Weeknight Cream Biscuits

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An earlier incarnation of the dinner I made tonight. I really need to work on my picture-taking skills.

This blog is titled Ky Cooks, but let’s be honest– I’m way more of a baker than a cook.  I loathe “throw whatever you want into this [soup, casserole, etc]” recipes.  I have no idea what spices go with what flavors, and I suck at cooking meat (I would probably be 90% vegetarian if I didn’t live with J).  But baking…baking I can do.  I’m a rule follower, and there are lots of rules in baking.  You have to measure, mix, and combine just so.  The order of ingredients actually matters!  And there’s just something way more fulfilling about pulling off a complicated pastry recipe than managing to make a soup that doesn’t look like it has fetuses in it (BTW, that actually happened.  There were no fetuses harmed in the making of said chicken crock pot concoction, but the final product somehow looked like it had miniature fetal-shaped pieces of meat in it.  And yet it was one of the blandest things I’ve ever eaten.  THIS IS WHY I DON’T COOK.).

In summation, I like the intricacy of baking.  But sometimes you come home from work and you need something to go along with the dinner you’re making (meatless, of course…this if you’re interested) and you feel like bread, and you don’t want to wait hours for yeast to rise. Enter the cream biscuit.  The Kitchn may be telling a slight fib, because these take 15 minutes to bake, and so they are not, in fact, made in “less than 15 minutes.”  But they are definitely made in 20 minutes or less.  I’ve made these several times now, and they always turn out, no matter how frantically I’m running around the kitchen trying to get things done.  They’re also very versatile; they have a slightly sweet flavor that makes them perfect with a jam for breakfast, but they’re not too sweet to serve with dinner.

I make these biscuits as written, with one quirky change.  I never have parchment paper (and I call myself a baker!), but I do have nonstick muffin pans with square tins instead of round tins.  I just slice the kneaded dough into squares that fit into the tins and bake them in the muffin pan.  I don’t even grease the tins, and I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking.  So, maybe best practice would be to use parchment paper….but I never have and they’ve turned out fine.

The Kitchn has ideas for modifications (cheddar cheese!  chives!) but so far I’ve just stuck to the original.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A Nutella Love Story

I was first introduced to Nutella in 2007, when I studied abroad and was looking for a substitute for peanut butter.  As I’m sure happens with everyone’s first experience with Nutella, it was love at first bite.  In fact, I love Nutella so much that I can’t buy it or I will eat it all in two days or less.

My favorite story about Nutella also comes from my trip abroad.  During our time in Europe, my friends and I became obsessed with doner kebaps.  For those that don’t know what doner kebaps are, they’re kind of like gyros, but 100x more delicious.  The sketchier the kebap shop looks, the tastier the doner kebap is.  That’s a fact.  I’m pretty sure that’s why they don’t have doner kebaps in the U.S., because they could never pass health inspection standards.

Anyway, my roommate and I had developed a bad habit of stopping for doners on our way home from clubs at 2 am.  One night, I decided that I was going to be strong and resist the lure of the doner, so I went straight home without stopping by a kebap shop (despite passing at least three on my way home).  I woke up the next morning extremely proud of my newfound willpower.  I even started bragging to my roommate about how I TOTALLY resisted the doner kebaps, and I wasn’t even tempted by them, and how awesome I was for my awesome-y awesomeness.

And then I saw the half empty jar of Nutella on our desk.  You know, the one that had been full before we left the night before?  And then I remembered that I ate half a jar of Nutella when I got home at 2 am.  Which may or may not have been just as bad as eating a doner kebap, because at least kebaps have some nutritional value (I think…there’s some type of carne in there, so yay, protein?).

And that is why I can’t buy Nutella unless it has an explicit purpose.

Luckily, this recipe that I found for Nutella Brownie Bites took up almost the entire jar of Nutella, so there wasn’t much left for me to eat straight from the jar.

I’m not going to rehash the recipe here; it can be found at the link above.  I did add the suggested 1/4 tsp of salt and I also sprinkled the tops of the bites with mini chocolate chips before baking them.  I would post a picture, but the lighting was awful, so I’ll leave you to drool over the pictures on the recipe post at Laura’s Sweet Spot.

These were amazing right out of the oven, and they were maybe even better the next day.  They’re the perfect combination of brownie on the outside with chocolate goo on the inside.  And I get to have my Nutella and eat it, too.  Now I just have to try to not eat the whole pan.

Tuesday Morning Baking Urge

Blueberry boredom busters

I woke up this morning and my kitchen was still a mess from last night’s blackened chick-noa disaster.  Failure begets laziness, what can I say?  So what’s my first thought?  LET’S BAKE SOME COOKIES!  Obviously.  What is my life?

Since I had fresh blueberries, these Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies were a must.  The thing I like about baking is that I almost always have everything on hand without having to run to the store.  Which is perfect when you wake up on a Tuesday morning with a baking urge.

Anyway, I followed the recipe pretty much as stated.  I ran out of light brown sugar and had to sub in dark brown sugar for about 1/8 a cup.  Today I wasn’t doing laundry so sitting the stick of butter on the deck to bring it to room temperature did the trick.  The recipe didn’t state to mix the dry ingredients first or to cream the butter before adding the sugar, but I did both of those things since almost all other cookies I’ve made recently have called for that.  Couldn’t hurt.  You have to refrigerate the dough for half an hour, which was the perfect amount of time to clean up my disastrous kitchen.  Also, the cleaning was the perfect activity to distract me from wanting to grab the dough and plop it in the oven ASAP.  Two birds, ya know?

As I’ve said before, I like my cookies a little underdone, so I usually go for the lower end of the baking time.  This time I went for 10 minutes.  The cookies were browning on the bottom, so I decided to pull them out to see if they were done.  They were not.

But they were still delicious!

Back into the oven they went…for a couple of minutes, then I gave in and took them out.  I left the next batch in the oven for around 13-14 minutes, which was much better.  Still soft and moist, but not oozing dough from the center.

I really like these cookies.  I’m not sure that J would, which is why they’re not part of the Summer Cookie Project.  The brown sugar flavor is subtle, letting the blueberries really shine.  These are perfect for a breakfast cookie.  If you were going to eat a cookie for breakfast…I mean, who does that?  Not me.  Me.  I ended up with 12 cookies total, which was the perfect amount.  I will try to save at least one cookie for J to try when he gets home on Friday.  But I’m not promising anything.

Work What Ya Got

Hello, my lovelies

Today’s Summer Cookie Project (SCP) cookies were a spur-of-the-moment baking endeavor.  After making raspberry waffles (with Bisquick, so although they were delicious, they don’t deserve a post) and laying around in my snuggie for a couple of hours, I decided to clean up the kitchen.  Then after cleaning up the kitchen, I decided to mess it up again.  Duh.

I didn’t really plan ahead any particular cookie to make, but I happened to have some mini chocolate chips in the freezer, so that heavily influenced my decision.  I ended up making the famous Milk and Cookies chocolate chip cookies from, you guessed it, the Milk and Cookies cookbook.  Buying that book was a wise investment.  I decided to halve the recipe since J and I don’t need 30 cookies every week.

Anyway, luckily I had everything on hand.  Only two problems:  the butter needed to be room temperature, and I somehow needed to convert a Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar into chocolate shavings/curls.  What to do, what to do.  I didn’t want to microwave the butter because then it would be too melted, and I didn’t want to use a knife to make the curls because I would inevitably chop my hand off.  The clear solution was to put the butter on top of the clothes dryer (which was on) and to use a vegetable peeler to make the chocolate curls.  While holding the chocolate with a paper towel so it didn’t turn into a melty mess.  Obviously.  This week’s SCP cookies brought to you by laundry and a vegetable peeler.  Awesome.

Both totally worked, and I was left with some pretty awesome chocolate chip cookies.  The chocolate curls melted throughout the cookies, like little delicious flecks of chocolate confetti.  I ended up cutting down on the baking time from 15 minutes to 13 minutes because the first batch came out a little crumbly.  I like my cookies a little underdone anyway (salmonella, shmalmonella).  Thirteen minutes ended up being perfect.  These are actually the only cookies I’ve ever had that taste better when they’ve had time to cool.  They were good right out of the oven, but the semisweet and dark chocolates meshed better once cooled.  After halving the recipe, I ended up with 15 cookies, which was perfect.  We ate three during the baking process, and I sent six off with J when he left for school, leaving me with six cookies for myself.  Of which I’ve already eaten two.  Let’s see how many more last through the night…

Late-night Baking Adventures

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Muffins fresh out of the oven!

Ah, finally a baking post!  This, my friends, is my forte.  Or more honestly, just where my interest lies.  Once again, I’m making baked goods for work, this time for an end of the year breakfast.  I didn’t actually sign up to bring anything (whoops), so I last minute decided to bake muffins (hence, the title…I didn’t start until after 10 pm).  I picked these raspberry and jam muffins since I had almost everything on hand, and they seemed pretty simple.

The recipe is straightforward, and it’s easy to assemble the dry ingredients while the butter is melting on the stove. The muffins turned out great.  Not too sweet, with a hint of tart from the fresh raspberry.  The only thing that really didn’t work out for me was the crumb topping– it just didn’t clump up like I expected it to.  So I only put a scant sprinkling on the muffins instead of piling it on like the picture.  I think the topping would really take it to the next level, so I will be adding more next time, regardless of consistency.  I might also up the amount of jam.  Either way, these are a great, easy fruit muffin recipe.  Added to my baking rotation!