Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pretzel M&M Cookies

I recently bought a package of M&M’s with pretzels inside.  These were right up my alley of sweet and salty.  I was itching to do some baking and the package of M&M’s was sitting in the cupboard so I thought I’d throw them in cookies. I’ve previously made cookies with pretzels and chocolate, but this makes it one step easier.

Other baking ingredients sitting in my cupboard waiting for baking experiments are giant marshmallows, guava butter, and coconut syrup.  Sit tight for those!

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Pretzel M&M Cookies
Adapted from here.

1¼ cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup salted butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon butter vanilla bakery emulsion (or vanilla extract)
1½ cup pretzel M&M’s
¼ cup toffee bits

1.  Sift flour, cornstarch, and baking soda into a bowl. Set aside.
2.  Beat butter until fluffy (1 minute).
3.  Add both sugars and beat until fluffy (2 minutes).
4.  Add egg and beat until light yellow (5 minutes).
5.  Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
6.  Add flour mixture and mix until just mixed (30 seconds or less).
7.  Add M&M’s and toffee bits and mix until incorporated.
8.  Scoop with an ice cream scoop and portion it onto a cookie sheet.  Cover with foil and refrigerate for 24-72 hours.
To bake:
9.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
10.   Spread cookies out on baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes.
11.   Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Verdict: This is one of my standard recipes with which I mix different add-ins, such as coconut, nuts, chocolate, and coffee.  The Pretzel M&M add-in did not disappoint.  Great caramelization especially around the edges while the middle remained chewy.  Definitely follow the step of refrigerating for a few days.  It's what takes these cookies to the next level. I brought them to work and they were all gone in a matter of a couple hours!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Toffee Chocolate Shortbread

I recently bought several LorAnn bakery emulsions.  Have you heard of them? They are flavorings that don’t fade in intensity after baking, as alcohol based extracts do.  I really wanted to experiment with the Butter Vanilla emulsion and use it in something that would highlight the flavor.  I normally don’t go for shortbread, but I didn’t have any eggs, so it fit the bill. I added toffee bits to give it some caramelization. Toffee bits are my secret weapon for cookies – they take them to another level.  Let’s see how Butter Vanilla works…
Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Toffee Chocolate Shortbread
Adapted from here.

1 cup salted butter, softened
2/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 teaspoon LorAnn Butter Vanilla (or vanilla extract)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup toffee bits
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate

1.  In a stand mixer, beat butter for a minute until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
2.  Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
3.  Add flour and mix on low just until incorporated.  It will have a crumbly texture.
4.  Fold in toffee bits and chopped chocolate.
5.  Put in a ziplock bag (10.5” x 11”) and roll out with a rolling pin with the bag open so that the dough spreads evenly in the bag.  Close and refrigerate overnight.
To bake:
6.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
7.  Open bag by slicing the sides.  Cut into squares (I got 24).  Dock with a fork (prick with a fork so that it pierces to the bottom of the cookie).
8.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 14 minutes – an extra minute or 2 if you like more caramelized edges.  Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before cooling on a rack.
Ready to pack into a ziplock.

Verdict: These were great! Crispy with caramelized edges. The Butter Vanilla emulsion gave it a subtle vanilla flavor that fit the cookie well.  Some of the other emulsions are strong, so it was nice that this one was more subtle and natural tasting.  I loved how there are such few ingredients in shortbread but the end cookie is soo good!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Malt Cake

Happy Birthday!  It was the boyfriend’s mom’s birthday and I knew I wanted to make her a cake because I didn’t get a chance to last year since the boyfriend told me the day of, that it was her birthday dinner  (rolling eyes).  I wanted to try another cake from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking since the last cake I made from it was such a hit.  I decided to go with the malt cake.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Malt Cake
Slightly adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Original recipe was doubled, but I cut it in half to make 3 6-inch layers, which was plenty.

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons cake flour
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
½ Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup malted milk powder (I used Ovaltine)
1 cup salted butter at room temperature (original recipe called for ½ shortening)
1 cup sugar
½ Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup ice cold water
2 egg whites, room temperature

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment and grease and flour the sides.
2.  Into a bowl, sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and malt powder so that they’re mixed.  Set aside.
3.  In a separate bowl or with a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy (3 minutes).  Add sugar and vanilla and beat for another 3 minutes.
4.  On low speed, add flour mixture and water in 3 additions, alternating, starting and ending with flour.  Mix only until combined.
5.  In another bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Fold into batter.
6.  Divide batter into bowls and bake for 26 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean).  Cool before frosting (I froze the layers).
Before baking.

After baking.

Milk Chocolate Frosting
Original recipe was doubled, but I cut it in half.

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
¾ cup salted butter, room temperature

1.  Place chocolates in a bowl.
2.  In a saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat.
3.  Pour over chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes.
4.  Stir from the inside out until combined and smooth.  Cool to room temperature (I made the day before and let it sit out on the counter).
5.  Beat the chocolate with a whisk attachment for a minute.  Gradually add cubes of butter and beat until smooth and light.

Ready to frost.

Place first layer of cake on a plate and spread the Milk Chocolate Frosting on top.  Place 2nd layer and top with Frosting.  Place top layer on and add a crumb coat to the entire cake.  Place in freezer for a few minutes to harden the crumb coat.  Add final layer of frosting and decorate.

Crumb coat.

Verdict - Everyone seemed to enjoy the cake.  The boyfriend said “malt-y!”.  I was disappointed with the cake layers – they were kind of wet even though they were cooked all the way through.  Maybe it was the freezing process that made them too moist.  However, I really liked the frosting – it was so fluffy, it reminded me of chocolate mousse! I’ll definitely make the frosting again!