Friday, October 30, 2015

Butterfinger Cookies

I first made these last month while I was on a business trip to Tennessee.  That building has a full kitchen in it, including an oven, so I decided to treat my fellow workers there to a couple of things, including these Butterfinger cookies.

(Did you know that spellcheck recognizes "Butterfingers" but not "Butterfinger"?  Well, if you didn't know that before, now you do.)

Also have you ever noticed how many times food bloggers take pictures of stacked cookies?  I don't get what is up with that, but I made a point of trying to take a few pics of these cookies all stacked up.

This stack is before the final garnish.  Here it is from a slightly different angle.

Do these stacks make the cookies look better than laid out, like this?

Or fresh from the oven like this?

I get that the cookie stacks look better than the cookie dough balls before baking...

...I'm just not sure why food bloggers stack cookies.  There must be something that they know that I don't know yet.  Maybe someday I will know.  Or maybe not, and I will be lost in a cookie stacking dark confusion all of my born days.

How morbid is that thought?  So I guess you can say that these cookies are perfect for Halloween!  Am I making any sense here?  I didn't think so either, so let me just share the recipe with you and suggest that you try them.

The first time I made them - while I was on that business trip to Tennessee that I mentioned 43 minutes ago at the beginning of this rambling DD - I used a Krusteaz brand peanut butter cookie mix and mini Butterfingers.  It was a good mix that I found at the Publix there in Smyrna, but I added a bit more oil than the package called for since I didn't want them too crumbly.  I truly recommend this mix.  It was a winner.

Then I tried making them from scratch when I got back home, but I didn't care for them as well, since that recipe was more of the standard peanut butter cookie which can tend to be on the crumbly side.

So I wasn't done yet.  I had to try these one more time, and based my recipe on the Peanut Blossom cookies - the holiday standby of the peanut butter cookie with the Hershey Kiss in the middle.  Or if you are me, a peanut butter cookie with the Dove chocolate in the middle.  Cause Dove doesn't taste like plastic chocolate.  Sorry, Hershey.

If you find these where you are, use 'em!

If not, then you'll want to break up enough Butterfinger candy bars to give you about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of Butterfinger bits,crumbles and dust (allowing for nibbles here and there!)  Once you've got that, you are ready to go!

Butterfinger Cookies
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter*
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (next time I think I want to use only brown sugar)
2 T. softened cream cheese
1 egg
Splash of vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
Butterfinger bits
Sugar for rolling
Chocolate for garnish

*I didn't have quite enough peanut butter for 3/4 cup, so I supplemented with a couple tablespoons of Nutella.  Totally worked!

Cream the butter, peanut butter, sugars and cream cheese until smooth, creamy, light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the peanut butter mixture, beating just until combined.  Stir in all but about 1/3 cup of the Butterfinger bits until well combined.

Shape the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 375 for 9 - 11 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then slide the parchment off the sheet for final cooling.

When cooled, melt chocolate bark or chocolate chips to drizzle over the cookies and then garnish with the reserved Butterfinger bits before chocolate sets.

And then be sure you stack your cookies!

Cause that's the money shot!  Or something...

I hope you try these.  They are a pretty fun Fall treat!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Scones Kind of Day

That was today.  It was also yesterday.  Right?
I made a batch of these Sunday morning to share with family and friends, and I thought that they were good enough to make another batch this morning and share with other friends.  Including all of you!

This is based on these two recipes from King Arthur Flour:  Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones and their Triple Cinnamon Scones.  I kinda sorta merged some of the best from both recipes.  I used the fresh apples and cinnamon chips from the apple recipe, but then soaked the chips in the half-n-half plus added a filling and the spicy glaze from the triple cinnamon one.

I used some homemade apple butter as my filling.  If you don't like apple butter, then skip it.  OR if your apple butter has a lot of clove in it, then I would suggest that you not use it.  Clove is one of those spices that needs to only be given a bit part in my opinion.  Like bit parts, clove adds a nice dose of earthiness and depth of reality to the production, BUT like some actors who aren't ok with playing the bit part, if clove is given just an extra line or two, it has a way of stealing the show.  Like stealing the whole show.  Every.  Time.  And not in a good way, if you know what I mean.

So here goes!

2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter
3/4 cup chopped apple
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup half-n-half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Splash of vanilla

Filling (optional)
1/4 cup apple butter

3 T. sparkling sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Spicy Glaze
3 T. brown sugar
1 t. softened butter
Dash of salt
Splash of vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
2 - 4 T. milk

Vanilla Glaze
1 t. softened butter
Dash of salt
Splash of vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar

Soak the cinnamon chips in the half-n-half and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or food processor, mix the dry ingredients together.  Work in the butter until unevenly crumbly.  Large chunks of butter are ok.

Stir in the chopped apple, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon chips soaked in half-n-half.  Mix just until it holds together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with flour.  Dump the dough onto the prepared parchment and knead a couple of times.  Pat into a rectangle about 9" by 9".  Spread the apple butter down the middle third of the rectangle.

Fold one third over the middle.

Then fold the other third over the middle.

Pat gently again to thin to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.

Then begin cutting into triangles, depending on desired size.  Large...

...or smaller.
Oh wait!  Seeing that pic reminds me.  Don't be like me.  Do this smarter.  Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the dough, using a touch of brushed milk to adhere the topping.

Now set the scones in the freezer for about 20 - 30 minutes.  This increases the tenderness and height of the scones.  Then bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before glazing.

Combine all ingredients of each glaze until desired consistency.  Spread the spicy glaze on first and then drizzle the vanilla glaze on last as a garnish.

Pretty yummy!  Set on a pretty napkin and feel like Fall!

How about one more closeup?

Totally doable!  And they freeze great without the glaze.  You can reheat in a 350 degree oven wrapped in foil for about 15 minutes and then glaze right before serving.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Very Good Birthday Year

I have had so many great birthday wishes today!  From little ones full of smiles and joyful crawling skills...Happy Birthday Mimi little ones who sang me happy birthday in their mother's car or told me happy birthday over the phone to donuts and pizza and even a dancing pickle!  (I never had a dancing pickle before!)

Last year I shared happy birthday posts with family members and named the Top 5 Things I Loved About the birthday girl or boy and The Top 5 Things I Would Give Them If Time, Money and Resources Were No Object.  Well that was fun, but I haven't done anything similar this year. Then I got to thinking about starting something similar as 5 Things I've Learned From the birthday boy or girl as a way of appreciating who they are in my life.  And I thought I would practice what this might look like by starting off with my birthday -

5 Things I've Learned in my life in the last year...

# 5 - Pain. Sucks.  Chronic pain really sucks UNLESS I can gain some compassion for others who live with chronic pain for much longer and with much more intensity than I experienced.  Then it doesn't suck so much.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

# 4 - "Change of life" for women of a certain age is an exercise in extremes - at least it is for me.  I am still learning a lot about this sort of thing, but I've learned this much.  Plan to swing....NOT in that one definition of the word, but in the one end of the spectrum to the other in a matter of a few hours definition.  Extreme exhaustion to insomnia.  Very cold to very hot in that sudden, flashy sort of way.  Extreme emotion swings that border on the cray-cray.  Some of you will have heard about the Proverbs 31 woman.  She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue, and she can laugh at the days to come.  I'm now starting to wonder if she can laugh at the days to come because she has hit "The Change" and is laughing in that "we have a special jacket for you" sort of way.

# 3 - I still love The Sound of Music movie, even on the hillside of the St. Louis Art Museum to celebrate it's 50th anniversary.  And I love having a husband who will share The Sound of Music on the hillside of the St. Louis Art Museum on a summer Friday evening surrounded by 500 of our closest friends singing along.

# 2 - Peach butter is a great way to use up frozen peaches that didn't freeze very well and don't bake up well in pies.  And pickle crocks are cool in an old-fashioned sort of way.

# 1 - I can walk 2 miles in under 40 minutes.  It helps to watch Parenthood while I walk.  It can make the 2 miles go by much faster.  Netflix is a great thing.  So is having two working feet and legs and two working arms and hands and two working eyes and ears.  All good things to celebrate on this 2015 birthday!

That's all.  Happy!  Happy!  To birthdays and learning and love!!

Now 54 Years Livin'...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Applesauce Muffins

I love Fall.  One of the things I love most about fall is football.

Uh, football?  Deb, did you just say "football"?

Yes, yes, I did.  Because that makes me a "football widow" for a while, and I enjoy using that time to bake and make fun football watching food.  Don't get me wrong!  I enjoy watching football, too.  For example, as I'm typing this, Oklahoma is beating up on West Virginia in Oklahoma.  Now I come from a long line of OU family, so there is no doubt where my loyalties lie, but have you ever noticed the OU stadium full of fans on "Stripe the Stadium" day - which today is?  Kinda fun.  Fans with tix in odd-numbered sections are asked to wear white, and fans with tix in even-numbered sections are asked to wear, I mean "crimson."  Now, as G said, the white section looks a little like muddy or speckled white, but overall, it's rather fun, and looks pretty cool.  So of course I like watching the football game!

Today I made some applesauce muffins...cause fall...and football...and applesauce on hand...and we be doing some apple pickin' tomorrow!  We got a family pic of apple pickin' two years ago...
...but we failed to get one last year.  (Gotta remedy that!)  Even so, here is one of my favorite pics from last year...cause apple orchard...cause aunt and nephew...cause two grand babies are in this pic...cause love...

As I'm looking through my files to find these pics, I realized that I posted an applesauce muffin recipe last year here so I really don't need to post about the ones I made today.  Since I forgot about those, I haven't done a side-by-side test to know which one I like better, but I would say that they are each good.  I didn't do the butter/maple syrup emulsion for these today, I did something different for the topping this time, but we will get to that in a bit.  First off the muffin recipe - and no pics of putting them together, cause they are super simple!

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup oil (and now I'm out!)
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
Splash of vanilla
2 cups applesauce (I used G's homemade yummy goodness!)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
Scant 1/4 teaspoon cloves (or to taste if you're a big cloves fan!)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, I didn't on these)

Cream the butter, oil and sugars together until smooth and creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla and applesauce and mix well.  

Combine all dry ingredients and then add to wet on low speed, mixing until combined, scraping mixer bowl occasionally.

Scoop into muffin liners, and bake at 350 for 20 - 25 minutes.  (I got 24 regular muffins plus 16 mini-muffins from this amount.)  Cool 5 minutes and then remove from pan.

1/4 cup butter
3 T. sugar
1 - 2 t. cinnamon
Splash of vanilla
Dash of salt
Additional cinnamon sugar mixture

Melt the butter and add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt to the butter.  Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the butter mixture and then dip in cinnamon sugar.
You will get different results based on whether you don't dip at all (upper left), dip in the less amount of cinnamon (lower right) or the higher amount of cinnamon (lower left).  Any option is yummy!  I also believe that these will be even better tomorrow since fruit breads/muffins improve with a bit of resting time.  Plus these will freeze very well for a quick breakfast when needed!

How did I happen to come up with that particular topping combo?  Well, if you are a Pioneer Woman fan, you may recognize this as her cinnamon toast spread.  I tried her method today, and I get it.  I'm not sure I would take those steps every time I wanted cinnamon toast, but the vanilla and the baking plus broiling steps make for a nice toast, no doubt.  But hey, I had some left not?  I melted that yummy goodness and started dipping!

There is one more baking trick I want to pass along in case you haven't heard this before.  Here are the mini muffins right out of the oven.  You may not be able to see it immediately but the eight wells in the middle all have water in them.  I have done this for years to help even out the baking if I make muffins or cupcakes and don't have enough batter for all of the wells.  It reduces chances of hot spots and over browning for the muffins next to the empty wells.

Could these mini ones be much cuter?
Well...after dipping them especially!
OK there is one being in the hands of a grand kiddo ready to munch one down!  I will try to snap a pic of that when we are in the apple orchard!

(I love the phrase apple orchard.  It just sounds so pleasing and cool and crisp and sweet and country and abundant.)

Happy Fall!