dessert

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[nutella pillows]

You may have noticed navy + cream was out of commission the past week, and I’m pointing my finger at you, Snowmageddon 2011. Below, one of many eerie photos circulating the web that captured the mayhem.

[Lake Shore Drive, a highway that runs through Chicago, as it appeared the morning of February 2nd.]

Although the blizzard threw everyone out of whack, I secretly loved it. We spent the two blustery days holed up at Vince’s sister and husbands house lazing around in our pajamas playing board games, eating junk food and watching movies. The third morning Vince and I felt the twangs of cabin fever and we finally surfaced from their home, only to discover that Vince’s poor car was buried under a miniature Mount Everest. Two hours, a piece of cardboard, a borrowed shovel, and two good samaritans later, we managed to free his car from the snowdrift. That was about the time I started to simultaneously loath the snow and praise the Lord for my heated garage spot.

Blizzard business aside, this past week I discovered a new favorite holiday: World Nutella Day. Music to my ears. On February 5th, chocolate lovers like myself celebrate all of the goodness that is this delicious, sweet, and creamy Italian spread. I came across this yummy-sounding yet simple recipe on Picky Palate and thought it would be the perfect way to ring in Nutella Day.

Nutella Pillows

  • 1 package puff pastry, 2 pastry sheets thawed [you can find it in your freezer aisle]
  • 1 cup Nutella [available at most grocery stores, at Jewel it's located by the peanut butter and jelly]
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water for egg wash
  • sprinkling of sugar
  • sprinkling of powdered sugar [optional]

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cut each square of pastry into 4 equal size pieces.  Spread a couple tablespoons of Nutella spread onto the center of each pastry leaving 1/2 inch border around edges.  Top each with about 12-15 mini marshmallows and fold over to form a little triangle.  Crimp edges firmly with the tines of a fork.  Brush with egg white wash then sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until pastry just turns golden.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar then dig in! Yields 8 pillows.

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While perusing my new favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s, I came across this sweet canister of Irish oatmeal. Satisfied with the retro aluminum can [my mind was already busy figuring out other uses for it once empty] I added it to my bounty and went on my merry way.

Last night I set about making a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with my new purchase. I’d never seen Irish oats before, much less cooked with them, so I assumed they were the same as Quaker’s. Ah-hem, I was wrong:

This is how they appear cooked. I think they look more like rice than oatmeal but I was determined to see how they tasted in the cookie so I forged ahead. I found a way to use them in place of the “rolled oats” the recipe called for – in my case the recipe asked for 3/4 cup rolled oats so I placed 3/4 cup cold water and 3/4 cup Irish oatmeal in a pot and brought to a boil. Once cooled, I continued with the recipe as usual.

Irish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature [if you use salted butter just don't add the extra salt]
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt [again, omit this if you are using salted butter]
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats [to use Irish oatmeal, use the method I described above. you just need to pre-cook it a bit because it's starchier than rolled oats]
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [175 C]. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth [you don't need a mixer. i hand-mixed with a spatula]. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stir into the creamed mixtute. Finally, stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto the cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. [My oven completely ignores things like temperature settings and is a blazing inferno no matter what the set degree, therefore my cookies were done in 7 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they'll burn quickly.] Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Makes around 18 cookies.

*adapted from this recipe


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[doughnut muffins]

These cute bite-sized treats are just doughnuts stealthily disguised as muffins. By nature, muffins are healthy, therefore by definition these are healthy doughnuts, a rarity I know. These are baked, unlike their deep-friend amigos, and I do use whole-wheat flour + skim milk so they’re relatively innocent.

Doughnut Muffins

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour [if you only have white all-purpose, use that]
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk [I used skim, use whatever you have on hand]

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line mini muffin tray with paper liners or grease tray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream oil and 1 cup sugar; beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Stir flour into egg mixture alternately with milk. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. While muffins bake, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Remove muffins from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. While muffins are still warm, roll muffins in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. [I was having trouble getting the cinnamon sugar mixture to stick to the muffins so I added this step] Make a simple syrup with equal parts cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and dip muffin tops in simple syrup. Re-dip in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Share and make instant friends.

*adapted from recipe at allrecipes.com

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It was a cold, windy, rainy night here in Chicago – the perfect weather to watch some Real Housewives, catch up on magazines, and bake a batch of no-fuss brownies. Good thing I always keep a box of brownie mix in the pantry for times like this. One box of Jiffy fudge brownie mix, a handful of marshmallows, some mini milk-chocolate chips, and a dash of Reese’s pieces [mini for baking] later I had a plate of my kitchen-sink brownies. And, now my entire apartment smells like velvety chocolate, one of the upsides of living in a small space.

Kitchen-Sink Brownies

  • 1 box Jiffy fudge brownie mix [makes enough brownies for 2-3 people]
  • per box instructions: 1 egg + 1 tbsp water + 2 tbsp oil
  • handful of mini marshmallows, plus reserve handful to sprinkle on top towards the end
  • handful of Reese’s pieces [the mini kind you find in the baking aisle]
  • handful of mini milk-chocolate chips*

*as the name of the brownie implies, add whatever sweet ingredients you have. no need for a trip to the grocery store on a night like this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Pour into greased mini loaf pan [Jiffy says to use a 9"x 5" loaf pan but mine was even smaller and it turned out fine]. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Sprinkle mini-marshmallows on top and broil for 3-4 minutes until marshmallows are nicely toasted. Let cool completely. Here’s a tip I learned – if you dip a knife in cool water it makes it so much easier to cut.

[All that's missing? A glass of milk. On my nails: Revlon Minted layered with Essie Overnight.]


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Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year, is only four days away. This year I’m dressing up as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, white pleather jacket and all [in case you need a visual, check this out]. In honor of Mr. Rooney ["ROOONEY!"], I decided to whip up some coconut macaroons, a.k.a. macarooneys. These crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside coconutty wonders were the perfect light bite to satisfy my sweet tooth. Although they look pretty fancy, don’t be deterred, they were a snap to make.

Edward Macarooneys

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • one 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, cold water, corn syrup, and salt to a boil over medium-high het, stirring to dissovle the sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine the syrup with the bag of shredded coconut and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites and vanilla until foamy and thick; stir into the coconut mixture. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto each of 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden [about 15 minutes], switching the pans halfway through. Let cool completely on racks.

[Recipe courtesy of Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine]

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