Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

My mom's birthday was last week (happy b-day mom!).  She told me all she wanted from me was to bake her something delicious.  I really don't know WHERE they get this idea from that I like to bake.  And if I don't know, you certainly don't.  But anyhoo, I remembered that she was crazy for my lemon ricotta muffins from awhile back (remember them?).  However, I had already made muffins for me and the husband for the week (those muffins will arrive shortly).  So I wondered if there was a way to make these muffins into cookies.  And thanks to my friend, Mr. Google, I did indeed find a recipe that turned these beautiful muffins into yummy cookies.

The recipe is actually from a restaurant that is in Raleigh, North Carolina, near where Mr. Gaited Baked and I live, called Mia Francesca.  It's a lovely little Italian place that we discovered during the annual Restaurant Week event and decided to give it a try.  It was one of the best decisions we've ever made.  We adore this place.  Everything we get from there is good.  It's very romantic but you won't have to spend an arm and a leg on date night.  And our favorite movie theater is nearby so a full date night is always close by.  If you're ever in the Raleigh area, I definitely recommend you check out Mia Francesca!

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
courtesy of Mia Francesca restaurant

3 c. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 stick Butter, salted (if using unsalted, please add 1 tsp. salt)
2 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 - 15 oz. container of Ricotta Cheese (I used part skim)
3 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice*
Zest of one Lemon*

* - juice your lemon before you zest!  It'll make life much easier.

Preheat your oven to 350.
In a medium size bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt (if using.)
In another bowl, combine your butter and sugar until its incorporated and light and fluffy (around three minutes, give or take).
Now add your eggs in, one at a time and mix well.
Mix in your ricotta cheese, lemon, and lemon zest until all your ingredients are happily combined.
Add in your flour, mixing until everything is combined.
Drop your cookies by a rounded tablespoon onto a prepared cookie sheet (meaning if it ain't nonstick, use cooking spray or parchment).
Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
Cool completely.
Eat and enjoy :)

(these cookies are so soft they stick together so keep that in mind when you reach in the cookie jar for one cookie and come back with two or three.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Decadent Brownies

I think I've said once or twice on here that I love chocolate.  I really, REALLY love chocolate.  If you've had a bad day, nothing cures it more than anything with chocolate.  Truffles.  Reese'e cups.  Hershey's kisses.  Cookies.  But brownies. Brownies are special.  Brownies, to me, are the ultimate chocolate treat.  And the batter?  I've been known to make brownies just to eat the batter.

These brownies are special.  The brownies are what dreams are made of.  They have chocolate chips mixed into the batter.  And they have a frosting.  Chocolate frosting.  Can't you just taste it already?  All that delicious chocolate-ness?  (The picture below doesn't have the chocolate frosting.  I couldn't wait - the brownies were still warm.  Some things in life, you just can't resist.  Warm brownies is one of them.)

And my husband will tell you that you cannot make these brownies without having ice cream to go with it.  Specifically Blue Bell ice cream.  That's just his opinion though, you can use whatever vanilla ice cream you want though :)

Decadent Brownies
from Best Loved Hershey's

3/4 c. Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2/3 c. Butter, melted and divided (if using unsalted butter, please add 1/4 tsp. salt)
1/2 c. Water, boiling
2 c. Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/3 c. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 c. Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
Stir cocoa and baking soda together in a large bowl, adding 1/3 c. of butter.
Pour in your boiling water and mix until thickened.
Mix in your sugar, eggs, and the final 1/3 c. melted butter until smooth.
Add in the flour, vanilla, and salt (if using) and mix it all together.
Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Allow brownies to cool completely before topping them with the frosting below.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 Tbsp. Butter, softened.
2 2/3 c. Powdered Sugar
1/2 c. Cocoa Powder
1/3 c. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

Beat the butter in a medium bowl.
Add in the powdered sugar and cocoa, alternating it with milk, beating until spreadably smooth (you may need to add more milk to get the right consistency).
Stir in the vanilla.
Spread over cooled brownies.