Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Molasses Spice Cookies


I've been meaning to make these cookies for quite some time, and I finally found an excuse this year when I decided to participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Each participant sends one dozen cookies to three other food bloggers and receives cookies from three different food bloggers in return! As someone whose mailbox is normally full of bills, junk, and other people's mail (much to my annoyance)... I couldn't have been more excited to anxiously await three boxes of cookies!

(I usually check my mail about twice a month, but for the past two weeks I've been checking it every day!)

My cookies traveled to Sara of Sensibly Sara, Kristen of The Slender Kitchen, and Rebekah of The Cooking Vent. I hope they enjoyed them as much as I did!

Molasses Spice Cookies
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar + additional for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter for about one minute at medium speed. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, and continue creaming for about two minutes more.

4. Reduce the speed to low, and add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase the speed to medium and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low, and add the molasses. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase the speed to medium and mix until combined.

5. Reduce the speed to stir and add the dry ingredients. Mix just until all of the flour is incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and stir any remaining streaks of flour in by hand.

6. Divide the dough into tablespoon-sized portions and roll into balls with your hands. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about two inches apart.

7. Bake until the cookies are browned but still puffy, about 8-11 minutes.The centers should still be soft and the edges will have just begun to set. Don't worry if they look slightly underbaked; they will continue to bake on the baking sheet after you remove it from the oven. If you overbake them, they will be crispy instead of chewy once they cool. Note: It's best to bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven; if you bake two trays at a time, the cookies closer to the bottom of the oven won't look "crackly."

8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November via iPhone

It's not christmas without red cups!
(The fact that this photo was taken on November 1st is neither here nor there.)

 Target + Christmas? Be still my heart.

Christmas flair in my car! (on November 8th, no less)

 Picky Palate's salted pumpkin chocolate chunk cookies. It had to happen!

 Don't tell me you're surprised. 

Christmas tree up on November 14th! (I'm starting a revolution)

 Turkey cookies for Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble!

Homemade snowglobe! fa la la la la!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram if you'd like to see more evidence of my childlike obsession with the holiday season! (And, really, who wouldn't?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall! Fall! Fall! + Spiced M&M Brown Sugar Cookies









Spiced M&M Brown Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 & 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup m&m's

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about 1 minute at medium speed. Add the brown sugar, and cream for 1-2 minutes more, or until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and add the egg and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until thoroughly combined.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, and mix at low speed just until the dough comes together. Add the m&m's, and continue mixing until they are evenly distributed. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Scoop the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, and arrange the balls on cookie sheets about two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies


An updated list of all the pumpkin-flavored things I've purchased this year (so far):

pumpkin bagels
pumpkin cream cheese
pumpkin pie pop tarts
pumpkin coffee
pumpkin coffee creamer
pumpkin hershey's kisses
pumpkin cookie mix
pumpkin bar mix
pumpkin waffles

As hard as it is for me to understand, I realize that not everyone loves this quintessential fall flavor as much as I do. I've even heard rumors that some people don't like pumpkin... at all.

In fact, I've managed to become friends with one of these anti-pumpkin people. And it was out of consideration for her feelings toward pumpkin that I ended up making these brownies for a recent get-together at her house.

(If you're wondering why I didn't just make something totally pumpkin-less, then you really don't know me at all.)

The pumpkin flavor in these brownies is really just an accent to the chocolate, which is why it's the perfect choice for someone with lukewarm feelings about pumpkin. And as it turned out, my anti-pumpkin friend really liked them! (or so she said).

Small as it may be, the success of this endeavor has given me hope that it's not too late for her. Who knows? If everything goes as planned, she could be eating pumpkin pie just in time for Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/4 cups pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a 9-inch square pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.

2. Heat the butter and chocolate in the microwave at half power, stopping every 30 seconds to stir, until completely melted. Be careful not to overheat!

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla, and beat together at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour mixture, and continue mixing at medium speed until thoroughly combined.

5. Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. Stir the melted chocolate mixture into one bowl of batter. Stir the pumpkin, vegetable oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the other bowl of batter.

6. Transfer half of the chocolate batter to the prepared pan. Add half of the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate batter. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and pumpkin batter. Use a knife to swirl the batters together in the pan, creating a marbled effect. Top with sprinkles if desired.

7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is set. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 16 brownies.

 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars


In my world, fall and pumpkin are nearly synonymous. This week alone, I bought

pumpkin spice bagels
pumpkin spice cream cheese
pumpkin spice coffee creamer
a pumpkin-scented candle
and a pumpkin-shaped candy jar.

I know, okay? I know.

But before I get started on baking pumpkin into muffins and scones and cupcakes and cinnamon rolls and pie, I thought I'd give apples their moment in the spotlight.

Enter: caramel apple cheesecake bars. Please take a moment to acquaint yourself:


Do you SEE those layers?!

1. brown sugar crust 2. cheesecake 3. spiced apples 4. brown sugar streusel 5. caramel sauce

I'll take care of layers four and five. Divide the rest amongst yourselves.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from The Gingered Whisk

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

Cheesecake Layer:

24 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Apple Layer:

3 granny smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Streusel Layer:

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Caramel Layer:
about 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray.

2. For the crust: Combine the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and use clean hands to work it into the flour and sugar mixture. Once the dough comes together, press it into the bottom of the prepared pan, forming an even layer.

3. For the cheesecake layer: Cream together the cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, and continue mixing until smooth.

4. For the apple layer: In a medium bowl, combine the chopped apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Mix thoroughly to coat all of the apples.

5. For the streusel layer: In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and oats. Add the butter, and use clean hands to work it into the dry ingredients until only pea-sized clumps of butter remain.

6. To Assemble: Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour the cheesecake over the warm crust and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle the apples evenly over the top of the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the apple layer.

7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set. Once the bars have cooled slightly, drizzle the caramel topping over the streusel. Store in the refrigerator

Makes about 16 bars.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins


It may be the fifth-to-last day of summer according to the calendar, but if you ask me? It's fall. And I'm obsessed with it.

So is everybody else, I know. But I never realized until this year how different I feel during these months. I feel like the year is just starting for me. I'm excited about things. Even if it's just little things, like Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses. Or Halloween decorations that I don't even buy. Or Candy Corn Oreos that I can't seem to find anywhere!

I love being outside when it's just cold enough to need a jacket. And going to the pumpkin patch, even though it's the same every year. And sipping something warm while I listen to Norah Jones on my way to work. I could do that any time of year, right? But somehow it's different now. Better.

I buy candy for trick-or-treaters that I know aren't going to come to my door. I drag Stephen into Bath & Body Works so I can obsess over all the new candles and force him to smell all of them with me. I think about making caramel corn almost every day. I start thinking about Christmas way too early.

It's finally, finally, finally time for all of that! I'm so excited.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins
Adapted from Bakergirl

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, maple syrup, and melted butter.

3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Makes about 18 mini muffins.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Biscoff Cookies




Cinnamon Chip Biscoff Cookies
Adapted from I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown

1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 & 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 jar Biscoff Spread (14 oz.)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 package cinnamon baking chips (10 oz.)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter for about 1 minute at medium speed. With the mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Continue creaming for about 2 minutes more, or until light and fluffy.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the vegetable oil and Biscoff spread. Mix for about 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix for about 2 minutes more at medium speed.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the eggs and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing at low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the cinnamon chips, and continue mixing at low speed until the chips are distributed evenly.

5. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Once the dough has chilled, use a cookie scoop (or your hands) to portion the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared cookie sheets about two inches apart.

6. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The cookies should be golden brown around the edges, but the centers will still be soft. Cool the cookies on the pans for about 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Makes about 7 dozen cookies.

 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm not dead, just dieting.

And I think I could make a pretty strong case that dieting is worse.

Until I give up and decide to finally let myself go reach my goal, I probably won't be baking very much. But you can bet I'll still be obsessing over all the sugar I want to eat on Pinterest and chronicling my attempts to enjoy life with less dessert on Instagram (@thenonpareilbaker). Don't be a stranger!

Here's what I've been up to so far this summer:











What cupcake? I don't know what you're talking about.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls


Birthday cake + cinnamon rolls?
It can only mean one thing... Happy 2nd Birthday, The Nonpareil Baker!

I've made a quite a few desserts over the past two years, which makes it pretty hard to pick favorites. But these cinnamon rolls? Easily one of the best things I've ever eaten.


I don't think I need to explain myself much on this one. It's cake and cinnamon rolls... together. You want specifics? There's yellow cake mix in the filling and the glaze! And let's not forget sprinkles. Sprinkles improve any situation in life by at least fifty percent.

It's true.

Not in the mood for cinnamon rolls? Well... that's weird. But if you insist, here are some more of my favorite recipes from the past year:

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
Maple Toffee Popcorn
Pumpkin Maple Rolls
Carrot Cake with Coconut, Raisins, & Walnuts
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Lofthouse-Style Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Buttercream

Marbled Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Sugar Blondies with M&M's

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Deep Dish Caramel Snickers Cookies

I know you're now dying to make every item on that list, but trust me... make birthday cake cinnamon rolls first! I was eating one while watching The Bachelorette with my sister (who was trying to be healthy), and despite the riveting plot development, I couldn't help remarking aloud how good it was and rolling my eyes every 12 seconds.

I'm sure it wasn't annoying at all?

Birthday Cake Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Joy the Baker and How Sweet It Is

For the dough:

1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water, heated to 115°F
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cubed

For the filling:

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup yellow cake mix
sprinkles

For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup yellow cake mix
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons milk
sprinkles

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, and water. Let the mixture sit until it becomes foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If the mixture does not become foamy, start over with new yeast

2. To the yeast mixture, add the remaining granulated sugar, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Whisk until combined. Add the flour and salt, and mix at medium speed with the dough hook attachment until the dough begins to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for 4 minutes.

3. Add the butter, and continue kneading for 6 minutes more; the dough will be wet and sticky. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and knead in another 1/3 cup flour. The dough will still be sticky! Transfer the dough to a large bowl coated with nonstick spray, and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.

4. Once the dough has doubled, transfer it to a floured work surface. Knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed; I added about 1/4 cup. Allow the dough to rest for about 5 minutes before rolling.

5. Coat a rolling pin with flour, and roll the dough into a 10-inch square. In small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then spread it evenly over the dough. Fold the left side of the dough toward the center, and fold the right side over the left side, just as you would fold a letter to fit inside an envelope. Repeat this process, folding in the top and bottom to make a small square. Turn the dough over so the seam is facing down, and gently roll the dough into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. It's okay if some of the cream cheese peeks through!

6. Brush the melted butter all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar, cinnamon, yellow cake mix, and sprinkles evenly over the butter, and gently press it into the dough. Starting from one of the short sides of the rectangle, begin rolling the dough into a tight cylinder. Position the cylinder so the seam is facing down, and trim off the uneven edges with a sharp knife.

7. Cut the dough into 8 slices. Arrange the slices evenly, cut side up, in a buttered 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.

8. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the rolls have risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. 

9. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cake mix, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons milk. Add additional milk if needed to reach the desired consistency. Pour the glaze over the warm rolls and top with sprinkles.

Makes about 8 rolls.