Snicker Doodle Bread

The first time my wife baked this, we were leaving on a trip to visit friends in Portland. The bread smelled so incredibly wonderful in the the oven, like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. When it came out if the oven, I sliced off a little piece to taste test and that was it – instantly in my top 3 baked goods of all time (look for the other two in future blog posts). So moist and cinnemony with a crunchy, sugary top, i was hooked. We wrapped the bread up nice and tight, stuffed it into the luggage and took off for the airport.

Going through security, we hit a snag. TSA stopped us with the “is this your bag?”, holding my wife’s luggage. They started digging through it looking for whatever was concerning them, pulled out a brick-like item wrapped in plastic and aluminum and asked “what’s this”? My wife explained that it was snickerdoodle bread, and I swear by that time I could smell it again the number of TSA agents doubled, until there were about 5 of them and standing around the bread. One of them then (jokingly) informed us that it would need to be confiscated.

They ran it through the x-ray machine to make double sure nothing was inside, then reluctantly gave it back to us and we were on our way.

I guarantee this bread will be a hit for the holidays.

Recipe from Barbara Bakes:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (1 pkg. Hershey’s)
2 T. flour

Topping:
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Combined 2 1/2 cups flour and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter and 2 c. sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix to combined. Add flour mixture stirring until just combined. Coat the cinnamon chips with 2 T. flour and stir into batter.

Spoon batter into four/five greased mini loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 1/4. Don’t fill more than 2/3 full.) Combined 2 T. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of batter in the pans. Bake at 350º for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a crack in the center of the loaf comes clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: You can also make this in two 9×5 loaf pans. Bake at 350º for 60 to 70 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a crack in the center of the loaf comes clean.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My wife has her go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, but wanted to try these because they reminded her of our absolute all-time favorite, Specialty’s in San Francisco. She wanted me to have something delicious and homemade to take with me on an out of town trip I’m about to embark on.

The trick to making them thick is to separate the dough in half for each cookie before you put them on the pan, rotate one of the halves 90 degrees and put it back together next the other half.

These are so delicious, perfectly crunchy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen:

Ingredients:
makes 18 cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli recommended) or 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli recommended)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches).

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking seet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Every year my wife makes my favorite fall dessert, pumpkin bars, but this year she discovered these on Annie’s Eats and thought they’d be ideal morning commute food. She is a true baking visionary, it turns out.

These will freeze easily and be just as moist and delicious as when you first baked them. Just take one out the freezer the night before, pop it in the fridge to defrost, then in the morning give it 20 seconds in the microwave. Grab your coffee and warm muffin and hit the road. It makes my 1-hour commute almost enjoyable. Ah, the joys of the Bay Area.

Recipe from Annie’s Eats:

Ingredients:

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:

½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)