Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bites

     Have you ever been stuck in a dilemma? Like whether you should make chocolate chip cookies or brownies for your friend's birthday?
      I was, that's for sure.  Luckily, though, I came up with these chocolate chip cookie brownie bites.  That's a mouthful to say, isn't it.  I just call them cookie-brownies.
      But really, is it a cookie or a brownie?  The answer is neither.  It's a irresistible blend of the two, baked in a small, cute package.  I made them in a mini-muffin pan (you should really get one) and was inspired by those brownie bites you can get at the grocery store. You know what I'm talking about, right?  I made cookie-topped brownies once before, too.  They were delicious, but I love these "bites" so much more.
       The bottom is like a perfect brownie, and the top is like a perfect chocolate chip cookie, and the two together is like...amazing. They would be a hit at any party, bake-sale, or pot-luck.
       Their small shape makes them a perfect snack, too: a little pick-me-up after you face day-to-day issues like schoolwork, or being stuck in a dilemma over whether to bake brownies or cookies.  Sometimes, compromise is just the way to go.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bites

makes about 48 cookie-brownies
adapted from Baked by Rachel


For the cookie layer:
5 tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the brownie layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (4oz or 1 stick) 
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tbs all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick baking spray (or regular cooking spray plus a dusting of flour).
  2. For the cookie dough:  Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.  Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips until evenly dispersed. Set aside
  3. For the brownie batter: Melt the chocolate with the butter over a double boiler (bowl over simmering water) or in the microwave, stirring until smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in sugar.  Then whisk in the egg and vanilla, and then the cocoa powder and salt.  Finally, fold in the flour until combined.
  4. Place about a teaspoon of brownie batter in each cup of the prepared pan.  Then, place a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough on top.  Gently pat the cookie dough with your fingers so that it takes up the whole space in the pan.
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs and the cookies are golden-brown.  Let cool in the pan for at least five minutes.  Let, flip the pan onto a cooling rack and bang out all the cookie-brownies, placing them on a plate as they fall out (this is actually really fun).  Or, gently remove them with your fingers and a toothpick.  Store in an airtight container.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fresh Blueberry Sandwich Scones

     The weather has been beautiful lately, and the blue skies always make me think of blueberries.  It's like spring is coming soon.  You can see it in grocery stores, too.  While the berries aren't great yet, they are certainly plentiful on the supermarkets' shelves.
     The sun is starting to rise earlier, too, which I love.  When I woke up, I automatically decided that it was the perfect time to make some scones.  (I'm always in the mood for scones.)  And so I made these blueberry "sandwich" scones.
     I based this recipe off of a basic cream scone recipe from Fine Cooking magazine.  To brighten it up, I added lemon zest to the dough and I made the scones double layered, with blueberries and jam sandwiched in the middle.  It's like a blueberry scone, only so much funner.
     I learned a lot from reading Fine Cooking.  They said some pretty useful things when it comes to making the perfect scones. They included tips like these:

  • beat the cream in a chilled bowl and with chilled beaters, so that more air is trapped and the scones will be lighter
  • Press the cold butter into flakes when mixing with the flour to make the scones flakier
  • Don't over-work the dough
  • Shape the dough in a cake pan for more uniform shapes
  • Wrap the scones in an unscented towel to cool to trap moisture
    The results were fantastic.  The scones were everything a scone should be: soft, moist, and flaky.  A perfect treat for breakfast or an afternoon snack. You can even make these ahead of time and refrigerate/ freeze the completed, baked scones.  Then, just bake at 350*F for 10 minutes if you refrigerated, or at 300* for 20 minutes if you freezed. (They also last at room temp. for a couple of days.) Then, you can enjoy a scone any time you want to!
     Conclusion: Try these.  They are easy to make, and absolutely scrumptious.  Enjoy!

First, chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer.  Metal bowls chill faster, and it also helps to put some ice in the bowl.

 Whip the cream just until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate it while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
 Whisk together the dry ingredients and add cold butter cubes.

 Using your hands, press the butter with the flour into dime-sized flakes.

 Make a well int the flour mixture to make mixing easier.
 Add the cream and honey. Honey makes the scones brown better.
 Fold until incorporated and a dough forms/
 Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface until it's evenly mixed.  I added lemon zest at this point.
 Divide the dough unequally so that one piece is a bit bigger. Place both portions onto plastic wrap.
 Cover with plastic wrap and roll/ press each piece into a square baking pan (I used 9x9).  One piece should be thinner than the other. Also, you should refrigerate the dough pieces for at least 10 minutes before continuing. Be patient.
 Take the thicker piece and spread a couple tablespoons of jam on top.  I used blackberry preserves, but any kind would work.  Scatter about 3/4 cup of blueberries on the surface, then place the other sheet of dough on top.

 Cut into even rectangles or squares using a sharp knife.
 Brush with some cream and then sprinkle on some sugar.
 Place about 1-1/2 inches apart and bake.

 If you aren't serving them immediately, you should cover them in a towel right after you take them off of the baking sheet so that moisture is retained.  Then, keep the scones in an airtight container at room temperature,   or you can refrigerate or freeze them.

Fresh Blueberry Sandwich Scones

makes 10-12 scones
adapted from Fine Cooking's cream scone recipe


1 cup plus 2 tbs chilled heavy cream
10.6 oz (2-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs baking powder
a bit less than 1/4 tsp fine salt
10 tbs (5 oz) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tbs plus 1 tsp honey
1 tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 tbs blackberry or blueberry jam/preserves
coarse sugar or regular sugar for sprinkling


  1. Chill a bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes (see notes above).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400*F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Beat 1 cup of the heavy cream in the chilled bowl just until soft peaks form.  It'll only take a couple of minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter squares and toss with your fingers.  Press the butter into dime-sized flakes.
  5. Make a well in the mixture and add the cream and honey.  Lightly fold with a spatula until incorporated.  Add lemon zest and lightly knead in the bowl until a loose dough forms.  
  6. On a floured surface, lightly knead the dough a bit more and divide into two unequal portions (about a 2:3 ratio).  Place both pieces on different pieces of plastic wrap and then cover with more plastic wrap. 
  7. Take each piece of dough and roll it or press it to fit a square (9x9") baking pan.  One piece will be thinner than the other.  Refrigerate both pieces for 10 minutes before continuing. 
  8. Unwrap the thicker piece of dough. Spread the jam on top and then scatter the blueberries on top of that.  Place the other piece of dough on top so that the edges match up.  Using a sharp knife, cut into 10-12 even squares or rectangles.
  9. Brush the tops with 2 tsp heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Place on baking sheet about 1-1/2 inches apart.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are light brown.  Spread a clean, unscented towel on a cooling rack.  Lift the scones off the baking sheet and onto the towel.  Cover the scones with the towel and let cool, or serve warm.  
  10. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days.  Alternatively, freeze or refrigerate.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet Sesame Dumplings 汤圆 (Tangyuan)

     These couple past weeks have sure gone by quick.  And by that, I mean that it's the end of Chinese New Year, today, and my mom and brother are finally coming back from China tonight!
     At the end of a long day, nothing is more comforting than a nice bowl  of tangyuan.  Those are a traditional Chinese dessert made of gluttinous rice flour, water and filling.  Tangyuan are a tradition to eat on Chinese New Year, but I've never made them myself before.  Why not try them yourself?
      First, you toast some sesame seeds and grind them to a paste.

      Then you add some sugar and butter and melt it all together.
      It will be liquidy, but after you chill it for half an hour, it'll be dryer and easier to scoop onto the dough.
      To make the dough, just mix glutinous or sweet rice flour with water and knead it until it's smooth.  It's that easy.

      Then, cut it into equal portions and roll the pieces into balls.
      Flatten the balls into circles and fill them like a dumpling.

      Then, just boil them in some water (you can add brown sugar to the water to make a nice, sweet soup) and when they float, they're done!

       I love watching the little white balls float to the surface, and them devouring them right after.  You can make and wrap the dumplings ahead of time and cover and freeze them for a long time before boiling them.  You can also make them without the filling.

Sweet Boiled Sesame Dumplings 汤圆

makes 16-20 tangyuan
adapted from Rasa Malaysia 


8 oz glutinous rice ( or sweet rice) flour
180ml (3/4 cup) water, room temperature
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick or 2 oz) unsalted butter


  1. Combine the glutinous rice flour and water and knead until it's smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds in a wok over medium heat, just until they're fragrant.  Then grind them in a blender or food processor until fine.  Return to wok over low heat and add butter and sugar, stirring until it's a smooth paste.  Pour into a small bowl, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for at least thirty minutes, until it's drier and scoopable. 
  3. Cut the dough into 16-20 pieces.  Roll into balls and flatten.  Put a bit of filling in the middle and wrap it up.  Then, gently roll the dumpling into a spherical shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough.  If not cooking them on the same day, cover in plastic wrap and freeze.
  4. Boil some water and add a spoonful of brown sugar.  Add the dumplings and boil.  When they float on the surface, remove with a ladle and pour into a bowl.  Serve immediately.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ratatouille with Whole Wheat Bread Sticks

  You know that adorable Pixar movie with the rat who cooks, right?  You know, Ratatouille?  It's one of my favorite Pixar movies ever.

   Today, I made dinner.  And not just any dinner.  I made ratatouille.  Ratatouille is a delicious French dish made with a bunch of colorful veggies.  Here, the ingredients are the same as the classic French recipe, but the presentation imitates the ratatouille made in the Pixar movie.  It's actually really easy to make (after all, a rat can make it) and even easier if you have a madoline to cut the veggies with.  You need really thin slices of vegetables to make them nice and tender.  Who knew vegetables could taste so flavorful and good?  This would be perfect to make in the summer, when all the veggies are fresh and in season.

    With the ratatouille, I made some nice, soft bread sticks.  I love bread.  These bread sticks are fancy enough for a restaurant, and are quick and easy to make.  They are flavorful, chewy, and healthy!  I used some flax seed to replace some of the oil,  and whole wheat flour.  The dough is pretty much the same as pizza dough. I think that you could use any pizza dough recipe to make bread sticks, and I'm sure that a lot of restaurants use the same recipe for their bread and pizza.  You can twist the ropes of dough into different shapes, like letters, stars, or knots.  And after you brush the sticks with egg wash, you can sprinkle different toppings on, like parmesan or salt.
     This is perfect served over couscous.  This time, I used the out-of-the-box kind to save time.  You can serve the ratatouille over any grain you want, and it's especially delicious with some feta cheese crumbled on top.


Makes 4-6 servings
adapted from Smitten Kitchen


1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2 tbs olive oil
1 small, skinny eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
a few sliced portabella mushrooms
salt and pepper
fresh or dried thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 375*F
  2. In an oval-shaped baking dish about 10 inches across, combine the tomato past, onion, garlic, and one tablespoon of oil.  Spread evenly around the dish.  
  3. Thinly slice the vegetables (excluding mushrooms) to about 1/16th of an inch.  Arrange in a swirl shape around the baking dish, alternating vegetables. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil on top, and season with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on thyme.
  4. Cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the dish.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the sauce is bubbling.  

Whole Wheat Bread Sticks

makes 16-32 bread sticks depending on size
adapted from Bread World


1 cup warm water (about 115*F)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs honey
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 large egg
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbs vital wheat gluten
3 tbs ground flax seeds
1/3 cup dry milk powder

1 egg white+ 1 tbs water, beaten together (for egg wash)
parmesan, salt, garlic salt (for sprinkling, optional)


  1. Dissolve salt and honey in the water in a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top.  Let sit 5 minutes. stir in egg and oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 2-1/2 cups flour, gluten, flax, and milk powder.  Slowly add to wet ingredients while stirring to form a soft dough.  
  3. On a floured surface, knead dough until stretchy and smooth, adding flour as necessary.  It will be just a little bit sticky.  It takes about 10 minutes to knead. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes for the gluten to develop.
  4. Roll into a rectangle about 8" x 12" in dimensions.  Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into 16 long strips about 1/2 inch wide.  Take each strip and twist into desired shape (you can cut each strip in half if you want shorter bread sticks). Place on a greased baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1-2 hours.  
  5. Preheat oven to 375*F.  Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle on toppings if desired. Bake for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Baked Coconut Pudding

 Tell me this doesn't look delicious.  It looks like a chewy, delicious bed made of sugar, doesn't it?  I wish that it was my size so that I could sleep on it.  That would be nice: "sweet dreams" taken literally.
  I've been pretty busy lately.  I don't know why, but I had so many tests and things this week.  Also, track tryouts are in a week!  I'm nervous but really excited at the same time (so cliché, isn't it).  I ran cross-country in the fall, but I've never run track before.

  Anyways, this "pudding" (which is more like a cake sorta-ish thing) is awesome.  I remember my mom used to make something similar to this before, with red beans I think.  This is a Chinese recipe, but I don't know what it's called in Chinese.  It's not too sweet, like a lot of Chinese desserts, and doesn't have a strong coconut flavor. It's made with only 6 ingredients: sweet rice flour, sugar, coconut milk, coconut cream, eggs, and vanilla.  It only takes less than 10 minutes of work, and it'll be ready in about an hour.  It's delicious served warm with some coconut ice cream, or plain and at room temperature.
   Plus, this technically fulfills one of the things on my "2013" list!
   Yum.  I could seriously eat this every day.  I was so sad when the last piece was gone.  I have to make this again.
Well, here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Baked Coconut Pudding

serves 6-8
recipe adapted from Christine's Recipes


5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups to 2-1/2 cups (300g-500g) sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 400ml can coconut cream
100ml coconut milk (I used the lighter version)
1-1/2 cups (300g) glutinous or sweet rice flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper and lightly grease or spray with oil.
  2. Beat eggs together until foamy and evenly mixed.  Add sugar and mix until well-combined.
  3. Add cream, milk, and flour, and vanilla and mix until well-combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  5. Can be served immediately or stored at room temperature for a couple of days. Enjoy!