Don’t Hold The Wall

 Who loves pie?  I’m sorry, that’s a silly question?  What I should be asking is, who doesn’t love pie?  If you answered “OOh, me!  I don’t like pie!” – get out.  Just go.  For those of us left that love pie (because what human being doesn’t??), let’s talk.  When I think pie, I think summer fruit pies with whipped cream or ice cream.  Yet here we are in the middle of winter, still shoveling ourselves and our cars out of the two feet of snow that got dumped on NYC (34 inches in Queens!).  I also just recently celebrated by 3rd anniversary of Single Girl Cookies on the 17th.  Three years, over 6,000 chocolate chip cookies – what’s next?  Combine those two things and you’ve got an antsy, jonesin’-for-something-new-and-different Single Girl just dying to create.  

I got it in my head that I wanted to make something with a chocolate chip cookies crust but wasn’t sure what.  I thought maybe a cheesecake with a cookie bottom?  Or maybe a layered brookie (brownie/cookie combo)?  I also kept coming back to my favorite pairing with chocolate, which is peanut butter.  When I was a kid, my first job was as a busser at a local Mennonite influenced/themed restaurant, Miller’s.  And they made the best peanut butter chocolate mousse pie with the graham cracker crust that I used to buy a slices of with my hard earned, next to nothing busser tips, and take it home and label it with my name to make sure nobody else ate it.  It seemed only natural that my creation involve peanut butter mousse.  

I finally settled on pie form, thinking, “If this works, it’s going to be DA BOMB”.  Yes, it’s so good, I don’t even care that I still use outdated slang.  And it’s so good that I wanted to share the recipe with you so you could experience the amazingness for yourself!

  

Chocolate Chip Cookie Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Using your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (you didn’t think I was going to give mine away, did you??), press a thin layer of dough onto the bottom and sides of a pie plate like you would a graham cracker crust.  Remember, this dough will rise slightly, so be sparing with your dough distribution. I used slightly less than half of my batch of dough and had quite a significant crust. I made cookies with the other half that I gave away to that week’s drop spot. I used a 9 inch vintage Pyrex pie plate, set the oven for the standard 350, and let it bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Never having done this before, I liked that it was clear glass and I could see when it was done.  I’d recommend making the crust a good 2 hours before you make the mousse.  

Peanut Butter Mousse

I used (read: modified and partially followed) a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but didn’t follow all the fussy parts of the directions, like “using a chilled bowl and chilled beaters…”  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 8 oz package cream cheese

2/3 creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp milk

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions

1. Using an electric beater, beat heavy cream in a small bowl until you start to see soft peaks form.

2. In a separate large bowl, beat softened cream cheese, peanut butter and milk until combined.  Add in vanilla and confectioners sugar, mix until combined.  Add in whipped cream until mixture is smooth (and delicious).  Now is a good time for beater licking.

3. Making sure your cookie crust is mostly cooled, pour peanut butter mousse into your crust, filling to the top.  Chill at least two hours, thought it’s best left overnight.  

4. Invite your friends over for pie!

  

Advertisements

Apple Pie Bars

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeaaaaarr!!!  No, not Christmas, although I do love the holiday season (and can’t seem to escape the preemptive Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE) but I’m talking about fall!  You know it’s my absolute favorite time of the year, and this year has been no different.  Say what you want about New York weather being fickle, but I’ve enjoyed having a mix of warm days and chill, crisp air days.  Even the warmer days have allowed for my baking to go crazy because I’m no longer sweating it out in my apartment!

I posted about my bacon fat gingersnaps earlier this fall, also about my vanilla cupcakes that are so popular and delicious, and now it’s time to post about my amazing apple pie bars.  Apple pie bars, you say?  Does that mean like, an apple pie in bar form?  That I can hold in my hand and deliver directly to my mouth??  YES.  That is exactly what I mean.

DSC_0512

I developed this recipe as I was fiddling around with ice cream sandwich ideas for my featured dessert spot at The Queens Kickshaw.  I tried a few ice cream pairings that I didn’t love until I put together one made from my almond sugar cookies and apple pie ice cream that I made by blending apple pie filling and vanilla ice cream together.  My mother had made a similar apple pie dessert in non-pie form that day, which got me thinking about how to get an apple pie that you can hold in your hand that doesn’t come from McDonald’s or 7-11.  The ice cream sandwich was killing it at being delicious, but I wanted to be able to pick up a piece of pie.  The almond sugar cookie mixed well with the apple pie flavor, so I thought I’d go in that direction instead of a traditional pie crust.  I settled on a shortbread bottom and crumb topping with all that cinnamony goodness in the middle and have never looked back!

DSC_0484

I’ve now made these three times in less than 14 days and every person I have shared them with has declared them amazing.  When you get 36 little squares out of every batch, that’s a lot of people!  I guarantee these will wow your guests or hosts at the next party you attend this holiday season, and will quickly become your favorite go-to dessert.

Apple Pie Bars

Ingredients for Filling:
5 pounds of apples   *I like using honeycrisp
1 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch
2 to 3 tbsp water of apple cider
squeeze of lemon

Extras: Dashes of ginger/nutmeg/cloves/all spice.  If you’ve got’em, throw’em in, if that’s what you like.  Or if you have a recipe for filling that you like for your apple pies, use that.

Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks. Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until apples are soft and cooked.  I like super small chunks in my apple pie bars so I go through and use a dough cutter to help break them up even further.  I also like doing this step the night before.  It makes putting it all together tomorrow really easy and then I get to multitask and smell that delicious apple pie smell in my house while I’m working!

DSC_0607

Ingredients for Shortbread:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups flour

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Put all the ingredients for your shortbread crust in a medium sized bowl.  Use your dough cutter to mix and blend the ingredients.

DSC_0612

Once you start seeing pea sized chunks of butter, I get right in there and mix with my hands to make sure everything is truly blended.

DSC_0613

Press your dough into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.

DSC_0614

No need to grease; there is plenty of butter in the shortbread already.  Take out your pre-made apple pie filling and pour that evenly over the shortbread.

DSC_0618

Using the same bowl you used for the dough (I like to save on dishes), mix the ingredients for the crumb topping with your dough cutter, but stop while you still have sizeable chunks of butter left.  Evenly sprinkle that on top of the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350.  The filling should be bubbling around the edges when you do. Let cool completely before cutting, and better yet, let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting.  It slices cleaner and sets up better.  Cut into 9 squares to remove it from the pan, then I cut each square into quarters.  You may think they look small, but these babies pack quite a punch.  Those bite sized squares are the perfect size to pick up, and go a long way at a party.  And you can then have two or three of them.  Or three or four.  Or six.  I’m not here to judge. 🙂

DSC_0534

Everyone has loved these so much that I’m looking to get them in a few places around the neighborhood, so if you aren’t a baker or just don’t feel like making them, you can still get a taste of the season!  And as always, I love seeing photos and hearing stories of how your baking adventures went.  Tag me on Twitter, Insta or Facebook of your pics!  Happy baking!!

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps Recipe

Hey hey hey!  So I know that you all loved my recipe for vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream.  I took them to The Queens Kickshaw where I know they were appreciated, I ate a couple, and I know some of you went home and made this too.  This warms my heart to see such love being spread through baking, and gets me excited to, because I am working on Single Girl Cookies book!  Totally my own things, independent and not sold in any way, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. I believe i mentioned it before, then got sidetracked with life.  A collection of anecdotes, things I’ve learned along the way, and of course – RECIPES!

Today I want to share with you a really unique recipe that a friend sent to me from the New York Times for gingersnaps, but gingersnaps that call for bacon fat instead of any other fat such as butter or shortening.  Based on a traditional Swedish recipe, these do remind me of Christmas, not only for the ginger part ala gingerbread men, but for the fact that the only time i eat bacon anymore is when I’m home with my family and we are all gathered for breakfast, like at Christmas.  In fact the bacon fat I used for this very batch came from the last time i was home and my mom cooked pounds and pounds of bacon for all of us.  The very first time I made these, I cooked pounds and pounds of bacon and probably ate a pound in the process.  Needless to say, I was a little sick and my apartment smelled like bacon for a week. That being said, these cookies were worth it.

DSC_0300

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

3/4 cup bacon fat (It took me 2 lbs to get a full 3/4 cup)

1 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps baking soda (I might try less next time, like 1 1/2 tsps)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, cover and put in fridge to chill for a few hours.  I left mine in all day while I was teaching voice lessons.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  While that is preheating, take the dough and roll into tablespoon size chunks.  Put your extra sugar in a small bowl and roll your doughballs around in there until covered.  Put them on your cookies sheet approximately 2 inches apart.  The original recipe calls for parchment paper or a Silpat or something – I’ve never used anything and never had a problem. You can now choose to flatten them for a flatter, crispier cookie or leave them as balls (like I did this time) which resulted in a thicker, chewier cookie.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.

DSC_0305

I like to dust mine with sugar (again) when I am finished, they just look so pretty that way.  Now share them with friends and neighbors and enjoy the love!

DSC_0307.2

Original recipe courtesy of the New York Times here.

My Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

When I was growing up, my mother would bake all the time. I mean, all the time.  That’s how our Famous Heitmann Cookies got to be so famous.  They went everywhere with us, to every function.  And if they didn’t, well…there was some hell raised, or at least a half-joking-but-not-really comment like, “What, no cookies this time??  Come to find out, my mother bakes as a form of stress relief.  That is how she unwinds after a long and stressful day.  Is it a coincidence that I recall a big spike in cookie making around my adolescent years?  I think not.

For me, baking has always been a fun thing to do, although not necessarily a stress reliever.  The dishes, the clean up, the having to have self control to not eat everything… you know how it goes.  But yesterday, I finally got how my mother feels about baking being stress relief.  I had just come from the post office in an attempt to retrieve some packages that I’d been waiting on.  I’d elaborate, but I’m sure I need to say no more – you’ve all been to the post office before.  When I got back home, the only thought in my head was “MAKE VANILLA CUPCAKES”.  So like any Single Girl that has her priorities straight, I made myself a nice ice cream sandwich, ate that, then got down to business. 🙂

A week or so ago, I posted a many-tweets-long recipe for vanilla cupcakes which is my go to recipe.  Along with that tweet, I promised to publish a blog post with the recipe in a concise format, not spread throughout 6 or 7 tweets, haha.  I love a good, rich vanilla anything – ice cream, cupcake, pastry, etc.  Vanilla often gets a bad rap for being bland, but before that, we had practically nothing!  Vanilla was an exotic spice at one time, and was used not only for food consumption, but also as a beauty product.  Women used to dab a bit of vanilla behind their ears when perfume was too expensive.

DSC_0247

I found the base to this recipe on allrecipes.com and like I do with everything, I tweaked it a bit.  This recipe is the one I go to for making my cakes.  It s perfect on its own, does well with fun additions like fruit, sprinkles, or whatever else comes to mind.  It’s also SO super easy, and just as easy as making a box cake, yet a thousand times better.  Enjoy, happy baking!

Single Girl’s Go-To Vanilla Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter (one stick)

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk/half and half/heavy cream

Mix the first four ingredients together, adding one at a time.  Because I’m a time saver (read: lazy and don’t want to wash extra dishes; but then again, I am saving water by not adding more dishes, so I’m also a doing good things for the planet!  Go me!) I don’t bother with mixing my dry ingredients in a separate bowl, especially when there are only two.  For this I put both of them on top of what’s already in the bowl, then I make sure I mix really well.  Now, for the last ingredient, I like to se whatever is richest on hand.  Today it was half a half.  I’ve used heavy cream (my favorite) and whole milk (also very good).  Mix that in, pour into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes.  You can also use a 9 inch round pan and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes.  Ovens are so tricky, so it’s best to keep an eye on it and test when you think it may be done.  Your tester or knife should come out mostly clean when checking in the middle.

Let them cool and frost!  I like to use my buttercream on these, and the recipe is below.  This is a good thing to whip up while the cupcakes are cooling after you’ve done all your dishes.

DSC_0230

Vanilla Buttercream

Half stick of butter (softened)

1 lb bag of confectioners sugar

3 or 4 teaspoons of vanilla (to taste)  I like mine strong

Sometimes I add a little bit of water to get things going when mixing.  Mix ingredients together and hope you don’t make too big of a mess!

And of course the last step is to share with friends and enjoy!  So easy, right?  Shoot me a message one any one of my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – I’d love to see photos of your finished creations and hear how your baking experiences went!

DSC_0161

The Hills Are Alive

….with the sound of cuuuuupcaaaaaaaakes!!!  (mmm,mm,mmmmm!)  I’m sitting here at work waiting for my next student, listening to the sounds of practicing through these old, thin walls, and wishing I had brought a cupcake with me – specifically one of the cupcakes I made on Sunday.  My beau, J, and I drove up to Westchester to visit some friends in their new home and celebrate with a ‘meat extravaganza’ that included ribeye, filet, short ribs, kielbasa, and sides of roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.  I had volunteered to provide dessert.

If you recall, this Sunday was truly beautiful.  The sun was shining, temperatures have started to creep up, giving us all hope that summer really is around the corner.  I had also come across the most perfect pint of strawberries atthe grocery store – you know the pint I’m walking about.  The one where all the berries are big, deep red in color, and their aroma is so strongly ‘strawberry’ that you know each bite is just as juicy as you hope it might be.  Maybe it was the berries, maybe it was the sun, but I set off home to whip up one of my favorites, Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

You might be wondering why I’m sharing all of this with you.  Well, as I thought about sharing those cupcakes with my friends, and watching them enjoy the fruits of my labors (hehe, get it?? I’m been super into bad puns and dad jokes lately. I blame J), I thought, “If only everybody could have one of these cupcakes!  I could do this for everyone!”  This is not dissimilar to the thoughts I had which led to my starting Single Girl Cookies.

I’ve decided it’s time for me to start sharing some recipes along the way with y’all!  Yes, I still have aspirations for a baking book, and yes, i am still ‘in process’ of getting Single Girl Cookies on a local shelf near you, but until that happens, why shouldn’t everybody share in the fun and deliciousness??

Now, I’m sorry to burst your bubbles folks, no, I will not be sharing my signature Single Girl Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (otherwise known as Heitmann Cookies to many of you), nor will I ever share that to anyone not blood related to me 🙂  Sorry, Future Husband!  Not even you.

This is my first time really writing out a recipe outside my own head, so forgive me if I skip a step or something doesn’t make sense.  Give me a shout and I’ll fix it right up.  Without further ado…..

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 3/4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 cup half and half
1 pint of strawberries

Frosting
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
4 tbsp butter (half stick), softened
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 tsp lemon extract

First, take out the pans and dishes you store in the oven because, let’s face it, you live in NYC and have no space, then preheat to 350 degrees F.  Mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs.  Normally this is the part of the recipe that says mix together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then mix that with the wet ingredients.  I have an aversion to doing the dishes, so I just dump the flour and baking power on top the wet ingredients in that bowl and mix it together that way.  Anything I can do to save myself from doing more dishes than I have to!

Chop all but 5 or 6 strawberries (you’ll use those later for a garnish) and add them to the batter.

Line your cupcake pan with papers, and fill each one about 3/4 of the way full.  It makes about 15, so you can put two pans in side by side, or just do a coupla rounds.  Leave them in for about 12-15 minutes, check the center for done-ness with a toothpick.  Every oven is different, yours may require the cupcakes to be in longer.

While they are baking, mix together all the ingredients for the frosting.  Please note, these measurements are all very approximate, haha.  Taste as you go along here, you may want to add a bit more lemon juice for tartness, or some more sugar to thicken up the texture.  Play around with it!

Frost your cupcakes, slice some strawberries for garnish on top, and voila!  Put your feet up, let someone else do the dishes for a change, and enjoy 🙂

DSC_0194