Archive for January, 2013

Pipe Dream #169: To Live Life With Regrets – Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

salted cookie bars 4

Do you ever have regrets? I know some people who are like, “I have no regrets. I just want to live my life with no regrets.”

And I am amazed because I don’t believe them. Now, come on, it’s a nice idea and all, but there is no possible way you’ve never done something regrettable, or caused someone else regret. Then you would be perfect and the Gospel wouldn’t be true, and I know that the Gospel is true (mostly because I know you’re not perfect? Haha, jokes. But it’s ok, me neither.).

What they are actually saying is, “Yeah, I’ve made mistakes, but I’m not going to dwell on them, because they’re already done, and it would cause me pain to think about them.”

Welp, hello regrets, I actually like you and your pain. Regrets mean that I am a regular person. Regrets mean that I have actually lived on the edge. And having real regrets makes me a wiser and more compassionate person. Every time I experience regret, it reminds me not to make the same mistakes. I’m all for living with regrets.

But I like being free of them. I’m not all about living with guilt, but that is a different story for a different day. For now, you will just have to forgive me for not using enough caramel in the following recipe of awesome.

Soapbox removed, commence baking.

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First off, brown butter. Totally not regrettable.

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Second off, chocolate chip cookie dough, with liberal chips. Also, highly unregrettable.

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Then, caramel. This is where I am experiencing a little bit of remorse.I was trying to use up some leftover caramels, but I didn’t really have enough to make the texture/flavor stand out. Don’t get me wrong, it was still there, but if I’m stuffing cookies, I’m all about go big or go home.

Double your caramel. I didn’t. I had regrets.

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Next, liberal sea salt, of the flaky variety. No scruples to be had.

Then bake at 325 and pose away. I got a little carried away, I’ll admit. But they were so photogenic, I couldn’t resist.

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Piled  on plates.salted cookie bars 5

Stacked in towers.

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Wrapped in parchment.

This is one for the books, guys.

Free from regret,


Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, browned
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
6 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped (or more, mine was skimpy)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up the bits on the bottom until the butter is amber-colored and smells nutty. Set this aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Mix together the cooled browned butter and sugars until well-combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Combine the caramels and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds for about 2 minutes total.

Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Pour the hot caramel over the cookie dough and spread evenly with a spatula, leaving some empty space around the edges. Sprinkle the caramel with the kosher salt, then drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently press in the rest of the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 25 minutes, or until the bars are light golden, but don’t overbake. Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Leftovers will keep in at room temperature.

I-Don’t-Even-Use-Pinterest Fail – Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread

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It’s Random Tuesday, so I guess this would be a good time to confess that I don’t use Pinterest. That I don’t allow myself to use Pinterest. Given my obsession with baked goods/pretty things, I imagine that Pinterest would just be a massive time-suck for me. I already have enough of those in my life, yeah?

That said, I can usually tell what is trendy on Pinterest, at least baking-wise. Because what happens on blogs makes its way to Pinterest makes its way back to blogs and link-sharing sites. And baking blogs are one of my massive time-sucks (surprise!), so I know when something is a big deal. Like these Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies? Yeah. Totally all over Pinterest and the blogging world, I’m sure.

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Not that I really mind. Back this fall when I was obsessed with pumpkin (I should make a specific archive, let’s be real), I was seeing pull aparts pop up errwhere. And then this one came on the scene. And I convinced myself that it would be less of a commitment than making cinnamon rolls. Which it wasn’t.

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Actually, it was a significant challenge to my mediocre-at-best math skills, because the directions weren’t quite clear about how to cut up the dough slices. Hopefully my picture will help you out. If not, check out the link to the original recipe below.

pull bread 4

Make sure, make sure, make sure to bake the bread all the way through. I thought mine was done because it was getting so brown, but it foiled me when I should have foiled it, and I found myself eating some half-cooked bread. Contrary to most of my other baking beliefs, underdone bread is not a good thing. So add some aluminum over the top if you check it and find that the top is browning too much before your timer dings.

pull bread 3

Still, guys, this was good. Bread, pumpkin, maple, can’t go wrong.

P.S. This is the last of my obsessive pumpkin posts. I’m really sorry.

But I don’t mean it,


Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread

Adapted from Heather Christo Cooks

½ cups milk, divided
½ cups sugar, divided
1 package (1/4 ounces) yeast
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoons salt
½ cups pumpkin puree
1  egg
4 cups flour

4 ounces, weight butter
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon maple extract

In a small saucepan over low heat, dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1/4 cup milk. Transfer to a small bowl. Cool the milk to 110°F, then sprinkle the yeast evenly over the top. Set aside for about 15-20 minutes to proof.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining sugar and 1/4 cup milk, butter and salt. Heat for about five minutes, stirring until everything is melted and well combined. Remove from the heat, and transfer to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook.

With the mixer on low, add in the pumpkin puree and mix until well incorporated. Add the egg and mix well. Add the yeast mixture. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time. After you have added all of the flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until a smooth dough forms, 3-4 minutes.

Spray a large mixing bowl with non stick spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Melt the butter, let cool a bit, and pour over the dough evenly. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and then sprinkle over the butter. Slice the dough into 12 pieces. Make 4 stacks of 3, cutting the resulting stacks in half so you have 24 pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and greas  a loaf pan with a bit of melted butter. Stack the bread layers into the loaf pan.

Bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Make sure to bake it all the way! If you check your bread at 30 minutes and find that it is getting too brown, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. While the bread is baking, make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and maple extract until smooth.

Take the bread out of the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then gently ease the bread out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Drizzle with the glaze. Serve immediately or at room temperature. But seriously, serve immediately.

I Got It Right: Mint Mont Blanc

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This dessert is for the arctic. It is for the epic. And like most of the recipes on this blog, it is made for me. I’m glad you get to share with me though. It’s good for my character.

I made this for a family gathering of the holiday variety. We wrote words. We sang songs. We ate food. And for some reason, we talked a lot about real life marriage and decision-making. It was a balanced kind of day.

mint mousse 1

I was hoping that because I was bringing this creative brainchild mountain of a dessert to an “event,” I wouldn’t eat all of it, but that was a vain hope. Just listen to the ingredients.

MINT. The end.



MARSHMALLOW CREME. Can I just take a minute?

This is like, a lethal combination. I am highly addicted to all of the above items, and I know it. And they were all together at once. It would be impossible for this recipe to fail. And like I said, it was made for me.

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The idea for this recipe had been kicking around in my noggin for a few weeks prior to Christmas. I discovered a truly amazing food blog called Sprinkle Bakes, and I tweaked several of her recipes to come up with this. She is such an artist. I realized after I made it, that this is an awful lot like this grasshopper pie I once made. It’s like the adult fancy version.

I don’t think I need to go on and on about how the chocolaty Oreos in the crust provided a perfectly textured backdrop for the silky white chocolate mint mousse. Mint + chocolate = match made.

mint mousse 3

And I probably don’t need to wax indeterminately about the many ways in which marshmallow creme makes my life complete, but heavens, it was the best. The meringue was whipped egg whites, to which I added marshmallow creme and some mini marshmallows for kicks. If I had been on the top of my game, I would have toasted the meringue, but I couldn’t find my kitchen torch, and I didn’t want to stick it in the oven. Unlike with this tart, the filling would have melted.

mint mousse 5

And speaking of fillings melting, the next time I make this, I would definitely increase the gelatin I used. Or I would serve it from the freezer. I couldn’t really freeze it, because we were driving 45 minutes with it, and there was no room, but I should have. Not quite as runny as this guy, but it was too soft for my taste, and it didn’t slice perfectly. Not that I usually have enough patience to slice things perfectly.

mint mousse 4

For the garnish, I melted the leftover white chocolate and spread it out super thin on a piece of wax paper. After it cooled, I just broke it up in to shards and arranged it. They stuck so perfectly in the meringue. It looks like an iceberg or a winter flower, or something. And actually, this very moment, these pictures are reminding me of the that Bond movie with Halle Berry, the one that has that ice hotel in Iceland. I don’t even know why.

mint mousse 6

Can’t go wrong,


White Chocolate Mint Mousse with Oreo Crust and Marshmallow Meringue (Mint Mont Blanc)

Inspired by Sprinkle Bakes

For the crust:

20 mint Oreos

2 tablespoons butter

For the mousse:

1/8 ounce (1 teaspoon) powdered gelatin

1 tablespoon cold water

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup hot milk

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (Ghiradelli chips or better, not Nestle, please)

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 teaspoon creme de menthe

green food coloring, if desired

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the marshmallow meringue:

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

7 ounces marshmallow creme

2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
To make the crust, line a 9-inch sprinform pan with aluminum foil, letting the edges of the foil stick out past the sides, not inside the pan. Pulse Oreos in a food processor until finely ground. Melt the butter in a small microwave-safe dish, then pulse together with the cookie crumbs until blended. Pat the crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan. Stick the pan in the freezer until the mousse is ready, at least 20 minutes.

To make the mousse, place 1 tablespoon of water in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the water.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Whisk in egg yolks and sugar. Heat your milk in the microwave for about a minute. Stir the hot milk into the egg mixture in the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened considerably, around 12 minutes. Watch this part; I could have let mine thicken longer. When done, it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds until just melted. Be careful not to burn it. That would be awful. Whisk in the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and blend until the chocolate has melted and no streaks remain. Let cool.

When the mixture has cooled somewhat, stir in the peppermint extract, creme de menthe and green food coloring, to taste and see.

Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then gently fold the cream into the egg mixture until just blended. Pour this over the Oreo crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Stick this in the freezer again.

To make the marshmallow meringue, whip the egg whites, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until foamy. Add the sugar graduallly, about 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form. After each sugar addition, whip for about a minute. Beat in 1/4 of the marshmallow creme, then beat in the rest, whipping until well-mixed and fluffy. Fold in the mini marshmallows.

Spoon the meringue over the semi- frozen mousse, mounding in the middle. Swirl the meringue with the back of a spoon and let set. Garnish with white chocolate shards. (Melt any remaining chips, spread them thin on some wax paper, let cool, then break up to garnish.)

This can be stored in the fridge. For clean cutting, it would probably be best to serve this from frozen, which I did not do. Give it a shot!

Favorite Shots: Champagne & Backseams

chandelier 3


These shots look like champagne and backseams and glamour, don’t you think? I can’t get enough. It’s like staring at a fire.

Yes, pleasing,


chandelier 2

chandelier 1

Pipe Dream #168: To Be A Guilt-Free Addict Instead – Peppermint Meringues

peppermint meringues 3

Here is how I could start this post:

“Peppermint Meringues: An Guilt-Free Addiction. These little buggers can be the spice of your life, especially in January, month of sugar overdose cleanse. Seriously, they’re like 15 calories a pop, perfect if you need a sweet but don’t feel like busting out a butter cake.”

But here is the thing. When you eat these, it won’t necessarily erase any post-holiday guilt you may be feeling. Party after party of canapes and cookies? Yeah, don’t act like you didn’t indulge a bit. Actually, I won’t act like I didn’t indulge a bit, because I did, and I won’t put words in your mouth. :]

Guilt is basically the result of feeling like we don’t measure up quite well enough, right? We all have different ways of coping with it. None of them are really healthy, because nothing we can do can really make us measure up to perfection. One thing I am really glad about today is this verse in Isaiah 6:

“With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

It sounds super obscure and weird, right? And it kind of is, unless you read the story, but the thing that is blowing my mind is this: Not only does Jesus take away my imperfection, he actually takes away my guilt too. Imperfection gone, guilt gone, so I don’t have to live under it anymore.

peppermint meringues 2

Some days, I wish that I could let these peppermint meringues touch my lips and be completely guilt-free, but that’s not how it works. I still deal with self-inflicted guilt over what-have-you. Verses like that help to remind me that I don’t have to.

So point of the story, you can make these to try and relieve post-holiday guilt, but they are a very poor substitute. A very delicious, poor substitute that looks like Whos from Who-ville.

peppermint meringues 1

This is the first time I have baked my meringues in a true low ‘n slow fashion. (Usually I’m too impatient.) Instead of a quick-baked version that turns out hollow and a little chewy, these meringues are solid all the way through and light as air. Combined with the cool little food-dye party trick, these turned out to be pretty successful, yeah?

That’s all for now, folks,


Peppermint Meringues

2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup regular or superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar and peppermint extract, and beat mixture until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually, beating the batter until it is stiff. Drop a few drops of red food coloring (gel or liquid) on the top of the meringue, but don’t stir it in. Spoon meringue into a piping bag, then pipe batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until light and crispy , but not brown. Let cool on baking sheets on a wire rack.

Inimitable Heather & Polaroids

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This is my friend, Heather, and she came to visit me once, and it was the best weekend of my life, probably. We took a couple pics on my camera, as you can see, but the coolest pictures were on her little mini Polaroid camera. It is a freakin’ sweet little camera, and makes everything look sweet.

I’ve tried to imitate its effects below, but to no avail. No one could imitate Heather, either. She’s too sweet awesome and beauteous and far more chill than your average American. Obviously.


heath visit 4

heath visit 7

heath visit 3

Pipe Dream #167: To Be Perfectly Proportioned – Brown Butter Pear Crisps

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Are these photos super dark on your computer? Let me know in the comments if so, because they seem light on my screen, but when I see them on other screens, they look super dark, and I really don’t know why. I mean, probably my bad.

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These are something else. First of all, brown butter, epitome of food blog trendiness. Then perfectly ripe pears. Then CRUMBLE (which I would replace with a better one or just more next time, but whatever). All the ingredients for awesome.

pear crisp 2

I had to split up the original recipe into four smaller portions, just to keep the awesome in check. Little individual cwisps for my family.

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Serve at room temperature so that you get the full effect of the flavors. Try and wait until it cools.

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I garnished this with a sprinkling of p sugar, but feel free to go for vanilla ice cream, whipped cream…bourbon sauce? Hello.

Hello to you too,


Brown Butter Pear Crisps

Adapted from Gourmet via smittenkitchen

For topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick oats

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

pinch salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 lb firm-ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears (about 2), peeled and coarsely chopped

4 small ramemkins

Make topping: Stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Add butter and stir until crumbles form. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge to chill  while you make the filling.

Make filling and bake crisps: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Put butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is browned, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

While butter browns, stir together sugars, flour, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Add pears and vanilla and toss to combine.

Pour the browned butter over the pear mixture. Spoon filling into dishes and sprinkle with the chilled crisp topping, mounding it slightly in centers. Bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool and serve at room temperature or a little warmer.

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