Monday, August 31, 2009

Baked Winner and Cherry Pie

Thanks to all who commented on my giveaway post and/or entered. If you didn’t specify what your favorite cake was, I assumed you did not want to enter the giveaway (I know a lot of bakers probably already own Baked: New Frontiers in Baking) and were just being nice and leaving comments. I entered the number 27, the total number of comments, into a number generator on and the number 17 came up. Here’s the winning comment:

congrats on 100 posts!! i'm at 13... whew, long way to go!! does cheesecake count as my favorite cake? its not technically a cake, but its not a pie... but its my favorite. i've never met a cheesecake that i didn't like :)
Congratulations to Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake! Jeannette, please email ( me your address so I can send you the book. And I think cheesecake counts as a cake!

Onto the pie! Mr. Penpen was going to be seeing his friends on Saturday evening and I usually send him with goodies. I was tempted to send him off with the imminent TWD cheesecake brownies, but I realized that I have plied them with three different types of brownies in the past few months (I mean, it makes sense – brownies are portable and always a crowd-pleaser), so I decided I should bake something else. In my giveaway post, one of Mr. Penpen’s friends commented that his favorite cake is cherry pie, which presented me with the perfect opportunity – seriously I had been wanting to make it all summer and haven’t had a great excuse – to try this Sour Cherry Slab Pie from Smitten Kitchen.

I was a little intimidated by the prospect of rolling out enough pie dough to cover a 10x15 jelly roll pan, but amazingly enough it was not terribly troublesome – a little bit, but really not bad. I used Trader Joe’s jarred Morello Cherries for the filling, as sour cherries are not available in California, which worked fine and were very tasty. I had a lot of fun making this pie and look forward to having more occasions to make giant slabs of pie. You can find the recipe HERE on Smitten Kitchen and the recipe for the pie dough HERE (I decided I'd finally try making pie dough by hand rather than with the food processor and I’m happy to say, thanks to the thorough tutorial on Smitten Kitchen, I’ll do it again). This recipe gets a 9 for Deliciousness and a 3.5 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 2.57.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

SMS: Fresh Peach (and Almond) Muffins

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday treat was Fresh Peach Muffins. Since it’s nice to have hot, fluffy muffins fresh out of the oven, I had actually intended making these at the very last minute (Sunday morning), because I was going to run a 10k race on Saturday morning. However, yesterday was one of the hottest days we’ve had all summer and we decided not to run the race. Instead I decided to turn on the oven and bake peach muffins. The original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 ½ teaspoons orange zest. I like cinnamon, but feel like I bake with it quite often (and with fall upon us, probably lots more in the near future), so I decided to vary the flavor combination a bit. For my half batch, I used a scant ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, ¾ tablespoon almond extract, and subbed in Meyer lemon zest for orange zest. I also added a handful of sliced almonds to give the muffins some extra texture. The recipe said to cut the milk for peach muffins, but my peaches were not very juicy and my batter seemed very thick, so I added a couple tablespoons at the last minute.

The muffins ended up turning out very good (I didn’t seem to have the denseness problem a lot of the other bakers experienced), though not terribly peachy. I look forward to trying the rest of the sweet muffin flavors in the Sweet Melissa Baking Book – and possibly trying some of my own combinations as well. I gave this recipe a 7.8 for Deliciousness and a 2 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 3.9. Many thanks to JoVonn of the Givens Chronicles for representing the peach state and selecting this great breakfast treat. You can find the recipe HERE on JoVonn’s site (plus lots of other good recipes) and see what the other bakers thought via the SMS blogroll. And if you would like to enter my giveaway, scroll on down a couple posts; the winner will be selected and posted tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie treat was Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie. Of the desserts of the August schedule, I think this is the one I had been looking forward to most, and I ended up barely making it on time! I am a perpetual procrastinator and can never make the recipes weeks in advance, even if I’m excited about them. I usually am able to finish the “assignment” by Sunday. Sadly, this was not the week for a last-minute recipe, due to two longish chilling times. Luckily, the recipe was fairly simple, though it took seemingly forever for my tiny bowl of cream to reach 180 degrees and I could not strain the filling at all. I don’t know if the cream got too thick or if my strainer was too fine, but I don’t think a little lime zest ever hurt anyone.

I think this may be the very first time I’ve written up my TWD post without having tasted the final product. Even so, I am giving it a preliminary 8.5 for Deliciousness, since I tried the lime cream and it was incredible, tart and creamy – too perfect. I could have eaten the whole bowl (it was only a quarter recipe) of it by itself. I also adore graham cracker crusts and meringue, so I’m sure it’ll be wonderful, though sadly I will have to contend with “weepy meringue” as Dorie calls it, since I’m not eating the pie the day it’s made. I gave this recipe a 3 for Effort, which works out to an EDR of 2.83. Many thanks to Linda of Tender Crumb for selecting this yummy treat. You can find the recipe HERE on Linda’s site and see what the other bakers thought by visiting the TWD blogroll. And please scroll down to the next post to enter my giveaway!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sweet and Salty Cake and a Giveaway - copy of Baked

A few months ago I blogged about seeing Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the authors of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. In that post, I mentioned that they encouraged anyone with moderate baking skills to bake their signature Sweet and Salty Cake. What I didn’t mention was that I bought an extra copy of their book to give away on my blog. I was eager to make the cake, but the quantities of butter, sugar, chocolate, and butter definitely make it a special-occasion cake, so I figured I would bake it when I had something to celebrate, like hitting one-hundred posts or my blogiversary, and give away the book at the same time. My blog recently hit one-hundred posts, which I would have mentioned before, but it was one-sentence-blog-post week and I had to be parsimonious with my words. And luckily, we have had an even more exciting reason to celebrate around here: I don’t usually like to talk about what we do between nine and five, but when Mr. Penpen was offered the new position that he had been hoping for, I found the perfect opportunity! Anyway, I finally got around to making the illustrious Sweet and Salty Cake and now I’m giving away the copy of the book. To enter the giveaway, just tell me your favorite kind of cake in the comment section. I will select the winner with a random number generator and announce the winner next week.

So the Sweet and Salty Cake. I was going to write this post yesterday, but I decided it was better to wait until I was a little removed from the experience, since by the time I got my sticky self out of the kitchen, I didn’t even feel like eating the cake. The cake has several components: a chocolate cake, caramel sauce, and whipped caramel ganache frosting, and I managed to have problems with two of them. The caramel sauce didn’t soak into the cake and I burned the first batch of caramel for the frosting (I look forward to the day when I have a successful caramel experience). My ineptitude frosting cakes didn’t help either, but that’s not the recipe’s fault, I just need more practice. In the midst of my problems, I looked up the cake online to see if other bakers had similar issues and found THIS POST at Sassy Radish where she renames the cake "I'm Going to Tear Hair Out of My Head and Curse Like a Sailor Cake.” That title seemed accurate at the time. I did not make the actual cake recipe in Baked. I had read on Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker’s blog that she wasn’t thrilled with the actual cake part and she seems to know her chocolate, so I tried a Devil’s Food cake from Cook’s Illustrated. The cake I made wasn’t my superlative chocolate cake, but covered with caramel it was quite yummy. Even after all the headaches, we thought the cake was fantastic. I gave the cake a 9.5 for Deliciousness and a 5 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 1.9. You can find the recipe HERE and HERE (and linked above on Sassy Radish, with some helpful tips), and it is definitely worth baking.

I decided since we were having such a special dessert, Eloise deserved a treat too, so I made her some pupcakes. Joy of Hot Oven, Warm Heart provided me with the recipe, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me passing it on to other dog lovers/bakers, I'm happy to email it. Eloise loved that I finally baked something just for her, though I fear that now she’ll become even more curious when I’m baking. I made the cupcakes minis, since she would devour the entire cake in one gulp either way. I had my camera on the sports/action setting in attempt to photograph her eating the pupcakes; she’s so fast that I really needed a video camera to record it.

And since this cake knocked my will to bake anything else yesterday, this is how far along I am on the TWD Creamiest Lime Meringue Pie.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SMS: Mom's Apple Banana Bread

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays treat was Mom’s Apple Banana Bread. Judging from the recent recipe choices, I think everyone is ready for fall: first the Applesauce Spice Bars, now this apple banana bread, my boyfriend’s mom even served an apple pie at lunch today. Anyway, I love banana bread and I also love apple desserts, so the odds for this treat being a big hit for me seemed pretty high; I made a full recipe of it in four mini-pans in anticipation of several mornings of yummy bread. Unfortunately, I was not fond of this bread and Mr. Penpen wasn’t either. The bread had very prominent (and wonderful) apple-spice aroma and that was the initial flavor I tasted, then a bit of an aftertaste of banana, which seemed a little intrusive to my palate. I should have just eaten the brown sugar apples with yogurt for breakfast, since they were amazing on their own.

Many thanks to Joy of Hot Oven, Warm Heart for giving me the opportunity to try a new banana bread recipe, click HERE on her site for the recipe. I also have to thank Joy for kindly emailing me a recipe for Pupcakes (the name of her blog is very appropriate she is very warm and friendly, not to mention everything she makes looks fabulous). To see the pupcakes and enter my very first give-away, stop by tomorrow (there will be a real cake, too). And be sure to check the SMS blogroll to see what the other bakers thought of this recipe; judging from the Problems & Questions section, I have the heretical opinion of this treat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie treat was Applesauce Spice Bars. Dorie says to not overlook these bars since they seem simple and old-fashioned. And I can see easily passing right by these, as the idea of an applesauce bar sounded a little boring to me. I like applesauce, but I’m not really sold on it being a dessert. I was wrong, though, these bars are delicious! In addition to being incredibly flavorful, these bars also had lovely texture, with the chewy dried fruit (I used currants) and crunchy pecans. And they smelled amazing while baking; they could definitely sell a home. I was feeling like they were fairly healthy, since I only used half a stick of butter for my half batch. Then I made the glaze (a full batch), which was more butter and cream, but its caramelly goodness was definitely worth it – so yummy.

These bars were very easy to make and they would have been quick, too, if I didn’t find out the apple I bought was moldy when I cut into it (better than biting into it, though). I sent Mr. Penpen to the grocery store for another apple, but decided he may as well pick up ingredients for dinner while he was there and I forgot to write down apples when I made my list for him (he has informed me that I can never be too specific when sending him to the store). So he had to go to the store again since apples were a pretty central ingredient for these bars. My glaze was pretty thin after cooking it for the instructed time, but I let it cool for several minutes and whisked it, so it ended up being nice and thick.

We were a little divided on the Deliciousness of this recipe. Mr. Penpen gave the bars a 9 and I thought they were more like a 7.5 or 8, so I guess we’ll give them an 8.5 (they were better the next day), and I gave them a 2.5 for Effort, giving this treat an EDR of 3.4. Many thanks to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen for reminding us that Fall is just around the corner. You can find the recipe here on Karen’s site and see what the other bakers thought by visiting the TWD blogroll.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SMS: Hazelnut Truffles

Thanks to Annie of Living Life Foodcariously, the Sweet Melissa Sundays group made its first foray into the “Favorite Gifts” section of the book with Hazelnut Truffles (click HERE on Annie’s site for the recipe); even though I love the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate, truffles aren’t really a huge favorite of mine (too rich), but I had fun making them and my boyfriend assures me he will have no trouble eating the quarter recipe I made on his own; there was also an irresistible-sounding recipe for Giuanduia (hazelnut-flavored chocolate) Gelato in this month’s issue of Gourmet, so I made that as well – gotta use up the bag of hazelnuts somehow – and it is fabulous.

Gianduia Gelato, from August 2009 issue of Gourmet
2 cups hazelnuts (8 oz), toasted, skins rubbed off, and cooled
¾ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cocoa), finely chopped

Pulse hazelnuts with sugar and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a heavy medium saucepan with milk and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes.
Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then return to cleaned saucepan.
Put ¼ cup milk mixture in a small bowl and whisk in cornstarch; add to mixture in saucepan , then bring to boil over medium heat 2 minutes, whisking often (mixture will be thick). Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted and incorporated. Chill, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours (I left mine overnight, so it didn’t get the occasional stir).
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker. (The recipe did not specify how long and I had never made a gelato before, twenty-ish minutes seemed fine). Transfer to an airtight container and freeze to firm up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Buckle up!

Earlier this summer, my boyfriend’s mother had given me a recipe for blueberry crumble and somehow the recipe was misplaced (actually, if you saw my unruly recipe stack that “somehow” would not surprise you) before I had a chance to make it; I did find another blueberry recipe of hers, this one for buckle, in the pile, so I made that instead; the batter of this cake was very dense, but it baked up nice and fluffy, with a thin, crunchy sugar topping; we loved it (and it was super-easy), but Mr. Penpen’s mom says the crumble is even better, so she’s going provide me with another copy of that recipe - look for it soon.

Blueberry Buckle, from Nancy R. (for printable recipe, click HERE)

Crumb Topping
¼ cup butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk (regular or buttermilk)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9x9 inch baking pan (8x8 would also work).

Mix the ingredients for the crumb topping together in a small bowl with either a pastry blender or fork until butter is incorporated. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in egg. Add milk, and then stir in flour mixture. Fold in the drained blueberries. Spread batter in pan and sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blueberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

You could call these his and hers ice cream flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough for my boyfriend – we run the same number of miles per week, but my metabolism cannot handle nearly as many decadent desserts as his – and Blueberry-Buttermilk Sherbet for me (though I did, of course, steal some bites of cookie dough ice cream and Mr. Penpen thought the sherbet was the best of the healthier concoctions to come out of our ice cream maker); the sherbet has the pure fruit taste of a good sorbet, but the buttermilk makes it a bit more substantial and slightly creamy; overall, an excellent summer dessert – you won’t even miss the heavy cream.

Blueberry-Buttermilk Sherbet, adapted from Blackberry-Buttermilk Sherbet from page 129 of Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, printable recipe HERE

3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

1 cup sugar

2 ¾ cups buttermilk

Pulse the berries and sugar in a food processor until they are pureed, but a few small chunks remain (alternatively, mash together by hand). Transfer blueberry mixture to medium bowl and stir in buttermilk. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator (the original recipe does not specify for how long; I left mine in for several hours, but an hour would probably be fine). For an extra-cold start, put the mixture in the freezer, stirring once or twice to prevent freezing (I did not do this). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve soft or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hard enough to scoop. Best served within several days (I have been testing the boundaries on this, since the recipe makes a lot).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

I thought the Brownie Buttons selected for Tuesdays With Dorie this week – click on HERE on Jayma’s site for the recipe and on the TWD blogroll for more buttons – were cute and tasty enough but not terribly exciting; since I didn’t have much to say about the buttons, I had planned on making an incredibly tenuous connection between Brownie Buttons and Doga (yes, that’s dog-yoga, and no, Eloise and I don’t practice it, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was offered in Marin), but thanks to the Sentence-Blog-Post-Week Challenge, y’all are spared of my ridiculous idea for a post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Short and Sweet

This week things are going to be short and sweet. Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs started a One-Sentence-Blog-Post-Week Challenge and I decided it would be fun to participate. I’m not promising that the sentences won’t be nonsensically long and coherent, but beginning with my Tuesdays With Dorie Post tomorrow and ending next Tuesday, they will all be one sentence. You can find out more about the challenge HERE on Nancy's blog.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SMS: Snickerdoodles!

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday treat was Snickerdoodles. I recall snickerdoodles being in the cookie jar rotation when I was growing up, but I don’t think I’d ever actually made them myself until this weekend. (Definitely an oversight on my part, given how much we like cinnamon treats around here.) Luckily, I now have a good recipe for them! Much like the other treats in the “After School Snack” section of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book, these were easy to make and quite yummy. The cookies are buttery and tender, with a nice crunch from the cinnamon/sugar mixture they’re rolled in (I also snuck a little cinnamon in the dough to guarantee extra cinnamon goodness). I made a half recipe, which yielded twenty-eight cookies with my two-teaspoon cookie scoop. The small cookie scoop is one of my very favorite kitchen gadgets; I actually had to purchase a new one this weekend, as my first scoop died. I don’t think it was a bad product; I just use it so much!

This recipe rates a 7.7 for Deliciousness and a 2 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 3.85. Many thanks to Spike of Spike Bakes for selecting this terrific cookie. You can find the recipe HERE on Spike’s great site and see what the rest of the bakers thought via the SMS blogroll. And if you like cinnamon, I highly recommend the Cinnamon Roll Muffin pictured below. I found the recipe HERE on Joy the Baker, and like everything I’ve tried from that site, it’s fabulous. I like the idea of making cinnamon rolls on weekend mornings, but I am never organized enough to actually plan ahead to make real ones (seriously, we’d have cinnamon rolls around 1:30 PM at best if I tried). Previously I had been making some non-yeast cinnamon rolls from The New Best Recipes, which are also tasty, but these muffins have instant rise yeast, so you get the more authentic cinnamon roll flavor, and you don’t have to even roll!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Almost Award Winning Guacamole

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I would be attending (and entering) a Salsa-Off, and possibly taking a few photos and blogging about it, depending on how I felt after running a half-marathon. Honestly, what I really felt like doing after running the half-marathon was sitting on my couch, eating brownies and watching “Mad Men” on DVD, but I managed to make some guacamole and attend my friends’ second annual salsa-off. I didn’t get very many pictures, but I did manage to take a couple of my favorite salsas. Below is the Best Overall, which I, and apparently most other people voting, was drawn to because it had spiced raw chocolate – definitely an innovative concoction.

My other favorite was this one with nuts and cheese – yum! I was happy it took the Best Other category this year, since I remembered it from last year and thought it was robbed of a victory due to mis-categorization.

In the two years of the salsa-off’s existence, our household has only come home with one ribbon and the recipient was Mr. Penpen for his awesome mango salsa last year. I have been the runner-up in the guacamole category both years. The first year I unwittingly competed against myself by entering two very good guacamoles (one with bacon and one without) and this year we showed up so late that the voting was pretty much over. This was especially unfortunate since there was only one other guacamole this year. Nonetheless, I think this is an excellent recipe. I learned to make guacamole from my mom, and then last year right before the competition, I saw a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated, which was fairly similar (I mean, really, all guacamole recipes are pretty derivative), but gave me the tip of not mashing all the avocado. This guacamole has a bit of a kick, but not it’s not terribly pungent and won’t overwhelm your palate – trust me, I wouldn’t be able to handle truly spicy guacamole. I give it a 9 for Deliciousness and a 2 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 4.5. Maybe the third time’s a charm.

Almost Award Winning Guacamole
(click HERE for printable version)

3 medium ripe avocados

¼ cup minced red onion

1 roma tomato, seeded and cut into small chunks

2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed through the garlic press
1 small jalapeno chile, minced
1/3 cup minced cilantro leaves

¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

generous ½ teaspoon ground cumin

scant ¼ cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons lime juice

Halve 2 avocados, remove pits and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Add the garlic, salt, cumin, cayenne, most of the cilantro, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and smash it all together chunky with a fork or kitchen utensil of your choice (pastry blenders or potato mashers both work). Cut the remaining avocado into small chunks; then add that to the bowl, as well as the onion, tomato, and the rest of the cilantro and mix with a fork. It should be well-combined and smooth, but still have some good chunks of avocado. Season with salt to taste and the rest of the lime juice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie treat was Classic Banana Bundt Cake. This was the first time a bundt cake has been selected since I joined TWD and I enjoy making them, so I was happy to see it on the August calendar. I am a little curious when banana baked goods cross over from bread to cake. Since banana bread is the more ubiquitous of the two, I’ve eaten a lot more of it in my lifetime, but there is a certain banana cake that stands out in my mind. When I was a kid we had a Big Bird cake pan; the pan with a little recipe booklet and my mom used to make a banana cake from it, which we referred to it as “Big Bird Cake.” It was excellent cake with fluffy buttery icing (lemon, if I recall correctly). Unfortunately, at some point my mom, who keeps her amount of “stuff” fairly minimal, got rid of both the pan and the recipe. A few years ago we discovered you could acquire a Big Bird cake pan on eBay in just few clicks (we didn’t, I guess we hadn’t had any wine that night), but I’d be even more excited to find the cake recipe. I found another cookbook containing one of my lost childhood favorites at a library book sale earlier this year, so I know it’s possible. In the meantime, I now have a great banana cake recipe in my arsenal.

Which is to say, I loved this cake! I’m glad only made a half-recipe; otherwise I would be convincing myself that this was a breakfast cake and eating it all day. The simple and delicious flavor of bananas is delightful, and the cake had a nice moist texture. I wasn't sure how the lemon glaze would go with the brown sugar cinnamon ice cream I made to accompany the cake, but it actually worked. We really liked the glaze; in fact, my boyfriend has requested extra glaze. I also loved how easy this was to make – seriously, I was astonished how quickly I was in and out of the kitchen. The recipe called for either sour cream or plain yogurt, and I used plain nonfat yogurt (definitely one of the healthier staples that I have added to the grocery list since joining TWD). We frequently buy more bananas than we can consume at our preferred stages of ripeness, so I end up freezing the ones that have more brown sugar spots than yellow skin and once defrosted, they’re terrific for baking – you don’t even need to mash them.

I gave this cake a 9 for Deliciousness and a 2 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 4.5. Many thanks to Mary of The Food Librarian for this selecting this fantastic cake. You can find the recipe on Mary’s site and see what the other bakers thought via the TWD site.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

SMS: Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Happy Sunday, everyone! Thanks again to those who preserved with me last week, and also for the kind wishes in support of my half-marathon. It was not my best race, though by no means terrible. As my ever-supportive boyfriend, who has many more years of running experience than I do, reminded me, races don’t always turn out the way you want them to and San Francisco is not the best place to set a personal record. Anyway, onto this week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday treat: Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies! I don’t make peanut butter cookies all that often, but every once in a while I do get an intense craving for them, so I was pleased to try a new recipe. In the instructions, Melissa gives caution to not overbake these cookies in order to make them chewy, which I always try to do (I don’t always succeed with my temperamental oven) because Mr. Penpen likes his cookies incredibly chewy. His mother, also a fabulous baker, has informed me that he used to diligently monitor her baking time when he was a tiny towhead – too adorable. I did not know that peanut butter cookies are her favorite, so I’m glad I brought her some today (I came with cookies and bundt cake, and left with corn and lemons – a great exchange, calorie-wise).

I thought these cookies were the perfect peanut butter cookie and super-easy to make. I reduced the butter by two tablespoons, not so much to cut the calories but because I happened to notice a ¾ stick butter when I opened the refrigerator, which didn’t seem to make a difference in taste, though the cookies may not have spread as much as they were supposed to. Last Sunday, Joy of Hot Oven, Warm Heart made some scrumptious-looking jam thumbprint cookies, which inspired me to make some with these cookies – yum! Many thanks to Stephanie of Ice Cream before Dinner for this fantastic selection. You can find the recipe HERE on Stephanie’s site and see what the rest of the group thought via the SMS blogroll. Also, stop by Stephanie’s Etsy shop to see her brilliant creation: the Smart Measurements Apron – a great gift for bakers who like to scale their recipes, I plan to order one soon (oops, sold-out right now, hopefully it will be back).

I haven’t posted pictures of Eloise in a while and she goes nuts for peanut butter, so this is a good excuse to. Sometimes she can wait patiently for it.

Other times she just really loses control and will do anything she can to get it. I just bought a dog bone cookie cutter, so I guess I’ll have to make her some cookies of her own.