Monday, October 28, 2013

Cookie Dough Brownies

Yes, cookie dough truffles followed by cookie dough brownies... Someone around here might be on a little bit of a kick. It's a very delicious kick, though.

These were inspired by this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker but heavily modified so as not to give us all heart attacks after eating them. I mean, I'm all for butter--but nearly a pound in a simple brownie dessert? Seems like a bit of overkill. I'm happy to report that you can successfully cut that (and the sugar) way back and still have a seriously amazing husband- and book club-approved brownie.

One tip if you decide to try these: plan ahead. The flavors develop best if they're refrigerated for at least 24 hours.

Cookie Dough Brownies
Makes 24 brownies

For the brownies
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar (not packed! just poured into the measuring cup)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

For the cookie dough topping
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 c. light brown sugar (again, not packed)
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper that extends over the sides. (This makes a nice handle for you to lift the brownies right out of the dish before cutting.)

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Beat in the melted chocolate chips until dough is evenly colored. Then beat in flour and salt until combined. (NOTE: The lack of baking soda/powder is deliberate. Leaving it out keeps these brownies nice and fudgy.)

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set brownies aside to cool completely (about an hour or two).

To make the cookie dough, beat butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add in milk and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. Add flour and salt and mix until well combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Spread cookie dough mixture evenly over the top of cooled brownies. Cover dish and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

To cut, use parchment paper handles to pull brownies out of the pan. Cut into squares & ENJOY!
(Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

You know what I like best about making chocolate chip cookies? Getting to eat the dough! Of course, you're not *supposed* to eat anything with raw egg in it, so I try to restrain myself. But when I stumbled across this recipe from Bakerella for an egg-free cookie dough treat, I knew I had to give it a try. The result? Decadent perfection:

In addition to be absolutely delicious, this recipe comes together quickly--no baking required. Best of all--you can eat as much of the dough as you want while you're putting these together :-)
Here's my version, with a slight adaptation that uses real semi-sweet chocolate for the coating instead of "candy coating."
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
Makes 20-24 truffles
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips (for dough)
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini or regular--for coating)
Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla extract.
On low speed, mix in flour and salt just until dough is evenly moistened.
Stir in 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips.
Scoop out dough with a teaspoon and roll into 3/4-1" balls.
Once all dough is used up, refrigerate dough for at least 15-20 minutes.
Just before chilling time is up, place 1 c. chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat 1 minute on high, then stir chips until evenly melted. (Microwave for an additional 10 seconds at a time if chips don't soften when stirred after first minute.)
Using 2 spoons, dip 1 ball of dough at a time into melted chocolate and roll to coat. Place on wax paper or parchment to dry. Repeat with remaining balls of dough until all are covered.
Let sit at least 1 hour to fully set.
Enjoy immediately or cover tightly to store.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homemade Fig Jam

The first year that we moved here, I was very excited about our fruit trees and made several kinds of jam to give away as Christmas gifts to our kind neighbors. Since then, I've garnered the reputation as the "canning lady" and frequently find myself the recipient of neighbors' excess fruit at the end of the harvest season. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to end up with a TON of fresh figs from my next door neighbor.

We don't have figs in our yard, so this was an extra special treat. I knew right away that I wanted to use them to make homemade fig jam - or vanilla fig jam to be precise!

Just like a fresh fig itself, this jam has a mild, lightly sweet flavor. The vanilla helps bring out some of the fig's natural sweetness, without having to use too much sugar. It's good on toast or served with crackers and cheese. Best of all, like most jams, the recipe is very easy. Enjoy!

Vanilla Fig Jam
Makes 4 8-oz. jars

4 cups peeled, chopped figs (about 15 small to medium figs)
2/3 c. water 
3 Tbsp. low or no-sugar needed pectin
1/2 c. sugar (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise

1. If planning to can your jam, bring large pot of water to a boil. Add jars to water and boil 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and let the boiling subside. Then add the lids to the water (to get the seal sticky), cover and let sit until jam is ready. (If freezing the jam, skip this step and go straight to putting your jam in freezer-safe containers after step 4 below.)

2. Combine chopped figs and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Gradually stir in pectin and bring to full, rolling boil that can't be stirred down.

3. Add sugar and spliced vanilla bean to saucepan and stir until well-combined.

4.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and boil hard for 1 full minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam that may rise to the top of the jam. Remove vanilla bean pod and discard.

5. Carefully remove jars and lids from hot water.  Place jars upright on a stable surface close to the saucepan full of jam.

6. Carefully ladle hot jam into prepared jars, leaving about 1/4" of headspace at the top of the jar.

7. Using a cloth or paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any spilled jam. Place heated lids on top and screw on the outer band.

8. Using tongs, carefully place the filled jars back in the hot water bath. Ensure jars are covered with at least 1" of water. Turn heat to high and bring water to a full boil.

9. Boil jars for 10 minutes (if you are more than 1000 feet above sea level, use this chart for boiling times). Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes.

10. Carefully remove from jars and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, check lids to make sure they are sealed (the centers be firm and not "pop" when you press down on them). All sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up 1 year. Any jars that did not seal should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 1 month.