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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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!

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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Apple Crumble Pie

SPRING BREAAKKK!!! After my cohort survived another quarter of PT school, I am home sweet home in California! Somewhat ironically, it’s raining here and beautifully sunny in Seattle, but I’m just excited to be home with my family and friends to to see some of the kids I coach at our local (outdoor!!!) pool.

Anyway, this week was Pi Day! I realized this the day before so one of my classmates and I decided to make pie for pi day, since we didn’t have any finals on Wednesday. So we did some studying as we baked, then ate our sorrows and stress away with this delicious apple pie, and some vanilla ice cream of course. I put together this recipe fromSally’s Baking Addiction andSimply Recipes, and made some adjustments based on ingredients I had on hand and our tastes. Instead of using walnuts in the crumble topping, I used a mixture of almonds and oats, which turned out wonderfully! I also increased the spices, as usual. For the crust, I used an all-butter recipe, since I don’t use lard and I don’t keep shortening on hand.

The crust was quite good, although not the flakiest I’ve ever had, but I’m also not super picky about crusts. The apple filling fared well in the oven, the apples maintaining a bit of crisp but still getting nice and tender and soaking up the sugar and spice flavor during the baking, and I loved the addition of the crumble topping instead of a top crust, especially when paired with the ice cream. Here’s the recipe!

Apple Crumble Pie

Makes 1 pie

Time: ~2 hours, with cooling

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction and Simply Recipes

Ingredients

Crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

3-4 tbsp ice cold water

Filling:

5 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced about ¼ inch thick (I used 3 Granny Smith and 2 Fuji)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cloves

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

Crumble topping:

½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsalted toasted sliced almonds

¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (if you don’t have/like nuts or have a nut allergy you can use ¾ cup oats and omit the almonds)

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

To make the crust: Pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter is distributed and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in 2 tbsp of the water, pulse until distributed, and if the dough doesn’t stick together when pressed, add more water 1 tbsp at a time. When the dough holds together if pressed together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, gently mold it into a round disc, and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (I just made mine the night before and let it sit overnight).

When you’re ready to make the pie, take out the dough to let it soften a bit for ease of rolling. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until you have about a 12 inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it into a 9” pie pan. Trim the edges off with a paring knife or kitchen scissors, leaving about ¾” overhang. Roll the overhang underneath, then crimp the edges. Here’s a helpful video for fluting the edges: http://www.finecooking.com/article/how-to-crimp-a-pie-crust

To make the filling: Place the sliced apples in a large bowl, then sprinkle the flour, spices, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla over the apples. Mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon. Let this sit while you make the crumble topping and preheat the oven to let the apples release some of their juice. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

To make the crumble topping: Mix together the brown sugar, flour, almonds, oats, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir to combine until the topping forms large crumbs.

To assemble the pie: Pour the apple filling into the crust (our apples weren’t super juicy but if there’s a lot of excess liquid leave some of it in the bowl to avoid the pie getting soggy). Crumble the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 20 minutes at 400˚F, then cover the crust with a pie crust shield (or use some foil, like we did). Lower the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for at least 45 minutes before serving. The longer you let it cool, the more the filling will thicken up, but it also tastes delicious freshly warm out of the oven J Enjoy!

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Chocolate Digestive Cookies

Spring is coming! We had a gloriously sunny weekend here in Seattle, and it’s got everyone feeling great! Never mind that it’s finals week, the sunshine just has the incredible power to boost everyone’s mood, and I love it. I actually got the chance to try snowshoeing for the first time this weekend, and it was amazing! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the snow was glittering. When the Pacific Northwest has sunny days, it is truly beautiful and I’m glad I get to experience it while going to school here.

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Now for the cookies. Ever since my family visited Europe a few years ago and brought back digestives for me to try, I’ve wanted to try and make some of my own. I tried a recipe a couple years ago which was rather unsuccessful, but I tried this one I found over at Serious Eats and it’s a winner! The only thing I changed was to use semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup), rather than chopped chocolate.

These cookies turned out crispy and delicious, with a wonderful chocolate coating! Since I really didn’t change the recipe, go check it out here. Enjoy!

 

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Aloha from Hawaii! My family is fortunate enough to be taking a vacation on the glorious island of Kauai, and it could not be more wonderful. We’re enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery, glittering ocean waves, a warm salty breeze and the sun! I hear it was a white Christmas back in Seattle but I’m perfectly content to have spent my Christmas snorkeling and lounging by the water.

However, I do love holiday cookie recipes, so here’s another one that I tried out before we left! I adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart, increasing the cocoa powder and using natural instead of Dutch-processed. I used candied ginger chips instead of grated fresh ginger, and I also increased the amount of sugar, since otherwise the dough was a little too bitter from the molasses. I loved the combination of ginger and chocolate, and these cookies turned out wonderfully chewy, and when they were warm from the oven the insides of the cookies were still gooey, and combined with the melty chocolate chips they were amazing. The crackly tops and the sparkly sugar make these cookies nice and festive for the holidays, although I would welcome these any time of the year! Here’s the recipe I used.

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes about 40 cookies

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp natural cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup unsulfured molasses

¾ cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup candied ginger pieces

2 tbsp granulated or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (I ended up using both)

Directions

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and molasses until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined, then add the chocolate chips and candied ginger. Mix until the chips and ginger are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 325˚F. Using a small cookie scoop (about 1 tbsp of dough per cookie), scoop out the dough and roll into a ball, then roll in the granulated or turbinado sugar. Flatten slightly and place on cookie sheets about 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until cookies have nice crackly tops, then remove from oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before removing from cookie sheets and transferring to racks or plates to cool completely. Enjoy!

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