Brookies

Brookies1

I celebrated my 33rd birthday late last week, and spent my special day on an amazing holiday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a stunningly beautiful ski resort on the German border with Austria. I managed to cram all my favorite activities into the day: hiking, playing in the snow, exploring historic sites, and enjoying my hubby’s company. I also discovered what will be, for the rest of my days, a delicious birthday cake substitute: the Brookie.

For those that don’t know, my first name is Brooke – which makes the discovery of the Brookie such a fun one for me. A genius combination of two long-time favorites, Brookies pair the flavor and crackly surface of a brownie with with the soft, chewy texture of a cookie. And oh my goodness, are they fantastic! Fantastic enough to give up birthday cake, which was frankly unfathomable only a week ago. Give these a try for the chocolate lovers in your life, and enjoy 🙂

Brookies2

 

BROOKIES

Yields | 25 cookies

Inspiration | AllRecipes.com

  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Beat vegetable shortening and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in second egg along with vanilla extract and water. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended, then fold in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  3. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until cookies are set, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
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Frosted Banana Bars

Frosted Banana Bars

These Frosted Banana Bars are one of the greatest revelations of my baking “career.”

They are – admittedly – not much to look at.

They feature one of my least favorite foods – soft, blackened, nearly rotten bananas.

They don’t require any special tools, expensive ingredients or fancy techniques.

Yet, they are by far my most-requested dessert. OF ALL TIME.

No joke – I am asked on at least a weekly basis to make these yummy bars, and bake them just about as often for my husband and his co-workers. They are ridiculously delicious – soft and uber-flavorful, with just the right amount of sweetness – are super easy to make, and can be thrown together with ingredients that virtually everyone has on hand already in their pantry or refrigerator. I’d say “enjoy in moderation!”, but forget that bollocks. Pig out. You won’t be able to stop yourself!

 

FROSTED BANANA BARS

Yields | 24 servings

Inspiration | Taste of Home

For the bars:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 3 large fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt

For the frosting:

  •  1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 to 4 cups powdered sugar*
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit (175° Celsius). Grease a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until blended.
  3. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add powdered sugar* and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost bars when cool.

*Feel free to experiment with the amount of sugar in the frosting. Because I fancy my frosting a little less sweet, I usually add approximately 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. If you’d like it sweeter, add up to 4 cups total.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Walnut-Gorgonzola Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi

Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?

Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.

This is that dish.

I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?

Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.

I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!

What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?

 

RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration | Framed Cooks and Ina Garten

 

For the gnocchi:

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
  • 6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve

 

To make the gnocchi:

  1. Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
  2. Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
  3. Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
  4. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]

To make the sauce:

  1. If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

[Now, back to the gnocchi!]

To serve:

  1. While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
  2. Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.

Baked Ginger Honey Chicken Wings

Ginger Honey Chicken Wings2

Super Bowl weekend is finally upon us, which can only mean one thing – GAME DAY SNACKS!!! Oh, and football. And I guess some people really dig the commercials … and the half-time show … and the endless supply of cheap American beer. But seriously, it’s not about that. Any of that. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD.

Well, it is in our house anyway. While my husband and I are pretty ambivalent about who wins and who loses, we’re definitely excited about stuffing ourselves silly from opening kick-off to final whistle with these yummy homemade chicken wings. Bathed in a palate-pleasing mixture of soy sauce, honey, ginger and (lots and lots of) garlic, these baked wings can be thrown together by even the most novice chef in less than 30 minutes – with no frying or messy clean-up!

Enjoy in moderation!

*** Looking for something a little spicier? Try my recipe for Spicy Honey Hot Wings! ***

 

BAKED GINGER HONEY CHICKEN WINGS

Yields | 6 to 8 servings

Inspiration | Simply Recipes

  • Canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled + finely minced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8 tsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • 3 lbs raw chicken wings (or drumettes)
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit (215° Celsius) with baking rack on the upper third of the oven. Line a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with foil. Rub some canola or olive oil over the foil to keep the wings from sticking.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and Sriracha hot sauce. Add wings and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange skin-side down on prepared roasting pan or baking sheet, taking care not to crowd the wings.
  3. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and – using tongs – flip wings over so they are skin-side up. Return to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies1

It seems like forever (almost a year ago? really?!) since I featured a cookie recipe on this blog, which boggles the mind because 1) this is *supposed* to be a baking blog, and 2) I bake and eat cookies all.the.time.

If I had to rationalize their omission, I’d say it’s because this blog – at least lately – primarily features my culinary experiments, rather than those tried and true recipes I’ve relied on for years. I have so many treasured cookie recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother that I’m often on cookie auto-pilot; in other words, I rarely branch out and try new recipes. Well, shame on me! There are literally thousands of incredible cookie recipes – this one included! – that I’ve overlooked in my haze of childhood cookie nostalgia. I take heart in the fact my Grandma Bonnie would have LOVED these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – she was a sucker for anything with coconut and chocolate – and forgiven my wandering taste buds. These cookies are soft and chewy, over-sized (which is the best cookie size, amirite?), and not overly coconut-y. They’re best enjoyed 10-15 minutes out of the oven – when they’re still a wee bit warm and gooey on the inside – but can be zapped for a few seconds in the microwave for a similar effect.

Enjoy in moderation!

 

COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yields | 24 cookies

Inspiration | Taste of Home

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup finely granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 2/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius).
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Shape two tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned (13 minutes was the sweet spot for my oven). Remove to wire racks to cool.