Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

One of the most important questions in a relationship should be: what side are you on?  Hard or soft?  This simple answer can help settle disputes and ensure that there is domestic happiness for years to come.  You could try to take the middle ground if you like being uncooked.  Conversely, this is one debate where the middle ground is the best option.
Straight out of the oven, you can't tell the difference.
While I truly fall in the middle ground of hard vs. soft cookies, nothing beats a soft cookie after the initial scarfing/burning of eating cookies right out of the oven.  You have to be very careful that you don't cook the cookies too long, otherwise they get hard. While I'm a huge proponent of just popping them in for a quick "warm", there are other short cuts that you can take to make sure you're not biting into a crumbling disappointment when sneaking a cookie a few days later.
I think you know where this is going.
The answer comes in the form of cream cheese.  This keeps the cookies nice and moist after the golden period of time right after they come out of the oven.  This keeps the cookies soft in time for you to bring them to your favorite bartender.

Ingredients - inspired by Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies by Couponing & Cooking

  • 10 tablespoons of butter
  • 8oz. of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • - See more at:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter
  • 8oz. of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • - See more at:

  • 10 tablespoons of butter
  • 8oz. of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • - See more at:
    10 tablespoons of butter

    10 tbsp butter, softened
    8oz Philadelphia Snack Delights Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese
    1 egg
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    pinch salt

    Preheat the oven to 350.  Beat together egg, sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth.

    Add all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

    Drop the cookies on a baking sheet.  I used a cookie stone, and a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes
    Sidebar: let's talk baking sheets.  I've discovered that cooking on a stone vs a cookie sheet produces a more fluffy cookie.  This keeps softer longer, and the bottom isn't as dark.  While cooking a chocolate cookie, that's not as big of a deal, but on sugar or pumpkin, it sure helps make you look like a pro.  I highly recommend using a stone whenever you have a chance.  Even if it doesn't look like you'll ever be able to get it 100% clean again. :)
    Right: from a stone.  Left: from a sheet.

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Gift Kit: Easy Like Sunday Morning

    After a long Friday night-Saturday of experiencing the weekend to the fullest, sometimes a Bloody Mary isn't enough to shake that feeling of restlessness.  The "have I done enough with my weekend" feeling that never really goes away if you think about it for too long.  And the conquering of the next day goes best with grabbing a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.  With a towel and a coaster to prevent catastrophes of course.

    Cappuccino Mug
    Hot Chocolate on a Stick
    Printed Tea Towel
    Coffee-Scented Candle
    Fun Straws
    Tea Bags
    Biscoff Biscuits
    Emergency Chocolate

    Personalized Cappuccino Mug

    When I was in Italy, I got used to drinking 2 cappuccinos a morning.  The first day, my right leg about shook itself off my body.  By the last day, the second cup was what I needed to get through the rest of the caffeine free day.  Now, in my defense, these were European portions, not the huge cups I found for this kit.  Two cups this size and I would have been able to climb up and down those hundreds of steps along the Amalfi Coast... twice.

    Materials - from Kate's Creative Space's Primal Instincts
    Ceramic Cappuccino Mug
    Chalkboard paint - black or contrasting color
    Enamel paint - used sage green

    Trace or freehand draw a tea bag on the onto the mug using a pencil.  Or freehand for expert level crafting!  Fill in with chalkboard paint.  Let dry; and paint in the opposite direction.  Let dry for 24 hours.

    Paint on the string from the end of the tag into the cup.  Remember!  Don't wash in the dishwasher and be careful around the paint!

    Hot Chocolate on a Stick

    The puppeteer Jeff Dunham taught me you can put anything on a stick or "steek" and make it awesome, while the cake pop revolution taught me that virtually any food item on a stick makes it more tasty.  This is something sushi can claim partial hipster points for since it is eating using sticks.

    Ingredients - adapted from 30 Pounds of Apples's Hot Chocolate Sticks and King Arthur Flour's Cocoa Blocks
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    7oz (1/2+1/8 cup) sweetened condensed milk
    1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate - melted
    6 tbsp cocoa powder
    2 tbsp oil
    1 tsp coffee - optional if the recipient likes coffee
    72 mini marshmallows
    wooden stir sticks/cake pop sticks

    Mix all ingredients minus the marshmallows together.  Pour mixture into silicone (simply for easier removal) ice cube tray.  Place 4 marshmallows in the corners of each cube & a stick in the center.

    Let sit in the freezer overnight.  Pop out and wrap in clusters.  Small tags with how to make hot chocolate on a stick are optional because it's much more entertaining to figure out how to make it yourself.  Personally I go for the "dissolving in saliva" method; it's emergency chocolate on the go.  Sticks really do make everything better!

    Printed Tea Towel

    Materials - from Brit + Co's DIY Neon Patterned Tea Towels
    Spray Dye
    Napkins or tea towels
    painters tape

    Iron and lay out tea towels.

    Tape out pattern on the tea towels.  I did a diamond and a tartan pattern.  Use up that painters tape.

    Spray the paint onto the towels.  I used 2 colors per towel: green and blue on the tartan tape, yellow and green on the diamond towel.

    Let dry for 4 hours.  Remove tape.


    I've already covered how to make bottle cap coasters and how to use alcohol ink for decoration (scroll to the section on "Coasters" - incredibly original).  If neither of those is what you're looking for in your gift kit, you can try the 3rd option in the flight: using washi or decorative tape on a tile coaster.  I see your challenge and I'm accepting it - you will find a coaster you like.

    Washi tape
    Tile in white or complementary colors to your tape
    sugru, small rubber feet, or no-skid pads (4 per coaster)

    It couldn't be more simple: lay the tape however your heart desires across the tile.  Let a little overlap the edges.  Cut; I found using an exact knife worked well.  Seal.  Let dry.  Enjoy not marking your furniture.
    Examples of patterns
    I recommend designs that don't end with the tape in the middle of the coaster because it looks like you honestly forgot to finish extending the tape.  Plus your cuts have to be perfect, and that's quite annoying after awhile.

    Coffee-Scented Candle

    From the amount of times I use old votives in crafts, you probably getting the correct impression that I'm addicted to candles.  Extra drinks for you.  I had some ones in the new Glade 3oz design which unfortunately can't run through the dishwasher and masquerade as something new.  Curses, looks like I'll have to burn the midnight candle on repurposing those.

    Materials - from Henry Happened's French Vanilla Scented Candle
    3 oz votive
    Soy wax
    Wick with holder and glue
    Whole coffee beans
    Vanilla beans chopped or vanilla scent

    To fill these most votivey of votives, I decided that I wanted to perfectly replicate the smell of an easy Sunday morning all day long.  So much easier than trying to fire up the coffee maker, and grind the beans, and wait for the coffee... Makes me want to just eat a hot chocolate on a stick.  Or enjoy coffee porter.


    In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm confident the only shot that needs to be served in any situation is chocolate.  Preferably dark.  Just like my coffee.  And beer.  Rounding out a morning you can look forward to as much as the fun experience of the night before are tea bags of assorted teas and some Biscoff cookies. The world's problems can be solved with a simple supplement of these embodiment of goodness each morning.

    Putting it All Together

    Place items in cup & place in bag with newspaper as support.  Because they've been running around so much before, the recipient probably haven't had a chance to catch up on local news in their or your neighborhood.  Due to how this also is constructed, you can place the kit in box to wrap as well.  In the world of gift bags, it's nice to have something substantial to unwrap.  After assembly, enjoy 1 drink of choice as this gift is as easy as whatever day on which you've finished assembly.


    Friday, January 3, 2014

    Biscoff and Apple Cinnamon Rolls

    Breakfast is probably the best meal of the day.  Other meals are made better when you have breakfast again: brinner anyone?  Sidebar: this is discounting all the beers that are like chewing bread.  Arguably you can make a bread out of them and then have that for breakfast.  See?  The Bartender knows.
    Tattooed Martha - Hard Apple Cider and Cinnamon Bread (11)
    Apple Cider Breakfast Bread.  Are you not entertained?

    The best breakfast is going to be birthday breakfast.  Where you get Cinnabons.  Because I have have yet to figure out any other justification for purchasing them.  Wait... 2 for 1 coupon.  Not without coups baby.  After combing though a bunch of of apple recipes I found one for apple Cinnabons.  Best ever!  Plus, I can get away with eating them on a regular weekend.

    Warning: this is not a scratch and sniff picture
    You're probably thinking the only way these could get better is if there was more cinnamon.  And you know, you'll always get what you ordered at this bar.  And I'll give you top shelf: melted Biscoff spread drizzled on the inside and, if you're really adventurous, over the top.  Double shot!

    Ingredients - Inspired by Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls by Gimme Some Oven
    1 cup milk
    1/4 cup butter
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 packet yeast
    1 egg

    1/3 cup sugar
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    2 tbsp cinnamon
    1-2 diced apples (I used Granny Smith)
    1/2 cup melted Biscoff spread

    Melt butter and milk in the microwave.  Usually it's easiest to pre-chop the butter and then just nuke for 20 seconds.

    Mix 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, & salt.  Add egg and butter/milk.  Beat until combined.  Add rest of flour and mix until combined.

     Beat until dough starts separating from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 10 minutes.

    Whisk together sugars and cinnamon for the filling.  Heat up the Biscoff spread.

    Roll out the dough into a rectangle.  Pour & spread the Biscoff over the dough.

    Sprinkle the apple chunks over the dough.

    Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over everything else.

    Roll up the dough length-wise.  These form smaller, more pinwheel sized rolls.  If you want to get adventurous, you can roll up the dough width-wise.  Fun fact: you can use unflavored dental floss to cut rolls of dough.  Slide it under the roll, cross across the top, and pull all the way through the roll.  & you don't end up crushing the roll!

    Arrange the rolls in a greased pie plate, cover, and let rise for about 25 minutes in a warm place.

     Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.  Let set for 5 minutes

    If you're really adventurous, drizzle some melted Biscoff over the finished rolls.  Enjoy with other breakfast essentials: eggs & smoked sausage!

    & yes, seconds are encouraged.  You have to start the day off right, am I right?  You don't want any left behind!  *stuffs face with cinnamon rolls*
    Round 2!