Baking with Cinnamon

Just another baking blog — but with photo-instructions!

Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

Zucchini Cranberry Muffins

Posted by bakingwithcinnamon on September 21, 2009

Tower of Zucchini

Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Wet Team:

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Dry Team:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts
  • 2/3 cup cranberries
Zucchini Cranberry Ingredients
Zucchini Cranberry Ingredients

Giant zucc

Heat oven to 350′ degrees. Grease muffin pans.

Mix shortening & sugar in a large bowl, and cream. It should look vaguely like this;

Creaming the sugar and margarine
Creaming the sugar and margarine

Now get ready for the real fun; prepping the zucchini! If you have a ridiculously huge zucc like I did, then this should prove entertaining, and hilarious.

Sliced zucc prepared for severe chopping
Sliced zucc prepared for severe chopping

To prep the zucchini:

  1. Wash the skin
  2. Cut into rounds
  3. Cut rounds into sections so the zucc gets evenly destroyed in the chopperSliced zucc in chopper
  4. Pile a bunch of zucc strips into the chopper
  5. Chop! Chop! Chop!
Chopped zucchini
Chopped zucchini
Spoon massive amount of shreaded zucchini onto baking pan
Spoon massive amount of shredded zucchini onto baking pan
Temporarily put shreaded zucchini into largest possible pot

Add the shredded zucc, eggs, and water to the batter.

Make sure to spill some zucchini shreds  in to your coffee or hot chocolate!
Make sure to spill some zucchini shreds in to your coffee or hot chocolate!

Carefully  add in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves & vanilla.

With a wooden spoon, wrestle in some nuts and cranberries.

Using a releasing ice cream scoop, evenly fill your muffin cups. This recipe is modified from a zucchini loaf recipe, which calls for 60-70 minutes in the oven, but these muffins were ready in about half the time. After 20 minutes I checked these consistently every 5 minutes until the Toothpick Of Truth inserted in the center came out clean, and in the case of these muffins, about 30-33 minutes.  Let the muffins cool slightly.

Flip pan of hot muffins upside down onto a clean tea towel while the muffins cool.

These muffins didn’t rise much (probably because this recipe is intended for a loaf) but the flavor is worth the goofy looking muffin tops.

Zucchini Cranberry muffins
Zucchini Cranberry muffins
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Posted in 1, Baking, Muffins | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Homemade Thin Mints

Posted by bakingwithcinnamon on June 12, 2009

See those cute little Girl Scout girls selling over priced cookies in increasingly smaller and smaller boxes? Why not make your own homemade Thin Mints instead of offering your first born as pay for one box of delights.

Homemade Thin Mints

The original recipe can be found at the ever useful Baking Bites, and check out Crepes of Wrath for her (successful!) attempt.

To make your homemade Thin Mints, get together these ingredients:

Measuring spoons

Thin Mint Batter (for chocolate coating see below):

Wet Team:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Dry Team:

  • 2 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Hardware for project:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixer
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Double boiler (easy to make from two pots)
  • Two forks
  • Large spoon for mixing
  • Knife

First, cream sugar and butter until fluffy and then add milk and extracts. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled and icky — just keep beating and beating until everything comes together.

Thin Mints batter

Now add in the dry team. If you are using a mechanical mixer, make sure to turn it off before adding the dry team to prevent poofs of flour all over the place.  Take time to scrape down the dough off the sides of bowl.

Once the dough forms a ball in the mixer, pull it out. You should have something like this;

Homemade Thin Mints batter ball

Divide the dough ball into two equal sections (I just eyeballed it). At this point you must make a decision: two logs or four? Both Baking Bites and Crepes of Wrath did two logs, but we decided to make four. Does it make a difference? Yes and no. Yes, because a larger log’s cookie has a better chance of being chewy, while the smaller log’s cookie will likely have a crunch. Following? Yes? Okay.

So you have either two or four dough balls.

The next step is important (!!) so get out a clean ruler (no, I’m not kidding) and move the dough balls to a clean large surface. You want to roll each of the balls into logs; this is done by applying pressure equally along the ball and rolling your hands gently, so that the dough rolls into a log-like thing. Keep doing this! It’ll be awkward, especially if you’ve never rolled dough before.

If you’ve opted for only two logs, aim for 1 1/2 inch diameter, but if you’ve opted for four logs, aim for 1 1/4 inches. My baking partner and I were (ahem) pretty casual about consistency, and in the end we paid for those casualties. 😛

Once you are happy with your logs, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for 2+ hours. Don’t skip this step! When working with chocolate batter it is important to cool it off considerably –why?– because the melting point of chocolate is lower than our body temperature and thus the batter will become sticky and too pliable from the warmth of your hands. We want this batter to stay cool enough to maintain a shape and not get all over your hands.

Thin Mint batter logs in plastic wrap

After you’ve patiently waited (and waited and waited), pull out the logs, a favorite knife and your clean ruler. Unwrap logs and slice precisely, aiming for 1/4-1/3  inch thick pieces. Again, we were pretty casual with this and after baking some of the pieces were crispier than others, so if consistency is important to you, use a ruler!

Thin Mint slices

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place Thin Mint slices for baking. The cookies do not spread, so feel free to squish ’em in. As you can see below, did just that:

Thin Mints

Bake your homemade Thin Mints in a 375` oven for 13-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets half way through the cooking time. Depending on how thick or thin your cookies are, expect crisp (or nearly crisp) cookies. Look for a slight change in color around the edges at the 13 minute mark, and definitely pull them at 15 minutes, even if the cookies do not look done yet.

While your cookies are cooling (yay!), prepare your double boiler (see above for link and explanation) and chop your chocolate and butter for coating these bad boys.

Chocolate coating ingredients:

  • 20 ounces chocolate (We got a combination of milk and dark chocolate, while Crepes of Wrath uses only milk chocolate)
  • 1 cup butter, soft

Tempering chocolate hardware:

  • Double boiler
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Forks
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • Knife

Note: The original recipe calls for only 10 ounces chocolate and 1/2 cup butter, but at the suggestion of Crepes of Wrath, we doubled our chocolate and butter portions to have plenty and some for left over chocolate-creations (yay, chocolate disks!).

Thin Mints

Stir the butter and chocolate mix with a large wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking and burning at the bottom of your pot. As the concoction melts, add more chopped chocolate and butter. Once most of the chocolate and butter is added, it ought to look something like this:

Thin Mints tempering chocolate

After a bit more stirring, now is the time to dip your cookes in the tempered chocolate! Whee!

As casual as this sounds, it works; I just dropped four cookie rounds into the melted chocolate, flipped ’em with a fork until fully covered with yummy chocolate goodness, and then finagled ’em out of the double boiler onto a waiting parchment paper section. Expect splashes, messiness, and chocolate drips!

As the tempered chocolate level gets low, add more chopped chocolate and butter until done, stirring continuously.

Thin Mints cooling

Take lots of pictures while your friend does the work of dipping cookies into tempered chocolate. Attempt to make bad jokes to make him smile while you snap away.

Thin Mints making

Expect some air bubbles. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to prevent them, but I would imagine that giving ’em a final tap and shake after coating in chocolate, and the bubbles will pop. If someone has a better suggestion, please let me know in the comments. Ours ended up having dimples and were kinda funny (but so so yummy):

Thin Mints drying

And just to show you that not all of them came out so lovely, here were some of my favorite goofy looking ones (and therefore were eaten first). Not only were there air bubbles, but uneven chocolate application, and finger prints (ahem, not my handy work):

Thin Mints extra goofy

Once the cookies are coated and cooled put the ones you don’t immediately eat into the freezer for 2+ hours to harden the chocolate coating. I used a large square tupperwear and layered the cookies with parchment paper layers.

And viola! You have homemade Thin Mints, and you didn’t have to offer your first born as exorbitant payment! Make sure to adorn with a fresh sprig of mint and elaborately sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Take dozens of pictures at a series of angles, and pick your favorite to show off to friends and family. ^_^

Homemade Thin Mints!

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Kitchen Sink cookies: Oatmeal, cranberry and nut

Posted by bakingwithcinnamon on May 19, 2009

Ever just had the urge to make cookies, but you didn’t have all the ingredients you needed? Decided to “just wing it”? That’s how Kitchen Sink cookies work best! Evaluate your baking goods and make do(ugh). Har har.

To make this more entertaining for all of us, here’s some photo-instructions of the process.

Kitchen Sink cookies

Kitchen Sink cookies

Original recipe found here — a great base for modifying.

Wet Team:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Colorful local eggs

Colorful local eggs

Dry Team:

  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup cranberries (or chocolate chips)
Vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, salt

Vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, salt

Kitchen Sink Add-ins

Kitchen Sink Add-ins

Combine wet team thoroughly until butter and sugar mix is light and fluffy (this is called “creamed”). Add dry team and mix until incorporated. Now add in oatmeal, nuts of your choice (I added 1/2 cup each of walnuts and pistachios), and cranberries (or chocolate chips). The dough should be a thick consistency when everything is added.

Batter consistency

Batter consistency

Using a releasing ice cream scoop, measure out 1/4 cup portions onto a greased cookie sheet.

Formed balls of Kitchen Sink cookie dough

Formed balls of Kitchen Sink cookie dough

Between your palms, use your Hulk Hand Patented Smashing Technique and mash the dough into cookie-shaped ovals until the thickest part of the cookie is no more than 3/4 inch.

Thickness of Kitchen Sink cookies

Thickness of Kitchen Sink cookies

Bake @ 350′ for 13-15 minutes. Take the cookies out at the 15 minute mark even if they look soft and wet. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 additional minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until cookies completely cool. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk (or milk substitute)!

Stage cookies elaborately on the table with a glass of milk. Take dozens of pictures, and post only one.

Kitchen Sink cookies with milk

Kitchen Sink cookies with milk

The great thing about Kitchen Sink cookies is how flexible the recipe is;

Instead of pistachios and walnuts, substitute in pecans, peanuts, macadamia nuts, or any other nut combination. Just make sure the nuts are chopped or properly sized, and the ratio of nuts to batter stays the same.

Instead of cranberries, substitute in milk, dark or white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, raisins, dried mango, dried apple, dates, dried prunes, or any other chopped dried fruit. Even feel free to add coconut to your Kitchen Sink cookies!

The important thing is ratios. Keep the ratio of nut:fruit:batter in proportion and your cooking time will not change much with the variations of ingredients.

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Homemade Oreos

Posted by bakingwithcinnamon on April 25, 2009

At the request of a friend, we made homemade Oreos for her birthday. Worth the bit of effort and super exciting because every cookie sandwich can be double –or triple– stuffed. Woohoo sugar rush!

Enjoy your homemade faux-Oeros with a cold glass of milk!

Enjoy your homemade faux-Oreos with a cold glass of milk!

Original recipe found here — ours differs in method a bit.

Step 1 — Cocoa cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cups  cocoa powder (Dutch-process if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine wet team (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla) and mix. Add dry team (cocoa powder, flour, salt, cinnamon) and mix until incorporated. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour — and don’t skip this step! Whenever working with chocolate or cocoa powder, it’s best to keep it cool. Why? The melting temperature of chocolate is lower than our body temperature (98’F) so chocolate will melt slightly when held in the hand (M&Ms, anyone?), thus it is a good idea to keep the chocolate cool so it doesn’t turn into a sticky gooey mess while forming it by hand. Once cool, form dough into heaping tablespoon-sized balls and flatten in palm until 1/2 inch thick. Place on nonstick cookie sheet, but not into the oven, yet! Cool yet again in refrigerator for ~30 minutes on the cookie tray (you will be rewarded for your patience).

Now, preheat oven to 325′ F and bake for 20 minutes.

If you’d like to stamp your cookies, see Step 2, otherwise skip to Step 3.

Step 2 — Stamping the cookies:

Materials:

  • Stamp (clean and dry — to clean the stamp properly wash with soap and warm water,  rinsing well. Pat dry  and pull off any fuzz that may be hitchhiking.)
  • Cloth (clean and dry)
  • Oven mitt
  • Fork

The cookies need 20 minutes total to bake, but if you’d like to stamp your cookies, a-la-Oreos, you’ll want to pull them out at the 10 minute mark. Once the cookies are pulled, position your stamp so that it is parallel with the cookie sheet, with the stamp imprint facing the cookie. While holding the cookie pan with an oven mit, slowly press the stamp into the middle of the top of a cookie. Pull smoothly away from the cookie, trying to keep the stamp parallel with the cookie sheet. This will ensure that your imprints are not right-side heavy (or top-side heavy).

Repeat!

Once you feel comfortable stamping, try experimenting! Press a fork gentle into the dough to make a series of lines. Stamp a single cookie multiple times to create a more complex image. We chose a crescent moon stamp which ended up looking like a “C” — fine with us! Could it stand for cinnamon?

Make your faux-Oreos your own by stamping the cookies
Make your faux-Oreos your own by stamping the cookies to make designs

Put cookies back into oven for remaining 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Personalize each batch of cookies with stamps and designs

Personalize each batch of cookies with stamps and designs

Step 3 — Creamy filling:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine butter and shortening until fluffy (this takes longer than you’d anticipate), then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Once the filling is together, you have two options for getting it onto half of the cookies; (a) put into a pastry bag or freezer-safe zip top bag with the tip cut off for piping, or (b) use a releasing ice cream scoop size 40 — roughly equal to a rounded tablespoon. I opted for the #40 releasing ice cream scoop because it’s easier to be consistently concise (say that three times fast!).

Add frosting to the flat side of the cookie

Add frosting to the flat side of the cookie

Your cookies are made, stamped, cooled and frosted. For each sandwich, take an unfrosted cookie, place gently flat-side-down onto a frosted cookie. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can put filling on two cookies and gently press together to make a triple stuffed faux-Oreo! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but try to eat at room temperature.

Viola! You’ve made homemade Oreos! Enjoy with a cold glass of milk (or your favorite milk substitute) for dipping.

Fact: faux-Oreos are better than store bought

Fact: faux-Oreos are better than store bought

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »