Friday, June 20, 2008

Light Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Ummm.... no. I tried to "healthify" my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies), but they just aren't the same. They are good, a little cake-like, but cookie-like enough to satisfy my never ending craving for these delicious little treats.

Before adjusting my recipe, I did a little research into how I could reduce the calories in my cookies. I thought about the old applesauce trick, but everything I read said that you can't replace the fat with applesauce in cookies, like you can in cakes and brownies, because it will throw off the fat to flour ratio and the cookies won't spread. Next I thought about margarine instead of butter... but, unless you use light margarine, it is just as fattening as butter. So, instead I just reduced the butter by 1/4. I also replaced one cup of white flour for whole wheat flour. Instead of regular instant pudding, I used sugar free/fat free instant pudding. As a general rule, I don't usually use sugar free stuff... who wants to eat chemicals that just taste like sugar? Lastly and sadly... I cut the chocolate chips down to 1 cup instead of 2 cups. After all that slimming and trimming, here is what I came up with:

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

1 cup wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 sugar
1 package vanilla instant pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Cookie dough balls... I love my new cookie scooper! It's half the reason
I wanted to make cookies.

Perfectly baked at 11minutes.

Oooops... :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cheesecake Pops

In April, a fabulous group known as the Daring Bakers took on a really fun challenge... making cheesecake pops! What you say? Cheesecake pops? Yes, they really are cheesecake on a stick and they are delicious! After looking at post after post on the Daring Baker's Blogroll of these yummy treats, I had to try my hand at them. Father's day seemed like the ideal time since my husband adores cheesecake.

I hope you enjoy the ride... Welcome to Adventures in Cheesecake Pops!

Mixing the batter.

The water bath... this wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be.

Slightly browned, but cooked perfectly in the middle. Cheesecake should reach and internal temperature of 160-165 degrees for the perfect, creamy consistency.

Scooping into the cheesecake was a little nerve wracking. My husband came into the kitchen around this time and asked what the heck I was doing to the cheesecake! I have to be honest, my cookie scoop idea didn't work out so hot. The cheesecake was too creamy. I took the advice of Jenny from the Picky Palate and used non-stick spray on my hands to make the cheesecake balls. I still had to wash my hands every few minutes or the cheesecake balls just stuck the cheesecake on my hands.

I started out making my cheesecake balls rather bite size but they gradually got larger as the process became more tedious.

Here are the finished cheesecake balls ready to get dipped in chocolate!

These are the topping I picked up at the store, but after a while I thought of a few more toppings: mini chocolate chips and crushed oreos. My favorite combination was the coconut and mini chocolate chips. Yummo!!

Dipping was the easy part... Just make sure your cheesecake pops are still frozen as you dip them. Mine started to get soft and fall apart in the chocolate. Doesn't it look delicious!!!

Dipping the cheesecake pops. I found that it is best to store them in the freezer and pull them about 20 minutes before you want to eat them. Otherwise they tend to just fall off of their sticks.

The Dads enjoying their cheesecake pops!

Cheesecake Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

2. Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

3. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

4. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

5. When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

6. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

This being my very first food blog post, I would have liked to make something really special. On the other hand, I have a two year old and a 6 week old... so I chose a recipe that sounded both quick and comforting (we had a huge thunderstorm last night). After doing a quick search, I settled on mac and cheese, Katelyn's (my 2 year old) absolute favorite food. My go to source for recipes before now has always been I came across "Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese". It looked easy and delicious. That's exactly how it turned out! It was the perfect comfort food. Combined with a big helping of steamed broccoli (which Katelyn actually eats!) it didn't seem to terrible unhealthy. For our family, half of this recipe was the perfect amount. If you are looking for a fast, slightly gourmet mac and cheese, this is the one. It was just cheesy enough for my taste and the crunchy breadcrumbs on top were a perfect combination with the creamy pasta. Since I don't know Chuck... I have renamed this to be Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese.

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 (8 ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (12 ounce) container small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Cook macaroni according to package directions and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Fold in cooked macaroni. Spoon macaroni mixture into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, melt the butter. Stir dry bread crumbs into melted butter and then sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008