Sunday, 24 March 2013

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

I know a couple of people who would say that everything is better with bacon.  I am not sure that I agree, but bake up a batch up these and decide for yourself.  This is not your average peanut butter cookie - the addition of molasses and a pinch of nutmeg are to thank for that, and you have the option to add bacon bits for a salty surprise.  The taste is...definitely interesting... well worth a try, and are a hit at any potluck or bake sale.   I suggest halving the amount of bacon and making a dozen with bacon, and a dozen without.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
from Joy the Baker

8 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup all natural peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp molasses
1/2 cup crumbled peanuts

Combine sugar and peanut butter in a bowl, mix well.
Add molasses and egg.  Mix well.
Add baking soda and nutmeg.  Mix until well blended.
Add crushed peanuts (and bacon bits if desired).

Form small balls of the dough and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and smoosh down with a fork, making the designated peanut butter cookie criss-cross pattern.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.  Makes about 2 dozen.
With bacon

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

My first Guinness recipe was a bit of a disaster, but sin scĂ©al eile (Gaelic for "that's another story").  
So, maybe I do have some Irish luck, after all.  Second time is a charm? These cupcakes bake up like a bit of Irish magic.  Light, airy, and moist - magically delicious!  

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup Guinness or stout beer
1/2 cup cocoa 

Melt butter in a small saucepan, adding cocoa and Guinness, stirring until well combined. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and sugars in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Combine egg and buttermilk in a medium sized bowl.  Add cooled chocolate mixture.  Mix well.  
Make a well in centre, and add flour mixture, stirring until well combined.
Batter will be runny, that's ok - don't worry! 
Pour into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre of the middle cupcake comes out clean.

Guinness icing
1/4 unsalted butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup Guinness
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter with icing sugar, add in cocoa. 
Add beer and vanilla, mix until the right consistency, adding in more icing sugar for a thicker icing, and more beer if too thick. 

Guinness truffles.....a big fat fail

Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day - and since I married into an Irish family I feel even more so. Just add a O' to my surname and you have one of the most Irish names out there.  My husband's family hails from County Cork, and ended up in Ontario by way of Boston in the mid 1800's.

This year I had the grand idea of making chocolate stout truffles.....well, let's just say it didn't work out. I have some very delicious rich chocolate frosting balls at home.  Not pretty. I tried to roll them in green sprinkles and learned an important lesson - sugar absorbs liquid. And turns into a paste.  Oh well, they taste good, anyways.

So, wish me luck, I am going to attempt some Guinness chocolate cupcakes later this afternoon

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Juan de Fuca Trail Cookies

Vancouver Island is one of my favourite places in the world.  Gorgeous and wild - it is the perfect destination for anyone who enjoys nature and hiking. On our last visit, we went for a hike on the Juan de Fuca trail, along the Pacific coast, not too far from Victoria.  It was stunning.  Afterwards, we refueled with some awesome cookies we found at a small grocery store named West Coast Trail cookies - basically oatmeal cookies with all sorts of goodies inside - nuts, seeds, raisins, and chocolate.  Sweet, salty, and wholesome. Who could ask for anything more after a long rainy trek along the coast?  OK - dry socks and a coffee would be cool, too. 

These are slightly adapted from the recipe for "Trail Mix Cookies" from Joy the Baker's awesome cookbook.  These remind me of those yummy cookies we ate wet, tired, and muddy after our trek on the coast (and our adventure rambling in the woods in search of Avatar Grove, but, that is a story for another time...) You can substitute seeds, different kinds of nuts, and dried fruit - anything goes!

Juan de Fuca Trail Cookies 

2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup M&M's candy
1 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup golden raisins

Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
In a separate bowl, cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy.  
Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
Add in flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.  . 
Add in peanut butter chips, M&M's, peanuts, and raisins.  Mix thoroughly. 

Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, place balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for about 3-5 minutes until firm enough to remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Makes 4 dozen large cookies. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Peanut Butter Brownies

Brownie:  Brow-nie  aka the perfect comfort or celebratory food

Go big or go home.  When you go brownie, you go all the way.  You have loads of butter, excessive amounts of sugar, and a whole lotta chocolate.  This is not the time to experiment with cutting back sugar, or butter, or replacing eggs with apple sauce, or any of that nonsense.  The delectable combination of cocoa, butter, and sugar is rivaled only by the combination of tomatoes, cheese, and bread in my humble opinion.

Brownies are my weakness.  I make them very rarely, and this is for good reason.  I could eat half a pan in 10 minutes.  I have tried many brownie recipes - but this one is from the back of the Fry's Cocoa container, and it is the best.  I had this recipe memorized as at 12 year old, and I used to make these for my Gran and Grandpa (neither of whom have anything close to a sweet tooth) when I visited for the weekend.  More for me!

Peanut Butter Brownies

1 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup cocoa
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Peanut Butter Topping
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat.  Remove from heat and add cocoa.  Stir well.
Add in sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt and add all at once, mixing with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
Peanut butter topping
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan, and add peanut butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix thoroughly, and pour evenly over top of brownie batter.  Run a butter knife through the batter to mix the layers together.  Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until a cake tester or knife comes out clean. The peanut butter top will be a little soft, let sit until cooled before cutting.