everyone wants some of this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Pecan Frosting


I'm kind of a sucker for recipes titled "The Best [insert food here] Ever."

I always think to myself... This is it. This person has discovered the secret to making the best [whatever] ever. How lucky am I to have stumbled across this recipe in all the vastness of the world wide web? I have to make this. I have to try the best [whatever] ever.

Usually, I'm underwhelmed. Not because the [whatever] isn't delicious. It just doesn't live up to the hype.

And actually, this doesn't just apply to food. Other overhyped things that my life has not been changed by include: Avatar, In-N-Out Burger, Beyonce's Single Ladies video, and Furbies.

Just kidding about the Furbies. But seriously, how annoying were those?


Pioneer Woman calls this "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever." I don't know if I'm ready to jump on that bandwagon, but I do have a lot of nice things to say about it. You probably won't have to go to the store to buy ingredients. You won't have to lift your ridiculously heavy KitchenAid mixer onto the counter. You won't have to wash every bowl and utensil you own. And you will have plenty of time leftover to mentally prepare yourself for two hours of Ashley wondering whether or not "they're here for her" and talking about the "dot dot dot" at the end of her and Bentley's relationship.

Not to mention that this cake is actually really delicious. Especially the frosting.

Wait. Did I talk about the Bachelorette last week too? I think it's time for me to reevaluate the direction my life is heading.

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
14 ounces powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, and stir to combine. Add the boiling water, and allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds. Pour the chocolate mixture over the flour mixture, and stir just until combined.

4. In a measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Add this mixture to the batter, and stir until completely combined. Pour the batter into a 13x18 inch pan and bake for 20 minutes.

5. While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture, and stir until completely combined. Stir in the chopped pecans.

6. Pour the frosting over the warm cake, and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the entire surface.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dessert Pizza


Do. not. make. this.

You're a sensible person, right? A sensible person wouldn't make something like this, knowing full well that she won't have the self-control to not eat half of it in one sitting while watching The Bachelorette with a pathetic amount of interest.

But who are we kidding? You're going to make this. Because it's dessert pizza. Yes. Dessert and pizza together. I'm doing big things.


Most of the recipes that came up when I searched for a dessert pizza recipe included things like bananas and strawberries and goat cheese. Umm, no. That's not dessert... that's practically a salad.

When I think of dessert pizza, I think of the Godfather's Pizza dinner buffet that my mom used to take my sister and I to every Tuesday night. We had a ritual. First we got our sodas, and then my mom got her salad from the salad bar, adding in whatever my sister and I wanted to steal off her plate (I liked the sunflower seeds, while my sister preferred those weird little corn-on-the-cob things). Next came cheese pizza, which at that point was the only kind of pizza I ate. Then, finally, it was time for dessert pizza. Chewy pizza crust, melted butter, cinnamon, and crunchy brown sugar streusel, all drizzled with sweet vanilla icing. It really doesn't get any better than that.

Can you see why I'm repulsed that anyone would try to put fruit on a dessert pizza?

I tried to replicate this dessert pizza as faithfully as possible, and the topping was definitely a win. The crust however, was not as soft and chewy as I wanted it to be. So... if anyone has a good pizza dough recipe for me, I suppose I could bring myself to try this recipe again. For authenticity's sake.


Have we established yet that I'm not a sensible person?

Dessert Pizza
Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Serious Eats

For the pizza dough:

1 packet (2 & 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt

For the topping:

1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed

For the icing:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature fora bout 15 minutes, or until the mixture bubbles and becomes frothy.

2. Combine the dissolved yeast with the remaining dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Knead at medium speed for 4-5 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but may still be sticking a bit at the bottom. The dough will be sticky and look fairly rough.

3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about 90 minutes, or until it's very puffy and approximately doubled in volume.

4. Shape the dough into a rough oval, but do not pat it flat. Cover the dough with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

5. Lightly grease a 12x17 inch pan with nonstick spray, and place the dough in the prepared pan. Press the dough over the bottom of the pan, stretching it toward the edges. If it shrinks back, allow it to rest for about 15 minutes, then continue stretching. Repeat this process until you can stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.

6. Cover the dough, and allow it to rise for about 90 minutes, or until it is noticeably puffy. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

7. Bake the crust on the bottom oven rack for about 7 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown.

8. While the crust is baking, prepare the streusel. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and both sugars. Using a fork or a pastry blender, integrate the cold butter throughout the flour and sugar, until the mixture looks like wet sand and no large chunks of butter remain.

9. Combine the melted butter and cinnamon, and spread it over the partially-baked crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.

10. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown.

11. While the pizza is baking, prepare the vanilla icing. Stir together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. If the icing is too thin, add additional powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. If the icing is too thick, add additional milk one tablespoon at a time.

12. Drizzle the pizza with the vanilla icing. Slice and serve immediately. Try to be sensible. It's hard, I know.