Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toffee Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

I have been hard at work with The MIY Kitchen, posting tutorials on How to Properly Measure Flour, How to Measure Brown Sugar and How to Make Homemade Brown Sugar. Now I think it is time to put these skills to good use, and have I got a great over-the-top recipe for you!

My sister called the other day to tell me about a new variation on our good old Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  We are always mixing it up and adding new ingredients and this time she tried crushed pretzels, mini Rolo cups and chocolate chips.

I thought that sounded pretty good. I like the combination of salty and sweet and I thought that bit of crunch from the pretzel pieces would add a nice texture.

I started rooting around in the cupboard to see what I could come up with. I had pretzels and, of course, chocolate chips but I decided to go with crushed toffee bars. The combination was pure decadence: sweet, salty and crunchy perfection. I can't think of a better way to use those new baking skills!

Toffee Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 2 crushed Skor bars

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack to the middle of the oven.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in dry ingredients just to incorporate, do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips, crushed pretzels and Skor bars.
  3. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit 2 minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool further. Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Launch of The MIY Kitchen and a Chocolate Cake too!

I am a little behind schedule. I was a bit ambitious when I promised the unveiling of my new project last week. What set me back most was the fact that my daughter had the second operation on her arm.

Back in November she broke her arm and, as it was quite a bad break, she had to have pins inserted to set the bones. She had the pins removed last Thursday. 

Everything went well and she is doing great but I was a bit of a wreck before the surgery, so I was not as productive as I would have liked.  I think I set an ambitious date for the launch of my new site because I hoped it would distract me from worrying about the surgery. HA, no such luck.

Well, things are good and it is over so now I am back in business!  That means...ta da...I am officially launching The MIY Kitchen!

And now you are saying, "Another cooking site, really?" Well, good point but I will tell you why.

My intention with The MIY Kitchen is for it to be a companion to the recipes and stories of Radishes and Rhubarb. This is a site for the basics and that means a couple of different things.

First, I want this site to be a resource centre of sorts. Under the various page headings you will find essential kitchen equipment and some of the basics of cooking and baking (such as how to correctly measure out flour). Through conversations with my readers I began to see a need for back to basics instruction to accompany my recipes. My aim is to provide this information in a more methodical step-by-step manner with as many pictures as possible.

Second, this site is devoted to MIY projects. I am finding there is a strong resurgence of interest in making things such as preserves, condiments and other kitchen staples at home. I recently published Radishes and Rhubarb's 10 Most Popular Recipes and I was struck by how many were of a MIY nature. Homemade jam, homemade bread, apple butter, items that can easily be purchased and yet more and more people seem to want to make these things for themselves.

Whether the reason is to economize, to be more healthy or for the challenge of it, I think this is a great trend and I want to provide recipes that will help those with a MIY spirit. Here you will find bread recipes, jam recipes and recipes for other everyday basics. They will be explained and, hopefully, made easy to follow with the same step-by-step approach.

As the site evolves I will add more adventurous MIY projects and even some MIY projects for the rest of the home.

So that is what I have been diligently working on for the last few weeks!  I will be loading posts on The MIY Kitchen quite quickly for the next little while, so check back often.  I am trying to get a lot of the basics in place so we can move on to more adventurous stuff, like making Ricotta Cheese!

Now for cake!

I know I have been doing a lot of baked goods and especially chocolate lately but this seems like a good recipe with Valentine's Day right around the corner. As well, this cake has a special place in my heart as it was the cake my mom often served when I was little.  This was the quick little cake she would make as a treat during the week.  It is called the Think Small Chocolate Cake. 

I don't know where the recipe originally came from, (it is on a beat up little kitchen card) but it is a real gem of a cake. Small, as it's name suggests, but big on chocolate flavour, dense and moist.  Make it for someone you love this Valentine's Day. They will thank you for it!

Think Small Chocolate Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: serves 9

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat melt together the chopped chocolate, oil and butter. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl or using your stand mixer, cream together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the oil, butter and chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. In a separate small bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
  5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the chocolate mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, do not over mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake and then turn out from the pan and leave to cool before icing.
  8. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream. Enjoy!

Chocolate Buttercream
This is the recipe from my Triple Layer Chocolate Cake cut in half.

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Using a hand beater or stand mixer, at low speed, cream together butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and icing sugar. The mixture will be stiff and dry and this point. Continuing at low speed add milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Turn your mixer onto high speed to make the frosting light and fluffy. Spread immediately over the top and sides of cake.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Coffee Walnut Blondies and a New Project

This week Radishes and Rhubarb celebrated its second anniversary and as you may know my last article was dedicated to the 10 most popular posts of the last two years.  At that time I also alluded to a new project that I will be unveiling soon (ooh, that sounds to formal). 

Well, I have been diligently working away, trying to get everything ready and the happy news is that I will be sharing my new site with you next week. I hope you can come back then and take a look.

In the meantime, I thought you might be hungry. Feel like a little snack?  I know I do and goodness knows I am ALWAYS in the mood for something with a little chocolate in it. A quick look at the recipe index will show I have a serious weakness for chocolate, but I am also quite partial to coffee and walnuts.
Today I bring all three in lovely harmony, I bring you Coffee Walnut Blondies.

I came up with these a couple of weeks ago when I tried making a recipe for fudge squares that turned out to be a total flop. The original recipe was a disaster; cloyingly sweet and completely unsatisfying. But it did lead me to make fudge for the first time, so not all was lost.

As for the squares, I was determined not to let a crappy recipe keep me from a chocolate treat so I ended up making these little beauties.  A cross between a cookie and a brownie, they have a rich, buttery texture with a nice bitter note from the coffee and walnuts. Determination paid off in the end.

Coffee Walnut Blondies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brewed strong black coffee or espresso
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chunks (I chopped up a 65% cocoa chocolate bar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl or with a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Add in the coffee, egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. In a separate small bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and the walnuts.
  4. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. They are ready when a toothpick inserted near the centre come out with moist crumbs attached.
  5. Leave to cool 5 minutes before cutting. They are great warm or cold. Enjoy!
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