Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dirty Chai Cookies (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)


I've got a secret.

Okay, I'm not really sure how "secret" it is.  But I've got some information.  And this information has the potential to rock your world. 

But for this to really pack the punch, I must first set the scene.

It's kind of like those episodes of How I Met Your Mother that open up with something completely outrageous and then back up and break it down.  (How totally great are those?)

I love Starbucks. 
Well, actually I love lattes.  Alright, let's break it waaayy down.  I. Love. Foam.

It's like velvety, creamy, whipped goodness.  
But there is good foam and then there is bad foam.
Bad foam is airy, bubbly, runny, flat.
Good foam is like meringue.  Seductive.  Delicious.  A dollop of heaven along with your daily caffeine.

My fondness for Starbucks then doesn't come from the atmosphere or quality, but from the sheer convenience.  It's the new McDonald's.  There is one on every corner.  No other business in the world offers me so many chances to grab coffee and frothy steamed milk. 

Well played, Starbucks, you have earned my respect...and my heart.
Instant Chai Latte Mix, Chai Tea, Instant Espresso, 60% Dark Chocolate Chips

I enjoy all things latte.  I enjoy such things to the extent that I volunteer (as in--for free) at our church cafe several times a month.  The best perk?  Free coffee...all the time.  Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.  

It took me months upon months before I was able to produce the kind of fantastic foam that could meet my unrealistic standards.  If I wasn't impressed, it didn't get served.  Okay, so that basically meant I refused to make drinks, but how can you fault me?  Inferior foam is in an offensive league all its own.  

Once I got that hurdle behind me, it opened up a whole new world of experimentation.  And experiment I did. 

I will try anything.  Edible.  I will try anything edible.  Let me clarify.  Don't get crazy. 

I have a cafe "partner in crime" and together we came up with some doozies including the Cherry Vanilla Latte and my personal fav the Tapatio Latte (the experience - because the taste was just horrendous).

One day, a light bulb went on in my head:

"*Bling* Omg, I know how to fix everything that is wrong with the Chai Latte! Add some shots of espresso!"

My genius lasted all of two seconds.  Because well #1) pretty much everyone loves Chai Lattes, but me. I don't get it.  It's like spicy watery milk and #2) the "Dirty Chai" already exists.  Even Starbucks carries it.  (Yes, the "dirty" part refers to the color of the espresso.  Geeze people!). 

Nevertheless, these are so good I'll let it slide that someone invented it before me.  No biggie.  Heck, I'll even let it slide that Starbucks can make fantastic Christmas-in-a-cup-goodness and yet they keep it on their SECRET menu!  Starbucks, how could you?!

And when it's iced....oh, don't even get me started.
So when a friend of mine asked if I would bake something for the dessert bar at her wedding, I jumped right on that.  I knew we both liked chai.  In fact, she was there the night I came up with my brilliant-idea-that-already-existed-but-nobody-deemed-important-enough-to-tell-me-so-I-had-to-figure-it-out-on-my-own-and-then-not-even-get-to-take-the-credit-for-it.

But I've let that go.  

So the question was: How could I make a dirty chai cookie?

Once I found these Chai Latte Cookies, I knew I had my inspiration.

I added extra straight up from a tea bag (the spicier the better),
Switched out the buttercream for an espresso ganache,
And boom...
I present to you: The Dirty Chai Cookie.
Dirty Chai Cookies

Chai Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup for rolling
  • 2 packets instant chai latte powder (1/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp chai tea
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Whipped Espresso Ganache:

  • 10oz semi sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp instant espresso

1) Preheat oven to 375F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a medium sized bowl, beat butter, sugar, chai latte powder, and chai tea (I used Tazo.  Just cut
    open the bag and measure!) until fluffy.
3) Add vanilla and egg.  Beat until well mixed.
4) In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together.
5) Add flour mixture to sugar mixture a little bit at a time until thoroughly combined.
6) Pour 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Take a small amounts of dough and roll it into a tiny balls -
    approx. 1/2 inch.  (Seriously, with these think super small. Remember you are going to add another
    cookie plus ganache).  Toss into sugar bowl and place on cookie sheet an inch apart.
7) Very gently press the flat bottom of a glass onto the top of each dough ball.  You just want to flatten
    the top slightly, you don't want increase the diameter of the ball.
8) Bake for 8 minutes or until dry to touch.  Makes approx. 40 cookies.

A) Set aside chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
B) In small saucepan, heat cream just until boiling.
C) Add espresso powder to cream and stir until dissolved.
D) Pour cream over chocolate chips and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.
E) Let ganache cool to room temperature.  With a hand mixer beat until slightly fluffy.  Be careful not  
     to over beat.  Mixture will become like chocolate butter and be very difficult to spread.  (Tip: if
     needed to help with the whipping process place bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Be
     careful as ganache gets very firm once chilled and will be extremely difficult to spread.)

Spread a small amount of ganache onto one chai cookie half.  Top with another.  If cookies will not be eaten right away they should be refrigerated, but ganache will hold up as long as not in direct heat.
And they were delish!  This dough is to die for. 

Today photos by: ME!!!  And my new DIY lightbox!

These were Featured:


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fluffernutter Brownie Batter Ice Cream (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

The Odd Couple.

French Fries and Chocolate Milkshakes.

Peaches and a BBQ grill.

Skinny jeans and stilettos.  

What do all these things have in common?

Um, that they are flipping awesome together?!

Sometimes opposites can make the most compatible pairings.

I offer a poignant example:

I know these two people, you see.

One:                                                                              Two:
Has sophisticated taste in music.                                       Has no problem rocking out to the Beibs.
Needs their stories to be full of whimsy and fantasy.            Needs hard core character development.
Loves animals.                                                                 Likes their cat. (singular)
Is a creative genius.                                                         Is an professional organizer.
Extrovert                                                                         Introvert
Blonde (for today)                                                            Brunette (for years)
Tall                                                                                 Short

...Seriously, the list can go on.

One is my best friend, and Two is, well, me.  Notice I said "Best Friend" as in these two total opposites not only tolerate each other, but purposely spend hours upon hours all the time.

Obviously, we have to have some things in common or our hang out sessions would be short lived.
Things like 60's fashion, The Walking Dead, and cupcakes help make up for the times we spend TWO hours trying to pick a movie. ("[Insert 80's Movie Suggestion here]." "Oh, I'm not really into the 80's." "Eighties?? :)" "Um, I said no." "80's!!!" "That's it. Molly Ringwald is going down!")

One thing we have always been able to agree upon is Peanut Butter.

How awesome is PB?  Am I right?!

Peanut Butter and Jelly.
Peanut Butter in a Milkshake.
Peanut Butter on a spoon.
Peanut Butter and...Marshmallow?

Two things I would have never thought to put together, yet the combination seems so....ordained.

How did I not know about this till like a year ago?????  What kind of childhood did I endure?  To not be introduced to the "Fluffernutter?" This is an utter travesty, I tell you.

So what is a peanut butter lover to do?

Whip up the most peanut buttery ice cream on the planet!  That's what.

Seriously, this two-ingredient ice cream is like the best thing ever!
....Add some marshmallow fluff to rectify childhood trauma,
....Top it off with leftover brownie batter for good measure,


Earth shattering, I know.
Fluffernutter Brownie Batter Ice Cream
-1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
-2 cups Heavy Whipping
-1/2 cup Peanut Butter
-1/2 cup Marshamallow Fluff
-Prepared Edible Brownie Batter:
       1/4 Box Brownie Mix
       2 Tbsp Butter
       1 Tbsp Water
       Mix together and roll into bite sized bits.

1) Place large mixing bowl in freezer.  (It helps when whipping the heavy cream).  While waiting for
    bowl to chill (approx. 10 min), in a medium sized mixing bowl beat 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1 can
    sweetened condensed milk until well blended.  *1/2 cup is a LOT of peanut butter.  Use 1/4 cup for
    a less overwhelming flavor.

2) After peanut butter and condensed milk are combined add in 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff.  Mix/beat
    till just combined.  Do not over mix.

3) Take large bowl out of freezer and beat 2 cups heavy cream till stiff peaks form.  Fold peanut butter
    mixture into whipped cream. Add brownie bits, folding till dispersed throughout.

4) Place mixture into a covered container (tupperware, etc.) and place in freezer.  Freeze overnight.
    Scoop.  Enjoy!

Tip: Keep a glass of milk handy.
Prepare to have your peanut butter lover socks knocked off.  

Photography provided to you by Travis Howland Photography

Featured June 2013:
Pin It Monday Hop I was Featured     

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cookie Dough Fudge (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

I have a huge sweet tooth.

I'm guessing you find that pretty obvious? 

But after browsing through scads of baking blogs these past few months, I think this point needs to be reiterated.

Let me explain...

As a budding blogger, I have found that by surrounding myself with established bakers in the blogosphere I can speed up the learning curve.  Allowing me to adapt things that resonate, to my own, blog.  After all, "imitation is the sincerest form of learning." 

(No joke, that's a real quote by George Bernard Shaw -- I just got all literary on you).

Without these--let's face it--ladies, all I have to offer are some convection ovens.  And my wit. ;) 

New project for this week: Find a male-run baking blog.  He is out there.  And I will find him.

I've upped my game.  Hence, the whole getting food mag quality pictures.  Once my tutelage is complete (Thanks Trav!), my site design is next under the knife.  I welcome you, oh world of computer code. 

With all this extracurricular reading, I've become privy to one surprising, albeit slightly irritating, trend: 

Not all baking bloggers like to eat. 

Are you kidding me?  Shouldn't this be some sort of prerequisite?  I demand to see the Baking Bloggers Code of Conduct!

I mean if you invest the mental energy to think of something to bake, spend the money to purchase the ingredients, take the time to cook, and then lavish the world with your carefully cultivated would have to agree that some level of passion--if not obsession--would be involved, right? 

Then why am I finding 
...posts about 5K marathon's?
...people so toned and skinny there is no way they actually ate that double-dog-dare-you-devil  
   chocolate cake they just posted?
...promises that every recipe is "tasted?" *Note the choice wording

I smell an inner struggle. 

If holding on to a few extra pounds is so bothersome why have a blog devoted to fattening, sugar-packed treats completely devoid of nutritional value?  

Don't torture yourself.  I'll gladly relieve you of such heartache and become your professional taste tester.  Call me!


1) Out of the 24 Snickerdoodle Blondies I made last week, 10 of them made it into my belly.
2) 2 extra batches were made before the weeks end.  I ate 5 more.

I'll admit, 7 Snickerdoodle bars in one day is a little excessive, but at least my running a baking blog makes sense.    
It's because when I see recipes like these: Cookie Dough Fudge

I get excited.  I start to drool a little bit.  

One of the main reasons I love baking so much is because you can eat the process.  I mean, how many things can you name that are more delicious than chocolate chip cookie dough?

A fudge that incorporates "the process?"  Heck yes!

Fudge can prove to be quite the difficult beast.  But you can not mess this recipe up.  It's simple, totally easy, and literally fool proof.

Now for the caveat.  There are 5 cups of powdered sugar in this recipe.  

It's not a secret that I don't enjoy the flavor of powdered sugar.  I should really learn to read through recipes before I start.  Inevitably this was the reason the recipe was impossible to ruin, but it's also the reason I need to find another version to try.  

And I'll do it too.  Because safe, edible, cookie dough has to be one of the greatest inventions.  EVER.


3) I ate 4 pieces of this fudge even though I didn't really like it.

That's dedication you can take to the bank. 

Photography provided to you by Travis Howland Photography

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Snickerdoodle Blondies (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

This week I'm making amends. 

For all of you who came back saying, "That last post was pushing it.  One more off-the-wall idea and I'm done!"

This is for you.

The Snickerdoodle Blondie.

I'm going to cut right to the chase because this recipe is so good there really are no words eloquent or accurate enough to describe all the pure cinnamon, brown-sugary, buttery, chewy goodness that these bars are.  You just need to gawk at them in all their glory. 

Well that...and I'm fighting off a cold and really just need to go to sleep.

But seriously, this is a "go-to."  One of my top five favorite things I have ever made.  And it's so so so so so so easy.


And now...enjoy the show.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, if that is true then this is my wordiest post yet. (Is that even possible?)

I guess that would make this a Double Amends Post.  

Reading and avocado haters - this is my peace offering.  Please love me. 






Treating a snack like a pin-up says it all. 

Photo Credit For: #1, #5, #7

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Two Ingredient Ice Cream: Avocado Chip (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)

You'll either hate me or love me.

Just to clarify, that's this weeks featured treat talking -- not me.  

I guess you can hate or love me.  But that seems a little rash doesn't it?
I mean, you don't even know me!!  Sniff....tear. 

Nope, this week I tried something a little out of the ordinary: Avocado Chip Ice Cream.

Now you understand my comment, huh?  

Honestly, I have never once made something that stirred up such controversy.  
This is recreational baking, right?  Not a debate on whether you should eat at Chick-fil-A or not.

People were legitimately offended. 

For fun I took a casual poll: Avocado Ice Cream?  Yes or No?

And I received every response from:

Um, yes please!


I'm writing Obama.  

Guys need to chill.  It's ice cream.  And pretty darn good ice cream at that.  

Put aside the avocado for one sec.  I want you to at least realize how amazing this whole two-ingredient ice cream is.  And if you need to put the avocado from your mind to do it...then please, I'll wait.

You good?


This ice cream is so easy, anyone can do it: Heavy Whipping Cream + Sweetened Condensed Milk.  No machine required.  And to top it off, it is totally, completely, 100% customizable.  

Always loved PB&J?  
Have a thing for Dirty Chai Lattes?
Black licorice makes your heart flutter?
Boom.  Make it an ice cream.

Which brings us to the present.  So why avocado?

Basically, I like to try new things.  

I've seen this two ingredient recipe for ice cream floating around the blogosphere for awhile now and it wasn't until I saw this that I decided the time had come.  It seems avocado is the way to my heart.  Who knew, right?

I was a little skeptical about it actually having the consistency of ice cream, but it really does taste like the creamiest, most fattening ice cream you'll ever have.  *A tip: it freezes rock solid.  Leave it out for about 15 minutes before scooping.

As for the the flavor, my sister's bff said it best: "Sweet avocado is [at once] weird/delicious/disgusting/intriguing." Put that on a plaque, people.   

Although, I have to say.  It grows on you.  Pulls you in with just enough titillation, that by the end of 
the week you realized you have scooped your last scoop.  Ninja'd by a fatty fruit.

"Hey! Avocado Ice Cream,...

I misssssssssssss youuuuu!"


You've probably noticed the drastic improvement in my photo quality.

All credit goes to my friend Travis.  He's helping me set up a little blog "studio."
In the meantime, you'll be graced with his excellent photos.
Check him out at Travis Howland Photography and

Don't get too spoiled. :)


What awesome flavor would you dream up?