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Category Archives: baked goods

Made-from-scratch Snickerdoodle cookies make for great holiday cookie-exchange treat

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The second batch of Trisha Yearwood’s Snickerdoodle cookie recipe.

Baking intimidates me.

There’s more to it than just measuring and following directions. I think there’s a certain art and talent to baking that I haven’t quite mastered due to lack of experience. The pre-made cookie dough in a tub is usually how in-depth baking goes for me.

So when my friend Lindsey decided to host a holiday cookie exchange, where we had to make cookies from scratch, I was apprehensive. I had visions of guests spitting out my creation.

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Don’t be afraid of the chunkiness: the dough turns out fine.

Cookie of Choice

I’ve always liked Snickerdoodle cookies – the name and the taste. It’s a sugar cookie with a slight tartness, and it’s topped with cinnamon sugar. I recently enjoyed a scoop of coffee ice cream sandwiched between two warm, moist Snickerdoodle cookies from Palo Alto’s Cream (Yum!).

I wanted to replicate this delicious baked treat, and I came across Trisha Yearwood’s recipe, which received five stars on the Food Network’s website. The most expensive ingredient is cream of tartar (it cost about $5 for a 1.5-ounce jar), but everything else is probably already in your fridge and cupboard.

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Another glimpse of the slightly burnt Snickerdoodle cookies.

The Taste

So the recipe says to let the cookies bake for 8-10 minutes.  I recommend only leaving them in for 8 minutes, max; the test batch got slightly burnt at the bottom. My first test dozen went to the family, but they still enjoyed them.

The cookies had that slight tartness to accompany the sweet, buttery taste. Don’t be afraid to literally dunk the balls of dough into the cinnamon sugar mix. I was a little light-handed on this process, so some of the cookies were only half covered in cinnamon sugar.

I was a bit worried after I mixed the dough because it came out chunky. However, it turned out fine, resulting in cookies that were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and not overly sweet. It’s a great cookie for the holiday season that’s pretty easy to make, even for an inexperienced baker like me. Side note: no one spit out my creation!

(Click this link for the original recipe)

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Posted by on December 8, 2015 in baked goods, cookies, holiday

 

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Delicious chocolate mess: flourless Ghirardelli peanut butter cookies

Flourless peanut butter cookie with Ghirardelli chocolate.

Flourless peanut butter cookie with Ghirardelli chocolate.

That Ghirardelli chocolate square looks like a messy blob on top of that cookie, but you can’t go wrong when you combine the flavors of peanut butter and chocolate.

I came up with this random recipe when I saw all the chocolate I had left from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. Baking it with what was already in the kitchen appealed to the lazy baker in me.

(Related: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco leads to sugar overload for good cause)

Flourless peanut butter cookies work because they only require a few ingredients, they’re easy to make and they turn out deliciously. They taste like genuine, flour-included cookies, and breaking off the edges of the cookie and dipping them in the melty chocolate center made the treat even more scrumptious.

It’s my own sloppy twist on the peanut butter blossom cookie (I’ll bake the chocolate inside the cookie next time!)

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Click here for the original flourless peanut butter cookie recipe, courtesy of Food Network/Claire Robinson. The following is my edited version, including personalized notes and suggestions:

All the ingredients you need for the recipe (I omitted the salt).

All the ingredients you need for the recipe (I omitted the salt).

Ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter; 1 cup sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract;1 large egg

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and egg until it is well combined. The mixture may look a little grainy due to the sugar, but no worries: the cookies will not tasty grainy.

Spoon a hearty tablespoon of the mixture and ball it up in your hands. Set each mound of mixture about 1 inch apart from each other on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten the mounds by using the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Place a Ghirardelli mini in the center of each cookie.

Bake until golden around the edges, about 12 minutes, turning the position of the sheet halfway through baking. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

 
 

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Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco leads to sugar overload for good cause

So. Much. Chocolate. A sample of brownies from Arizona-based Fairytale Brownies.

So. Much. Chocolate. A sample of brownies from Phoenix, Ariz.-based Fairytale Brownies.

I never thought I would say this, but here it goes: There is such a thing as too much chocolate.

I discovered this after my visit to the 20th Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, which easily brought out thousands of chocolate lovers to Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. For my $40 ticket, I received 15 chocolate samples, as well as 12 additional samples from the event’s chocolate and wine pavilion. I definitely got my money’s worth.

My stomach was not happy with me afterwards, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try sample upon sample of rich, sweet chocolate creations from more than 50 vendors along the San Francisco Bay.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, which also featured a chocolate school and ice cream eating contest, benefited Project Open Hand. The San Francisco-based nonprofit provides healthy, nourishing meals to thousands of Bay Area residents battling serious, life-threatening diseases. For more information, call (415) 447-2300 or visit www.openhand.org.

Check out the gallery of some of the treats I saw and tasted on Sunday, Sept. 13.

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in baked goods, chocolate, dessert, food

 

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Maple bacon sundae with bread pudding makes San Jose Bacon Festival worth the trip

The Maple Bacon Bread Pudding Sundae from FK Frozen Custard.

The Maple Bacon Bread Pudding Sundae from FK Frozen Custard.

The San Jose Bacon Festival of America was an event I was looking forward to all week.

Moveable Feast hosted the event, which highlighted “bacon on everything” treats (typically $6 or less) from more than 20 local food trucks and expected a crowd of 15,000 bacon lovers at downtown San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez this past Labor Day weekend. Moveable Feast also hosted the San Jose Taco Festival of Innovation in May.

Related: Pulled pork waffle & Indian-style tacos highlight trip to Moveable Feast’s SJ Taco Festival

Unfortunately, I made a few rookie mistakes that led to me not staying at the bacon festival too long:

1. Not bringing water;

2. Not wearing sunscreen or a big hat; and

3. Not having the patience to stand in lines of 40-plus people to get food.

However, I did visit three vendors, and I plan to at least double that number next year.

FK Frozen Custard, Bay Area

I tend to stay away from custard because it’s usually too rich and sweet for my taste. But I ran into two bacon fans who raved about the Maple Bacon Bread Pudding Sundae at FK Frozen Custard (the food truck company goes by Frozen Kuhsterd on Facebook).

One of the shorter lines at the San Jose Bacon Festival of America.

Some of the shorter lines at the San Jose Bacon Festival of America.

The sundae was absolutely delicious and a great way to indulge. The bread pudding was made out of donut and drizzled in bacon burnt caramel and a generous amount of maple bacon pieces. It was a great sweet-and-savory combination.

I chose the vanilla bean custard, which was a couple steps richer and creamier than vanilla ice cream without going over the top. The bread pudding had a rich and thick texture, and part of the custard melting underneath made the pudding that much more moist. It was one of those dishes that you didn’t want to stop eating.

FK has more than 30 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon toast crunch, avocado and port wine strawberry. The food truck travels to different locations throughout the San Francisco & San Jose Bay Area. For more information, visit www.frozenkuhsterd.com.

Close-up of the Honey Jack Bacon almond brittle from Sweetdragon Baking Company.

Close-up of the Honey Jack Bacon almond brittle from Sweetdragon Baking Company.

Sweetdragon Baking Company, San Jose

I’ve always enjoyed peanut brittle, so I was looking forward to having the salty-sweet treat with bacon.

The Sweetdragon Baking Company was giving out free samples of different flavors, including Maple Bacon Peanut and Honey Jack Bacon, which was made with almonds.

I bought a packet of the Honey Jack Bacon almond brittle. It had a sweet and buttery taste, with bits of bacon throughout the bar. I expected the brittle to be hard and crunchy, but it was rather chewy. Be prepared to get some stuck between your teeth but savor the flavor.

The Sweetdragon Baking Company sells its brittle online and in more than a dozen stores, cafes, farmers markets and other venues in the Bay Area. The company offers peanut, almond, cashew, pistachio and black sesame brittle.

For more information, call (408) 205-7319 or visit sweetdragonbaking.com.

Thai Thai Food Truck, San Jose

My last stop was the Thai Thai Food Truck, which offers Thai cuisine such as Pad Thai, Roti and Red & Yellow Curry.

The Bacon Golden Roll at Thai Thai Food Truck.

The Bacon Golden Roll at Thai Thai Food Truck.

I ordered the Bacon Golden Roll, described as a Thai-style egg roll filled with vegetables and topped with bacon and green onion.

The rolls themselves tasted fine. I liked the crispy wrapping, and the cabbage and sprouts inside were cooked well. However, this dish was a bit uninspired.

I wish the food truck had been more creative than just topping the rolls with small bits of bacon and onion. I was hoping there would be pieces of bacon inside the roll, making the filling more savory.

There was no cohesion between the rolls and the bacon, making the bacon seem out of place. It would have been better if the food truck made a bacon and onion relish or sauce for dipping and drizzling over the rolls.

Thai Thai Food Truck travels to locations throughout the San Jose area. For more information, visit www.thaithaifoodtruck.com.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2015 in bacon, baked goods, dessert

 

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“World-Famous” blueberry coffee cake a popular go-to at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

When a restaurant claims it has a “world famous” anything, I tend to be skeptical. I know it’s just a way of saying that the dish is very popular, but it better live up to the hype when you give it such a grand label.

However, after a few recommendations from trusted sources (aka my friend Lindsey and my parents), I decided to give the “World Famous Blueberry Coffeecake” at Hobee’s a try. The local restaurant chain is also known for its more health-conscious menu that boast several vegetarian entrees, such as the Hobee’s Tofu Scramble.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Blissful Browns, hash browns topped with sauteed mushrooms, onion and Jack and cheddar cheese. I also ordered a side of the blueberry coffee cake. Along with a cup of coffee, my order came out to about $15, including tax.

The Taste

The coffee cake was moist, thick and big enough to split with another person. It honestly could have been a meal in itself. The cake was warm, and that pat of butter on top of the cinnamon streusel layer made the cake that much more moist, creating a melt-in-your-mouth texture. I can see why the coffee cake is so popular.

The potatoes in the Blissful Browns dish were thickly cut and soft on the inside with the right amount of toastiness on the edges. The sauteed onions and mushrooms reminded me of eating a juicy steak, so I didn’t miss the meat. I like the melted layer of cheese, but I wish there was more (I’m a cheese fiend, admittedly). Overall, it was an enjoyable meal.

A close-up of the Blissful Browns at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

A close-up of the Blissful Browns at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

Other Details

With any popular brunch spot in the area, parking is going to be an issue. Since there was only a handful of parking spots in front of Hobee’s, it looked like most of the customers parked in the lot at the nearby Motel 6. However, I didn’t have success parking there either, so I ended up parking on San Aleso Avenue behind the motel.

My friend Lindsey put in a reservation for 10 ladies to be seated at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t get seated until about 11:30 a.m. because it was so busy. However, our waitress was very courteous and let us pay separately for our meals (it’s a pain trying to split a check between 10 people and making sure everyone pays their fair share).

Hobee’s has six locations in the South Bay Area. The Sunnyvale restaurant is located at 800 W. Ahwanee Ave. near U.S. 101 and can be reached at (408) 524-3580. For more information, visit hobees.com.

 

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