Cookies

Easy Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Easy Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weeks bake was inspired by a fellow baker who told me he sometimes substitutes brown sugar in his bakes instead of using granulated sugar. Since I’m not an experienced baker, I thought I’d try this tip on something a little bit easy; chocolate chip cookies. The cookies turned out great and I found the brown sugar adds an unexpected delicious fullness to the flavor. Below is the recipe along with my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did.

Ingredients

2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks softened butter

2 and 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups dark chocolate morsels

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl beat butter, vanilla, and brown sugar until creamy.

Add eggs one at a time until well mixed.

Slowly add in flour mixture until well mixed.

Stir in morsels until evenly distributed.

Scoop with cookie scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes.

Move to cooling rack and cool completely.

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

Parchment paper is your baking best friend. Instead of flooding your cookie sheets with cooking spray, line them with parchment paper and the cookies slide right off.

I’ve recommended this before, but a cookie scoop is a game changer. You’ll get a consistent sized cookie with every scoop.

This dough can be frozen and used later. I made enough to share and froze the remaining dough to use later this week for after school treats for my boys.

Don’t be nervous about the brown sugar substitution. I thought for sure my cookies wouldn’t turn out, but these cookies are some of the best chocolate chip cookies my taste testers have ever had. It was worth the risk and an amazing tip I’ll continue to use. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
Blueberry Scones

Quick and Easy Blueberry Scones

For this week’s bake I decided I would try to recreate one of my favorite coffee shop breakfast treats; blueberry scones. I wanted to create a quick and healthy recipe that could be made easily before starting my day. I honestly thought these scones would be way more challenging, but I think you’ll be surprised by how easy and fun they are to make. Below is the simple recipe along with my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did.

Blueberry Scones

Ingredients

1 lemon finely grated

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cups chilled heavy cream

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup fresh frozen blueberries

Ingredients for Topping

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons oats

1 tablespoon chilled cream

1 egg yolk

Directions

Place rack on upper third in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Finely grate 1 lemon with microplane into large bowl.

Add 1/3 cup of sugar and mix with fingers until mixture looks like wet sand and is very fragrant.

Add 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of oats, baking powder and salt to bowl with zest. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk cream and honey until well combined.

Slowly drizzle cream mixture into flour mixture tossing with a fork until flour is saturated and there are very little dry spots.

Add 1 cup of frozen blueberries and fold mixture with a rubber spatula until the blueberries are evenly distributed throughout and the dough is sticky.

Dust countertop with flour and turn out dough. Mold dough into a 1 inch thick square.

For the topping mix egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cream with pastry brush in a small bowl. Brush mixture across the surface of dough.

Mix 2 tablespoons of oats and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle over dough.

Cut dough into four smaller squares and then each square in half diagonally.

Transfer each triangle onto lined baking sheet.

Bake scones until tops are lightly golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Let cool on baking sheet and serve warm.

Tip and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did.

Don’t forget to freeze your blueberries the night before. If they’re not frozen they will explode during the bake and cause you to have soggy scones.

Don’t over bake your scones. Scones should be soft and warm in the middle.

These scones look like they take a long time to make. Don’t let that fool you. I made them in less than an hour on a Sunday morning before rushing out to the gym. Not only were they easy to make, but fun too!!

Pay attention to your oats. I accidently picked up steel cut instead of old fashioned. Luckily I had some old fashioned at home and ended up mixing the two. The scones turned out great, but I learned a valuable lesson in reading instead of grabbing and going based on the picture.

These scones can be frozen and reheated. If you have time, you can reheat them in your oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or you can microwave them for 45 seconds. I’ve done both, and both ways are delicious. Enjoy!

lemon, Tart

Easy Lemon Vanilla Tart

This week it’s pastry week at Mae Bakes! I’ve watched a billion shows about making tarts and thought why not give it a whirl? I’m still on a lemon kick from jam week (I’m always on a lemon kick, my love for lemons runs deep) so I decided my first ever tart would be a lemon tart. Just to prepare you pastry is not easy, but it sure is rewarding when you get it right. Check out the recipe below and keep reading to my donts that I did to find out why the biggest mistake I made baking this week had nothing to do with the recipe.

Ingredients for Tart Pastry

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cold butter cut into chunks

2 egg yolks lightly beaten

1 tablespoon ice water

Directions for Tart Pastry

In medium bowl stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until pieces are pea size.

In a small bowl stir together eggs yolks and cold water.

Gradually stir in egg mixture to flour mixture.

Using fingers gently knead dough just until a ball forms.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface use your hands to slightly flatten pastry.

Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 11 inches in diameter.

Wrap pastry around rolling pin.

Unroll onto 9 inch tart pan that has a removable bottom.

Ease pastry onto pan without stretching it.

Press pastry into flattened sides of pan and trim edges.

Line pastry with double thickness foil and bake for 8 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Tart Filling Ingredients

2 lemons

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

Tart Filling Instructions

Finely shred 4 teaspoons of lemon peel and set aside.

Squeeze lemons for 6 tablespoons of juice and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine sugar and flour.

Add eggs and beat with electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until light in color and slightly thickened.

Stir in 4 teaspoons of lemon peel.

Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour into baked tart shell.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until filing is set and lightly browned.

Cool on wire rack.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tips and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did

Go slow when adding the egg yolk mixture to your flour. The first time I made this tart I dumped it in all at once and it affected the flakiness of my crust.

Invest in a pastry blender. When I first heard about pastry blenders I thought they were actual blenders, as in something you plug into an outlet. They are not another kitchen appliance, but they are wonderful little hand tools that help you mix cold butter into flour in the best way. I still used my fingers at the end, but using one of these will help keep your butter cold in a way that warm hands obviously can’t. I’ve included a link to the one I have below. https://www.amazon.com/Spring-Chef-Professional-Stainless-Black-Medium/dp/B01CX1RIMQ/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=Pastry+blender&qid=1579753632&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=

Don’t stress if your edges are a tad darker than the rest of your tart pastry. I researched for several hours, watched too many videos and read a whole bunch of tips about how to prevent burnt edges. About 98% of everything I read said to make a “shield” for your edges out of tin foil. I ended up tripling up the shields and my edges were still dark. Don’t let the color fool you, dark does not mean burnt. It still tasted amazing.

Do follow the time listed in the recipe and don’t over bake your tart. The instructions say until set. I missed that step and kept baking about 10 minutes longer than I was supposed to because I thought it wasn’t done. Even though my first one tasted fine, the second was AMAZING. Don’t forget, it’s not a cake it’s a tart, two very different textures.

And finally, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far on this adventure. Don’t take your bad day out on your bake (I like to refer to it as rage bake). I made the first tart when I was having an off day. Although I was doing something I loved to feel better I still rushed my bake and didn’t give it the attention I normally would have. The crust was not perfect, the texture wasn’t great and the taste was just okay. The second time I made it I took my time, put way more care into what I was doing and ended up enjoying the tart and the experience way more. The second tart was off the charts in every way (it’s been said it was my best bake yet). The crust was golden, the texture was beautiful and the taste was delicious. It may sound a little cheesy but I definitely think it had everything to do with how I felt while baking. I turned the first tart into a learning experience (mainly learning not to rage bake), but like I’ve said before, the more you bake the better you get. I’ve included a picture below to show you the differences in the two bakes.

The first one is the rage bake and the second is the calm and collected bake.

Don’t forget to ENJOY (the bake AND the experience)

Apple Pie, Bake, Pie

Easy Low Sugar Apple Pie

This week’s bake is the bake that made me fall in love with baking. Before this pie the only pie I knew anything about was the kind you buy from the grocery store. Then one day my kids school asked for volunteers to bake pies for their teachers for the holidays and for whatever reason I decided right then I could bake not just one pie but 3 delicious apple pies…. from scratch. After a few days of research, recipe recommendations and one temper tantrum (basically I had a moment where the idea of baking a crust scared the crap out of me and I had to be talked down from that ledge) the pie recipe below was born.

I’ve also included a few tips and tricks and my don’ts that I did at the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Double Crust

2 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of butter

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

5-6 tablespoons of 2% milk

1 egg white whisked plus 1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Ingredients for Apple Pie Filling

5 cups of thinly sliced apples (about 10 large apples)

3 tablespoons of sugar

3 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Directions for Pie Crust

In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle with vinegar.

Gradually add milk, tossing with a fork until a ball is formed.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Directions for Apple Pie Filling

Peel and thinly slice your apples.

In a medium bowl combine sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.

Toss gently to combine well.

Putting it all together

Divide dough into 2 portions, 1 slightly larger than the other.

Roll out larger ball on a lightly floured surface to fit 9 or 10 inch pie plate.

Add Apple Pie filling to uncooked pie shell.

Roll out remaining pastry to fit top, trim and flute edges.

Cut slits in top for venting.

Mix the egg white and water in a small bowl and brush over the pie.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Tips and Trick and Don’ts that I did

For the apples I used half granny smith and half fuji, but you can use any type you’d like. I liked the tangy sweet combo of those two together, but there are so many kinds of apples you can mix and match several different combinations.

I used a potato peeler to peel my apples, it works perfectly.

When adding the apple filling, be sure to layer your apples and not just dump them in the shell. It helps to evenly bake your apples. I’ve included a picture below to show you how I layered.

Don’t be afraid to foil your edges when baking your pie. It’s kind of a pain, but worth it. I burned the edges a little on my first one because I wasn’t sure exactly how to foil and was too afraid to try. I found that cutting four strips of foil and doing it in sections worked best for me. Be careful not to burn yourself and make sure to foil before they get too brown (about half way through the bake).

My recipe has an extra teaspoon of cinnamon, but if you’d like a sweeter pie you can add just 2 teaspoons instead of 3.

I had no idea what “cut in the shortening” meant when I started baking. It just means to add cold butter to your dough. I found that the best way to do this is with a fork and your hands. Be careful not to handle the dough too much. The key to a flaky crust is cold butter.

I also had no idea how to make slits in a pie. The purpose is to allow the steam in the pie to be released during the baking process. The slits are basically vents. Start with a circle in the middle and then add slits however you’d like. Have fun with it. I added some dough leaves to my pies but there’s a million things you can do. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

Don’t throw a temper tantrum if this recipe seems hard. Trust me, if I can do it anyone can do it. And if you mess up, try again. My first pie was far from perfect, but the second and third turned out pretty great. Baking is like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy!

bread, jam, lemon

Easy Gluten Free Bread with Lemon Jam

Happy January! For this week’s bake I wanted to do something I thought I would never ever do. Make bread! And not just any bread, gluten free bread that tastes like regular delicious bread. Typically I try to avoid eating gluten (even though most of my bakes thus far are full of gluten) so I wanted a recipe that I could make weekly and also taste like it took hours to bake. The recipe below ticked all of those boxes… easy, gluten free and most importantly delicious.

Once I had the bread recipe perfected it was suggested that I make a lemon jam to go with it. I absolutely love lemon, but had never had lemon jam so I jumped at the chance to try and make it. I’m definitely tooting my own horn when I say this lemon jam recipe will knock your socks off. It’s the best jam I’ve ever eaten and luckily the recipe makes enough to share. It’s the perfect addition to the bread recipe below.

Ingredients for Gluten Free Bread

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter

2 large eggs

Directions For Gluten Free Bread

Combine milk, sugar and yeast in small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to froth.

Combine gluten free flour blend and salt in stand mixer. Beat on low gradually adding yeast mixture until well combined.

Add butter and eggs, mixing and scraping the bowl until well combined. Increase speed to high and mix until very smooth.

Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place for 1 hour.

Grease loaf pan. Stir dough and pour into pan. Loosely cover with greased food plastic wrap and let rise for 20-30 minutes or until just above edge of pan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool on cooling rack.

Ingredients For Lemon Jam

8 lemons

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 cups sugar

6 cups of water to boil zest

3 cups of water to make jam

Directions for Lemon Jam

Grate 6 lemons into dutch oven.

Squeeze 4 of them to have 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Set lemon juice aside.

Slice 2 lemons thinly and add to dutch oven with zest.

Pour 2 cups of water over zest and lemon slices. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Repeat this 2 more times. This will remove the bitterness of the lemon zest.

Add sugar, lemon juice and 3 cups of water over strained sliced lemons and lemon zest in dutch oven.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Turn heat completely off and let sit for 10 minutes. Jam will be runny, but it gets thicker as it cools.

Store jam in jars, place in refrigerator.

Once jam has set, slice the gluten free bread, spread with jam and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

The yeast mixture should be frothy, but don’t freak out if it’s not a volcano of froth. Your dough will still proof just fine.

I proof my bread in the window of my kitchen because I like the idea of the warm Texas sun helping with my bakes, but you don’t need a window to proof and most ovens these days have a proof feature. Any warm place in your kitchen is fine and if you don’t have a proofing setting, you can set your oven temperature to the lowest setting and use that to proof.

Don’t forget to grease your loaf pan. You’ll want to take it out of the pan once it’s baked to cool. If it’s greased properly it should slide right out.

Slice and freeze the bread for storage. I made the mistake of just freezing the entire loaf, but when I wanted to toast a slice I had to wait for it to defrost before I could cut into it. After you slice the bread add a piece of wax paper in between each slice. Store it in a storage bag in the freezer and grab a slice when needed. Easy Peasy.

Be really careful not to get your sugar, water, lemon mixture too hot when making the jam. My first batch basically turned into lemon flavored caramel because I overcooked and overheated it. You only need to bring it to a boil, do not let it boil for an extended period of time.

Don’t worry about the rinds or zest when putting your jam into jars. The rinds get really soft and somewhat sweet during the cooking process and they taste pretty good too.

The jam will be runny. The consistency is pretty much like runny jello. Do not worry. Once it’s cooled it will firm up and when you jar it and put it in the fridge it will firm up even more.

I really like lemon flavor and wanted it to stand out more than the sweetness, but if you’d prefer less lemon flavor and more sugar, feel free to cut down the lemon juice and add more water and a tablespoon more of sugar.

This bread is perfect for this jam and this jam is perfect for this bread, but you can enjoy them separately too. Make a turkey sandwich with the bread or add the jam to your favorite english muffin. Whatever you do, don’t forget to ENJOY!

Mousse

Simple Mousse Recipe

For Christmas this year I gifted myself a new mixer and thought making a mousse would be a perfect way to test it out. So for my first bake and blog of the New Year I made one of my favorites, a Chocolate Mousse Pie.

This was the first time I did a blind bake with my crust too so I wanted to make sure I got the crust perfectly flaky and absolutely did not want a soggy bottom. This meant I needed to do my research and lots of it. I spent a few hours online reading various recipes and reviews about the perfect way to blind bake a pie crust. There is a ton of information out there about the best options, from pie weights to uncooked rice and beans and more in between. Ultimately I decided to go with sugar because I had sugar on hand and it had great reviews from fellow bakers.

Below is the recipe for the chocolate mousse, the crust, the blind bake and how to put it all together for a delicious light and fluffy New Year Treat. I’ve also included my tips and tricks and don’ts that I did at the end.

Ingredients for Single Pie Crust

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter

1 and 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

4 tablespoons 2% milk

Directions for Pie Crust

In a small bowl combine the flour and salt.

Cut in butter with fork until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle mixture with vinegar.

Gradually add milk tossing with a fork until a ball is formed.

Cover with foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes until easy to handle.

Blind Baking Your Crust

Once the dough is chilled, roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to fit 9 inch pie plate.

Crimp edges a little taller than the pie plate so there is less room to shrink.

Line crust with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Freeze crust for at least an hour.

Once the crust has had time to freeze, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill pie to the top with granulated sugar.

Bake for 60-75 minutes.

Remove pie crust from oven.

Remove sugar and store sugar for later use.

Let crust cool and prepare mousse.

Ingredients for Mousse

4 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons of sugar

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for Mousse

With stand mixer beat 3 cups of heavy cream and sugar to stiff peaks (about 6-8 minutes) refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of heavy cream, chocolate chips and vanilla.

Place over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning the chocolate.

Once the chocolate has melted (about 2-3 minutes) remove from heat and let cool.

When chocolate has cooled, gently fold it into 2 thirds of the whipped cream until completely incorporated

Putting It All Together

Pour mousse into prepared crust.

Refrigerate for 8 hours or freeze for 4

Top with remaining whipped cream and serve.

Tips and Tricks and a Few Don’ts That I did

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when making the crust. I found that in order to cut in the butter to the flour my hands worked better than the fork.

That being said be careful not to handle the dough too much. Overworking the dough will cause it to become tough and not tender and flaky. The key to a good pie crust is cold butter.

One mousse recipe I tried said to add salt to the semi sweet chocolate. Whatever you do, DO NOT add salt to semi sweet chocolate. That type of chocolate has a saltiness to it already and adding more salt made it inedible. It was AWFUL. I ended up throwing out the entire thing and starting over minus the salt. It turned much much better.

I’ve given this tip before, but it’s worth repeating. Do not stop stirring your chocolate. It melts and burns really fast. I use a rubber spatula to stir and scrape the bottom of the pan. It works great and so far I haven’t burned a batch of chocolate. **knock on wood**

A stand mixer is awesome to achieve quick peaks, but it isn’t necessary. I’ve made whipped cream with a hand mixer and it turned out just as great.

Freeze or refrigerate your pie, but make sure it’s served cold. I froze mine to share later this week. If you freeze it just be sure to take it out of the freezer at least 30 minutes prior to serving so the crust has time to thaw a little.

Enjoy and Have a Very Happy New Year!!!

christmas, Fudge

Easy Fudge

Christmas is the season for lots of sweet treats, especially FUDGE. I’ve never made fudge and was actually pretty intimidated to even try. Fudge is one of my most favorite treats and I had one of the best ones I’d ever eaten earlier this year so making it myself… from scratch… seemed impossible. I quickly learned that it was very possible and actually really simple.

While researching recipes I had an idea to use three different chocolates to offset some of the sweetness. The fudge turned out great and tasted exactly like I’d hoped it would. The fudge takes less than 10 minutes to make and 2 hours to set. Your family, friends and even Santa are sure to enjoy this tasty treat on Christmas Day.

Ingredients

1 cup dark chocolate (45% cacao) (chopped)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate (55% cacao) (chopped)

1 cup bitter sweet chocolate (65% cacao) (chopped)

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Directions

Line 8 or 9 inch pan with parchment paper

Melt all ingredients on medium/low heat in medium saucepan

Stir until smooth

Pour into prepared pan

Refrigerate for 2 hours

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did

Play with the flavors. My kids and I really like dark chocolate so I wanted to have it in this fudge. If dark isn’t your thing feel free to skip and add more bitter or semi sweet.

Don’t get impatient. Fudge needs time to set. The 2 hours is a minimum. I got a little antsy and cut into mine before 2 hours and it was too soft. The fudge was still delicious, but it needed more time in the fridge.

Chopping the chocolate is really important. You can skip it, but it will take your fudge longer to melt and I think it helps achieve the smooth consistency you want for fudge.

Don’t stop stirring. I repeat, whatever you do, do not stop stirring. Chocolate burns really really fast. It takes less than 5 minutes for everything to come together and the last thing you want is burnt fudge. YUCK!

Speaking of stirring, use a rubber spatula and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring.

Pack it in treat bags and share with your friends and family. You can also freeze to share later.

You CAN eat the entire pan yourself too. It’s Christmas after all!!

Merry Christmas and Enjoy!

Cookies

Teacher Treats and Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

WOW! I say this every year, but December has flown by. It’s already time for the kids to be out for Christmas break, which means…. Teacher Gifts! I always like to do something a little personal for my kids teachers because they do so much for us. This year I decided to give a few of our Austin favorites as gifts like Cuppa Austin Coffee and Austin Gourmet Popcorn as well as some very easy, but very tasty made from scratch chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe is very easy to follow and makes enough cookies for my kids seven teachers with extras to spare for the little hands that helped with the baking. Below is the recipe with a few tips and tricks at the end.

Ingredients

1 cup softened butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together butter, white sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water, add to batter with salt.

Mix in flour 1 cup at a time until well mixed.

Add chocolate chips.

Use scoop to place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.

Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack.

When cooled, we packed our cookies into Christmas treat bags to give to our teachers along with the other goodies.

Tips and Tricks and Don’ts that I did

Don’t over bake your cookies. It’s really easy to do. Remember cookies continue to cook when you take them out of the oven. As long as your edges are lightly golden you will have a perfect cookie.

Freeze any extra cookie dough you have. If you only want to make 20 cookies, portion the remaining cookie dough into plastic bags, throw it in your freezer and use when you like. To bake the frozen cookie dough set oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes. The cookies will bake just like you made them the first time. We’re using our leftover cookie dough for Santa cookies next week!

Invest in a cookie (ice cream) scoop. This is a GAME CHANGER. You’ll get a perfect cookie every time. Below is the scoop I bought from Amazon. We make cookies all the time and I can’t imagine not having my scoop.  https://www.amazon.com/Disher-Scoop-Cream-Portion-Control/dp/B06XY9RDSQ/

These cookies are really easy, but also really fun. They might be the only bake I’ve done that have kept my kids attention the entire time. They loved helping me and being able to say to their teachers “Hey, I helped bake that!”

I’ll end with this. Val, a contestant, from The Great British Baking Show once said “When you bake, you always bake for a reason. You’re giving it to people, so you make it the best you can. You make it with love. And whenever I make anything, I stir love into it. I knead love into it, so when I present it, its special.”

I love this so much because it’s so true. In the short time I’ve been baking I’ve learned that baking is so much more than ingredients and oven temperatures. Bakers put something special into each bake. We LOVE our teachers and it makes me so happy to bake something out of love with my kids for them even if it’s something small but tasty like Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I’m looking forward to sharing many more bakes next year, the good ones and bad ones and especially the scrummy ones! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Mae Bakes!!

Brownies

Fudge Brownies

When the temperature dips below 65 degrees in Texas it’s basically 30 below zero and when it’s that cold it’s hard to come up with indoor after school activities for the kids. For my next bake I decided to attempt the perfect brownie with the kids help to keep them occupied for at least a few minutes. Below is the recipe with my don’ts that I did and a few tips I picked up along the way.

Ingredients For Brownies

1/2 cup of butter melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup white sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for Chocolate Whipped Cream

3 tablespoons of melted butter

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions for Brownies

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch brownie pan

In medium bowl beat eggs on low setting until eggs are light yellow (about 5 minutes)

Add melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix until well combined

Add cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until combined (about 2 minutes)

Spread into prepared pan

Sprinkle with chocolate chips

Bake for 25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)

Directions for Chocolate Whipped Cream

Blend all ingredients with mixer on medium setting until mixture has a mousse like consistency

Top warm brownie with whipped cream

Don’ts that I did and a few tips and tricks

  • Don’t be afraid to beat your eggs. The perfect brownie starts with eggs that have been well beaten.
  • If you’re an edge person or a middle gooey person these brownies have something for everyone. Don’t over bake your brownies to get that perfect edge. It will happen if you follow the instructions. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a hard overcooked brownie.
  • The brownies are amazing with or without the whipped cream. I preferred them without, but the kids liked them with. Feel free to skip that step and maybe add a little vanilla ice cream instead. YUM!
  • Cut the brownies when they are warm, but don’t be discouraged if your cuts aren’t perfect. Brownies are surprisingly hard to cut. It helps to wipe your knife in between each cut, but isn’t necessary.
  • Store brownies in tupperware and heat them up for about 10 seconds in the microwave if you enjoy them later. They are also delicious at room temperature.
  • ENJOY!
Doughnuts

Quick and Easy Fried Doughnuts!

For my next bake I decided to make my kids most favorite breakfast dessert… DOUGHNUTS!

My first thought when I decided to make doughnuts was to make easy baked cake doughnuts. There are TONS of recipes out there and they all seem pretty simple, but I decided if I was going to learn how to make doughnuts I would do it the conventional (fried) way. That makes this technically not a bake, but a fried.

The scariest part of this recipe was not the frying, it was the yeast and the proving. I’ve watched too many baking shows to know that proving can go really wrong really fast. The directions on the yeast packet even gave me a little anxiety. I felt completely out of my element, but I powered through and quickly figured out that making these doughnuts was not as hard as I thought it would be. Below is the recipe for Glazed Doughnuts and Chocolate Covered Doughnuts along with Powered Sugared Doughnut Holes. I’ve also included a few tips and tricks and my don’ts that I did.

The Ingredients for Doughnuts

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon of sugar

1 packet of active dry yeast

4 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 teaspoons of melted butter

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for Frying

Glaze

1/4 cup whole milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

Sprinkles (optional)

Directions

Grease a large bowl with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small microwavable bowl add 1 cup of milk and heat until warm (about 40 seconds). Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over the sugar milk mixture until frothy (about 10 minutes).

In a medium bowl whisk together flour and salt.

In a large bowl whisk together remaining sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour in yeast mixture. Stir until well combined. Next add the rest of the dry ingredients stirring with mixing spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic (about 5 minutes).

Form into a tight ball then place in oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm spot in the kitchen until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough then transfer to a slightly floured baking surface and roll into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Using a doughnut cutter to punch out doughnuts and doughnut holes. Re knead scraps and punch out more doughnuts and doughnut holes. Place onto baking sheet and let rise for another forty minutes.

Glaze

Whisk glaze ingredients until well combined.

Chocolate Frosting

Pour chocolate chips into bowl. Heat cream over medium heat for about 2 minutes until very warm. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute. Whisk chocolate and cream together.

Frying the Doughnuts

Line large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large dutch oven heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium heat. Cook doughnuts in batches until golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Add doughnut holes to oil moving turning frequently to ensure each part of the doughnut hole is fried. Transfer to paper towels for draining.

Glazed Doughnuts

Dip doughnuts into glaze while still warm and place on cooling rack.

Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Dip doughnuts into frosting and add sprinkles (optional).

Doughnut Holes

Place doughnut holes into a bowl with a lid, add 1/2 cup of powered sugar and shake.

Tips, Tricks and a few Don’ts that I did

1. Invest $10 in a doughnut cutter. It’ll save you time and a headache. I’ve included the link to the one I purchased from Amazon below. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NK3GK2R/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_image_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2. Don’t be afraid of the yeast. The instructions say to let yeast get frothy once it’s added to the milk. I was afraid my yeast wasn’t frothy enough the first round and ended up throwing out my first batch. I think I expected a frothy explosion and when that didn’t happen I assumed I did something wrong. My next batch of yeast did the same as the first and the doughnuts turned out great. The lesson is… Don’t throw out your yeast just because it’s not as frothy as you think it should be.

3. Proving is way more fun and rewarding than I ever thought it would be. This was the part that made me not want to make conventional fried doughnuts. I’ve watched so many shows where bakes have been under proved and over proved that I was almost too afraid to even attempt these. The truth is proving is still scary, but it’s not hard and the feeling you get when your dough has doubled in size is worth the fear. I will add that you should treat your dough like a baby. Check the temperature, carry it gently in its bowl, make sure it’s warm enough and it will do exactly what it’s supposed to do. Once you lift the towel and see the tiny ball of dough has grown into a much larger “ready to be rolled into 24 doughnuts sized dough” you’ll be glad you did.

4. Keep watching the oil temperature. My last few doughnuts cooked much faster than the first few because the oil got too hot. 350 degrees is the perfect temp for these so try and keep at that as best as you can.

5. The doughnuts are best enjoyed warm. If you’re eating them the day after take the time to pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds and they’ll taste just like they did when you first made them. Have Fun and Enjoy!