Month: October 2014

Slutty Brownie in a Mug

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Okay, not the classiest name for a dessert.  But seriously guys, this is important.  A slutty brownie.  In a mug.  Just for you.  Everyone knows the wonders of slutty brownies, right?  (If you’re saying “no”…imagine brownies, on top of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, on top of Oreos, on top of a chocolate chip cookie base.  Mmm.)

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Usually it’s in a full pan… also usually made with a prepackaged tube of cookie dough and a box of brownie mix.  And anyone who knows me knows that there are few things I avoid more actively than boxed mixes.  So this baby’s from scratch!  It’s hard to divide prepackaged things into individual servings, anyway (gotcha there, commercial food industry).

Sometimes, you just need to dive into something chocolate-peanut butter-oreo-y as a complete abandon of anything healthy for a day…but you don’t want to make a full pan of slutty brownies if that’s all you need, because then it will surely be for more than one day..!  Unless you have a party where you can share your whole pan of slutty brownies, making them is a delicate and dangerous endeavor. Problem, solved!  One single serving of this decadent dessert that, sure, you may feel bad about if you’re reeeeally on a diet, but at least there won’t be more lying around when you’re done!

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It’s certainly a little more work than your average “mug brownie” recipe, and not an exact stand-in for a full from-scratch slutty brownie, but it comes together marvelously quickly and is still from scratch and delicious!

Please notice that my Oreo has orange creme…Happy Halloween!  Maybe this should be your excuse to buy some half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st, huh? Teehee.

Also, take care not to overbake this!!! There is no egg, so food safety is not an issue…Plus, a) everybody likes a gooey brownie and b) nobody likes a burnt Reese’s! Yuck.

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See how it still shines even though it’s warmed through? Don’t be worried if yours doesn’t look “dry” like a normal baked brownie.

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Slutty Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients:

2 T. Butter, divided

2 T. + 2 t. Granulated Sugar, divided

1 t. Brown Sugar

A few drops of Vanilla Extract

2 pinches of Salt

1 T. Cocoa Powder

2 t. Water

4 T. Flour, divided

2 heaping t. Chocolate Chips, divided (preferably mini chocolate chips)

1 Oreo

1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

Method:

Using microwave-safe equipment, melt 1 T. butter in each a small bowl and a mug.

To the mug, add 2 t. granulated sugar, 1 t. brown sugar, a few drops of vanilla, and a pinch of salt, then stir with a fork.  Add 2 T. flour, stirring to combine, and one heaping teaspoon of chocolate chips.  This is the cookie base.

In the bowl, add 2 T. granulated sugar, a few drops of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and stir with a fork (use the same fork, I don’t care).  Add 1 T. cocoa powder and 2 t. water, stirring to combine again before incorporating 2 T. flour.  Add the remaining heaping teaspoon of chocolate chips.  This is now the brownie batter.

Make sure that the cookie base covers the bottom of the mug evenly (it will be thin), then microwave it on high for 20-30 seconds or until the cookie looks mostly dry and set.  Squish the Oreo on top of the cookie base, followed by the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and finally the brownie batter, again making sure that the batter covers everything evenly.

Microwave once more on high for about 30 seconds or until the brownie has bubbled up around the edges but is still gooey.  Place in freezer for 5 minutes to stop the slutty brownie from overbaking (and to cool it to a palatable temperature).

Enjoy with a huge glass o’ milk!

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Note: This recipe has been updated since first posted.  The amount of water in the brownie batter has decreased to make a more pleasing final texture.  I hope you enjoy it all the more!

Trick-or-Treat Halloween Popcorn Balls!

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I enjoy popcorn balls.  I REALLY enjoy Halloween.  And ever since my grandmother gave us those pre-wrapped popcorn balls in black and orange packaging, I’ve associated them with the spooky holiday.  Now, I say I “enjoy” popcorn balls because there is a wide range of quality, and depending on which kind you get…they may not be all that great.

My main problem with popcorn balls:  They are dry and hard and taste like rice cakes.

My solution: Use a caramel sauce to bind them together–not a hard-candy sugar mixture that will cool to be crunchy.

So, off I go on my adventure, and I realize “WAIT, I can get MORE flavor if I use brown sugar–and heck, I even have DARK BROWN sugar.  I’ve caramelized brown sugar before, this should be fine!” (Brown sugar is hard to caramelize).

After the dark brown sugar stopped looking like sand, it started looking like peanut butter. Which was the strangest thing. Voila, below:

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Super Weird.

So, the dark brown sugar wasn’t having it–it burned.  It also didn’t help that there were 2 cups of it in my pot.  …Essentially, everything was wrong with this first attempt.

Attempt No. 2 is what you have here!

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Luscious, smooth, non-burnt caramel sauce with some toasted pecans, too!  (I admit, the pecans failed the first time as well.  It was an off-day).

Plain ol’ white granulated sugar, and only one cup this time.  The only thing left for Attempt No. 3 shall be figuring out how to make them look as shiny and beautiful as they taste.  So expect this post to be updated one of these days…

But for now, we have these gorgeous globs of caramel corn!

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Trick-or-Treat Halloween Popcorn Balls

Yield: 8 popcorn balls.  NOTE: If doubling this recipe, do it in batches so that the pot of sugar isn’t overfilled (lest the bottom burn before the top melts).

Ingredients:

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. water (I admit this is probably overkill.  This will be experimented with in Attempt No. 3 as well)

1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1 T. butter

1 t. vanilla

1/4 t. salt

3 T. popcorn oil

1/2 c. unpopped popcorn kernels

1 c. pecans (optional)

Method:

Make the caramel– with a wooden spoon, stir the sugar and water into a pot over medium heat.  Allow to boil and slowly caramelize without much more stirring until it reaches a dark amber color.  When this happens, immediately pour in the whipping cream. WATCH OUT FOR YOUR FACE, there will be a lot of steam made as the cream hits the molten sugar–stir to incorporate.  Take off of heat and add butter, vanilla, and salt.

Pop the popcorn next.  I used a stovetop/campfire popper.  Feel free to use any method to pop that corn.  Toss any burnt or unpopped kernels.

Toast the pecans, if you are using them, in a pan over medium-high heat.  Keep a good eye on them–they burn quickly and require semi-constant stirring to evenly heat through. (Or have patience unlike me and toast them in the oven)

Put the toasted pecans into a large bowl with the popcorn, and drizzle the caramel on top (gently heat the caramel if it has become too hard to pour).  Stir everything together with the wooden spoon.  Grease a sheet of parchment, and grease your hands as well.  Grab about a cup of popcorn with your hands and shape it into a ball, placing it on the parchment-lined sheet to cool.  Re-grease your hands as needed.

Enjoy sticky and warm, or shaped and cooled!

 

 

The Garlic Cream Cheese “Go To” Pasta Dish

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I am going to warn you now that most of my posts (for the time being) will be single-servings of things, me being a college student and all.  But, today, this post is dinner for TWO, oOooooOooh! Maybe not something you would wanna make on a first date, though–unless the smell of garlic is something you & your date bond over…

This is my favorite pasta dish to make, because it is so easy and SO good.  That’s why it’s called the “go-to” pasta dish, because one of my best friends and I make this when we want something instantly and something guaranteed to be delicious. (Another reason I will not be making this for a date is because any manners I may possess immediately go out the window as I stuff this in my face).  So maybe it’s not “romantic evening” food, but it could definitely be a “girl’s night” food or a “dude let’s cook something” food, because it really is too good to not share. Thus the “for two”! Or four.  Or tomorrow’s lunch.

It’s also good any time of the year, if you ask me, because of its ingredients.  The roasted-garlic overtones and the slight heat from the red pepper flakes are reminiscent of cozy winter months by the fire, whereas the tang from the cream cheese and the finish of lemon zest brightens it up like summer.  All together, it creates a dish that is savory, rich, and satisfyingly different from your classic red sauce.  PLUS, aside from a fresh lemon, possibly, I imagine that you already have the ingredients for it in your kitchen.

So let’s make it!

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Garlic-Cream Cheese “Go To” Pasta Dish

Yield: 2 servings

 

Ingredients:

2 T. Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to your liking of heat)

2 servings of uncooked pasta of your choice

3 oz. cream cheese (I much prefer the “neufchatel” cheese that is advertised as “1/3 Less Fat!” because it has more flavor)

Zest of Half a Lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste, salt for pasta water.

 

Method:

Fill a pot with water and set on stove to boil.  Salt the water generously–it should taste like the ocean (minus the algae, teehee).  Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil on a medium-low setting.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and let sizzle for a few minutes to soften the garlic and infuse the oil.  If the garlic is frying too violently, turn down the heat–you don’t want the garlic to brown (but a deep gold color is fine).

When the pasta is cooked, strain it and place it immediately back into the pot off the heat.  Add the cream cheese and stir so the heat left from the pasta melts it.  Next add the infused oil mixture, toss to coat.  Finally, mix in the lemon zest, and add salt and pepper to taste (my ‘taste’ is a LOT of fresh-cracked black pepper).

Serve with extra lemon zest if desired, and proceed to enjoy!

 

Lucy’s Lemon Squares

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Today’s recipe is not in any way my own, but that’s necessary because this week is my Daddy’s birthday! This is one of his favorite desserts (and, sometimes, the only dessert we think he’s really all that fond of). It’s from the Peanuts Cook Book, published all the way back in…1969! I have never seen this cookbook, but it apparently exists around my grandparents’ house. What I have, though, is even more awesome than that cookbook: the recipe scrawled on an old notepad by one of my parents, stained and slightly crinkled through the ages. I think this is Mother’s handwriting, but it looks quite a bit like Dad’s as well, so I’m really not sure who decided that this was necessary for their relationship to continue…but someone did and IT LIVES ON. Here’s that beauty, by the way:
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Who’s Diamond Crystal Salt Company, you ask?  I’m not sure either. Also, yes, this is a photocopy.  I don’t have the EXACT notepad page.  That is still safely in the parentals’ kitchen.

These lemon squares are the greatest because they are a dense shortbread crust topped with what’s almost like an instant lemon curd.  The lemon curd forms its own little sugar “crust” over the top, getting ever-so-slightly toasted (it sounds weird, but trust me) as it bakes.  As you’re trying to cut them you’ll notice that the outer edges have a great affinity for the sides of the pan…seemingly chemically bonded together.  Do NOT give up that fight–those crispy, caramelized edges are the best part.  People fight over those things (I mean, what? Noooo).

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Look at the glory packed into that corner of the pan.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Lucy’s Lemon Squares

Adapted from the Peanuts Cook Book

Ingredients:

1 c. All-Purpose Flour

1/4 c. Powdered Sugar (plus extra for dusting)

1/2 c. Butter, softened

2 Eggs

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1/2 t. Baking Powder

2 1/2 T. Lemon Juice

Dash Salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the flour and powdered sugar, mixing to evenly distribute each within the other.  Squish the butter into the flour mixture (I used my fingers) until it resembles a cookie dough.  This may take some time.

Once combined, smooth the dough into a 9×9 inch ungreased square baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is a lovely golden-brown color.

While the crust is baking, combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, whisking well to incorporate everything.

After the crust is baked, remove from oven and pour filling on top.  If filling has been sitting for a few minutes, re-stir it as the sugar will have begun to separate from the foam formed by the lemon juice and baking powder reacting.

Bake another 20-25 minutes until the center is set.  If at 20 minutes the top is too browned but the inside is still very much liquid (as has happened to me multiple times), place foil over the top and lower oven to 300 degrees for the last five minutes.

Let cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting.

 

 

First Post with Autumn Breakfast Cookies!

Hello Friends!

As some of you may already know, I have been thinking about opening a food blog for an entire year now, maybe longer!  And today, this has finally happened.  Nothing is perfect yet, and who knows, maybe it will never be, but I’m going to have a grand time trying (or maybe not, given my relationship with technology).  I love food…the taste of it, the artistry, the science, the act of turning raw ingredients into a full-on meal.  Some have said I should pursue a career with it–and I have not disagreed, only, decided to start with a blog to make sure I won’t get sick of it.  But really, who gets sick of food?!

While playing with many possible names for this blog, and even naming and renaming this very one, I settled on A Study In Sweet because it fit so well with what I wanted to do…it helps that the name was partially inspired by Sherlock.  If all goes as planned, this blog will be a pleasing mixture of education (a Study) and recipes (Sweet!), not unlike that of Alton Brown, my idol, and his many shows and blogs. The title suggests I shall be mostly doing desserts, and that may end up being the truth.  Baking is my passion; cooking is my skill.  HOWEVER, there is a subtitle/byline to my blog (not that you would know since I don’t have a real header yet), and it is “Savory Welcome”, because I love garlic and potatoes as much as the next guy!  These posts should be coming to you every Thursday, so enjoy!

FINALLY, on to the part of this post you’re all waiting for: the food!

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These Autumn Breakfast Cookies were thought up a few weeks ago when two of my friends were about to have their second child together.  I knew I wanted to send them something to welcome this new little baby, but having never been close enough to someone with small children, I decided to treat the family instead of figuring out what to get a newborn.  And what better way than with food?  I sent them a batch of these along with a batch of classic Nestle Tollhouse cookies.  I do hope they liked everything (to be honest, I haven’t received word yet on if they’ve even gotten the package).  The reason I chose to create these Autumn Breakfast Cookies is because they are rather healthy, but seasonal too, and actually pretty darn good-tasting, if I may say so myself!  Pumpkin spice, apple, raisins, and oats combine in these densely soft cookies to create something that, were I not testing their shelf-life, wouldn’t have lasted more than a day around me.  (PS, the shelf life is still undetermined.  I “had” to eat the last one today… but four days old they still seemed pretty great!)

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Autumn Breakfast Cookies (don’t worry, one of these days I’ll figure out how to insert those fancy recipe-card templates in here…)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Pinch Salt

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves

4 Tablespoons Butter

1/2 cup Canola Oil (Vegetable/Soybean Oil works as well)

2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

1/2 cup Pumpkin

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract (Yes, this is a lot)

2 cups Rolled Oats

2/3 cup Raisins or other Dried Fruit

1 Apple, diced into quarter-inch cubes (I used a giant Honeycrisp)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Mix together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and dark brown sugar until uniform and slightly fluffy. Add in eggs, beating after each addition, followed by the pumpkin and the vanilla.  In three or four increments, add the dry ingredients from the other bowl.  Add the oats and beat just until combined.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula (or even clean hands), fold in the raisins and apple.

Drop 1/4-cup balls of dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving approximately two inches between each one.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until one opened with a fork (sorry, sacrifice) reveals a uniform “dry” texture throughout. Let cool on racks before enjoying!

Yield: About 20 Breakfast Cookies