My Favorite Coffee Cake

Happy summer everyone! I’m having a great time with my 3-day weekends during summer quarter, and summer has finally arrived in Seattle! The weather has been sunny and warm and amazing, and I’ve been exploring the I-90 corridor, Rainier National Park, and the Olympic Peninsula with my friends. I’ve also been enjoying our backyard space, and hosting lots of barbecues, which has been super fun!

For the last barbecue, I made this coffee cake, which I made a month or so ago with Shelby, and it was amazing. We had to use up some leftover sour cream from the rugelach, and so Shelby found this recipe, and it turns out to be the best coffee cake we’ve ever made. It has a huge amount of crumb topping, and the sour cream keeps the cake portion soft and delicious. I basically used the recipe from Buns in My Oven with only a couple very minor changes. Here’s the recipe!

Coffee Cake

adapted from Buns in My Oven

Makes 24 servings

Ingredients

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumb:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Use the butter wrappers to grease a 9×13 glass pan and preheat the oven to 350˚F.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar, until smooth, then beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour into the pan.

To make the crumb, sift together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Pour the melted butter over it and mix until it starts to come together, then mash it together with your hands. Sprinkle the crumb evenly over the cake, crumbling it into nice fat crumbs.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cut into bars and enjoy!

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Look at that beautiful crumb topping!

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Sesame Zucchini Noodles

Hello from sweet California! I am currently enjoying my week of summer break doing all the things I love most in the world: swimming in an outdoor pool, coaching my old summer league youth swim team, and spending time with our adorable foster kittens. I came home and was greeted with 4 rambunctious bundles of fur, named Chai, Chamomile, Earl Grey, and Jasmine (the Tea family). Who can resist these adorable faces? If you’re in the Bay Area, check them out at Companions in Waiting, because they’re up for adoption and looking for a loving home!

Kittens

Such playful little bundles of fun!

Anyway, onto the food portion of this post I made sesame noodles a couple weeks ago, since the weather was so nice and warm. This is a light and healthy meal that requires very minimal cooking, and can be served chilled. This also happens to be a vegan recipe, and would be a great addition to any summer barbecue or picnic as a side dish, or as a main dish on those too-hot-to-cook days. Here’s the recipe!

Zucchini Sesame Noodles

Makes 5-6 servings

Ingredients

8 oz spaghetti (1/2 a package)

12 oz frozen edamame (I use Trader Joe’s)

4 medium or 3 large zucchini, spiralized

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/2 tsp white pepper

Sesame seeds, for garnishing

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and edamame, and bring to a boil, then allow to cook until the noodles are just cooked, about 5-7 minutes depending on your preference. Place the spiralized zucchini in a colander and drain the spaghetti and edamame by pouring it with the hot water over the zucchini. (You can just skip this and just drain the pasta and edamame normally, I just did it to very slightly cook the zucchini noodles.)

Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and white pepper. Toss with the noodles, edamame, and zucchini until the sauce is coating the noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Rugelach

Happy finals week! For everyone on the quarter system, it’s probably spring quarter finals coming up, so good luck with studying! My classmates and I have realized that at this point in our careers, our finals are less about rote memorization and more about being able to use clinical reasoning, so I’m pleased to say that finals aren’t nearly as stressful as they were back in undergrad, when most if not all the exams consisted of regurgitating information.

In any case, since I’m not spending all my waking time studying, I made these delicious rugelach with my baking buddy, Shelby, on Friday night! We have also both realized that our ideal Friday night is spending it baking together and going to sleep at a reasonable hour. We may be getting old…

But in any case, we made these delicious Jewish pastries, and adjusted a recipe from the King Arthur Flour bakealong. We weren’t too keen on using nuts and raisins as the filling, so we just used the filling from this recipe on Just a Taste. We made the individual cookies smaller than the original recipe called for, so this recipe makes 48 smaller cookies, rather than 36 large ones. These turned out extremely well! The cookies were flaky, and bursting with chocolate with a touch of cinnamon. They also look quite nice, which is always a bonus. Here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Rugelach

Makes 48 cookies

Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Just a Taste

Ingredients:

Crust

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 oz cream cheese (we used reduced fat)

1/3 cup sour cream

½ tsp salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or processed in a food processor

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream in a stand mixer or by hand. Beat in the salt and sugar, then stir in the flour until a soft, sticky dough forms. Divide the dough into 6 portions (or 2 or 3 and then you can just divide again later), wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the dough is firmed up but not rock hard.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and prepare baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 6 equal sections. Shape one section into a circular disc, then roll out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Brush the melted butter on the rolled out circle, getting it all the way to the edge. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate and press lightly into the dough.

Cut the circle into 8 wedges, then roll the wedges from the wide part of the wedge inwards towards the point of the wedge. Place with the tail end tucked under onto the parchment, to prevent it from unraveling while it bakes.

Repeat with the remaining 5 portions of dough.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the rugelach are a lovely golden brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (or eat them warm from the pan!) Enjoy!

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Such a pretty swirl inside!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My family often gets together with my cousin’s family for holidays, and a few years ago my aunt made these delicious cookies for our Christmas get-together. I loved the cookies, and my aunt gave me the recipe, but I just never got around to making them until a few weeks ago. A big thank you to my wonderful aunt for this delicious recipe!

These cookies are bursting with chocolate, and the powdered sugar coating gives them that nice crackly top appearance. These cookies are gooey, chewy, and completely delicious. They do require some chilling, but it’s only a couple hours, just so the dough firms up enough that they don’t spread out into pancake cookies in the oven. Definitely worth the wait! Here’s the recipe!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

Ingredients

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar (for coating)

Directions

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a medium bowl in 30 second intervals at 60% power. Stir in the oil and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add the the chocolate mixture. Mix until well combined.

Chill for at least 2 hours, up to a couple days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Scoop about 2 tsp of dough (I used a small size cookie scoop) and roll into balls, then roll in the powdered sugar. Flatten slightly and place on a baking sheet a couple inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the tops are crackly and almost set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set for a few minutes before removing from the pans. Enjoy!

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Homemade Pasta Carbonara (Vegetarian)

I got inspired by a video I saw on Facebook a while back to make homemade pasta, so here’s my shot at it! The video showed a method to make the pasta noodles without a pasta maker, just by rolling out the dough thin, rolling it up, and then slicing, so the strand unrolled into nice long noodles. I got my pasta recipe from The Kitchn, then adapted this recipe for vegetarian pasta carbonara based on what I had. I keep dried shiitake mushrooms on hand for Chinese dishes, but they worked quite well in this dish, and I replaced the shallots with green onions, since I had those leftover from a previous recipe. These pasta noodles were easy to make, and you can use them for any pasta dish. You could also cut them thinner or wider, depending on what pasta dish you’re making and your own preferences.

I chose to make fettucine style noodles for my pasta carbonara. Rolling out the noodles into a thin sheet made me sweat a bit, but hey, I was just working up my appetite! The simple flavors of carbonara blended quite nicely with my homemade pasta, and it’s overall quite a quick dish to make, once the pasta noodles are made. Here’s my recipe!

Pasta Carbonara (Vegetarian)

Adapted from The Kitchn and Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Makes 4 servings

Pasta:

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

Directions

Sift together the flour and salt with a fork in a medium bowl. Create a well in the center of the flour and crack the eggs into the well. Whisk the eggs, then gradually start pulling in flour from the sides of the well. Continue to blend the flour into the eggs until most of the flour is incorporated and a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a clean counter or large cutting board. Fold the dough over itself to knead, and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth, pliable ball, and when cut into with a sharp knife there are very few air bubbles visible. If there are lots of air bubbles, keep kneading. Add more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter.

Rest the dough in a covered bowl for at least half an hour, or up to a day in the fridge. If you refrigerate it, take it out and allow to come to room temperature before rolling out.

To make the noodles, divide the dough into four equal portions. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into as even of a rectangular shape as you can, with the long direction the desired length of your noodles. Dust with flour to prevent it from sticking, and roll the dough as thin as possible.

Roll the pasta sheet starting from the short side, rolling in the direction of the longer side. Slice into noodles of your desired thickness, then unravel the spirals and coil loosely together while you finish rolling the other dough portions. Repeat with the remaining three portions of dough.

Pasta Carbonara

Ingredients

1 recipe of homemade pasta

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp olive oil

3 green onions, sliced

6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Directions

Bring a salted pot of water to boil. Add the pasta noodles and cook until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the green onions and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms start to release their juices.

Whisk together the egg and Parmesan in a bowl. Add the hot pasta noodles to the saucepan, then add the egg mixture and stir. Add pasta water if needed to achieve desired consistency of the sauce.

Serve warm, sprinkled with Parmesan. Enjoy!

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Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Happy Friday! I have a wonderful recipe today, inspired by the gray skies and rainy days of Seattle. The cherry blossoms bloomed, we had a couple sunny and nice days, and now the rain and clouds are back to remind us that summer’s not quite coming for another few months. However, the poor weather outside means that I’ve been in the kitchen! I made some caramel shortbread last week with my baking buddy Shelby, and it inspired me to make one of the things that’s been on my list for a couple years now-millionaire bars!

I have no idea what the origin of the name millionaire bars is, but they’re basically homemade Twix bars. There’s a shortbread cookie layer on the bottom, soft caramel in the middle, and the whole thing is topped with chocolate! I personally like dark chocolate better than milk, so that’s what I used. A lot of recipes for this that I found just called for storebought caramels for the caramel layer, but I wanted to make it from scratch (plus I didn’t want to make a grocery trip just to buy caramels). I generally don’t like caramel, but mostly due to the sticky taffy texture, and the caramel we made for the shortbread caramel cookies tasted more like toffee and it was nice and soft without sticking too much to your teeth, so I took that caramel recipe for these bars and it was wonderful! It’s not super sticky or hard, so it does tend to squish out of the bars a little bit, but you still get a nice toffee caramel flavor in each bite. After mixing and matching a few recipes and some improvisation, here’s what I came up with!

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Makes 1 8×8 pan

Ingredients

Shortbread:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

Caramel:

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp heavy cream

Chocolate

8 oz dark chocolate

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line an 8×8 baking pan with greased aluminum or parchment paper. Cream together the butter, sugar, and flour until a course mixture forms. Press the shortbread mix into the pan and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before pouring the caramel over the shortbread.

To make the caramel, melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan until bubbles form, then remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream. Set aside to cool and thicken about 10 minutes, before pouring over the cooled shortbread. Spread the caramel evenly, then set aside to cool while you make the chocolate.

To make the chocolate layer, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, then pour over the caramel layer and spread evenly. Place the bars in the fridge to set for at least an hour, then slice into bars. Serve and store at room temperature so the chocolate isn’t rock-hard. Enjoy!

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Snickerdoodles

Happy first day of spring quarter! After a week in beautiful California (still sunny enough for me to develop great swimsuit tan lines, even on rainy and “cloudy” days), I’m back in Seattle for the start of another quarter. Over break I did a lot of sleeping, baking, eating, swimming (in an outdoor pool!!), and lounging around reading or watching Netflix. I also got to teach swim lessons and coach swim conditioning with my sister, which is always super fun! But anyway, back to the baking.

One of the things I made was my new favorite snickerdoodle recipe, adapted from Averie Cooks. I like this recipe because it uses brown sugar, and I adapted it to add some cinnamon in the cookie dough itself, as well as the cinnamon sugar topping. These cookies are super soft with a slight chewiness, and I just love the cinnamon sugar flavor. I’ve tried making these and skipping the chilling, and they taste fine that way, but they are definitely easier to roll in the cinnamon sugar coating once the dough is chilled, and they hold their shape better and have a thicker, chewier texture. So I’d recommend chilling, but it’s not the end of the world if you skip that step. Anyway, here’s the recipe!

Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Averie Cooks

Makes about 3 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Cream together the butter and sugars until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover an chill for an hour, or overnight.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F and remove the chilled dough from the fridge. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl. Roll small balls (about 2 tsp each, I used a medium sized OXO cookie scoop and divided each scoop into two cookies) and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar topping. Flatten slightly and place a couple inches apart on baking sheets.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until puffy and just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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