Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: Chocolate Brooklyn Babka

Happy Saturday, friends! Today, we're reviewing Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Now, maybe because I grew up in the suburbs of Houston and went to college in Oklahoma, but I'd never even heard of babka until watching Seinfeld. Remember Elaine wanting to bring a chocolate babka to a party...gets stuck with the "lesser" cinnamon babka...and Jerry breaks his no throw-up streak due to a black & white cookie?
That was my introduction to babka...and I've wanted to eat one ever since.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Trader Joe's describes this as "a sweet rich pastry layered with chocolate." An 18-ounce babka costs $4.99. In our Trader Joe's, I've seen this come and go. It's always right by the first register and nowhere else in the store that I have seen. Keep your eyes peeled.

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
A mom's (my) take: BABKA...where have you been all my life? Oh, y'all. This is my ultimate food. This is like a cross between bread and a croissant, all marbled and swirled with chocolate. The top is glazed and studded with chocolate chips. Bonus: babka is super fun to say. You know they have those forks by the door at Trader Joe's? (I'm sure they're for to-go salads.) I may grab one on my next trip and eat one of these in my car.
Overall rating: (a very enthusiastic) 5 of 5 stars

A teeanger's (kiddo's) review: I've never eaten any sort of babka before, but this particular one was amazing. To me, it tasted like several layers of crossiant-ish bread spaced by chocolate and all sorts of sugary goodness. The consistency was very interesting, as the outside and bread was sort of chewy but the inside, especially the chocolate, was very soft and rich. I could EASILY eat the whole thing.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

a review of trader joe's chocolate brooklyn babka
Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka: 
Elaine wants you to have one. (So do we.)

Read all of our Trader Joe's sweet treats and dessert reviews!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
Can we talk? (< homage to Joan Rivers)

A crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie is one of the few cookies I can easily turn down. A chewy oatmeal cookie, a soft oatmeal cookie, a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie...sign me up, but crunchy? No.
crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
These cookies, however, are not for me. They're for my dad. Remember for Christmas I promised to make him one batch of oatmeal cookies each month?

For these cookies, I started with a recipe I knew would be good...it's from King Arthur Flour, and I find I can always count on their recipes. I played with the amount of oats, and added in some oat flour for extra oat-iness. I also traded some of the brown sugar for white to make these extra crunchy.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
As I was making them, I nibbled on quite a bit of the cookie dough. Practically like eating a bowl of oatmeal, right? The cookies, I wasn't so sure about. Like I said, crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies are not my cup of tea.

The day I made them, Mr. E and I were like ships passing in the night. As he was coming in from work, I was heading out of the door. I gave him strict instructions, "eat some of those cookies and tell me what you think."

When I came home later that night, he said, "those cookies? I ate 5 of them." He told me that he loved them so much that he didn't even slow down eating them to pour of cup of milk.

Well...there you go. I guess these are manly cookies. Rugged, craggy, crunchy...definitely not the puffy, soft, pretty, or gooey cookies I'd normally prefer.

Dad, I hope you approve.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
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Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

{makes a lot, adapted from King Arthur Flour}

2 & 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Stir together the oats, flours, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugars, butter, and shortening until combined and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

On low speed, add in the flour/oat mixture, then add in the raisins and pecans. Mix on low just until combined.

Scoop onto cookie sheets and flatten the dough using the bottom of a juice glass. (Dip the bottom of the glass in flour first.) For 2-teaspoon scoops, bake for 18 minutes. For 2-tablespoon scoops, bake for 20 minutes. (I made some of each.)

Remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

crunchy oatmeal raisin cookies
Are you a fan of the crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie?



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Monday, February 23, 2015

Oui! Oui! Let's go to Paris!

{Please tell me that you pronounced that PARE-EE.}

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors

I've spent many of my cookie decorating years with a deep-seated fear.
The fear of the Eiffel Tower Cookie.

easy eiffel tower cookies with how-to and inspiration
I mean, it's big, and detailed, and involves lots of diagonal lines. Piping diagonal lines well is not a gift that God bestowed upon me. It's ok...I'm still gifted at EATING cookies with diagonal lines, so there's that.

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors
So, we "adopted" kiddo's French teacher for dinner one night recently. During one designated week at school, each faculty member's family gets adopted and a school family will drop dinner off for them one night.

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors
I knew immediately that cookies would be part of the deal. Madame Bracht helped me with the French names for flowers in writing Decorating Cookies Party.

I also knew that it was time for me to face my fears...the tower of cookie decorating terror, er, the Eiffel Tower.

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors
Things didn't go well when I started with pictures of the actual Eiffel Tower. Then, I found this drawing. I loved that it was still the Eiffel Tower, but it was a little whimsical. It had a few scallops and the x's weren't perfect. It was exactly what I needed for inspiration.


Here's what you'll need to make your own Paris Cookie set:

The cookies were outlined, then flooded with thinned icing. To thin icing for flooding, add water a bit at a time, until it is the consistency of maple syrup. Stir gently with a silicone spatula. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and fill in the outlines.

easy eiffel tower cookies with inspiration and how-to
Once dried, the details were added...for the Eiffel Tower details, the details were piped with a #1 tip. 

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors
For step-by-step instructions for decorating the poodle cookies, click here. (Old post, but decorated in the same manner.) 
a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors

paris cookies hearts photo paa paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors riscookies17of18.jpg
Even without the other cookies, I love these hearts. A heart cookie with a black outline is one of my favorites. 

a paris-themed decorated cookie set: eiffel tower, poodles, and hearts in soft colors
Is there a cookie design that is scaring you? I say, go ahead and try. Look for the whimsical, not-so-literal translation. Remember...it's just a cookie!

Bonjour, mon cherie!



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