Monday, August 17, 2015

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay, so I didn't listen to you guys... Well, sort of. Today I baked the runner-up for the poll winner, the soft & chewy peanut butter cookies instead of the almond madeleines, which will be featured soon! I just had an intense craving for peanut butter! I love peanut butter. Or peanuts for that matter. And every other sort of nut. Let's stick to peanuts on this post! Peanuts.

I've always wanted to make those classic American peanut butter cookies, in which you can see the footprints of the fork crosswise. Never made them from scratch, but here they are! Full of flavor, soft bite, chewy on the inside, a little crumbly on the outside, and PERFECT!

Taste: 5 out of 5
Consistency: 5 out of 5
Overall Appeal: 5 out of 5

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies: Melissa Murphy - The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

- ½ cup Smooth Peanut Butter
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt

- Position a rack in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream peanut butter, butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Beat in the egg.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that everything is combined evenly.
- Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons and roll into balls. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and press down slightly. Using a fork dipped in flour, press down on the cookies first one way and then the other to form an "X" pattern, creating the crosshatch effect. (The cookies should now measure approx. 2 inches in diameter.) Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Overbaking will cause these chewy cookies to become crunchy so try to avoid it.

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Monday, July 20, 2015


Carrot Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

Carrot Walnut Cake

As a baker, have you ever been at a restaurant or coffee shop and with succes did not order that big piece of cake you actually wanted? Have you then, got home and baked it anyway? And then, not only ate 1 slice like you would have done at the restaurant, but ate multiple slices? If your answer is "yes" on all three questions: Congratulations! You are officially an obsessed foodie! Or a compulsive over-eater. What's the difference anyway?

I am certainly guilty over this. And it happens a lot. Whenever I'm at a grocery store and I see the baked goods, or at a restaurant trying out the dessert menu, I always think I can make it better. Not prettier, but better tasting. And I usually do. I went at a coffee café in my city Maastricht and ordered a tomato/mozerella sandwich, while secretly vying the carrot cake that was 2 meters away from me in the window display. I gave myself a pat on the back for not ordering it. But then I went grocery shopping, and carrots and cream cheese just magically fell in my grocery wagon. And before I knew it, I was baking a carrot cake. Nothing to be ashamed about, especially when it tastes so good. But then again, doesn't it always?

Taste: 5+ out of 5
Consistency: 5 out of 5
Overall appeal: 5 out of 5

Carrot Walnut Cake:

- 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for mold
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar (I used white sugar and it was fine)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup packed peeled grated carrots (4 to 5 carrots)
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for mold
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted, finely chopped

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch (5-cup) trois freres mold or Bundt pan. Dust with flour, and tap out excess. Put butter and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and carrots, and mix until just combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until just combined. Stir in walnuts.
- Pour batter into the prepared mold. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack, and let cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar. Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Cream Cheese Frosting: The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook (divided by 4)

- 1 ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating continously until smooth and creamy.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Recent Bakings...

To start off another baking poll,
here's an update on the things I've been baking lately:

World's Best M&M Cookies

Only I substituted the M&M's for chocolate chips. Still as delicious.
Good thing I gave them away, knowing me I would have wolved down the whole plate.
Self-control is a thing of the past I'm afraid.

Speaking of lacking self-control... I ate 5 out of the 6 ramekins I made of these apple crips...

Apple Crisp

And you have the power to add to my 'To-Eat' list by voting in the poll (above).

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy June! Spring Fruit Pavlova

Spring Fruit Pavlova

I started thinking to myself - "I'd better make the poll's winner now before Spring's over!" Spring fruit leaves much to the imagination to which fruit you could use. I chose strawberries and red berries, because I love those two on a pavlova. A pavlova requires very few ingredients, but lots of patience, as the baking time is usually around 1,5-2 hours on a very low heat. I don't mind it though. I whip up the egg whites in the early afternoon, put it in the oven, get on with my business, and in the late afternoon decorate the pavlova, and serve it for dessert. It's always a crowd pleaser!

Taste: 4.5 out of 5
Consistency: 3.5 out of 5
Overall appeal: 4.5 out of 5

Spring Fruit Pavlova

Spring Fruit Pavlova: Martha Stewart - Baking Handbook

- 2 large egg whites (I used 3 medium egg whites)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 3 large strawberries (or more if you like), sliced in half

- Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 6 circles of approximately 4 inches on the parchment-line baking sheet; set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites with the salt on high speed until they’re holding firm peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you’ve got a bowl of gleaming, satiny, snowy meringue. Add a few drops of vanilla and fold in to combine.
- Using a large spoon, scoop six fluffy mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, form a well in the center of each mound, being careful not to make the meringue too thin in the center.
- Bake until just dry to the touch but still white in color, about 1 ½ hours. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let meringues cool completely before carefully easing them off the parchment. Meringues can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.
- When ready to serve, whip cream until it holds firm peaks and add the confectioners' sugar. Divide whipped cream among meringues, dolloping it in the wells. Garnish with fruit.
- Side note: Meringues are baked on very low heat so they stay perfectly white. It’s a good idea to check them periodically to make sure they don’t take on color. To test if the meringues are done, try lifting one off the parchment – if it comes away easily, it is ready; if not, continue baking , checking every five minutes. Moisture will cause meringues to soften, so avoid making them on particularly humid days.

Spring Fruit Pavlova


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Well, I keep on planning on baking the poll winner, which is by a very large margin the Spring Fruit Pavlova, but the weather is so dissappointing here in the Netherlands that I'm not in the mood for such a Summery dessert yet. I feel like we haven't had any glimpse of Summer yet, or for that matter even Spring is hard to find. As I am typing this, it is actually raining hail. I'm hoping the weather will clear up next week for my pavlova, but in the meanwhile I want to show you this brown sugar pound cake I made.

There's always an upside; weather like this is perfect for baking a pound cake. I spotted this recipe years ago when I first openend Martha Stewart's 'Baking Handbook'. And I can't believe it actually took me so long to finally make it. I love pound cake, and Lord knows I love sugar. This recipe uses brown sugar only - no white sugar at all. I definitely gives the pound cake a different taste. A more praline/caramel/salted-kind of taste (hard to describe). The pound cake was gone before I even noticed confirming its success!

Taste: 5- out of 5.
Moistness: 5 out of 5.
Overall appeal: 5- out of 5.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake: Martha Stewart - Baking Handbook

Ingredients: this will yield 2 pound cakes
◾ 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
◾ 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
◾ 2 teaspoons baking powder
◾ 1/2 teaspoon salt
◾ 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
◾ 5 large eggs
◾ 3/4 cup buttermilk

- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pans (or up to six 5-3/4 by 3-1/4 inch miniloaves); set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined.
- Add the reserved flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula.
- Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean – about 1 hour (or 45 minutes if you are using miniloaves). Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto the rack to cool completely. Cakes can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.

Let's all just pretend that this is a very artsy, rustic photograph -
and not a quick iPhone picture taken before rushing off to work. :)

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Friday, May 8, 2015

Other Eats in London

Krispy Kreme

I do not apologize for this picture.

The picture is a bit messy, sloppy, raw, un-edited.
I just couldn't wait to eat wolf down these Krispy Kreme donuts.
Why other European Countries don't have Krispy Kreme is beyond me.
So for a donut-lover like myself, this was an actual highlight from my London trip.

And for a bit more sophistication, I ate breakfast at Caffé Concerto,
which has several locations in London, with an impressive pastry counter.

Caffé Concerto

Caffé Concerto

And last, but not least... the dessert from my first day in London,
a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Have a lovely week everyone!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Laduree, Harrods in London


I was for a short trip (4 days) in lovely London, which felt like way too short of a trip to see the city properly. But I managed to visit Ladurée, as I feel like as a pastry-admirer I should always stop at Ladurée. Already having checked off every Ladurée location in Paris, this is my first non-French Ladurée location. And which lovelier setting could I possibly imagine than having Ladurée next to Chanel, Rolex, and Fendi in Harrods department store?!


Ladurée, Harrods

I was in desperate need for chocolate after hiking up 7 floors of shopping heaven, so I ordered a hot chocolate, which is more like a molten bar of heavenly chocolate. If you remember, I made the recipe for Ladurée's hot chocolate a while ago, see here.

Ladurée, Harrods

Dorie Greenspan writes in her book Paris Sweets: "Whenever friends ask for a list of things they should do in Paris, I always tell them they must go to Ladurée for hot chocolate – it is one of the delights of being in the city. Chocolat chaud made in the Ladurée style is unabashedly rich, luxuriously thick, textbook smooth, and the kind of delicious that forces you to stop all reasonable conversation so you can sip and murmur, “Mmmmm.”"

Next to the chocolate chaud, I ordered a Ladurée favorite of mine - the St. Honoré Rose Framboise. I previously ordered a Saint Honoré Rose Framboise when I went on vacation in Paris during a Summer. Rose-flavours, whipped cream, and a rapsberry filling skyrockets this dessert into my all-time favorite pastries.

Ladurée, Harrods

Ladurée, Harrods

All in all, another wonderful visit to Ladurée.

Ladurée, Harrods

Baking the poll winner very soon - looks like it's going to be the Spring Pavlova!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

No Bake S'Mores Cheesecake

No-Bake S'Mores Cheesecakr

That's right. Those are letter-shaped Graham crackers. I got them at Ikea, oddly enough. Paired with Milka chocolates, makes this a very European cheesecake! Inspired by the American phenomenon s'mores. The cheesecake consists of a cookie base, no-bake cream cheese filling and a marshmallow fluff topping. Added with chocolate and cookie bits on top.

This cheesecake is a stroke of genius, because it combines all of those delicious ingredients you can't get enough of. Really the ultimate dessert! And because it's a no-bake cheesecake, the filling isn't too heavy to eat after a hefty dinner. But then again. don't be fooled by thinking it's a light on calories kind of dessert!

Taste: 5 out of 5.
Consistency: 4 out of 5.
Overall appeal: 4.5 out of 5.

No-Bake S'Mores Cheesecakr

No-Bake S'Mores Cheesecake: inspired by Nigella's cherry cheesecake.

- 1 ¼  cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 stick (75g) soft unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup double cream
- 10 ounces (300g) cream cheese at room temperature
- ½ cup confectionars' sugar
- 12 Hershey's chocolate mini bars

- Blitz the biscuits in a food processor (I don't own food processor, so I used a blender which worked really well) until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump.
- Press this mixture into a 8-inch (20cm) springform tin; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.
- Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth.
- Lightly whip the double cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
- Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula. Put it in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
- In the meanwhile you can make the marshmallow fluff frosting, see recipe below.
- Top the marshmallow fluff on the cheesecake base and decorate cheesecake with chocolate bits.

Marshmallow Frosting:

- 2 large egg whites
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- ½ tbsp light corn syrup
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt.
- Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until it is very warm and soft (but not dry) peaks form, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer to low and add the vanilla. Continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth, about 2 minutes more. Use right away. Toast them with a creme brulee torch if desired.

By the way, happy Easter!
This was my Easter table at home.

Easter Table

I'm just going to throw this question out there... does anyone know a good widget to put on a blog/website
to make recipes print easier? Thanks!!!