TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I’m pretty darn  sure that this is the is the first cookie I have ever rejected warm from the oven.

Like a good lasagna, however, it was far better the second day.

almost candy bars

The batter has (or rather, batters have, since yu have to make the cookie dough and then the chocolate layer) just about everything: oatmeal, peanuts, craisins, chocolate and lots brown sugar. Bakers divide the cookie dough into two parts, spread one in the bottom of the pan, slather with a gooey chocolate mess, and then drop more cookie dough on top.  It’s fun. It’s ok if it’s sloppy. What’s not to like?

Maybe it’s the warm craisins, but these are just not good straight from the oven. Even The Other Eater in this Household said “they’re ok” – a significant rejection, given that his usual criteria for Dorie’s creations include 1) is it good? and 2) did it kill me?

So, I split the tray of cookies in two and took a plate to work with me the next day.  They were a hit!  I didn’t understand it, so I had to try another, and I agreed! Far better than the first day I had baked them.  Who would have guessed?

You can find the recipe here, at Confectiona’s Realm.  They are far easier to put together than the list of ingredients makes them look.

TWD: Cheesecake Brownies

I made the bold decision to leave the espreesso out of these brownies, and I feel like I stopped mid-step.  I should have left the sour cream topping off, as well.

cheesecake brownies

The brownies were really good – though my marbling left a lot to be desired. The brownie part was dense, the cheesecake part was creamy, and the combination was a delight! I really enjoy chocolate and cheese together in general (so much so that I once attended a chocolate and cheese pairing class at Vosges, where I made a mess of myself eating white chocolate panini, and I would do it again in a heartbeat), second only to chocolate and peanut butter, and this 9″ pan of goodness did not last long in my refrigerator.

However, the sweetened sour cream topping added nothing but a big mess.  The taste didn’t really enhance the brownies at all, and it made them difficult to eat in the car – one of my true tests for good feed: can I eat it in transit? Sour cream leaves too much evidence, and it smells if you forget to wipe it off your steering wheel before you leave your cap in a sunny parking lot and board the train in the mornin.

I’m just saying: leave the topping off, then love the brownies.

TWD: Brownie Buttons

 These desserts are so tiny, I’m hesitant to say too much in my post: these were not great, but they have a great form and so they may end up in a holiday basket just for their darling appearance.

Brownie Buttons

The chocolate cake is kind of dry and I’m not digging the orange-chocolate combination.  I would have preferred instant espresso powder to deepen the flavor.  BUT, the hard white chocolate topping and mini-muffin cup size is wonderful – totally different from anything else I’ve made, and so I might make them again just for the aesthetics.

You’ll find the recipe at Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen (who photographed them is a darling cake dome!). I have a few suggestions to enhance Dorie’s advice:

1) Use a tablespoon of batter in each mini muffin cup, but a teaspoon. These barely rose at all.

2) Butter the muffin cups really well or else use paper liners.  The batter looked so slick I might have skimped on the Crisco, and I had a really hard time getting them out of the pan. Several buttons were lost in the process.

3) Skip the orange in favor of almond extract, espresso, or mint even.

TWD: Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

The weather here has been hit and miss lately: we’ll have one beautiful day of strong, warm sunshine and then five days of persistent light rain and general dumpiness.  “Good days for chicken Parm(esan)” one friend remarked the other day, and it seemed to sum it up just perfectly.

But Lauren of the Upper East Side Chronicle left me with chocolate bread pudding instead of chicken parm, and as long as I remember to microwave the dessert before applying whipped cream, I’m quite happy with her decision.  She’s posted the recipe for you, too, here.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

I love bread pudding, but it’s usually filled with vanilla and maybe bourbon or bourbon cream, so I was a little freaked out by the idea of bittersweet chocolate.  I decided I’d think about that at the grocery store – one of many things to think about, it turned out.

Sadly, the dairy producers do not consult with cookbook writers when they size their products (sort of like Steve Martin’s Father of the Bride rant about hot dogs vs. hot dog buns), so I did some creative recipe re-jiggering to make it all work without a plethora of dairy products in my refrigerator.

*three cups of whole milk and one cup of cream became two cups of each

*three eggs became the rest of the egg beaters I had leftover from something else

*6 oz. bittersweet chocolate became lots of bittersweet chocolate with a handfull of leftover milk chocolate and a few peanut butter chips sprinkled on top.

The end result was a delight! Dense, not too chocolate-y or overly sweet, and even kinda pretty to look at with those browned peanut butter chips on top. Whipped cream – even the fake kind from the can – makes everything better.  I’m a fan and I’ll be making it again next winter, I’m sure.  I just don’t see it as part of this weekend’s BBQ.

TWD: Caramel Crunch Bars

These, I must say, have been a mixed bag.

Caramel Crunch Bars

Initially, I was disappointed with them. The instant coffee in the batter was too strong.  The thin cookie was too crisp. The toffee pieces got stuck in my teeth.

But this being the second day they have been in my cake dome, sliced (some broken) and ready for snacking at a moment’s notice, I feel much better about them. As in, I can’t stop eating them. But that may be because I doubled the chocolate on top.

Let me explain.

As you can see from the recipe (Thanks to Whitney, who chose the cookies we all baked this week and will post the recipe), the thin and buttery pan cookie is baked, topped with chocolate ( I used milk chocolate bars rather than the bittersweet chocolate Dorie recommended) to melt, and then sprinkled with toffee. However, I got sidetracked in the kitchen and I forgot the toffee!  When I discovered my mistake 24 hours later, I topped the cookies with another candy bar, returned them to the oven to melt the chocolate, and then sprinkled them with the toffee.

It was fine.  I sliced most of them and broke several along the way, and now am enjoyed them each and every time I walk into the kitchen….got to pass the cake dome to get to the fridge, the laundry room, the kitchen sink…. They’re not my favorite, but they’ll do.

In the meantime, my TWD posts will be few and far between for a while, as I will be moving!  Cross your fingers for good weather at the end of March.

TWD: Devil’s Food White Out Cake

The idea of making the cake that is on the cover of Dorie’s cookbook was totally overwhelming.  I knew that mine would never look like that glossy covermodel in my dining room and that I would make myself crazy trying, so I went in a new direction:

Devil’s Food White Out Whoopie Pies!

Whoopie Pie

I made Dorie’s batter (substituting milk chocolate for bittersweet) and poured it into a 13×9 cookie sheet. I baked for 15 minutes, cooled for the rest of the afternoon, and then attacked the sheetcake with my heart shaped cookie cutter.

Each heart was slathered with Marshmallow Fluff and then stuck together like a Whoopie Pie.  It looked darling, especially next to the tulips I received from the Other Eater this weekend.

When we cut into them the next day, we found two problems: one, the cake had sort of dried out and wasn’t quite as perfect as the odds and ends I picked  out of the cookie sheets the night before, and two, the Fluff had run all over the little dishes, even though I had stored them covered in the fridge overnight.  Hmmmmm.

Granted, there are worse ways to spend a Monday night than licking fluff off my fork while Jack Bauer saves the free world, but still….you get the idea.

You can find the recipe here, where  Stephanie shows off two different cakes made from the same batter.

TWD: World Peace Cookies

When I think of foods that can save the world, I think of rice (Play this game! Feed the hungry!), cow (give the gift of a farm) and peanut M&Ms (they just take the edge off of everything). I do not think of double chocolate salted cookies.


World Peace?

These were nice, and the Other Eater in my Household and I were more than happy to polish a few off over the weekend, but they aren’t something I’m going to run home and bake again the next time we have a bad week at work and need a little culinary comfort. Nobody is sneaking any of these from under the dome after we officially cut ourselves off for the night. They remain safe in the cake dome nearly a week after baking.

Nevertheless, the World Peace cookies offered a nice flavor palate (they say that on the Food Network competitions all the time), what with the sweet and salty combination.  And I detected a bit of a graininess when I chewed them, which I always appreciate. But I actually preferred these cookies the day after I stored them beside a loaf of coffee cake in my cake dome; the cake made the cookies a little softer, and I preferred that to the straight-from-the-oven crispiness they had at first bite.

I’m looking forward to the next Dorie recipe. While these weren’t my favorites, they certainly were good and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring them to a party. You can find the recipe at cookbookhabit (her’s are a lot neater than mine looked from the top).

Salty Sweet Peanutty Treats, for Mom

My mom found this recipe for a cookie-pretzel-peanut-caramel-chocolate cookie back around the holidays.  I was too busy recreating my old-reliables to try this recipe then, but I pulled it up earlier this week when email troubles at work forced me to clean out my deleted mail folder.  After a nice really IT consultant with really bad BO solved my problem, I decided to take the recipe out of my mailbox and into my kitchen. I’m glad I did.

I’m wondering, though, if you would pick one of these cookies up from a buffet table without knowing about the salty-sweet goodness it contains. Are they visually appealing?

sweet and salty

Amazingly, I had just about everything I needed to make these cookies in the house: peanuts left over from a TWD flop, pretzels left over from holiday mock turtles, caramels from something so long ago I can’t even remember, and exactly ONE egg left in the carton. I made a quick trip to the grocery store on the way home from work for cookie mix (SACRILEGE!) and I was good to go.

The cookie base came together quickly, but was so sticky I regretted not changing out of my work clothes before I started baking.  The pretzels and peanuts were easy enough to handle, and then came the caramel topping: it took WAY longer than expected to melt, and you really do have to stir it constantly in order to get it to met evenly.   My arm did not enjoy that.

I hit a wall and went to bed before the cookies were cool enough to top with the chocolate, and I didn’t get to it for a full two days.  No matter: the caramel topping is not much to look at and provided absolutely no temptation while I took a night away from my kitchen for dinner with my in-laws.  When I got to melting the chocolate, it was a little too gloppy to drizzle or flick off of the fork, so I spread a thin layer across the whole thing.

Today, the cookies and nicer looking and perfect for my taste.  Not too much chocolate. More chewy and cake-y than crisp. Sweet AND salty. And you get a little shot of protein from the peanuts.

But I’m just not sure how they look on a table.  I attend a couple of holiday parties every year with people who either purchase beautiful cookies basket from caterers or else spend DAYS making beautiful pizzelle cookies, one of my all time favorite Italian traditions.  Could these sweet and salty treats co-mingle with such fare?

CEiMB: Triple Chocolate Cookies

Maybe my Tuesdays with Dorie experience has spoiled me, but I’m just not that into Ellie’s Triple Chocolate Cookies.

TRiple Chocolate

The cookies came out kinda flat and the crackled a little around the edges (even on my silpat), so they weren’t especially cute by themselves.  But they added a lot of color to the cookie basket I brought to my uncle’s home on Christmas day, and that can’t be undervalued. The basket also had blondies for the kids, eggnog bread, and some of Dorie‘s buttery jam cookies made with cherry jam and pumpkin pie spices. A separate box had mock turtles (pretzels topped with a melted Rollo candy and half a pecan) so that the nut oils couldn’t contaminate anything else that might otherwise be enjoyed by one allergic guest.

It’s not secret that I’m not a huge fan of overly chocolate stuff, but I thought the cookies had potential.  I wasn’t thrilled with them, but the kids were!  They were gone before we all got up from the table!  Points to Ellie for getting the kids to eat whole wheat flour after a H-U-G-E Italian dinner of stuffed shells, meatballs and sausage.

You can find the cookie recipe at The Feast Within, including the blogger’s improvements to make less flat cookies. Her photos highlight her beautiful cookies and successful modifications.

TWD Rewind: Black and White Banana Loaf

This week, TWD is attacking a chocolate-chocolate cupcake. I wrinkled my nose at this because 1) this sounded a little too chocolate-y for me, and 2) I’m cleaning out the fridge before vacation next week, so I set the Way-Back Machine for August and made Dorie’s marbled chocolate and banana pound cake.  Yum.


This loaf cake was wonderful: The opposite of dry. In fact, it leaves an oily spot on a paper napkin if you put it down to chew.  It’s dense. It’s Sweetly and subtly banana flavored with real live fruit rather than some artificial flavoring agent. Not too chocolate-y. But I think it could be better.

My batter was a little runny, and so the swirls of yellow and chocolate cake were not quite swirls as much as they were globs or even one giant trough of chocolate with yellow lining the bottom and sides. It did not get better when the cake rose in the oven.

Dorie’s recipe also called for a bit of rum in the batter, which upon tasting the cake I found no need for (keep in mind that I added bourbon to my pumpkin muffins. I’m surprised at my reaction to the rum, too). The rum really didn’t add anything to the already nice combination of chocolate and banana. I think I’ll leave it out next time, thus simplifying the taste and making my batter slightly less runny.  I have high hopes.

But let me point out that some of my TWD colleagues had great success with their cakes: The Repressed Pastry Chef made darling square cupcakes, which she always photographs beautifully; Engineer Baker made similarly small, similarly darling cakes; Bungalow Barbara has picture-perfect marbling; and  Confectiona’s Realm served hers with chocolate sauce for a extra oompf.

You can find this recipe at A Year in the Kitchen.

To see how Dorie’s other bakers did with the chocolate-chocolate cupcakes, visit some of the bakers’ sites.