Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Brownies

Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Brownies - made August 11, 2018 from Bell' Alimento
Whenever I see a caramel layer baked into a brownie, I always have high hopes I can replicate it as successfully as the blog from which I found the recipe.
I'm almost always wrong. I even modified the directions so that you parbake the bottom layer of the brownie to make it firm enough to hold the caramel layer and not have the caramel mingle into the brownie batter. Yeah, still wrong.

I think it's because of the caramel I'm using, which is salted caramel sauce from Trader Joe's, instead of the more traditional melted Kraft caramels thinned with a little milk or cream. The Kraft caramels make a thicker caramel layer that remains more distinct. Much as I like the Trader Joe's caramel sauce, all it does in this brownie is sink into the bottom layer, get stuck to the bottom, and make the brownies more moist and fudgy but loses that distinct caramel layer.

But still, this was a good fudgy brownie. Don't eat it warm unless you just want fudgy mush. Do top it with the toasted hazelnuts as they provide a nice crunch and contrast to the fudginess of the brownie.

I also experimented with making this a mini dessert in a little dessert glass, layered with Nutella. Yup, it was as good as it sounded.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (I mistakenly used 1 stick but it was fine)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup caramel sauce
1/4 cup Nutella, melted
Hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10" x 7" baking dish with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mix, combine sugar and butter; beat until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Mix just until combined. 
  4. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until just combined; do not overbeat.
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until top layer looks firm (no more than 15 minutes). Pour caramel in an even layer over parbaked crust and cover with remaining batter. Return to oven and bake another 15-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted at an angle near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, not raw batter.
  6. While brownie is still hot, spread evenly with Nutella. Garnish with chopped, toasted. hazelnuts. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles

Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles - made dough August 11, 2018 from Taste and Tell
I don’t know who Mrs. Sigg is but her snickerdoodle recipe has been making the rounds on pinterest. I have several really good snickerdoodle recipes already but I’m willing to be captivated by a new one so I gave this a test drive.

And it drove quite well. I’m normally leery about cookie recipes that use shortening because, hi, butter snob checking in. But I’m willing to lower my nose-in-the-air a fraction when there’s both butter and shortening in there. The shortening prevents spread and adds a crispness and the butter gives it a better flavor while also keeping the cookie chewy. So Mrs. Sigg knew what she was doing.

I did modify the recipe to add a teaspoon of Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon to the cookie dough. That was a trick I learned from Sally’s Baking Addiction to add a little more snickerdoodly (yes, it’s a word, k?) flavor to the cookies. The dough was a little soft when I finished mixing and I chilled it for 30 minutes before portioning into cookie dough balls but I needn’t have worried as they didn’t spread much, thanks to the shortening.

I will also give props to the shortening for giving the edges an airy crispness to the texture while kudos to the butter for keeping the important middle portion soft and chewy. Overall I liked both the texture and flavor of this. And now I have another good snickerdoodle recipe to add to my arsenal.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Cream together butter, shortening and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until blended. Do not overmix. Chill, covered, in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Portion dough into golf-ball-size dough balls and pat into thick discs. Cover and chill or refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Combine 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll frozen dough discs in cinnamon-sugar mixture until completely coated. Evenly space on baking sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until just set at the edges. Do not overbake. Remove from heat, let set on baking sheets for 3-4 minutes then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Perfectly Thick and Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly Thick and Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough August 11, 2018, modified from Sincerely Mindy
This is the third of the chocolate chip cookie recipes I tried out last month. The first  three pictures are of the first cookie I baked from the batch. The last 5 pictures are a second cookie I baked from the same batch a couple of weeks later. Both were frozen before baking.

You can see the first cookie came out "puffier" and thicker while the second flattened slightly more, although it wasn't a thin cookie.

Same ingredients, same dough. The main difference is I baked the second cookie a few minutes longer than the first one. It didn't impact the taste and the only slight difference in texture is the first cookie was softer and more fragile while the edges were more crisp on the second one.
But truthfully, both were amazing. This is another delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe. So of this batch of three recipes, I liked the first and this one best.

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups milk chocolate chunks
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until well combined, 1-2 minutes. 
  3. On low speed, add vanilla then eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, combining on low speed, mixing until just combined with each addition. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  5. Portion dough into golf-ball-size dough balls and pat into thick discs. Cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space chilled dough discs on prepared baking sheets and bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown at the edges and middles no longer look raw. Do not overbake. Remove from heat, let cool on baking sheets for several minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.