Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Baking book will keep you busy

I love baking. There’s something so rewarding about the mixing and stirring and the delicious smells from a hot oven.
I enjoy making quick breads and yeast breads, cookies and cakes and trying new versions of old favorites from banana bread to chocolate chip cookies.
So it’s no surprise that I looked forward to reading “Sally’s Baking Addiction,” a new cookbook by Sally McKenney, founder of the website, SallysBakingAddiction.com.
The book has a pretty cover photo featuring cake batter chocolate chip cookies she calls the most popular recipe on her site. (Her site receives more than 3 million hits each month.) That simple cookie recipe that took her 11 months to perfect is just one of 75 recipes in the new cookbook. I want to try at least half!
I started with fudge ripple monster bars, a rich and delicious soft cookie bar recipe that is packed with all kinds of good things including peanut butter, chocolate, oatmeal and M&Ms. This sweet treat is rich and gooey when it’s still warm from the oven and is almost better the next day when the cookie bars hold up a little easier once cut. But either way, this recipe is a treat, and my family loved it.
Several of McKenney’s recipe have a similar theme of peanut butter and chocolate, including a dark chocolate peanut butter cake that looks divine and a peanut butter swirl chocolate snack cake that’s made without butter or oil.
If you want some good, basic recipes, you will find them here, including blueberry streusel muffins that look divine and chunky peanut butter cookies that I’ve promised to make for my daughter soon. There’s also a chapter of healthier choices with some yummy options such as blueberry almond oat squares, pumpkin granola bars and maple pecan granola.
Apple cinnamon raisin breakfast cookies, which are gluten-free, fall into the “healthier” chapter. I tried them Monday night. They are very different than anything else I’ve cooked with a variety of ingredients including peanut butter, oatmeal, bananas, dried apples and apple butter. The combination of tastes and textures is a nice change from a basic muffin for breakfast or morning snack.
But the recipe I’m really eager to try is vanilla bean cake with strawberry whipped cream. Strawberries are one of my favorite foods, and right now I have a bucket full of local berries in my refrigerator, and I really want to make this cake — with a simple jam filling — before the week is out.
I have really enjoyed this cookbook and as a result have found myself reading McKenney’s blog to see recipes not included in the cookbook. If you enjoy baking, I think you would enjoy both as well.

Fudge Ripple Monster Bars

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3⁄4 cup M&Ms
Fudge Ripple Filling
7 ounces (or half of a 14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8X8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Making the Bars: Whisk the flour, oats and baking soda together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in large bowl on medium speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add the peanut butter, egg and vanilla one after the other, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Do not over mix.
Press two-thirds of dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Stir the M&Ms into the remaining dough. Set aside while you make the fudge ripple filling.
Make the Fudge Ripple: In a small saucepan over a low heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk, butter and chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the fudge over the bottom layer of dough.
Mold the remaining dough containing M&Ms into flat pieces and layer on top of the fudge filling. You won’t have enough dough to make one single layer, so some of the filling will be exposed.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely. Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Bars stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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