How speculoos changed my life (and other birthday treats)

Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. I know, I’m so old! I’m constantly given a look of shock when I say I’m turning 22 (and now can simply say am 22) as opposed to the classic 21 that most of my friends are turning this year. I like to think it makes me wiser this new age of 22. Seriously, 18 is great, 21 is obviously great, but then 22….well, 22 you’re just old now. Obviously I shouldn’t be complaining – I’m not really that old, I live in Paris and after an awful 21st year filled with chemotherapy, PET scans, and the loss of sushi in my life for over 6 months, I think I can pretty safely say 22 will have to be a better year. One of the reasons I know it’s going to be better is because of this little gem of a discovery….

Yes, speculoos spread has changed my life. The way I like to describe it to people is think of those little biscoff cookies on Delta flights. You know? The ones I can never get enough of. Well, speculoos is pretty much biscoff cookies in spread form. Seriously, if it doesn’t surpass nutella and peanut butter on the amazing spread scale, it’s right up with it. It goes on any bread or cracker, or my personal favorite – right on a spoon out of the jar. I have found a lot of pretty spectacular food items here in France, but speculoos tops them all, so far at least. (I have been told that you can find biscoff spread in a jar back in the states, but I have never seen it – have you?)

Knowing my new found obsession, my lovely friend Audrey not only bought me a fresh bottle of speculoos (I’ve gone through one and half in the past 10 days alone) but she also got me the next best thing to speculoos itself – A SPECULOOS COOKBOOK!

It’s so awesome. Not only does it have recipes for sweets, like speculoos cheesecake and speculoos twills, but it has savory dishes as well, like chicken! I’m most looking forward to making baked apples stuffed with mascarpone cheese swirled with speculoos and topped with some speculoos crumble. I promise to update once I delve into some speculoos baking adventures. Got to hand it to Audrey, it was a pretty perfect gift. As you can tell, my other gifts didn’t fall far behind in the food category. Finally, blessed baking soda!!!! 

In the end, I’m now a year a older, but have more baking supplies than I did yesterday, so I can’t really complain. In going with the whole food theme, my best friend Charlotte, who was sadly was over 3000 miles away from me this year, still knew how to pull off all the stops on her gift. She got me a gift certificate to go out to brunch here in Paris!! I think I’m going to hold out on going for just a bit until it gets a bit warmer and I can sit outside, but after dessert, brunch is definitely my favorite meal in the entire world! Thank you so much to everyone who didn’t make me feel so old this year 🙂 Lots more baking to come this year!

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Long forgotten, but still remembered

I must apologize for my lack of updates in the recent months. I’ve had a few recent bumps in the road in terms of my health that have kept me from updating as often as I would have liked (take a look here for more information on that side of my life – http://abvdinnyc.wordpress.com/) I’ve been baking a bit here and there still, but with summer upon us, I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things baking-wise!

Instead of backtracking to find all the recipes I’ve used in the past month, I thought I’d just share some pictures that I have taken of my creations. We’ve had a few birthdays in the apartment, Passover, and the usual baking adventures. I also hosted a baking birthday party for some 6 and 7 year olds along with my roommate. It was loads of fun and if anyone is interested in having a baking party, let me know!  With school over in just a few days, my time will be opened up once again to try some new things this summer!

Coconut brownies made during a ski vacation in Vermont. 

Chocolate cake with caramel butter cream, chocolate ganache, and salted praline for my grandfathers birthday. 

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for my grandfathers birthday. 

Adventures in juice making with our lovely new juicer. 

Carrot, pineapple, and apple juice made at home. 

Lemon cheesecake cupcakes with glazed blueberry topping for a roomies birthday party. 

The birthday spread. 

The start of the most amazing meal I had while on spring break in France. 

The most perfect steak. 

Leading a six and seven year old baking birthday party. 
A sugar cookie baking adventure at a birthday party. 

Salty Caramel Cake

It is currently 92 degrees at 8 o’clock in the evening! What has this world come to? The heat forecast for tomorrow is 98 with a heat index of 106. I think it’s about time that I make a trip to Iceland. I’m really hoping that I can get to the beach with my cousins this weekend, because when it’s so hot there is nothing better to do then lounge by the pool and walk down to the beach. The heat has also caused my poor herb plants to wilt horribly. I try and water them every evening, but even one night in this heat without h20 and they shrivel up. Oh well. My mint plant, that sits right on my window sill, somehow seems to beat the heat and grows so big that I’m worried about how I’m going to transport it when I move at the end of the summer.

Anyway, this past weekend, my dad and step-mom came up to New York for a bar-mitzvah in New Jersey. It also happened to be the day after my dad’s birthday, so Friday night we threw a little soiree. It was loads of fun! I’d say we had about 18 people over who all enjoyed little snacks and champagne while enjoying the coolness of the dining room that had been pumped with air conditioning all afternoon. My contribution to the evening was obviously a dessert, but specifically a birthday cake!

I don’t think I can go on much more about how much I loved the BAKED cookbook. It’s quite possibly my favorite thing ever. This cake came straight from those pages. I’d actually eaten this cake before when I went to the bakery itself in Brooklyn and wrote a review about it here, but now was my chance to tackle it myself. This cake is not that difficult in theory to make, but given my teeny kitchen and limited time I had, it obviously turned into a bit of a hassle. I made it in different parts, putting it all together Friday morning. If you have a nice long afternoon, putting it all together at once will probably save you some time and dishes.

It’s an incredibly rich cake that is offset wonderfully by the caramel that is soaked into the layers. I was worried that the caramel was not the right consistency since it look really white and milky and I don’t have a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature in a sauce pan, but the milkiness was just from the sour cream and it turned out fine. I baked the cakes just a bit too long, but I still blame this on the faulty gas ovens. Once it was put all together, it had the perfect chocolaty taste with a hint of caramel throughout the cake and ganache. Of course, the fleur de sel sprinkled on top added the perfect after taste. I think that it was a big hit at the party!

SWEET AND SALTY CAKE

Adapted from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking

INGREDIENTS:

cake:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • ganache:

    • 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

    DIRECTIONS:

    cake:

    1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.

    2) In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

    3) In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

    4) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

    5) Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

    caramel:

    1) Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

    2) Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    3) When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

    ganache:

    1) Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

    2) In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

    3) When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.

    4) Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.

    assembling cake:

    1) Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate.

    2) Using about 1/4 cup of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of the caramel to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up.

    3) Spread entire cake with remaining ganache icing. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

    Strawberry Shortcake

    What a week! I had work everyday, saw a show with my roommate, made some amazing dinners and went upstate yesterday for my cousins birthday party. I was so excited to get out of the city for a day. As much as I love NYC, it is always nice to get out of the city for a little bit, even if only for the day. Ten kids went up in the morning and ran themselves ragged playing kickball, swimming, eating food, and smashing a piñata to smithereens. I mostly hung out in the kitchen and manning the barbeque. I also took a quick bike ride down the mountain with my uncle, which once again proved that I need to get my butt into shape.

    Not only was it my cousin’s birthday (it’s actually tomorrow but we celebrated a little early) but it was also my aunt’s birthday. Since we were getting a Crumbs birthday cake for my cousin, I decided to make a strawberry shortcake for my aunt because she told me how much she loves fresh berries and May is certainly the month for strawberries. I made the shortcake Friday evening in the city and then cut up fresh strawberries and made whipped cream when I got to their house on Saturday morning.

    I’ve never made a strawberry shortcake before, but after looking at the recipe, I realized it was quite similar to making scones, which are one of my favorite things to make, so I was quite excited. I usually think of strawberry shortcake as being made with angel food cake, but this is much more dense – just like a scone. I’m not sure I liked it so dense, so if I make it again, I will probably head the angel food cake route. I was planning on cutting the cake in half to put the whipped cream in the center, but given how little the cake had risen I was worried I wouldn’t have enough cake to cut. I realized soon after I bit into it that I should have cut it in half to soak in more of the juices, but it was too late, so oh well.  This is certainly a quick and easy dessert to whip up, especially if you get your hands on some fresh strawberries and whipped cream 🙂

    STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

    (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 3 pints fresh strawberries
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • 1 egg
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 2 cups whipped heavy cream

    DIRECTIONS:

    1) Slice the strawberries and toss them with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Set aside

    2) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour one 8 inch round cake pan.

    3) In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt.

    4) With a pastry blender cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined.

    5) Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

    6) Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. (I didn’t do this part, but I recommend it)

    7) Place half of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream.

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    This past weekend, there were two birthdays in my suite. One on Friday and my roommates on Sunday. As joint venture between the two, we had a lovely little party on Saturday night. Since they are both known to like a little lemon, I decided to try a lemon meringue pie since I have never made one and I bought a tart pan weeks ago that I have been dying to use.

    Since it’s still Passover, I decided to make a tart crust with cake meal, so that I would be able to eat it as well. After much research, and finally discovering that the cake meal box itself gave me the answer, I ventured into tart making territory knowing that I could subsititute 5/8 cup of cake meal for every 1 cup of regular flour. I found that the cake meal made the crust much more crumbly, so I wasn’t able to roll it out, but had to press it into the tart pan bit by bit. I know that this is a big no-no when making pie dough as it can cause shrinkage, but I had no choice.

    Making lemon meringue pie is definitely a two day process unless you have ALL DAY to make it. On Friday I made the crust and curd and refrigerated it over night. I made the meringue the next afternoon, but it in the fridge again and it was perfect for serving later that evening. 10 minutes gave me the perfect brown over the meringue, but make sure the meringue stretches all the way to crust, or else it will start to shrink. I think it was a big hit for both the birthday girls and all the guests. I am definitely going to try it again after Passover with an actual flour crust, but it still makes an excellent Pesach treat 🙂

    LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    (Adapted from joyofbaking.com and ME)

    DIRECTIONS:

    crust:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I substituted 1 cup of cake meal)
    • 1/8-teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

    lemon curd:

    • 3 large eggs
    • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
    • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

    meringue:

    • 4 large egg whites
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    crust:

    1) In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt.  Set aside.

    2) Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated.  Don’t over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color.

    3) Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball.  Don’t overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

    4) Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

    5) Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 – 12 inch (28 – 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.  To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry.  The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan. (I had much issue with using cake flour. If you do use cake flour, you can try using cake flour, otherwise, I just pressed pieces into the tart pan)

    6) When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll.  Unroll onto top of tart pan.  Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan).

    7) Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan.  Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry.  With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan.  Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry.

    8 ) Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes).

    9) Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.

    10) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven.  Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

    11) Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface.

    12) Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

    lemon curd:

    1) While the crust is baking make the Lemon Curd.

    2) In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended.  Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick. This will take about 10 minutes.

    3) Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.

    4) Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted.

    5) Add the lemon zest.  Immediately pour the lemon curd into the baked crust and smooth the top.

    6) Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

    7) Bake the tart for about 10 minutes or until the lemon curd is firm but still a little wobbly in the center.  Do not let it brown or burn.

    meringue:

    1) In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

    2) Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

    3) Using a spoon, place dollops of the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd, starting at the outside edge of the tart.  (Make sure the meringue comes right up to the crust and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd.)

    4) Then, with the back of your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure all the lemon curd is covered with the meringue.  If desired, swirl the meringue making a few decorative peaks.

    5) Return the tart to the oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the meringue has nicely browned.

    6) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, away from any drafts.  When cool, serve or else cover and refrigerate.

    Cheesecake

    Today is two of my really good friends’ birthday. They are roommates, look alike, and have the same birthday – they seriously could quite possibly be twins. Last night we decided to throw them a party in our room. Our main course was sushi, which we made, because they are both part Japanese. Sushi is really quite simple to make, although I did burn 2 batches of rice before I figured out at what temperature it needed to be. In addition to the sushi, we also had THREE cakes! I kid you not. There were only 9 of us, but three cakes. We had two cakes from Amy’s Bread (which I must go to – I have a gift card) and then I made a cheesecake! It was quite a sugar rush, but I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I have never made a cheesecake before, so I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself at a birthday party. All my stress turned out to be unfounded. Not only was this cake easy to make, it turned out to be delicious. It was a much lighter and fluffier cheesecake than I was used to. I guess I usually imagine cheesecake as being dense, almost like sticking a fork into an actual block of cream cheese. This cake was much lighter, more like a mousse. It’s important to whip the cream cheese for a good 8-10 minutes if you want this fluffiness, and I guess the extra cup of sugar I accidently added doesn’t take away anything either 😉 I kind of ad-libbed the crust with choclate tedddy grahams that didn’t turn out so well, but I don’t think it was any loss to the cake itself. Next time I’ll try and make a more stable crust. This was really a super easy cake to make, although it does need to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours if not overnight. I made it the evening before to ensure it chilled long enough. Using the blow dryer might seem ridiculous, but it really does work.


    CHEESECAKE

    (Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours)

    INGREDIENTS:

    crust:

    • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

    cheesecake:

    • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 1/3 cups sour cream

    DIRECTIONS:

    crust:

    1) Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

    2) Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

    3) Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

    4) Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

    cheesecake:
    1) Put a kettle of water on to boil.

    2) Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream.

    3) Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

    4) Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

    5) Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

    6) After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

    7) When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

    Serving: Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. The easiest way to cut cheesecake is to use a long, thin knife that has been run under hot water and lightly wiped. Keep warming the knife as you cut slices of the cake.


    Monster Cookies & Birthday

    So yesterday was my birthday! I’M 20 YEARS OLD! I can’t believe  it. I feel so old, but at the same time, no different then I did last week. I guess it will just take a little time to settle in the fact that I’m now in my 20’s. My dad joked that he doesn’t think I’ve changed in 20 years, except for maybe a little more hair and my grandfather said he wasn’t sure I’d make it this long 😉


    Saturday night, my roomies threw me an incredible party! My lovely roommate took it upon herself to go to four different cupcakes shops in the city to get different cupcakes so that we could have a sampling. It was so much better then cake. Instead of one type of cake, we all got to try chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, mocha, s’mores, and many many more. She got them from Butter Lane, Crumbs, Cupcake Cafe, and Chikalicious. It was amazing! We played a massive game of charades and then broke out the karaoke machine and sang some amazing songs. There was a slight damper on the evening when the fire alarm went off at 1:30 in the morning, but once we got back inside, I got to open all my presents! All and all, I’d say it was one of my most memorable birthdays.

    Now of course, even I couldn’t go without baking for my own birthday. I decided on some cookies that I had planned on making weeks ago, but couldn’t because the dough has to be fridgerated for hours. Basically a mix of oatmeal, peanut butter and some M&M’s, monster cookies are bound to become my new comfort cookie. Except for the fridge time, they were incredibly easy to make and to add to the peanut butter, I decided on peanut M&M’s instead of plain ones. The 5 cups of oatmeal lends to many many cookies – I’d say about 40 cookies. I gave a bunch away to my family because there was no way we could finish them all. Hopefully they’ll enjoy them 🙂

    MONSTER COOKIES

    (Adapted from BAKED)

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking soda
    • Pinch of salt
    • 5 ¾ cups rolled oats
    • ¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
    • 1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
    • 5 large eggs
    • ¼ tsp light corn syrup (I didn’t have any, and didn’t feel like venturing out to get any, and they seemed to turn out fine without)
    • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
    • 1 cup (6 ounces) milk or semi-sweet chocolate
    • 1 cup (6 ounces) M&M’s (Decided on peanut M&M’s instead to give it even more peanuty flavor – used three packages)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1) In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the oats and stir until combined.

    2) In the bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and pale in color.

    3) Add the sugars and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

    4) Scrape down bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth (about 20 seconds) and scraping down bowl after each edition.

    4) Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

    5) Scrape down bowl and add peanut butter. Mix on low speed until just combined, add the oat mixture in three additions, mixing on low speed until just incorporated.

    6) Use a spatula or wooden spoon and fold in the chocolate chips and M&M’s.

    7) Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for 5 hours.

    8 ) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

    9) Use ice cream scoop to scoop out dough into 2- tablespoon size balls on two baking sheets – 2 inches apart. (I just used my hands)

    10) Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Let cool on pans for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.