Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strawberry Chocolate Cake Bites

Strawberry Chocolate Cake Bites
The following recipe is the result of my attempt to make a light dessert to go with some rich enchiladas suizas I made for some guests last night.  My plan, and what we did eat was strawberry shortcake.  I wanted chocolate, though, so I whipped up some chocolate ganache to use on the side, or as an extra topping for the shortcake.  Mmmm...chocolate tastes good with strawberry shortcake.  I decided today to stack the ingredients for a cute bite-size dessert.  My sister-in-law liked it too, but thought it might taste better with some whipped cream, so I suppose you could put that on the side for dipping.  I think that would be awesome as well.  For now, this is what I've done, and this is what I have pictures of.  At any rate, these are a nice addition to my growing collection of miniature desserts.
By the way, the amounts below are my best guess.  You might end up with too much of one ingredient or another, but each is so yummy on its own, I doubt you'll have trouble finding a reason to eat them.

Strawberry Chocolate Cake Bites


  • 48 one-inch cubes of angel food cake
  • 12 medium to large strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and quartered
  • 4 oz. tasty dark chocolate (I use Dove Dark Chocolate), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream and butter to a simmer.  Once cream/butter has come to a simmer, pour over the chocolate and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Stir chocolate and cream with a rubber/silicone spatula until completely mixed.  Set aside to cool to a pudding-like consistency, about an hour and a half to two hours, if room temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the chocolate ganache (chocolate and cream mixture) is the right consistency, spoon about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon onto each angel food cake cube.  Pierce a strawberry quarter with a toothpick so that about half an inch extends beyond the bottom of the piece of strawberry, and then poke into the chocolate-topped cake cube.  Pop one in your mouth to see if they taste good.  They do.

Makes 4 dozen.

Enchiladas Suizas

Enchiladas Suizas with rice and beans
Enchiladas Suizas hot out of the oven
This is a dish that my non-casserole-eating husband requests on occasion.  They are rich, mild, and so, so good.  The recipe comes from my favorite recipe webiste,  Love that site.  Anyway, I'm on my way to Zombie Burger and don't have much time to write my little paragraph here.  If I wasn't on my way to Zombie Burger, I would be eating these leftovers.  Maybe tomorrow for lunch.  
Try these.  You'll like them.
*Side note update on Zombie Burger.  Yesterday was my first visit to the hip, new Zombie Burger, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  My kids were weird and didn't totally love it--maybe the zombie theme freaked them out and dampened their appetites.  At any rate, I ordered the Walking Ched: breaded & deep fried macaroni & cheese "bun," bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized and raw onion, and mayo.  Oh my gosh, it was good!  Of course, I couldn't eat the whole thing, but I'm glad I ordered it, and that's saying a lot from this picky eater.  My Walking Ched even had admirers as the two guys at the table next to ours kept looking over at my plate and finally asked how it was.   Good times.  Good food.  I love them.

Enchiladas Suizas
    ---adapted from


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (4 oz. each) diced green chiles (NOT jalepeno)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash ground cumin 
  • 12 (8 inch) corn tortillas
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast meat
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion


  1. Prepare salsa verde: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft. Stir in the flour. Add the broth, then add the chiles, garlic, salt, and cumin. Simmer about 15 minutes to blend flavors, then set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.)
  2. In a heavy skillet, lightly fry tortillas in shallow oil, being careful not to make them too crisp to roll. Combine the cheeses and keep 1/2 cup aside for topping. Dip each tortilla in salsa verde (both sides.) Place 2 heaping tablespoons chicken and about 2 tablespoons cheese down the center of each; roll and place seam side down in a shallow 9 x 13 dish.
  3. After all the rolled tortillas are in the dish, spoon additional salsa verde over them and then cover evenly with heavy cream. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese mixture, and with the green onions.
  4. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mini Blackberry Kuchen

Mini Kuchen bottoms and tops
Cute Mini Blackberry Kuchen
Oh yeah.  These were a good idea for sure.  Think buttery shortbread surrounding a slightly sweet berry filling.  I've had some blackberries hanging out in my freezer, waiting for me to make a kuchen out of them, but I've had to wait for an event because I don't want an entire one sitting around my house.  We recently started a "life group" (small group from church) at our home two evenings a month, and sorry to say it, but it's the perfect opportunity for me to bake things and not have lots of leftovers.  Hey, they don't call me a food pusher for nothing.  
When mulling over the kuchen, I kept thinking about the last time I made it, and how the bottom just didn't get as browned as I like.  Since I've been dabbling in mini sized things a lot lately (see Bite Size Banana Cream Pie & Bite Size Chocolate Cream Pie), I had the bright idea to turn my friend's yummy kuchen recipe into mini two-bite kuchens.  It works. I think they would work with almost any sort of berry filling to replace the blackberries.  I also think I'm going to up the sugar next time.  I've upped it for you below.  I started with 3 tablespoons, but I think one more tablespoon to bring it to an even 1/4 cup would be better.  Maybe the bag of blackberries I bought are just a little bitter.  At any rate, I'm looking forward to trying these little babies with other berries.  Yum!

Mini Blackberry Kuchen


Make the filling first, and then set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix flour, sugar, salt and then cut in cold butter until there are no more chunks of butter & mixture is the texture of damp sand.  Add vanilla in as you are processing the butter. *My friend who gave me the original recipe uses "vanilla sugar" which I really don't keep on hand.  I'm still figuring out how to best incorporate the liquid vanilla into this sandy mixture.

Get out mini muffin pans so you have 48 mini muffin "cups" or spaces for the mini kuchen.  If you're limited on mini muffin pans, you can use half as many regular muffin pans.  (I used a combo and ended up with 36 mini muffin sized kuchens and 6 regular muffin sized ones.)
If your pans are not non-stick, spray with non-stick cooking spray.  In the bottom of each mini muffin cup, place two rounded teaspoons of the butter/flour mixture.  Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides with your fingers.

Place cooled blackberry filling into a quart-size zip top bag.  Snip about 1/4-inch or so off one corner and squeeze about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each prepared muffin cup.  If the filling gets stuck, gently squeeze out the "blockage" at the tip and continue.  Top each with another rounded teaspoonful of the butter/flour mixture.  

Bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 18-22 minutes until light brown on top and sides. When kuchen come out of the oven, check to see if the filling has bubbled out and made contact with the pan. If it has, with a knife, gently push the oozed filling away from the pan. If you skip this step, some of your kuchen will shred upon releasing them from the pan. Allow kuchens to cool about 10 minutes in the pans and then place an inverted wire rack over the top, and using oven mitts to protect you from the hot pan, invert kuchens onto the wire rack.  Cool kuchens completely on the wire rack, or serve warm with ice cream.  

Makes 48 mini kuchens

**Blackberry Filling
  • 12 oz. frozen blackberries (Frozen raspberries and berry mixes work great too.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl.  In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, mix the berries, lemon juice, & sugar, and then add the cornstarch/water mixture.  Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly with a silicone or rubber spatula.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almond extracts.  Allow to cool before using in the kuchen.  Note: I had too much filling when using 12 oz. of berries.  I think 8 oz. might have been just enough.  I'll have to experiment and update later, but for now, I want people to know they'll end up with extra filling.

Unbaked mini kuchen

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini Oatmeal Cookies

Mini Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Storm Troopers LOVE them.
It's the last weekday of Spring Break 2012.  Yesterday we went to the Omaha Zoo, and today, I felt the need to bake something "new."  These are basically Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies in miniature form.  I like my Crisp Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies so much, that I decided I needed to miniaturize my favorite oatmeal cookie as well.  The only difference is that I added some finely chopped raisins to this batch, and I like them that way.  I intended for these to turn out crisp as well, but these are still chewy.  Hmmm...  Chewy oatmeal cookies are always good.  It might be the humidity today, or perhaps I need to leave them in the oven for another minute.  I'll try that with the next pan to go in.  The raisins, though, I think, will continue to make them soft.
Just consider these a cute, tiny way to enjoy a good oatmeal cookie...or two...or ten.

Mini Oatmeal Cookies


  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped raisins (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift flour, salt, soda, & spices together.  Stir in oats.
Cream butter & sugars.  Beat in eggs.  Stir in dry ingredients and blend well. Stir in chopped raisins.   
Scoop 1/2 teaspoon of dough and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, 1 inch apart.  Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes, or until puffed in the middle, and set around the edges.  Allow cookies to cool on wire rack.

Makes about 9-10 dozen miniature cookies, I think.

Mini Oatmeal Cookies
Mini Oatmeal Cookies sans raisins

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Potato Pancakes (with Carrots & Onion)

Mmmm... fresh potato pancakes.

Potatoes, carrots, & onion shredded
I love these things.  I first had this type of potato pancake, with the carrots and onions, when I was in college, at my friend Kristin's apartment.  She had invited me over for dinner, and honestly, I think this may have been the dinner.  Just the potato pancakes made the size of a dinner plate.  Kristin's not a vegetarian; I just think they're so good that college students would consider them a meal.  Kristin used red potatoes and these potato pancakes clearly left an impression on me, because 20-some-odd years later I still remember sitting in her apartment eating them, and I'm still making them for my family.  It's the only way my 11-year-old son Max says he enjoys carrots.  Most things do taste better when fried, though.  Let's face that fact.
One of the main reasons I like these is that I consider this side as counting for both my starch and my vegetable for the meal.  Hey, it's better than frozen french fries, right?  Of course it is.

Potato Pancakes

  • 4 medium yellow-flesh potatoes, scrubbed (can use red potatoes or russets—I prefer yellow)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 6-12 baby carrots or 1-2 large carrots, scrubbed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 large egg
  • salt to taste
  • canola oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to hold finished potato pancakes.

Into a large bowl, shred potatoes, onion, and carrots.  Add pepper, flour, and egg.  Mix thoroughly with a fork.  I wad up a paper towel and place it in the bottom to soak up excess moisture.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan (less if you’re using a non-stick pan, more if it’s not non-stick).  Scoop about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of potato mixture into a pile in the pan and spread out to about 1/3 inch thickness.  Be careful to keep it in a patty shape. Place as many patties in the pan as you can, leaving about 1/2 inch between patties.  Salt to taste; just a sprinkle to start—you can always add more at the table if you’d like. 

When patty looks dark brown on the edges, carefully flip each patty with a spatula and fry until well-browned on both sides.  Remove to a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven to wait.  Wipe pan with a paper towel.  Add oil & continue frying potato pancakes until you’re done, making sure to wipe pan between batches to remove stray potato strands and excess oil.

Serve warm.

Makes about 6 servings.

Stand or Hand Mixer?

I keep both a Kitchen Aid and a regular hand mixer.

I've had my Kitchen Aid standing mixer for about 15 years, so when I write recipes, I usually refer to using a stand mixer with a whisk, paddle, or dough hook attachment.  The stand mixer is really only necessary, in my opinion, for bread recipes that require kneading.  If it's a cookie dough, or a whipped cream, or a frosting, a regular portable plug-in hand mixer is fine.

If you're new to cooking and baking, but are thinking about buying a Kitchen Aid or some other stand mixer, my friend Christie just gave be an awesome tip.  She bought a cool avocado green Kitchen Aid Professional at Williams Sonoma on clearance for a ridiculous $120.  I guess if you're willing to have an odd color mixer, you might just be able to get super good deal.

My Kitchen Aid is awesome because it does so much of the work that I don't want to do, like stirring and stirring caramel apple dip, or kneading soft pretzel dough, or kneading sloppy wet ciabatta dough.  It's really just a nice tool to have when you spend as much time in your kitchen as I spend in mine.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Guacamole.  We've only been together since about college, when I realized it actually tastes great with many Mexican foods, like carne asada, carnitas, taquitos, and tortilla chips.  The first time I tasted guacamole I was about 10, and our family friend, Nancy Holden tricked me into it.  To explain the whole thing would just sound weird and reveal what a picky, quirky kid I was, but suffice it to say, I didn't eat it again until college, when I was forced into eating it again because I didn't want my new roommates to know how picky I was.
This is the way my mother makes guacamole.  It has NO sour cream, no salsa, and no tomatoes.  The avocado is the star here, and this is my favorite guac.  Feel free to experiment.  It's your guacamole now.

Guacamole (amounts are approximate)

  • 2 ripe/soft avocados
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion mush (I grate mine on a Microplane grater, but if you're using a small grater, probably 1-1 1/2 teaspoons grated onion)
  • juice of half of a small lemon or lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (start with smaller amount and taste)

Peel and de-seed avocados and place in medium bowl.  Add other ingredients and smash with fork or potato masher until desired consistency.  Test the flavor with a tasty fresh tortilla chip.  Add more garlic salt or pepper, as desired.  Heck, add some hot sauce if you'd like.

Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup guacamole.

Taquitos & Flautas w/ Guacamole

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket

Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket

My husband requested beef brisket sandwiches again this year for this birthday.  I realized it was "again" when I found the recipe I'd printed from Food Network and read my note, "made for Eddie's birthday 3-19-11."  Guess he liked it.  This is a relatively simple recipe that produces a tender, juicy, flavorful brisket.  At first I bought a 4-pound piece of brisket, and then the food pusher in me thought it might not be enough to feed the 11 people we'd have here for the birthday celebration.  So I went and bought another small piece of brisket, about 3 pounds.  Well, it was too much, of course, and now I have plenty left over for leftovers, or for taquitos, or enchiladas.
I cut back on the salt and chili powder called for in the original recipe.  Click on the link below the title if you'd like to see the original recipe.  The way I prepared it created a milder flavor that stood up on its own, or went nicely with a good bbq sauce on a bun.  Since I like to use leftovers for other recipes, I don't like the original to have too pungent a flavor.  That's just the way I roll.
If you're looking for a nice, mild but tasty brisket, I think this is the ticket.

Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket
    --adapted from

  • 4-5 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock (I used 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water--forgot to put beef stock on the shopping list)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
Place brisket in a large roasting pan & season both sides with spice mix.  Leave fat side up in roasting pan.
Roast uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
After an hour, remove from oven & add beef stock and enough water to make about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and continue roasting for another 3-3 1/2 hours, or until fork-tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.  Slice the meat thinly across the grain and top with some juice from the pan.
Makes 8-12 servings.

Simple Fruit Dip

Simple Fruit Dip

My mom got this recipe from someone ages ago and makes it every Easter to go with a plate heaped with strawberries, pineapple, and cantaloupe.  It actually helps make the overly firm store-bought strawberries edible.  Growing up in California, there were fresh strawberries from local strawberry fields every spring. I never liked strawberries, though, because these California strawberry fields, at least the ones we went to, produced huge, hard, sour strawberries.  I always wondered why so many people were in love with this tasteless fruit.  Then I moved to Oregon for two years in my mid-twenties, and met strawberries, really, for the first time.  My friends liked to do their own canning and introduced me to U-Pick fruit.  We'd go to local farms and pick our own strawberries, raspberries and peaches.  When I bit into my first just-picked strawberry, I almost heard the "Aaaaahhh!" choir of angels singing.  This strawberry had FLAVOR.  It was sweet, with just a hint of tartness.  It had the texture of cantaloupe.  Whaaaaat?  So THIS is what all the fuss was about.  The two years I lived in Oregon I picked and canned strawberries, and I ate probably more than I should have out in the fields as we picked.  Finally, I too fell in love with strawberries.
My husband and I did move back to Southern California, where I managed to figure out which local strawberry fields had actual edible strawberries that didn't  require the fruit dip.  They weren't quite as amazing as what I'd had in Oregon, but they were close enough.
Now I live in Iowa and I still need to figure out where to get fabulous strawberries.  Sam's Club often has good ones, but I haven't figured out anything about local farms.  Perhaps that's what I need to set my sights on this year.  In the meantime, I'll make this yummy fruit dip to help me enjoy what I can find in the way of strawberries.

Fruit Dip

Place ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  With a hand mixer, or in a standing mixer, mix on low speed to blend ingredients.  Then mix on high for another minute or so, or until it is smooth and creamy.  With a rubber/silicone spatula, scoop into a cute serving dish. (I used a pretty little rice bowl.)
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve with clean, washed fruit.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sky Valley Heirloom Navel Oranges

No recipe here, just the BEST oranges I've ever eaten.  Today at Trader Joe's these Sky Valley Heirloom Navel Oranges were one of the free samples.  I don't often purchase what I've sampled, but this orange was perfect: super juicy, sweet, not tart, and the texture was unlike any orange I think I've had.  You know how with some oranges, you can feel the individual little pulp packets of juice and sometimes they're dry and thick?  You couldn't even really detect that here.  It was almost the texture of a perfectly ripe cantaloupe, really. mouth is watering just thinking about it.  The kicker is that these oranges were only $3.99/4 pound bag.  If you live anywhere near a Trader Joe's, and you like oranges, you need to go get some of these before their season is over.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Kouign-Amann, small ones
Kouign-Amann, interior
Crunchy, chewy, and caramelized sugary exterior.  Buttery, soft, and tender interior.  The flavor is that of a very sugary croissant.  Just the scent in my house is fattening.  These are goooooood.

Yesterday, I watched a DVR recording of one of my very favorite Food Network shows, The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  The Neelys selected this Kouign-Amann (pronounced queen ahmahn) that looked like a sugary, buttery, round croissant kind of thing.  "I've made croissants," I thought to myself.  "These look easy.  I just need some of those ring mould thingies."  Well, those ring mould thingies are expensive, so I started checking out some more google images of Kouign-Amann.  There are some that look like they're baked in those rings; some seem to have been baked in muffin tins; some are almost flat; and many are large and baked in a 10-inch spring form pan.  So I decided that I had some leeway, and  decided to bake them as if I were putting them into a ring mould, folding them up into the middle, but not putting them in the mould.  I tried using a toothpick to secure the four corners folded into the middle, and it sort of worked, for some of them.

Next time, I think I'll probably just make these small because the small ones seemed to hold their shapes better than the large.  Plus, one large one just seems so, so...well, large.  I can see, though, why the Neelys love these so much.  Very decadent.  Very satisfying.


     --adapted from


  • 1 3/4 cups room temperature water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 5 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 3 cups white sugar, plus more for dusting
1. In a liquid measuring cup, measure water and then add sea salt.  Let stand until sea salt has dissolved completely.  Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl in a microwave oven, or over low heat in a small pan.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and the instant yeast.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the melted butter.  Add the water/salt mixture, and continue to mix until combined into a ball of dough, about 3 minutes.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise about one hour, or until doubled.

3. After it has doubled, punch the dough down, wrap in plastic, and place on a baking sheet (not a large plate--a baking sheet).  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

4.  While the dough chills, unwrap the four sticks of butter and place side by side in a gallon size zip-top bag.  Leave bag unzipped and start pounding the butter with a heavy rolling pin.  Pound and roll until you have a squarish shaped slab of butter that is a little over 1/4 inch thick.  Return to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

5.  Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap onto a floured surface.  Roll dough out to an 18-inch square.  Cut the butter square out of the bag and place in the middle of the dough square so that each side of the butter square faces a corner of the dough square.  Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose.  The original recipe says to pinch dough seams to seal, but I had so much overlap, that was unnecessary.

6.  Roll dough into a 24 x 8 inch rectangle, making sure to flour the rolling pin and rolling surface as needed to prevent sticking.  Brush excess flour with a pastry brush and then fold rectangle into thirds.  Wrap the dough in plastic and place back on the baking sheet.  Chill for 20 minutes.  This completes the first turn.

7.  Roll dough out again to a 24 x 8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds (second turn).  Wrap and return dough to refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes.  Dust the rolling surface with sugar, and then pour about 1 cup of sugar over the dough and roll out again to a 24 x 8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds (third turn).  Wrap and return dough to refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes.  Repeat last rolling out/turn with another 1 1/2 cups sugar (fourth turn).  Wrap dough and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

8. In the morning, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  On a lightly sugared surface, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle (about 16 x 25 inches).  Cut into 15 squares (or 30, if you want small ones).  Fold up corners of one square toward the center and press to seal corners in the middle, or use a toothpick to keep it (sort of) in place.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Repeat with remaining squares.

9. Lightly cover pans with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until puffed, 30-40 minutes.  Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, 35-40 minutes (15-18 minutes for small ones).  If you used toothpicks, remove immediately.  Move from pans onto wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 15 large pastries and I don't know how many small ones (sorry)

Toothpicks helped keep the small ones intact. 
Large ones just opened up, but were still super delicious.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cookies for the Kindergarteners

Mr. Santizo's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mr. Santizo's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hero Factory Guy courtesy of Ezra

One of the best parts of my job as a teacher of English as a Second Language is working with one kindergarten class during Writing.  (Kindergarteners really can write, by the way.)  In the nonfiction unit in our writing curriculum, there is a trade book titled, Mr. Santizo's Tasty Treats.  The book describes a baker who lives in Chicago and bakes cakes, breads, and cookies in a bakery.  At the end of the book is a recipe for Mr. Santizo's chocolate chip cookies.  I made the cookies last year and was not too impressed with the results.  The recipe called for a pound of butter, four eggs and four cups of flour, but only 2 cups of sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (no baking soda).
So this year, I upped the sugar, salt, and vanilla to what I thought were reasonable measurements.  The cookies tasted waaaaaay better this time around, but the texture and appearance are still off, as far as I'm concerned.  I've decided that the baking soda adds a deeper brown color.  The texture when you eat these cookies is pleasant enough.  Chewy.  But the feel of them on my fingers was almost plasticky.  Yeah.  Strange.  Anyway, if you like rubbery chocolate chip cookies, this might be the recipe for you.  I'm posting it because I made it, and because the kindergarteners loved them.  I got lots of thank you hugs today, and that alone is worth posting about.  I love my job, maybe even more than Mr. Santizo the baker loves his.

Mr. Santizo’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
    --adapted from Mr. Santizo's Tasty Treats

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs.  Add vanilla & mix well.
Slowly add flour that’s been mixed with salt into the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla mixture.
Add chocolate chips. 
Make 1-inch size balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes.

Makes about 150 cookies.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bite-Size Chocolate Cream Pie

Bite Size Chocolate Cream Pie
Bite-Size Chocolate Cream Pie with Toasted Coconut

About a month ago, I made some bite-size banana cream pie bites, and they were so cute, and so good, that I realized I had to try this bite-size thing with other types of cream pie.  Chocolate was next on the list (and bite-size coconut cream pie followed that).  I've just adapted the chocolate cream pie recipe I adapted from Once Upon a Chef.  I really like the Oreo crust of the original, and I'm sure you could make this little pie with naked (unfrosted) Oreo wafers, but I wanted to see what would happen with the traditional pie crust (and I didn't want a bag of Oreos hanging around my house).
I tried a few different things with this batch.  I thought toasted coconut would be pretty and tasty on these, and I was right.  The sprinkles are Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Sprinkles that I got from  I like them for these bite-size pies because they are just teeny tiny things.  The ones I've seen in the grocery store are about five times as fat as these little guys.
I ended up with more filling than crusts, so next time I think I might put more chocolate filling on each little pie.  Let me just say in closing, the bite-size pie thing seems to be working.  They are fabulous.  And adorable.

Bite-Size Chocolate Cream Pie

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 14 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped & chopped (or 4 oz. other kind of chopped dark chocolate)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 batch of pie crust (see recipe below)

For Topping


In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk milk and egg yolks until combined.  Pour milk mixture into pan while whisking.  Whisk until smooth.

Place pan on burner set to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly (yes, constantly), making sure to scrape bottom and edges of the pan, until mixture starts to thicken, about 7-9 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in chocolate, butter, and vanilla.  Transfer hot filling to a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap rests in contact with the filling so a skin does not form.  Refrigerate filling until cool, 1-2 hours.

I love this star tip
Once filling and crusts are cool, spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or a quart or gallon size zip top bag.  If you're using the zip top bag, once it's got the filling in it, cut about a half-inch or a little less off one corner. Also place whipped cream into pastry or zip top bags, preferably fitted with a star tip, but that's not absolutely necessary.

Squeeze about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling onto each little crust.  Then top with about a teaspoon of whipped cream.  Top it all off with sprinkles, grated chocolate, or toasted coconut.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Makes 60-70 bite-size pies

Wavy-edged crusts
Pie Crust


(Note: you can also use store-bought refrigerated pie crust, like from Pillsbury)

  • 1 ¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons Crisco
  • 3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water
  • flour for dusting


Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut 4 T butter into flour until it looks like coarse meal, and then cut in Crisco until well blended. Add ice cold water and stir with fork. Then use your hands to gently work the dough into a ball.  Flour a rectangular sheet of wax paper, place dough ball in the middle, flour the ball, and cover with another rectangular sheet of wax paper. Roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/8”.  With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough roughly into 1.5”x 1.5” squares.  You can also be creative and use cookie cutters to make cute shapes.

Place dough pieces on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Prick each piece a few times with a fork.  Bake at 400°F for 11-13 minutes, or until browned on the edges.   Remove from oven. Cool completely before using for bite-size pies.

Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting
--adapted from cdkitchen

  • 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften. 
2. Scald 2 tablespoon of the cream; pour over gelatin, stirring till dissolved.
3. Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Then, with a whisk, beat until smooth. 

4. In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or with a hand beater, whip remaining cream and sugar just until soft peaks form; whip in the smoothed gelatin mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl twice. You will probably only need to whip it another 10-20 seconds before it's done.

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