Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Decadent Double Chocolate Cookies with Dried Cherries

Decadent double chocolate cookies with dried cherries

Oh, these cookies....

So decadent.

So chocolatey.

So gobbled up in no time flat.

According to my cookie monster of a husband, they are the best things I've ever made. Really...he said that. Yes, I know you may be thinking that since he's married to me he has to say that, but I always ask for the honest truth whenever he tries something I make. If you don't trust him, a few other folks who have tried these cookies, have said the same thing he did so I guess we've got a winner on our hands!

I made these cookies not only to please my husband and write about them on here, but I also made them to send out to three other bloggers as part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap in partnership with Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

double chocolate cookies with dried cherries

These bits of goodness were sent out to three fabulous bloggers from around the country - Katie from Butterlust, Jennifer from Peanut Butter and Peppers and Jennifer from My Chicken Fried Life. Each of these blogs is fantastic and I would love if you checked them out!

So I sent out a dozen cookies to each of those three and received more in return from three other bloggers. My house is filled to the brim with cookies! The cookies I received were so yum! Big shout out and thanks to Lynn from Southern with a Twist, Amanda from Our Italian Kitchen and Emily from Totes Delishy for the scrumptious bites! I need to not eat cookies for a while now because all of them were gobbled up. 

I hope you all are enjoying this holiday season! I'm sure if you decide to make these cookies for your friends or family, they will love you to bits...I promise!

decadent chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries


THE PASTRY POSTS DECADENT DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES WITH DRIED CHERRIES
Yields two dozen 
*Adapted from Ghiradelli Chocolate Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I buy the chocolate chunks from Trader Joes, but you could buy a semi-sweet chocolate bar and rough chop it for the same effect)
1 1/2 cups dried bing cherries

Directions:
  • In a double boiler, melt the bittersweet chocolate and butter.
  • Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and mix.
  • Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Mix the melted chocolate mix into the egg/sugar mix.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chunks and dried cherries.
  • This mixture will be wet, so use plastic wrap and shape the dough into three logs.
  • Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours, or until it is nice and firm.
  • Once dough is firm, preheat your oven to 375F.
  • Unwrap the dough one log at a time and cut the log into 1 inch slices and place slices at least 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies 13-15 minutes. You want the cookies to be nice and shiny on the outside, but still soft in the center.
  • Cool and enjoy!
*Are you a food blogger interested in participating in next year's swap? Sign up to receive more information!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Caramel Apple Cider Smoothie and a *Giveaway*

caramel apple cider smoothie

Hello, Fall! 

Like most other people, I'm obsessed with the flavors and smells of this season. Once September came (even though it was still technically summer) I broke out all of my Fall decor and ran (not literally) to Pier 1 and bought a ton of their Fall candles. My favorite fall scent there is Autumn Leaves. I went through my first large candle in two weeks, so I had to make another stop and stock up!

Even though it is Fall, that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a smoothie - especially if it's made with yummy Fall flavors! This smoothie was made to celebrate Hamilton Beach's #Smoovember using their Smoothie SmartTM Blender

If you make smoothies at home, this blender is a must! The blender's one-touch functions make it soooooo easy to make the perfect smoothie. In one touch of the "smoothie" button, the 45-second cycle starts with pulsing to crush the ice and then continuing on in a lower speed to blend the smoothie to perfection. Clean up is super easy and there are also buttons to mix, puree and pulse to make milkshakes, yummy frozen drinks or crush ice.

hamilton beach smoothie smart blender and caramel apple cider smoothie

I absolutely LOVE using this blender. It is so easy to use and took the guess work out of making the perfect blended drink with smooth texture, no chunks of ice and it was ready to drink in 45 seconds! 

I also made this smoothie in Hamilton Beach's Single-Serve Blender. Another great smoothie blender, but for different reasons. This machine is SUPER light weight and since it's a single-serve, you can pop the jar off of the blender base and take it on the go. The blender lid is actually a travel lid, so for those who are always on the go, there's no need to dirty up another dish. Just blend your smoothie and go! 

These blenders would be great gifts for the smoothie lover on your list (or to keep for yourself if you're the smoothie lover)! Lucky for you, Hamilton Beach has kindly offered to send one of you BOTH of these blenders! Woohoo!

To enter, just use the widget below (after the recipe). 

Good luck and happy #smoovember!

caramel apple cider smoothie


THE PASTRY POSTS CARAMEL APPLE CIDER SMOOTHIE
Yields 3-4 servings

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups spiced apple cider (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2 apples, peeled and chopped (Fuji or Gala work great)
2 tablespoons caramel sauce (any brand will do, just make sure it's not cold when you put it in the blender)
1 cup ice cubes
Ground cinnamon, optional topping

Directions:
  • Place all ingredients in the blender and blend away!
  • Pour into glasses and top with additional caramel sauce and/or ground cinnamon.
  • Enjoy!


*Disclaimer: The Pastry Posts was honored to be asked to receive and review a Hamilton Beach the two Hamilton Beach smoothies mentioned in this post from the company. Hamilton Beach will also provide one reader one of each of the blenders mentioned. Giveaway details are noted above. All opinions about the Hamilton Beach blenders are my own and no other compensation was received.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Musings


  • This BBQ chicken pizza was my dinner last night at Project Pie. So yummy and great prices! 
  • What is it about this time of year that makes it so difficult for me to blog as much as I would like to? If you remember from last year, it was about this time that I had a slight "gap" in my postings. That happened because I was in the process of changing careers and was running myself ragged trying to tie up loose ends at my old job and train for the new one at the same time.  This time it hasn't been one big thing, but a bunch of little ones keeping me from writing. Don't you worry, though. I spent this morning brainstorming and developing some recipes, so you'll have some great ones ready for the holidays! I'll also have some great giveaways coming up in the next month or so, too, so stay tuned! Woohoo!
  • What I have been doing lately is binge watching entire seasons of shows on Netflix. I've mentioned many times before that I LOVE binge watching and that this is my favorite time of year because Netflix releases all of the most recent full season's of some of my favorite shows to watch. I think I mentioned that I watched Scandal and Sons of Anarchy and I've also completed the second season of Hart of Dixie, am almost done with Parenthood and saw today that the final season of Damages has been released. And, of course, The West Wing is always in the rotation :) Ahhh, I love Netflix.
  • My parked car is always a magnet for getting hit. Last week my car was hit for the fourth time while parked. One time while my car was getting fixed from being hit while parked, my rental car was hit while it was parked outside my apartment. Yup.
  • Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is coming up! Besides binge watching on Netflix, I love this time of year because the Thanksgiving issues of my favorite food magazines come in the mail! I've been savoring the most recent (Thanksgiving) issue of Food & Wine and reading a little bit each night. I just don't want it to end!
  • I was all set to post what I knew would be an amazing brownie recipe this week. Then I had a brownie fail this past weekend :( I used the wrong size pan to make my brownies and they literally overflowed in the oven. Also, since I didn't use the right pan, I had to cook the brownies for longer than normal and the tops got really dry and kinda burnt :( Don't worry, I'm trying again and hope to share with you soon!
  • This weekend I'm heading home to San Francisco to run the Nike Women's Marathon (or half marathon, in my case) for the second year in a row. Last year I wasn't able to train at all because of the craziness of switching careers and this year, although I wasn't able to train nearly as much as I wanted, I was able to train a little bit. I was going great and totally on track for the first four weeks of training then things started to happen-- I had to have emergency oral surgery and wasn't allowed to exercise, then once I was ready to run after surgery, I had a terrible fall at work and hurt my ankle badly. After the ankle was nice and healed, it got SUPER hot in San Diego (like, it was actually hot, not just San Diego hot) and it didn't bode well for my running. After the weather cooled I got really bad allergies which running made worse. After that I was ready to train. Unfortunately that was only about a month ago. I've been able to get out some good runs since, so I'm hoping for a nice run Sunday!
  • Today on my morning run, I decided that I don't trust people who work out in neon shoes. I know that sounds bad and I'm totally judging a book by its cover, but I feel like the "wearer of the shoes" is more into the looks of the shoes than the functionality. I'm sure I'm totally wrong, but that's just my opinion :)
Have a great week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Musings

Fall decor
  • So, it's officially Fall in my house. I have declared this because I bought my first pumpkin of the season last night and then came home and decorated our apartment for Fall. It smells like cinnamon now and I love it.
  • Speaking of cinnamon...I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cinnamon pine cones they sell at the store this time of year. Yesterday I smelled them the second I walked in the store and immediately went on a hunt to find them and buy them. Turns out it wasn't the cinnamon pine cones, but cinnamon brooms instead. Brooms don't fit in with my Fall decor, so sadly I have to rely on my scented candles to smell up my house until I find the real deal.
  • You may have noticed above that I placed special emphasis on the word "first" when it came to talking about pumpkins. Truth is, I hoard pumpkins September through November of each year. The first year my husband and I were dating, I made him drive me an hour away to go to a pumpkin patch so I could pick my pumpkins from the field. I ended up coming home with 10 pumpkins of different shapes, sizes and colors. Throughout the season I continued to buy them and probably had close to 20 by the end. I love pumpkins :)
  • The deep clean of our apartment that I've been talking about for the last few weeks is almost done! We only have a few minor things left on the list that I'll check off today. Everything will finish in time for a visit from my wonderful mother-in-law! Woohoo!
  • I've been obsessed with this peach pie ice cream since I made it. It's one of my favorite things to ever come out of my kitchen. Bad thing is that my awful ice cream storage container is holding the rest of it hostage! I currently have this container, and I hate to say it, but I am not a fan. It is normally super difficult to twist the top off and right now it is IMPOSSIBLE to take the top off. Both my husband and I have tried and it's not budging. I think tonight we're going to break the top to get it off and then sacrifice ourselves by eating the rest of the ice cream. Poor us.
  • After I break said ice cream container, I've got my eye on this one to replace it with. Anyone have it? Thoughts?
  • Since I couldn't have peach pie ice cream for dessert, I shared a dark chocolate bar filled with speculoos cookie butter with my husband. I think I've converted him to a cookie butter lover. I figured I would, so I bought a jar of cookie butter that's now happily at home in our cupboard. 
  • Anyone catch the Sons of Anarchy premiere? So good! I'm so excited to watch this season in "real time" and not binge watch it on Netflix anymore!
  • Speaking of binge watching on Netflix, I'm on a The West Wing kick again. Even though I've seen every episode MULTIPLE times, I started watching them all on Netflix again. I love that show and wish that every single character was my friend. When the show was on TV, I wanted to be White House Press Secretary (like CJ Cregg) so bad that I got my Masters in Communication to help me on my way. I also wrote my final essay of my graduate class in rhetoric on themes in the first season of TWW. While writing that essay, I think I watched every episode of the first season about 10 times in the name of "research." It was rough :)
  • I hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peach Pie Ice Cream

peach pie ice cream

I got the idea for this ice cream about three weeks ago and have been ready to make it since, but it seems like one thing after another has gotten in my way. 

First, I was super busy at work a few weeks back, so I wanted to spend my "off" time relaxing.

Second, for the past few weeks my husband and I have been doing a HUGE deep clean of our apartment. I mean, taking everything out of each and every closet, deciding what we want to keep and donate, then re-organizing it all. While it takes a ton of energy to do that, it feels amazing. Right now we have about 10 huge trash bags of clothes and items we're going to take to Goodwill. 

Third, when I finally went to the store to buy everything I needed, the peaches weren't nearly ripe enough, so I had to wait about a week for that to happen.

cut peaches for peach pie ice cream

Fourth, after cleaning out the guest room, master bedroom, bathrooms and hall closet, we finally made it to the kitchen. This weekend when I had some time off, we had appliances, dishes, pans, you name it on every surface in our kitchen, so no cooking/baking was going to happen then.

Finally, on I was ready to make ice cream. When my husband went to grab my ice cream maker from the top shelf, it turns out it was totally broken. As in it looked like someone dropped it. Since I know it wasn't like that the last time I broke it, my husband confessed he had broken it and promised to buy me a new one. 

Therefore, first thing the next morning, I marched to the store and bought a new one and now I finally have the peach pie ice cream I've been dreaming about for weeks! Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

ingredients for peach pie ice cream

I'm a sucker for any pie, tart or cake a la mode, and this ice cream gets all of those things in one bite - the flavorful peach filling, vanilla ice cream and even the crust! I used store bought crust for this recipe because I figured that, heck, since I'm making homemade ice cream, no one would look down on me for using store-bought crust. I hope I'm right :) Of course, if you have homemade crust, feel free to use it!

I hope you love it!

THE PASTRY POSTS PEACH PIE ICE CREAM
Yields 1 1/2 quarts 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste 
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
4 peaches, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 10" pre-made pie crust

Directions:
  • Combine the milk and cream in a heavy sauce pan with 4 teaspoons of the vanilla and heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and white sugar until pale and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Take the dairy mixture off of the heat and pour over the egg/sugar mix. Let sit for 15 seconds then stir slowly until combined. 
  • Place mix back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and slowly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and leaves a clear trail when you run your finger through it. This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Pour the mix into a clean bowl and place it in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is cool.
  • Once the mixture is cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the mix in order to prevent a "skin" from forming on top. 
  • Refrigerate until the mix is chilled - at least three hours and up to overnight.
  • Meanwhile, cook the peaches beginning over medium high heat in a small sauce pan with the brown sugar, cinnamon and the rest of the vanilla (2 teaspoons). Adjust heat accordingly so the mix is at a slow simmer throughout the cooking process. 
  • Cook until the peaches begin to break apart and the mix becomes syrupy - about 13-15 minutes. Once the peaches are soft, lightly smash them with a fork to create smaller pieces of fruit.
  • Set the peaches aside to cool.
  • While the peaches are cooling, break pie crust into bite-sized pieces and bake in a 400F oven until golden brown around the edges - approximately 9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Pour the chilled ice cream mix into an ice cream maker and churn. 
  • Once the mix begins to thicken, pour in the peach mix.
  • Once the ice cream is almost finished churning, add in the pie crust pieces a little bit at a time.
  • Freeze until set.
peach pie ice cream


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