Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ahhhh.....the Sweet Taste of Victory

Sorry to all my faithful readers out there (all 3 of you). I have been slacking and haven't posted anything in awhile. Well, a girl has a right to take a break after a marathon, now doesn't she?

Ahhhh....the marathon. If you would have asked me within the last two miles of the marathon if I would ever want to do a marathon again I would have said, "Are you crazy?!!!!" But now it looks like tons of my friends and even the possibility of my freshman HS bball coach will run again next year and of course that means I have to run. Of course.

It truly was an amazing event. The crowds of people in NYC cheering us mere running mortals on was inspiring, uplifting, and just plain awesome! It was a party all the way until the end (although those last two miles all I could hear was my little running coach voice in my head saying, "Just keep running, just keep running!" in the Finding Nemo voice and "You're almost there!!!! Just keep running!!!!") My sister called later in the day and asked how I did. I set her up with, "I got a medal!" She said excitedly, "You did?!!!!" And I said with a devilish grin on my face, "Yep! Along with everyone else who finished." Ha!
But there IS one contest where I won. The Brownie from a Box vs. The Brownie from Scratch competition. It all started last year with the reception desk at my office debating which tastes better. We all were pretty sure the boxed version tasted better because we all have eaten some nasty homemade versions. Well, I volunteered to make some from scratch and Maggie said she would make some from a box. They had to be simple without extra fudge, peanutbutter, M&Ms etc in it. Well, I had never made brownies from scratch before and I was very intrigued to see what I could do. I researched them online and stumbled upon the NY Times Supernatural Brownie Recipe. Well, long story short....Maggie's brownies bombed and mine were truly supernatural. In a taste test mine won all the votes and the heart of my coworkers. I have made them numerous times after because of requests for the utterly splenderifc brownies. (Oh, and I didn't win a medal, but I did win a little McDonald's toy of a zebra on wheels. Woohoo!!!!)Supernatural Brownies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado (Erika's Extra Note: light brown sugar works fine as well)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. (Erika's note: This recipe is so buttery I've never needed to use parchment paper.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.
Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.
Bake well and prosper!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thank You, Off the Mark

I love comics. I love comics so much that my senior year of high school I wrote an essay about how everyone in the world should read the daily comics. It would make the world a better place.

Well, as a baker, I found this horribly wrong and deliciously funny.

Thanks for all the laughs Off the Mark! (In particular, this one:)

Go to for more.

Next blog: A great recipe for what to do when you have lots of eggs to use before they expire.

Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pile o'cookies

So, I made the banana bread and froze some for my parents' arrival for the big marathon weekend. (Next entry I will recap the marathon, but for now, yes, I DID finish!) Also, I decided to make some cookies they have never had before - cherry garcia cookies.

Now, usually when I bake, I have music on. I've been known to make Beethoven brownies, Jesus Christ Superstar Trials and Tribulations Almond Joy Cake (long story...), and Black Eyed Peas cookies. This past time was no exception....I listened to a past time....Oldies. I LOVE Oldies. I'm talking about the 50s and 60s and early 70s. The golden oldies and the hippie oldies. I was serenaded by the Beatles while making these cookies. Oh, and so was my cookie dough.

So, if by now you haven't figured out that I am a dork, well, I am very concerned about you. And if by now you don't believe that I am messy, well, that is because I sometimes hide it from you. But, I will be fair and share. Exhibit A is a fine example of a mix of flour and sugar that I accidentally dropped on the floor instead of in the bowl. Notice how I slightly pushed it aside, but I knew vacuuming it would be futile until all baking was done. Exhibit B is a great example of why I don't clean up until finishing the assembly of the baked good's goodness (dough.) More sugar was dropped just shortly after the flour and sugar episode. Yeah, I am that helpless. And yes, this (plus more!) messiness happens every time I bake.

However, do not despair. The cookies turned out just fine.

Cherry Garcia Cookies (from with my own tips thrown in)

1 cup dried cherries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, (packed)
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped macadamia nuts (optional) (I've never put these in and quite frankly think it might be overkill)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place dried cherries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 30 minutes to plump up. Drain well, pat dry, and coarsely chop. (I don't chop. I think they are perfect while whole.)

Whisk together salt, baking soda, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add flour mixture to butter mixture half at a time and mix until combined. Fold in cherries, white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts. Refrigerate cookie dough 30 to 45 minutes to firm up.

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, placing cookies about 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to racks to cool completely.

Bake well and prosper!