Guava and Cream Cheese Stuffed Muffins

So close to perfect! I know I’ll nail it next time.

1. Use the smitten kitchen blueberry muffin batter.

2. MORE guava! I added small squares of guava paste to the middle, but I was pretty conservative because I worried the paste would leak out and burn. But I could have added MUCH more, so I will next time!

3. Guava paste is probably the stickiest ingredient I’ve ever worked with.

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/08/perfect-blueberry-muffins/

Peanut Butter Cookies

I had a craving for these during the blizzard, and this recipe delivered.

I followed the commenters’ suggestions and used butter instead of shortening and used 3/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup white sugar. I also added a little more salt because sweet and salty is my shit. They by no means turned out salty, but I like the little extra kick that a pinch more salt gives.

This recipe makes around 20 small/medium cookies. Check after 6 minutes, ended up baking for 8 overall. Also freezed these and baked some more later to great success.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10373/dads-favorite-peanut-butter-cookies/

Gingerbread

Yum yum! I actually didn’t know there was an original version of gingerbread that is not in cookie form! As easy as brownies and just as delicious as the cookies. It was a hit everywhere I took it. It also freezes well.

1. Doubled the spices per the comments.
2. Used unsulphured molasses per the comments.
3. Used an 8 x 8 instead of a 9 x 9 pan, which was fine. It did come out pretty think though!
4. Weirdly, despite (3), I checked the gingerbread after 45 minutes and it was definitely done (the instructions say bake for an hour).

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/7322/favorite-old-fashioned-gingerbread/

Pie Crust

This was a lot easier than I thought, and extremely tasty. No food processor or pastry blender necessary. The link below has great pictures for how the dough is supposed to look and how to mix it with your plain old fingers.

It also froze beautifully. Next time I’d definitely double it!

For rolling: Roll it out between two sheets of parchment. Roll it larger than you think, because it’s not going to be flat in the pie dish, so make the edges come out a least a few inches past the edge of the dish when you’re measuring the dough by placing the dish upside down on the rolled out dough.

Also, once the crust is in the pie shell, fold down the top to make it extra thick to prevent burning in the oven. If you’re parbaking it first, place some parchment inside and some rice to weigh it down. Or another pie pan.

Note: This recipe is not an exact science. The second time I made it, I ended up having to add at least twice as much water to the dough as the recipe called for. The goal is the correct consistency, where the dough is sticky enough to form into a ball. Don’t be afraid to add as much water as you need to get the right consistency.

http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to-make-perfect-pie-crust-dough.aspx

Pumpkin Pie

This was a really tasty recipe from Serious Eats. The only thing I did differently was increase the spice (per the comments) and pre-roast the pumpkin with the sugar and spices.

It came out creamy, flavorful, not too sweet but not too squashy.

And the crust was easy too, see separate post!

Pro Tip: I made two pies this year, one in my pyrex pie dish and the other in a cheap store bought aluminum pie plate. The store bought plate is much smaller, so the pie took less time, and I put too much crust in the pan so it was too thick. Next time make sure the crust is thin enough in the smaller pan and pre bakes enough before adding the filling.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/11/extra-smooth-pumpkin-pie-recipe.html

Buckeyes

So tasty! Made these for the first time for Thanksgiving. They are a little high maintenance, but worth the effort for a special occasion.

Notes:

  1. Less butter, more peanut butter. When I first tasted the PB filling, it tasted way more like butter.
  2. Add some salt. I love a good salty sweet combo, and adding a couple of pinches of salt made these turn out really tasty.
  3. Freeze, not refrigerate, the peanut butter balls before dipping in chocolate.
  4. Use a toothpick to dip, then leave a little of the top exposed so they have a little “eye,” and are true Buckeyes. The recipe I followed did not have this in the instructions, but it makes the dipping process a lot easier if you don’t have to roll the entire ball around in the chocolate to get it completely coated.
  5. I ended up with a decent amount of leftover chocolate. Next time, I’d use a much smaller bowl (like the littlest pyrex tupperware containers I own) and start with enough chocolate to fill the bowl, then add as needed.

http://shewearsmanyhats.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-balls-recipe/

Pumpkin Muffins

Yum! Loved these. A few notes.

1. I used canola oil and pumpkin pie spice, they turned out great.
2. Try with a bit less sugar next time.
3. This makes around 16 muffins, so don’t spray the whole pan for the second batch!
4. Pro tips on muffins from The Kitchn: Don’t overmix, don’t overfill the cups (3/4 full is good), take the muffins out of the tin after a few minutes or they’ll overcook.
5. Divine warm with cream cheese.
6. UPDATE: These freeze really well! I put them in a freezer bag and squeezed out as much air as possible and having been snacking on them here and there for weeks.

http://lovelylittlekitchen.com/best-ever-pumpkin-muffins/

Strawberry Icebox Cake

This was good, but I think has the potential to be amazing. Tips for next time:

1. I made this by substituting bourbon for vanilla extract and substituting two of the graham cracker layers with ginger snaps. Delicious, but next time more bourbon in the whipped cream. Couldn’t taste the bourbon in the cake, but I could in the whipped cream by itself.

2. The recipe as written isn’t really meant to span a 9 x 13 pan, which isn’t very clear in the recipe. It’s supposed to be 6 graham crackers wide and long. I made it slightly bigger and thus should have made a little bit more whipped cream. It can also be built and stand by itself on a tray, you just have to be more careful when building it.

http://www.thekitchn.com/summer-recipe-nobake-strawberry-icebox-cake-117900

Memom’s Peanut Butter Pie

I know this ridiculously delicious PB pie recipe by heart, but since I don’t make it on the regularĀ (if I did, I would probably break all of the world’s scales), there are always a few things I miss.

1. Timing

This pie takes time, but it is so, so worth it. Ideally, bake the crust and make the pudding in the late morning/early afternoon to take to a dinner that night. The pudding takes about 20 minutes to cook, then at least a few hours to set up.

The best way to do this is to prepare the crust, put it in the oven, and start the pudding while the crust is in the oven (maybe after you’ve washed a few things in the meantime). The pudding needs regular, but not constant, attention. When the crust is done, pop it in the freezer. Then get back to the pudding. More or less by the time the pudding is done, the crust is cooled enough in the freezer.

2. The Graham Cracker Crust recipe

I use the Kitchn’s, and it’s great.

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-graham-cracker-crust-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-36895

3. Jell-o Cook n’ Serve Pudding

There’s something about this pudding that I can’t quite replicate from scratch. I’m quite convinced it’s some sort of chemical that I probably shouldn’t be eating very much of, but since I don’t make this all the time I’m very unworried about it.

It takes a while to cook (at least 20 minutes). And to set up, I’d give it a couple of hours. I had a bit of a harrowing drive to a friend’s dinner party in which the pie was sloshing around a bit and I was trying very hard not to get it all over my car.

4. Peanut Butter to Powdered Sugar Ratio

I always end up dumping too much powdered sugar in with the peanut butter, then have to add tons more PB to compensate. You don’t need as much powdered sugar as you think!

5. Whipped Cream
Cream doubles in size when whipped. Use 1 tsp of powdered sugar per cup of heavy cream (pre whipped). Add after it starts forming peaks.

6. Taking to a friend’s
I never bake this pie unless there are witnesses, otherwise it all gets eaten by me in a matter of days or day. The best trick I’ve found for transporting a pudding pie topped with whipped cream is to freeze it (whipped cream topping included). Then it’s not sloshing around everywhere. When you get to your destination, pop it in the fridge. It may not thaw completely, but it’s better to have it a little on the harder consistency side than the goopy side, though goopy is still delicious.

7. Shopping List
For some reason, I always forget to buy at least one ingredient when I make this. Here is an exhaustive shopping list.

Graham crackers (10-12 crackers)
Butter (6 tbsp)
Cook n Serve vanilla pudding
Milk (3 cups, a quart is more than enough)
Non-natural peanut butter
Powdered sugar
Heavy cream

Fudgy Brownies

UPDATE: Reminder, you can use the microwave to melt the butter instead of a double boiler.

This is it! The homemade brownie recipe of my dreams. Fudgy and delicious, like box brownies, but better. These truly are one of the easiest and fastest ways to one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.And really easy too. One bowl, bake for 20-25 minutes. I added peanut butter chips, and they were delicious. Butterscotch chips I’m sure would be amazing too. Very addictive, only make if you have somewhere else to take them:)

UPDATE: I used a 9 x 9 pan and they still turned out great, just a little thinner. I haven’t made them in my new oven yet, so despite this they still came out a touch underdone, even for me. So keep them in a little longer.

Also! Added peanut butter swirl oh my god so good!

UPDATE: Twice now these have turned out just a little too fudgey rich (I know). It’s possible my tastes have changed, but maybe try baking them a bit longer. Last time I baked a double recipe for 35 mins and I don’t think it was enough.

http://www.inspiredtaste.net/24412/cocoa-brownies-recipe/

Fudgy Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies