Cinna Stix

OKAY, OKAY I’M BACK. Sorry that took so long. I’ve still been cooking, I just haven’t had time to blog anything in months. But now that my favorite cooking season is right around the corner I’ll try to be better about sharing what I’m up to in the kitchen.

This hurrr is an extremely easy and satisfying recipe for something we all know and love whether we admit it or not: Domino’s Cinna Stix. Because sometimes you don’t want to order a pizza you’re not craving just to have these bad boys delivered curbside.

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These cinnamon coated dough pillows (#metaphor) come together in just about 20 minutes and require very little prep and cleanup. So, perfect for satiating last minute sweet tooth demands.

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This recipe is adapted from food.com.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag store bought pizza dough – – Trader Joe’s has a great one that’s only $1.29

1/4 cup margarine minus a tsp or so, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1 3/4 tsp cinnamon

8 oz. confectioners sugar

2-3 tbsp milk + more if needed

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

For the cinna stix:

Preheat the oven to the suggested baking temp for your store bought dough. (I use Trader Joe’s and their temp is 425 F).

Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Use a whisk to eradicate any lumps!

Stretch the dough into a large rectangle. It should be thin but not translucent. Brush with the melted margarine, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Slice vertically and then 8 times horizontally so that you’re left with roughly 16 sticks. Bake according to the instructions that came with the dough. (I baked mine for 14 minutes). The cinnastix should be golden brown on the edges and the sugar should no longer look raw. Be cautious when removing from the oven since the sugar will be extremely hot.

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For the icing:

While the dough is baking, place the confectioners sugar in a bowl, then add the butter, milk, and vanilla. If the icing is too thick, add more milk by the half tablespoon.

Once cool enough to eat, dip the cinnastix in the frosting and enjoy!

Cinnastix are best when eaten the day of, so either invite friends over or gorge yourself on hot cinnamon sugar bread.

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Birthday Cake Truffles

Oreos are like my Mr. Big a la Sex and the City. I go back to them time and time again no matter how bad they make me feel (i.e. this directly correlates to how many I eat). My friends warn me about repeating bad decisions, but something keeps me coming back. I’ve dated them all: the birthday cake, the mint, the double stuf… no matter the flavor, they’re all my old standby.

This recipe gives air to an old flame; it’s amazing what adding cream cheese and chocolate to a relationship can do. These Birthday Cake Truffles are sort of a hybrid between a truffle and a cake pop; the texture is so creamy you wouldn’t know Oreos were the primary ingredient. Though delicious, they are exceedingly sweet, so have a cool glass of milk ready! There I go, pushing milk again.

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INGREDIENTS:

16 oz. white chocolate chip morsels, melted

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (not whipped– save it for your bagels!)

1 package Birthday Cake Oreos (you can use golden or chocolate but for the classic cake pop taste, go for golden!)

2 tbsp. rainbow jimmies

1 tbsp rainbow nonpareils

DIRECTIONS:

Set aside a baking sheet.

Put Oreos in a food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms, about 45 seconds– I used to use a meat mallet to smash the Oreos, but it never got the crumbs fine enough.

Dump Oreo crumbs into medium sized mixing bowl with cream cheese. Mix well, then add jimmies until combined. Roll Oreo mixture into balls that are about 1 inch in size. Set on baking sheet. Let chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

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One by one, dip each Oreo ball into the melted chocolate, then set back on the baking sheet. I used a fork to dip the truffles into the chocolate, which was pretty successful. In the past I’ve used toothpicks and they always fell out!

Put a pinch of nonpareils on each ball as you go. Don’t wait until the chocolate has set or none will stick!

Wait until the chocolate has hardened, then eat!

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Jumbo Sugar Cookie

As much as I love baking, sometimes I’m not in the mood to go through all the setting up and cleaning up involved. That’s why this recipe, courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction, caught my eye– it just makes one huge sugar cookie. Meaning, it’s a much smaller project than making a full batch. It requires lower ingredient measures and therefore, smaller baking tools can be used.  I LOVE when a recipe only needs 1 or 2 small mixing bowls and teaspoon/tablespoon measures. Small bowls can be popped in the dishwasher and more of them can simultaneously fit on drying mats. Aka, quicker and easier cleanup. Oh, and did I mention the best part? If you only make one giant cookie you don’t have to worry about cookie vultures*; if there’s only one cookie, they know who it’s for.

*A cookie vulture is a person or animal that circles the kitchen while you’re baking and snags a cookie before it’s even hit the cooling rack. When I’m not the one baking, I am one hundred percent a cookie vulture.

This is the first time I’ve made a small batch version of a classic, and part of the reason I chose this recipe to be my first is that it still calls for an oven. I keep seeing recipes for single serving microwave brownies and microwave cakes, but there’s something about *baking* by *microwave* that feels wrong to me. Would it taste the same? Maybe. Would I think it tasted the same? Most likely not.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons beaten egg (crack the egg, beat it, and use 2 tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 Tablespoons sprinkles — the more colorful, the better!

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or cover it with a piece of parchment paper.

In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the 2 Tbsp of egg and the vanilla extract.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overdo it!

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Flip the cookie dough out of the bowl and onto the baking sheet so that it looks like a tall ball (if it’s too flat it will be way too thin!). Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. I took mine out at 13 minutes because I wanted an ooey gooey center, but that’s your call! Just remember that it will continue baking for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven, so don’t overcook it.

Allow the cookie to cool completely on the cookie sheet– no cooling rack needed here.

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4th of July Berry Pie

The past few weeks I’ve been in a heightened state of spring cleaning. Throwing out random receipts (except the ones from Sur and Moonlight Rollerway in LA, obv), old shoes, and a terrible hat collection has been my go-to pastime. As I ran out of things to toss from my room, I set my sights on the refrigerator. In it, I found remnants of my insanely brief smoothie faze: a bag of frozen mixed berries. Next to this sad ghost of a healthier me sat an unopened bag of frozen cherries, which were leftover from last week’s cherry pie. In a fit of glorious, cleaning-driven energy I whipped up this five berry pie. It’s based on a recipe from Food Network, though I changed it a little bit to make it tarter since I love a good tang in my pie. I also used a star shaped cookie cutter from Christmas to make cute stars to top the pie with, turning what would be a regular, ho-hum-da-dum pie into a stunningly fabulous Fourth of July Berry Pie.

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INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of frozen berries, thawed (I used cherries, strawbs, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

2 Pillsbury pie crusts

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (you can use a little more or a little less depending on how sweet you want the filling to be)

4-5 tbsp cornstarch (depending on how thick you want it to be– I’d start with 4 and work your way up if you need to add more)

1/8 tsp vanilla

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp butter, to dot

1 tbsp granulated sugar, to sprinkle

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DIRECTIONS:

Place berries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot berries and mix well. Mix in the lemon and vanilla. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool– I always lose patience and just wait until it’s not hot… oh well. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place one Pillsbury crust in the pie pan. Using a star cookie cutter, punch stars out of the other one. Set aside.

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Pour the cooled berry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Top with the star cutouts, then sprinkle the remaining tbsp of granulated sugar on top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

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Fudgy Cheesecake Brownies

I’ve been craving cheesecake brownies for upwards of two weeks. I had off from work today, it’s raining, and my uterus hurts*. Three prime reasons to make them on this fateful Tuesday afternoon. These particular cheesecake brownies have a very fudgy chocolate brownie base, and a creamy cheesecake layer that sits on top like a duvet on a mattress. (Yes I’m in bed writing this, SO WHAT?!).

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As much as they’ve been on my mind, I was only able to eat 1 1/2 because they’re so intensely rich and gooey. If you think about it, cheesecake brownies are kind of an epic dessert; essentially the lovechild of two gold medalists at the dessert olympics, brownies and cheesecake.

*If you think it’s gross of me to mention this in a post for a food blog, I don’t know what to tell you.

This recipe is derived from this brownie recipe, and this cheesecake brownie recipe.

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I use Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder, which makes the brownie base a little bittersweet

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The shiniest brownie batter in town

INGREDIENTS:

For the brownie layer:

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake layer:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

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This is already looking decadent

DIRECTIONS:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang for easy removal. Spray with non-stick baking spray, or butter lightly.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute intervals, stirring in between, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to microwave it on high if you have a powerful microwave (mine is quite strong so I heated it on level 6). Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly and is no longer hot to the touch. It’s okay if it looks a little gritty– this is normal.

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This paper, which truly makes me smile, is from Paper Source

Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to combine after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Dump into the lined pan–I say “dump” because that is essentially the noise it will make when you pour it in–and spread out using a spatula. Wiggle the pan if necessary to flatten the batter more.

Combine the cheesecake sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and egg in a bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low until everything is combined and there are no lumps or watery areas. Pour onto the brownie batter. Spread out with a spatula. Using a knife, swirl the batter and cheesecake topping as much as possible. Because the brownie batter is so dense, it will not combine with the cheesecake layer very much.

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It’s not gonna look perfect, and that’s okay!

Bake for 35-40 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after the 25 minute mark. Brownies are done once a toothpick is inserted and comes out with only a little bit of moist residue. It will not crumb like a cakier brownie would, so do not look for crumbs as a sign that it is done! The cheesecake layer never completely hardens, so just because it’s soft doesn’t mean it’s undercooked.

Let cool on a wire rack, then place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Cut into 16 squares. Will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days for optimal freshness.

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Cannoli Cones

My cousin asked me to make a dessert for her second baby shower. Initially, I planned on making Ooey Gooey Lemon Bars, but the oven in my new apartment isn’t working (you can imagine the toll this has taken on my cookie making: I’ve been eating graham crackers with peanut butter as a midnight snack instead of moist, decadent, pillowy cookies fresh from my kitchen OMGIWANTCOOKIES), so I had to scratch that idea and think of something else that wouldn’t require baking.

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I really like the idea of marrying two desserts in one delicious package, so I started thinking of ways to do something a little different with cannoli cream; I went to brunch in Long Island a week ago and passed up a cannoli cream waffle, which I’ve been (rightfully) regretting ever since. Consequently, I’ve had cannoli on the brain.

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I realized it would be a cute and easy, no-bake idea to insert homemade cannoli cream into sugar cones from the grocery store. I could decorate the cones with some sprinkles to jazz them up and make them baby shower appropriate. The sprinkle actually wound up being mermaid themed, so the ice cream cone concept was a good fit with the beachy atmosphere that my aunt created with her decorations and menu options.

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I’ve never made cannoli before, but I know what I like, so I adapted a recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli.

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INGREDIENTS:

For the Cones:

2 packages (about 24), sugar cones

1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles

For the Cream:

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, strained (I used Bel Gioioso because it doesn’t require much straining)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips (I used regular, because I had them on hand, but small is more authentic!)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp of orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS:

For the Cones:

Remove the cones from their packaging, and separate them. Set any broken ones aside (we’ll eat these later with any extra cannoli cream). Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between each, until they’re thoroughly melted but not burned.

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^My nephew noshing on one.^

Dip the rounded part of each cone into the chocolate, then dip them in the sprinkles while still wet. I found the sprinkles adhered better when I stuck the cone directly into the sprinkles, rather than twisting it clockwise in them.

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Set the cones, chocolate-sprinkle ends up, in a few mugs, then refrigerate for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is no longer wet. Set aside.

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For the Cream:

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I made this at home on Long Island and left my sifter in the city, so I used a splatter screen. Hehe. Blend, whisking gently until just combined and there are no powdery lumps.

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In a small, chilled metal bowl, beat the heavy cream with the vanilla until relatively stiff peaks form. Do not over whip, or it will collapse. Gingerly fold the cream into the ricotta blend using a rubber spatula. Fold in the chocolate chips and fruit zests. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

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Assembly:

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 scoops into each cone. The cream will lie flat on top; it won’t be arched as ice cream would be. However, the better you strain your ricotta, the fluffier it will be (truth be told, I didn’t strain my ricotta at all, because I left my sieve in my apartment too! But it still tasted great and the texture was absolutely fine). Place a chocolate chip or two on top of the cream as a garnish. If you’re trying to be authentic, skip the sprinkles and simply coat the top of the cream in mini chocolate chips so that it looks more similar to a regular cannoli.

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^You can store the cones in an airtight container until use. DO NOT fill them until you are ready to serve, or the cones will become mushy!^

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Rice Krispie Treat Pops

One of my favorite food-related smells has to be that of marshmallows and butter melting together in the same serendipitous pot over medium-low heat. I’ve only had the good fortune of smelling this delightful interaction while making rice krispie treats, which are, perhaps, the easiest dessert to make besides box pudding. Even though the pre-packaged rice krispie treats are pretty good (I used to eat 6 or 7 at a time after school while watching “Friends” on DVD), there’s nothing like the homemade version. They’re also super fun to play around with; you can use cookie cutters to make different shapes, or even food dye to change the color of the marshmallow-butter blend.

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My friend Chloe’s birthday is coming up so I decided to make celebratory rice krispie pops for our improv practice group tonight. One of the benefits of making these as opposed to cookies or cupcakes is that they’re virtually allergen (i.e. gluten or nut) free, so most people can eat them. With that said, always check the packaging on the ingredients, since allergens vary brand to brand.

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INGREDIENTS:

10 oz. mini marshmallows

6 cups rice krispie cereal

3 tbsp. butter

1/4 melted milk chocolate

1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

fun straws, cut in half

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DIRECTIONS:

Melt the butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Once there are no marshmallow lumps remaining, turn off the heat and add the cereal. Mix until all of the cereal is coated with the marshmallow mixture. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish, and press down with wax paper or a spatula until smooth. Let cool for a few minutes.

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Spatter with melted chocolate in a diagonal pattern. Move your arm rapidly so that the chocolate doesn’t drip and look gloppy on the treats. Shake sprinkles over the rice krispies so that the whole rectangle is coated. Let chocolate harden for about 10-15 minutes.

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Using a sharp knife, cut into squares about 2 inches in diameter. Remove from pan. Insert straw half into each square. If the straws aren’t sticking,try dipping one end of each straw in melted chocolate before inserting into the rice krispie treats.

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Enjoy!

Leslie