Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chocolate Junk Cookies

Do you ever just have the urge to throw a bunch of random ingredients into a cookie and see what happens? Well, that was me yesterday. I wanted something chocolatey and I wanted a cookie. But, I also wanted peanut butter, Oreos, sprinkles, and potato chips. From these cravings came a cookie that I am pretty much addicted too. I call it the Chocolate Junk Cookie. Allow me to introduce you...

I've already eaten close to 12 in the past 2 days. Good thing I'm giving these things away tomorrow, huh? I know that calling something you bake junk may not be the best title possible, but I felt it appropriate in this case. I literally rounded up a bunch of "junk", threw it into my mixing bowl and created this cookie.

I realize in the cookie war, there are "crunchy" people and "chewy" people. I tend to hang out more on the chewy side, as I really enjoy soft cookies. These definitely are more for the chewy lover. Inside is super soft and almost cake-like, while the outside is firm but not crunchy. Dunk em in milk, and say mmm!

Chocolate Junk Cookie
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped Oreos
1/3 cup crushed potato chips (I used Ruffles)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a medium sized bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. With a standard or hand held mixer, cream butter and sugars together until creamy and smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla extract.
Add flour mixture to mixer a 1/2 cup at a time and mix until flour disappears. Stir in white chocolate and semi sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, potato chips, and Oreos. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet, about 2-3 inches apart.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes after removing from the oven. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Dipping Chocolate
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
1-3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Rainbow sprinkles

Melt chocolate in microwave with 1 tablespoon shortening in 30 second increments. Add shortening as needed to reach desired texture. Chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Allow chocolate to cool for 10 minutes before using.

Dip cookie in chocolate, transfer to parchment or wax paper and cover chocolate coating with rainbow sprinkles. Allow chocolate to cool and set before transferring to air tight container (I put parchment paper between each cookie layer).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

The week after spring break...and I am drained. Why we had our spring break a week before the first actual day of spring is beyond me, but that is another conversation entirely. Having a week off is like 3 years in kindergartner time. They come back well rested, but in the span of a week they forget every classroom rule ever preached to them. Quiet time does not register well to 5 and 6 year old children, to say the least. I feel like I should just invest in a parrot that can speak "be quiet, stop talking, level 0" and save my voice the trouble throughout 60% of my school day. 

Don't get me wrong, my students are adorable and I love each of them dearly. However, I have never in my life hated my last name so much. I took a tally one day, just to see how many times a day I hear my name. The grand total? 356 times in an 8 hour period. That averages out to 44.5 times an hour that I heard "Miss Poehl". Which ultimately means I heard my name almost every 2 minutes for 8 hours straight. I guess it is a good thing my last name changes in less than 7 months - at least until next years class repeats Mrs. Onweller 15 million times. Do me a favor, imagine 20 little ones saying your name that many times in a hour. And people think we just play with kids all day? Not so much. Kindergarten ain't what it used to be, trust that. I was making Marconi necklaces and finger painting back in my day. In today's world, kindergartners are expected to be reading and writing legit sentences, as well as adding and subtracting. That is just the beginning.

Okay, teacher rant over! On to the potatoes. I love potatoes. I love them even more when they are drowning in a sea of sweet cream butter, sour cream, scallions, cheese, and BACON. I can't even put into words the amount of love I have for bacon. Fried bacon, chocolate dipped bacon, bacon burgers, BLTs, bacon wrapped shrimp, bacon wrapped jalapenos, bacon wrapped chicken, bacon cupcakes. I could go on, but then I would have to put this blog post in chapter book format. Get the point yet? I love bacon.

Wright's bacon is the only one I will purchase now. If you haven't yet had the chance to experience it - go out, buy it, eat it, love it. I am obsessed. 
I reccomend the Applewood or the Peppered bacon. GO BUY IT!

Introducing....Loaded baked potato salad! It is like a loaded baked potato, but mushed up into the best potato salad I have tasted in 26 years of life.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
Adapted from Dishing with Leslie

4 large potatoes (I used Russet)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped chives (more for garnish)
5-8 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp salt to taste (or more if you prefer)

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and sour cream. Add chives, cheese, and pepper, and salt. Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, peel and cube your potatoes and add to a large stock pot. Cover with water and boil for 15-20 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender). About 20 minutes. Be sure not to over boil! 

Drain potatoes and allow 10-15 minutes of cooling time (more if you are going to serve potato salad chilled, I did). Put potatoes in a large bowl and combine with the sour cream mixture. Fold in crumbled bacon, or sprinkle over the top of salad. Garnish with remaining chives.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Samoa Brownie Truffles

Let me just start by saying that this weekend has been a baking nightmare. Have you ever set your heart on making something but no matter what you do, or how many different ways you try to do it, nothing seems to go your way? Well, that was me all weekend long! Let me explain...

I had a box of Samoa girl scout cookies (my favorite!), and I thought it would be smart to bake something with them for the sake of getting them out of my kitchen. I have a small obsession, and when there are Samoa cookies within a 3 mile radius, I will find them and eat them all. I randomly got the craving for slutty brownies. You know, the chocolate chip cookie, Oreo, brownie layered bars from heaven (or hell, depending on the number of sizes your pants increase after eating them.) I decided to put two of my favorite things together and try to make slutty Samoa brownies, using Samoa cookies instead of Oreos in the middle. Seems like a great idea, right?

Wrong. My first mistake was buying ultimate fudge Godiva brownies. My second mistake was not thinking about what the caramel on the Samoa cookie would do when baked in the oven under a layer of those fudge brownies. This terrible combination prevented the brownies from hardening into a cake like texture. I cooked them for 30 minutes more than directed and still had firm but mold-able fudge instead of brownies. I even cooked them an extra 15 minutes, no change. To avoid burning the chocolate chip cookie layer, I had no choice but to take them out. The good news is that the corners of the pan, some of the edge pieces, and areas without large pieces of the Samoa cookies did actually hold a cake-like substance. This is how those turned out:

Even though I only ended up with a few pieces that baked correctly, I must say that they were really good. It makes me sad that the whole pan did not turn out the same way :(

Had things gone my way, I probably would have filled the blog full of pictures like this one.

No such luck. But, I refused to throw away the rest of the tasty, yet over fudge-like pieces that remained. Hence came the creation of my "Samoa Brownie Truffles". I pretty much rolled pieces into little balls, dipped them in chocolate, and sprinkled them with toasted coconut.

For those of you brave enough to try the Samoa slutty brownies, here you go:

Samoa Slutty Brownies
Adapted from Kevin and Amanda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 pkg Double Samoa cookies
1 Family Size (9×13) Brownie mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to thoroughly combine. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish that’s been lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Top with a layer of Samoas. 

Mix together brownie mix. Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Samoas. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

Chocolate Ganache

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
Toasted coconut

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

After allowing 15 minutes for ganache to chill, dunk truffles until coated and transfer to wax paper to set. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top if desired. Store in refrigerator.