Peanut Butter M&M Cookies!

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It doesn’t get better than this…right!?…I made these cookies last week because I was leaving to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. I know how much they love my baking, so I thought what a great opportunity to create a new recipe. They’re very similar to my monster cookies except there’s no oats or butterscotch chips. I was going to use just M&Ms in them but then didn’t have quite enough, so I threw in half a cup of my favorite Ghirardelli chocolate chips! And I’m sure you could guess this, but they’ve been approved by my 2 year old niece!

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I used all butter (unsalted), creamy natural peanut butter, and all brown sugar. They came out so much better than I thought. They are so soft, thick, and very chewy! My favorite!

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I ended up making the cookie dough and chilling it for at least an hour and half because I had to go do some errands. I came back, turned on the oven, scooped, and baked. It worked great! You don’t have to chill them that long (20-30 minutes should work fine after scooping, before scooping–chill for about an hour). These cookies turned out oh so yummy!

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I can’t believe that summer is almost over! I start my last semester of pastry school next week! It has been so much fun, and I am very excited for this last semester of classes! I will be learning advanced breads and plating desserts as well as running the student-run bakery. I hope you get a chance to make these cookies! They’re wonderfully delicious!

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Ingredients

1 cup softened, unsalted butterIMG_1299

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 ¼ cup All Purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ – 2 cups M&Ms

½ cup Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth. There should be no chunks of butter. Do not beat it too long or the cookies will spread.
  3. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Then add the vanilla. Scrape the bowl in between the addition of each ingredient.
  4. Measure all dry ingredients and add them after the eggs and vanilla. Mix on a slow speed a little. Finally, add them M&Ms and chocolate chips until combined.
  5. Scoop to desired size. My cookie scoop gave me yield of about 45 cookies. You can refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes to help decrease spread. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

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Enjoy!

Almond Macarons

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First of all, I love macarons! I was very excited when I heard I was going to be learning how to make them this past spring in one of my classes! I love the chewiness of them and that they can come in almost any flavor. These almond ones are amazing! I also made some chocolate ones recently that were…To Die For! Yum!

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These pictures are from when I made them in class, but I did just recently make them for my brother’s wedding! Everyone LOVED them! I had some leftover chocolate Italian buttercream and used that to fill some of them! They were quite yummy! I added a little almond extract to the buttercream filling, and it just made it so much better! Vanilla buttercream works well too!

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Macarons are very tricky to make. They take lots of practice! I’m still working on my technique and making sure I don’t over whip my meringue. They are definitely a challenge, but that’s what I love about them.

This recipe is one I got from school, which was taken from Sugar Baby Confections by Gesine Bullock-Prado. I filled them with vanilla Italian buttercream, but Swiss buttercream could be used and also in the form of chocolate or almond.

Ingredients

7 oz. Almond flour

7 oz. Confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp. egg white powder or Meringue powder

3 egg whites

1/2-1 tsp. pure almond extract

1/2 tsp. salt

7 oz. granulated sugar

1/2 cup water, divided

food coloring if desired (usually 2-3 drops, but a few more is fine if needed)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioner’s sugar, almond flour, and meringue powder. Set aside.  IMG_0603
  2. In the bowl of a mixer using the whip attachment, add the egg whites and salt. Add the granulated sugar and half the water to a small pot.
  3. Start whipping the egg whites a little until frothy and shut off the mixer especially if the egg whites are cold (they will take longer to whip).
  4. Start heating the sugar in the pot (Do not stir). Using a candy thermometer, set it to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the mixer with the egg whites back on. Once the sugar has reached 240 degrees Fahrenheit, pour it slowly down the side of the bowl, while the whites are whipping until the pot is empty. Add the almond extract. Add the coloring after it has cooled and the mixing bowl doesn’t feel so hot. Let it keep whipping until it reaches medium soft peaks.
  5. Once medium soft peaks have been achieved, mix in about 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients. Add another third and fold in gently. It should look homogenous and have no lumps. Add the last of the meringue and fold in.
  6. Using a piping bag with a large round tip, pipe each cookie to desired size on a parchment lined pan. My batches yielded about 40 sandwich cookies, so about 80 single cookies.
  7. Let them sit out for about half an hour or until they have formed a skin. Preheat the oven after about 15 minutes of sitting out.
  8. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool completely before filling. I used Italian buttercream but you could use Swiss buttercream. These recipes can be found on the categories box under Fillings, Frosting, and Buttercream. To make vanilla buttercream, just add 2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract. To make almond buttercream, start with 1 tsp. of pure almond extract and taste it. Add more as needed. No amaretto is needed to make it.

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These freeze very well too! Enjoy!!

 

Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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These gluten-free coconut chocolate chip cookies are SO good you won’t taste the difference! They turned out so much better than I ever expected they would. I also thought it would take me more than 3 batches to figure out the right combination of ingredients.

I had found a really good coconut chocolate chip cookie recipe a few years ago and wanted to see if I could make them gluten-free. After some testing and tweaking, I found the winner!

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This third test batch is very close to my first variation, but I used a combination of brown and granulated sugar. Instead of all coconut oil, I used half shortening. I also froze them before I baked them to help prevent them from spreading too much like the first batch. The result…a thick and chewy cookie! Tastes just as good as it looks! And you can’t even tell it’s gluten-free by looking at it! Needless to say I am very happy with the end result!

 

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil         Coconut6

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup almond flour

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Semi-sweet 60% as usual.)

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

½ cup chopped pecans

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Directions

  1. Cream together the coconut oil, shortening, and both sugars in the mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.
  2. Add the egg and mix on medium high for about 30 seconds or until incorporated. If the egg is cold, it could make the coconut oil form chunks and you don’t want that. This is why I recommend turning up the speed after adding the egg. Otherwise, you could add a room temperature egg and would not have to turn the speed up on the mixer.
  3. Next add the vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the almond flour, baking powder, salt, coconut, and chocolate chips. Add the pecans at this time if using them.
  5. Scoop onto 2 parchment lined cookie pans. Freeze for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven at this time to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Yield is approximately 21 cookies depending on size of desired cookies.

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Everyone can enjoy these cookies!

Amaretto Orange Cake 2.0

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My Spring semester finished up last week and I’m happy to have a break, at least until my summer class starts. This is the cake I made and practiced for a few weeks before our actual final. It was inspired by one of my favorite cocktails, an Amaretto Sour. It’s an orange flavored cake with Amaretto mascarpone mousse, and almond Italian buttercream! It took a lot of testing of different cake recipes until I finally found this one that had the best taste, texture, and flavor! The process was stressful, but it was worth it! I am so happy with how my cake turned out! I great reviews on it too by everyone!

Family, friends, and co-workers all tried it each week. With their critiques, I was able to make a wonderful Amaretto Orange Cake! I think I made a total of 3 cakes before I finally figured out which recipe I wanted to use and how much flavoring to add to the cake batter, filling, and buttercream.

My brother had tried a couple versions of it. The second one was the best and he jokingly called it Orange Cake 2.0. I liked it so much I decided to name it Amaretto Orange Cake 2.0!

Here’s the recipe for the cake. I recommend making it at least one day before torting (cutting into layers).

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Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

8 egg whites

4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. orange zest

4 cups AP Flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray and line (cut parchment circles) 2 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg whites 1-2 at a time. Scrape in between each addition of the whites. Add vanilla extract and orange zest.
  4. Sift all the dry ingredients. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk and orange juice. Mix until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide between the two pans but only fill each about half way. Use the extra batter to make about 6 cupcakes.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until done. The cakes will spring back when touched or until a toothpick comes out clean. The cakes take about 40-45 minutes. Cupcakes will bake for at least 15-20 minutes all depending on your oven.

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For the filling, I made an Amaretto mascarpone mousse! It’s very easy to make and quite delicious!! I love Amaretto!

Amaretto Mascarpone Mousse

Ingredients

10 oz. Mascarpone cheese

2.5 oz. powdered sugar

14 oz. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

3-4 Tbsp. Amaretto (I used 4!)

Directions

  1. Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl.
  2. Add the heavy cream slowly, while mixing or when it’s off.
  3. Once it becomes thicker, add the almond extract and amaretto.
  4. The whisk should hold a firm peak.
  5. There will be leftovers, but its so good! Use as desired or just eat it.

The buttercream I used was an Almond Italian Buttercream. I love buttercream…a lot! This recipe was taken form the Culinary Institute of America (minus the flavoring).

Almond Italian Buttercream

Ingredients

1 lb. sugar

4 oz. water

8 oz. egg whites

1 lb. 8 oz. butter, chopped into small pieces

2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Amaretto

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract plus a splash

Directions

  1. Put the sugar and water in a medium pot. Heat to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure there are no dry pockets of sugar before cooking. Do not stir. Use a candy thermometer.
  2. Place the egg whites in the mixing bowl. When the thermometer reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit, turn on the mixer with the whisk attachment.
  3. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the whipped egg whites slowly near the side of the bowl while the mixer is on (medium high).
  4. Once all the sugar syrup is poured in, let it cool until the bottom of the bowl is cool to enough to touch. (about 10-15 minutes depending on the room temperature)
  5. Add butter slowly, in small chunks. Once it looks a little more like buttercream, it can be added faster. This will take some time.
  6. Add flavoring last once it all comes together to look like buttercream. See Swiss Buttercream for pictures. (There will be leftovers of this as well.)

I also made an orange simple syrup to soak the cake, but the cake itself is already very moist so it could be left out. I used half a cup of water and half a cup of orange juice (fresh or from a carton is fine) and 1 cup of sugar. Place it in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool. I recommend making this at least one day before assembling the cake. If using this orange simple syrup, brush onto each cake layer as you start to assemble and before any filling goes in.

To assemble the whole cake, first cut each 8-inch cake in half. Trim off a thin layer of the top of it isn’t very flat. Fill a piping bag with a little bit of buttercream to create what is called the dam. Pipe using a small star tip around the top of the first layer. Fill with a the Amaretto mascarpone mousse so that it is level with the buttercream ring. Repeat for the next two layers. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

I used a cake turn table to help get even and smooth sides. If you don’t have that just ice the best you can. The cake will still taste amazing!

My garnish was florentines, since my flavors were orange and almond. I thought it would be perfect for my cake. I also made these a day or two before assembling the cake. I got the recipe from school, which was found on chow.com.

Florentines

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Ingredients

1 1/4 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. AP flour

2 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest

1/3 c. granulated sugar

2 oz. unsalted butter

3 oz. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (I didn’t have any so I used a tablespoon of almond milk. Regular milk should work too.)

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 sheet trays with parchment.
  2. Mix together the almonds, flour, and orange zest in a bowl.
  3. Place the sugar, butter, corn syrup, heavy cream, and salt into a small pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, pour over the almond mixture and stir together until everything is coated. Divide between the two pans.
  5. These spread a lot so I recommend using pans with edges. Bake for 5 minutes and then rotate for another 3-4 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven. They should be golden brown but the edges do get a little darker.
  6. Let cool and firm up. They are very crispy and quite delicious.

 

Break these into shards and place on the side of the cake to finish it! The first picture has maraschino cherries on top. It was a last minute decision, but I soaked them in orange juice and amaretto! They were good but would have been even better if I had soaked them longer, a week maybe would be best.

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Above was my second variation. Below was my first variation!

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I hope you enjoy this! It’s an awesome flavor combination!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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Chocolate Chip Cookies are probably one of my most favorite things to bake and eat just like a lot of other people. It was one of the first things my mom taught me how to make, which may be why they are one of my favorite things to bake. I didn’t always enjoy baking, especially when I was little and just learning. I grew to love it more as I got a little older.

Her recipe uses all shortening, which I love dearly. However, this time I wanted to try something new. I used 50% shortening and 50% unsalted butter… Let me tell you something, these are my absolute best chocolate chip cookies! I was so happy when I took them out of the oven. I always wait 10 minutes to try one after I take them out so I don’t burn my mouth but still get to enjoy them while they are warm. These cookies were so thick and chewy. The chips were still melty. They were a little taste of heaven.

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The recipe normally yields about 4-5 dozen. My mom had asked me to make a giant pizza size cookie for work the next day. Whenever I make one of those, I’ll usually get about 12-15 cookies after I fill the pan. It’s important to leave about an inch from the edge of the pan so the cookie dough doesn’t go over the sides. I learned that lesson the hard way the first time I made it. NEVER use the whole batch of cookie dough in the pizza pan.

As you can see the cookie will spread and fill in the pan. The pizza pan I used was 12 inches in diameter.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugarChocChipCookie1

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% like I do in all my other recipe posts.)

Toasted walnuts or pecans can be added if desired.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
  3. Cream the shortening, butter, and both sugars in the mixing bowl using the paddle attachment.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl in between.
  5. Add the vanilla. Then slowly add in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Mix until combined.
  6. Scoop cookies onto ungreased cookie pans or line with parchment. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly, golden brown. The pizza size cookie will bake about 15-17 minutes. Watch it carefully once 15 minutes have gone by.

 

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I know you will all enjoy these cookies!

Cherry Almond Biscotti

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Cherry Almond Biscotti anyone?

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This is a picture of the Cherry Walnut Biscotti with fresh orange zest and juice that I made for my Pastry 101 final. Judges and other people gobbled them up, and I only had a couple to take home. I had to make five things total and most of it was all gone at the end of judging. My tabled included: Cherry Walnut (and orange) Biscotti, Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies, Cranberry Orange scones, Almond Milk Bread, and a Peanut Butter Pie with crushed peanuts and pretzels and a drizzle of ganache! It was a great couple of days and I was very happy with how everything turned out!…and people’s feedback.

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This recipe is for a Cherry Almond Biscotti. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations! I also have a good recipe for Cherry Almond Scones that you can expect this summer. It uses fresh cherries and is quite amazing!

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Biscotti means “twice baked.” Both bakes are equally important but the second one is a little trickier. You don’t want to underbake it or it won’t be crunchy. On the other side, if you overbake it the second time then it will be so hard that you can’t even bite into it.

Ingredients

¾ cup granulated sugarCherryAlmondBiscotti5

2 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. milk or lemon juice

1 ½ tsp. Pure Almond extract

½ tsp. Pure Vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup slivered almonds

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1 egg white

1 Tbsp. water

Granulated sugar

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine ¾ cup granulated sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment or use hand mixer.
  3. Mix for 2-3 minutes or until thick and pale yellow in color. Add oil, milk or lemon juice, almond and vanilla extract
  4. Mix for 1-2 minutes or until well mixed. Combine flour, almonds, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to egg mixture. Add the cherries last.
  5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide it by weight or by eye in half. With lightly floured hands, shape into two, 8 inch by 2 inch logs. Place 3-4 inches apart on greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Flatten the logs a little.
  7. Combine the egg white and water and brush onto logs. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheet 10-15 minutes. Try cutting slices. If they are cracking badly or breaking apart, let cool for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Cut logs diagonally into ½ inch slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut-side down on baking sheet.
  10. Bake a second time for another 8-10 minutes and then flip the slices. Bake another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. They may need an additional 5 minutes or so. For the second bake, it was almost 30 minutes before I took them out of the oven.

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Garnish the biscotti by drizzling or dipping in white chocolate. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or on its own.

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***To make the Cherry Walnut & Orange Biscotti, replace the milk with 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice. Add 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest instead of the almond extract and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Replace the almonds with chopped walnuts.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve made these cookies many times but this time…they are the BEST they’ve ever been! And for all you chocolate lovers, you must make these cookies! I tried something different and used half unsalted butter and half shortening. The result was a very thick and chewy cookie. I also added pecans and walnuts to some of the cookie dough which I find really enhances a cookie. My family was in town this last weekend and absolutely loved them! They were exactly how every cookie should be.

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They are best fresh out of the oven when they’re still warm and the chocolate chips are melted…as is any cookie, but these ones especially. They would make great ice cream sandwiches too!

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I highly recommend making them! My favorite is with toasted pecans. They’re oh so yummy!

Here’s the recipe!

 

 

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)dblchoccookie5

½ cup shortening

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 ¼ cup AP Flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional but strongly encouraged!)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the AP flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Chop your choice of nut if desired and toast for about 3-4 minutes. When you can smell them they are done. Set aside to cool. This will add extra flavor to the cookie.
  4. Combine brown sugar, sugar, butter, and shortening into the mixing bowl. With the paddle, cream until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
  6. Add the dry ingredients slowly.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix until combined.
  8. Scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about 8-11 minutes.

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Yields 50-60 cookies depending on size.

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