Welcome to The Cookie Monster, a blog about the most marvelous, versatile, and beloved bakeable item in the land: The cookie. You may see occassional forays into pies, bars, and other sweet treats, but my main focus is and has always been on the bite sized genius behind my very favorite snack. Happy Baking!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Pie Mania!

Today was one of the annual Buell family baking marathon days. In honor of fall, and apple picking season, my Auntie Barbara, Jamie and I, and our Crowley cousins make the short trek out to Apple country for the harvest. This is followed immediately by some serious pie baking. Why bake one pie when you can bake 6 right? But this year....we actually managed to bake 10.

Step One: Drive out to Western Mass and pick some apples.

Me and My sister under an apple tree:

Me Auntie BB and Jenn :

Step two: Pull out your ancient cookbook full of secret recipes, bonus points if it falls apart on contact.

I'm actually not sure what the exact recipe was for these pies, as we were pretty much divided into tasks. I can tell you I probably sliced a few million apples though. I'm still sticky.
Auntie Babs was largely in charge of making the crust:

Jame, Jenn and I were slaving away at the apple peeling/slicing:

Check out this sink FULL of apple peels. This was only about half way through.

Here's Jenn filling the pies:

One down. We actually thought we'd made 9 pies and then we realized upon counting that we'd actually made 10. One for the freezer :) woo!
The finished product! Definitely a big project. Stay tuned for our Mass Gingerbread bake-athon coming in December. That one is even crazier :)

Happy Baking!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Birthday Cake for Three!

I had to have a root canal re-done this week, which was awesome, clearly. On top of that, I found out I have to have a significant amount of work done on yet another tooth. To say the least, I was feeling pretty glum (and broke). How could I possibly cheer myself up? Pajamas and Cake!

Joe and I are headed up to Maine to spend some family time with my mom and sister for the weekend at her golf resort time share (yes I plan on golfing, laugh it up). All three of us have impending birthdays, and busy schedules, so I decided I would take the opportunity to bake a little birthday cake for the three of us.

Since I’m not nearly as experienced a cake baker as I am with cookies, I randomly googled some birthday cake recipes, and nabbed this one off of allrecipes.com.

“Moist Chocolate Cake”

1 cup margarine (I used butter)
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used more like 7 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

First, sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl, and set aside. Next bust out your cake pan, and grease/flour that bad boy.

Now to the mixer. Cream together the butter and sugar, and let the machine go for a while until it’s nice and fluffy.

Add in your eggs, one at a time. Then add in your vanilla.

Next alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, switching back and forth, until just combined.

Pour your batter into your cake pan, and bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

Let your cake cool for a bit, then carefully transfer it to a wire rack.

Using my handy-dandy cake leveller, I levelled the top of the cake.

Then I used the same too the half the cake, for that "layered" effect.
While your cake is cooling, whip up your frosting. I decided to go with a classic butter cream frosting.

1/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

First cream the butter for a bit on high speed. Then add in your confection sugar, and beat until combined. Add your vanilla. Then add in the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is at your desired consistency.

I dyed mine a blue-ish color.
Frost your bottom layer first, completely, then stack on your top level.

I decided to add some decorative sprinkles, using a star shaped cookie cutter as a guide.

That didn’t really work out as I pictured it.

So I opted to just spread the sprinkles around and add some more for good measure. My frosting was getting pretty warm and melty in my hot kitchen, so I decided I would let it refrigerate overnight, and add my final touches before we hit the road.

Fast forward to Friday! Coors light in hand, I set out to finish my cake.

I whipped up a quick decorating frosting. Basically mix together some shortening, almond extract, and powdered sugar. I used the almond because the only vanilla extract I had was a dark brown, which would tint the color of the frosting. It actually is quite delicious. I think I might make an orange-flavored cake or cupcake and try this almond concoction on top. Yum.
Anywho, I wrote out a quick “Happy Birthday” And since there were three of us, and I was too lazy to write out all our names, I just went with first initials.

I sealed the edges off with a quick “star tip” row along the outside of the cake, top and bottom.
Perhaps not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but I’m pretty happy with it.

Happy Baking!!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Trio

I love Peanut Butter Cookies. I mean I LOVE them. The problem is I hardly ever make them, for fear of peanut allergies at whatever event I'm baking for, and because some people (gasp) just aren't PB cookie fans.

Well This weekend Joe and I are off on a hiking/ATVing/grilling adventure on our own, and I know for a fact that we are both huge proponents of this deliciously decadent treat. I figured I would whip up a batch of my (awesome) go-to PB cookie recipe, and play around a bit by adding a few unexpected ingredients: Pretzels, and Chocolate Chunks.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup (plus a little more) smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
and in this case: 1/3 cup of pretzels; 1/3 cup of chocolate chunks.

Cream together the butter and sugar, first off.

Then, it's time to add the egg, vanilla, and the PB.

Finally we add in all the dry ingredients, and blend until nice and smooth.

Normally at this point you would proceed to roll the dough into balls, roll those balls in sugar, and then lightly flatten them onto the cookie sheet with a fork. But that was too simple to me on this marvelous evening. I divided my dough into thirds.

I mixed in 1/3 cup of chocolate chunks into one third.

Then 1/3 cup of pretzels into another.

And I went for the tried and true PB simplicity with my final third. These cookies don't spread all that much, so I smushed them all down a bit on the cookie sheet for good measure.

Once everything’s set up, bake for 12 minute at 375. For some reason, the cookies with extra stuff in them got a little darker than the normal PB cookies. Perhaps I will take off a minute of the bake time my next go round.

And Tada! Regular...No fail, delicious, Love these.

Pretzels....Kinda different! I'm liking the extra saltiness. Definitely yummy.

Chocolate Chunk. The perfect combo of peanut butter and chocolate.

All three were really yummy. I packed some up for our weekend away, and I'll bring the rest into work with me tomorrow. Lucky Calloway peeps :)

Happy Baking!