Gluten Free PB Brownies

So, a lot of people are gluten free now-a-days. It’s a sad life, because I love my carbs. But I don’t want my flourless friends to get left out of the baking I do so often! The solution? I’ve been tampering with gluten free baking. It’s a lot easier, and much more interesting, than I anticipated. I have gotten a lot of great recipes from Baby Cakes NYC— it’s a darling little cookbook with easy to follow recipes! 

But these brownies of which I speak are kind of a cop out. In a way. If you consider Trader Joe’s to be the easy way out. In addition to the pre-made mix, I added in lots of chocolate chips and a hefty swirl of natural peanut butter. And you know what? If I didn’t know these were gluten free, I wouldn’t think there was anything fishy going on! It’s been great sharing some wheat-free love with people who don’t often come across a good baked treat.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Sorbet

Okay, okay. I’m getting a tad involved with the ice cream machine. And, perhaps, I’m posting too much about Hedy Goldsmith and her amazing recipes. I promise that College and Cupcakes is not becoming an ice-cream-cult blog that worships one baker. I can’t promise that I’m done with Hedy and her recipes, though. Sorry! 

When I first read through the recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate Bourbon Sorbet I was pretty skeptical. When I think of sorbet, I think of icy, fruity frozen goodness. I was definitely not expecting a wondrous/creamy/chocolatey concoction. Nope, not at all. But after making my custard, churning, and chilling this sorbet, I was a total convert. The chocolate adds a richness that is unparalleled and the bourbon kicks in at the end and burns your throat ever so slightly. It’s also awesome because it’s dairy free but insanely creamy! I would have never guessed there were no eggs or milk in this. It has the consistency of gelato, pretty much. And because it is so rich you can definitely only handle so much at a time. With that in mind, I decided to serve it in little shot glasses. Of course, we all went back for seconds, but it was still darling! So, the moral of this decadent tale– don’t judge a recipe by negative, preconceived notions. I bet it’ll end up pleasantly surprising you.

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’m quite tempted to add “supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” to the description of this cookie, since the name isn’t long enough. If the length of the description of a cookie is directly proportional to flavor caliber and drool-inducing level, then this cookie is clearly the mother of all chocolate chunk cookies. I found this recipe awhile back at Ambitious Kitchen (http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/09/nutella-stuffed-brown-butter-sea-salt-chocolate-chip-cookies-my-favorite-cookie-ever/) and was simply enamored. I have since made a few little changes, but the brown butter and the Nutella have not budged. And while this cookie may sound intimidating to make, it’s pretty straightforward!

Start by putting two sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat to brown. It will take awhile,  and you might get frustrated, but then all of a sudden it will brown and smell divine. Let the magic happen while you whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, a hefty pinch of salt, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp cornstarch. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Just let them get to know each other before the butter comes in. Get out 1 egg and an egg yolk so they can come to room temperature, and have your vanilla out, too! Once your butter starts to foam up and there are brown flavor nuggets swirling about, it should be ready to remove from the heat. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell when it’s brown. Let it cool off a bit and then mix it with the sugars. Beat in your egg and yolk, along with two teaspoons of vanilla, for 2 minutes or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and start to slowly add your dry ingredients. Once everything is incorporated fold in a mix of milk and dark chocolate chunks (I really like the look of chunks you cut yourself, but chips work here as well!).

Now it’s time for the tricky part. I highly recommend keeping your hands wet for this, as well as chilling the bowl of dough for 10 minutes! That way, things will be much easier to handle. Set up an assembly line starting with your chilled bowl of dough, jar of Nutella (plus spoon), and a greased plate for your Nutella stuffed dough balls. What you’ll want to do here is form a ball of dough (minimal chunks) like you were baking standard drop cookies. Flatten that dough ball, make a little nest for the Nutella, plop it on in there, and seal it up. Then carefully insert some chocolate chunks and place it on your plate. Trust me, this tedious process is worth it! See?

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Sometimes, I like to make my Nutella nuggets before hand by placing them on a plate and refrigerating them before assembly.  After a few cookies, you’ll fall into a pattern and figure out what works best for you. Just don’ be afraid to get you hands dirty! Once you’ve formed your cookies, let them chill for at least 20 minutes before baking them off at 350 for 9-11 minutes. I highly, highly recommend under baking them slightly– anticipating the re-heating they will inevitably go through before being served atop a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.

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You should also grab some milk, too. Oh, and a napkin. These can get messy.

Junk in da Trunk Cookies

Let’s find anything and everything cookie-worthy in Trader Joe’s elusively sinful snack section and throw it into dough with reckless abandon. Never look back, just dump it ALL in there. If there were a conspicuous voice narrating the meeting of these ingredients, I’d imagine it would sound something like this: “No, I don’t know what business chocolate-covered potato chips and peanut butter filled pretzels have with one another. While they’re at it, they should invite along some butterscotch chips. Just wait until the next cookie add-in summit, it’ll involve the rest of the kitchen sink. How divine.”

Hedy Goldsmith hits the nail on the head with this recipe (which is from her amazing book, Baking Out Loud). I really, really like making cookies. The more unconventional and random, the better (let’s throw things back to that one time I made Mexican Hot Chocolate “Snickerdoodles”). Once she gave me the go-ahead to add in whatever spoke to me and be creative about the junk that goes into this cookie’s trunk, I realized the possibilities were endless. For this batch, I chose to add in peanut butter filled pretzels, bittersweet chocolate chunks, mini peanut butter cups, and honey roasted peanuts. I was honestly somewhat doubtful (read: stubbornly hoping for the best but expecting the worst) about this combination. That’s a lot going on for one cookies. Could it handle all of that flavor? But all that doubt melted away once I tasted one of these. 

The recipe for the “trunk” of the cookie is very basic. All you’ve got to do is cream a stick of butter, add half a cup (each) of white and dark brown sugar (as well as a healthy pinch of salt), followed by an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla. Once everything is happily combined, slowly mix in 1 and 3/4 cup of flour and 3/4 tsp of baking soda. Now for the junk. Take whatever add-ins you’ve decided to incorporate and carefully fold those into the dough. Once all of your junk is in the trunk, scoop the dough out onto a plate (this recipe gave me 10 large cookies) and let it chill out in the fridge for at least an hour or so. Once you’re ready to bake, pop those guys into the oven at 350 for 15 minutes, give or take. Pull them out once the bottoms/edges are golden brown, let them cool, and then savor the fact that you can make an endless amount of different cookies from this recipe! I can’t wait to experiment with more junk 🙂