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Friday, July 31, 2009

Ooey Gooey Brownies

This isn't really a recipe so much as it is a technique that I recently learned. It's super quick and yields ooey, gooey brownies, hence the name. They could also be called Rocky Road Brownies, I guess, but since I omitted the nuts, I'll just stick with Ooey, Gooey Brownies. :)

Ooey Gooey Brownies
(printable recipe)

1 box brownie mix (any kind will do, with or without nuts)
mini marshmallows (probably ~ 1/2 a bag)
~1/2 cup chocolate chips
~1 tsp. shortening

Bake brownies according to package directions. When almost done, sprinkle over a generous layer of mini marshmallows and put back in the oven. Remove when marshmallows are puffed and just beginning to turn brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals. When just starting to melt, add the shortening and stir until thoroughly mixed. When completely melted, drizzle over the marshmallow-covered brownies. Cool completely. Cut into squares, and serve, preferrably with some ice cold milk.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers - Mallows & Milan Cookies

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. The rules stated that we could do one or both cookies, so I chose the easy route and only did one: Milan Cookies. (And I halved the recipe, too, since I had leftover cake in the house, too.) :)

I wasn't a big fan of these, perhaps because I was lazy and didn't make my own filling but instead spread on some Nutella. The cookies themselves were good and crunchy, but I preferred them plain. Oh, and I ended up with small, medium, and large cookies since the piping instructions were a bit vague. I ended up piping a heaping/mounded stripe of dough ~ 1/2 inch wide x 2 inches long, leaving plenty of space between. That ended up being much closer to the size of the Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies I've seen before.

Results: Glad I tried them, but probably won't be making them again.

Milan Cookies
Original recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website. This is the recipe I used.

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites (large eggs)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
Cookie filling - Nutella

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe .5-inch x 2-inch sections of batter onto a silpat-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
7. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Coconut Cake

I've never been too terribly fond of coconut. However, most everyone else in my family loves it. So, I finally gave in and got my grandmother's recipe for the Coconut Cake she makes every year (at least for Christmas, in addition to other holidays/family gatherings). Below is her recipe as I received it, aloing with two options for frostings. Traditionally, it's made with the 7-minute frosting. I always go the store-bought coconut route since I don't have the time or patience to grate my own coconut. She usually uses frozen shredded coconut, but I opted for the flakes purely for aesthetics.

Coconut Cake

Duncan Hines White Cake Mix
1 coconut, grated, or 2 pks. frozen coconut, thawed
Water from coconut (or 1 C. water if using frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
Coconut flavoring
Seven Minute Frosting (recipe follows)

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Boil water and sugar a few minutes to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and if using water, add a few drops of flavoring. Cool.

7-Minute Frosting (this makes enough to frost 3 layers)

3 unbeaten egg whites
2 cups sugar
dash of salt
8 Tbsp. water
3 tsp. white corn syrup [ahem, that's 1 TBSP!]
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all EXCEPT vanilla in top of double boiler. Place over boiling water in bottom half of pan. Beat constantly with mixer while cooking. Cook about 7 minutes or until it will stand in stiff peaks. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla.

Place one layer on cake plate and punch holes in it with a tooth pick. Spoon some of the coconut syrup over layer to soak in. Spread on some of the frosting. Sprinkle coconut on layer. Repeat for other layers. Frost sides and top with frosting and coconut.

Another good, quick frosting for coconut Sheet Cake

Coconut Sour Cream Frosting

2 cups sugar
1 – 16 oz. carton sour cream
1 1/2 cups whipped topping
1 pkg. frozen coconut

Mix all together and spread on cake. NOTE: must be kept refrigerated.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pam's Pantry: A Review

No, I'm not reviewing my blog. There actually is another Pam's Pantry (http://www.pamspantry.net) that sells a variety of mixes that are "the best darn gourmet dip mixes in the country!" Pam's Pantry is a small business that began in Michigan a few years ago, and quite a while back Pam sent me some samples to review. I am deeply sorry that it has taken me so long to write about her products.

So, on to what she sent to me: Spinach Surprise, Sweet & Sassy Salsa, Bac'n & Tomato, Cheesy Garlic, and Strawberries 'N Cream.

By far, my favorite mix that she sent was the Sweet & Sassy Salsa. It was so good, I don't think this even lasted a day in my house. I'll definitely be ordering several packets of it. (And, by the way, her prices are very reasonable. Each packet is $3.50, 3 for $10, or $3 each when you order 4 or more.)

The Spinach Surprise was good, too, but it made a lot. Since I didn't have a party to take it to, it took us a while to eat it. But, it made a great veggie dip. I used fat-free sour cream and low-fat mayo, and it turned out a nice consistency.

The Cheesy Garlic tasted similar to a spread I've made using Cheese Whiz, cream cheese, garlic powder, & cayenne pepper. Great on toast or crackers.

The Bac'n & Tomato dip was not one I enjoyed. It contains imitation bacon bits (which I don't like), and the flavor of the bacon bits was too strong...tasted too 'fake' for me. However, my in-laws seemed to like it, so I left the rest with them.

The Strawberries 'N Cream was okay on bagels, as Pam suggests. I don't think I'd use it as a pie filling as recommended. The flavor was a bit too artificial for me. Again, it makes a lot (2-3 cups).

Overall, I liked the products, and I'll definitely order some salsa mix from her. Pam's suggestions for serving as well as yields for each packet are helpful in determining how to use them. I'm sure if you poured the mix in a bowl and mixed up everything, it would be quite easy to adjust the amount you make to your needs.

So Pam's Pantry, again, I am VERY sorry for taking so long to review your products, but I greatly appreciate you giving me the opportunity to try something new!