Baking

Pintertest #5: Reese’s Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

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You voted for it in my last baking post, and here it is: the Reese’s Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies! Yum! These are really fun to make and the results are delicious. They even received approval from my family and my friends at school. You bite down into this super soft peanut butter cookie and surprise! There’s a miniature Reese’s in there! And they’re even more super delicious when they’re warm out of the oven.

The pin on Pinterest links back to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I left one part out, which is to drizzle melted chocolate mixed with peanut butter on top of the cookies. I’m sure they’re even more delicious with this included, so let me know if you try it out. The only thing I would do differently about the drizzle would be to do it while the cookies are still on the baking sheet. This would make clean up a lot easier.

Anyway, the picture on the pin shows cookies that are a lot thinner than mine. I think this is because I flattened the cookies before baking, but I think you’re supposed to flatten them right after they come out of the oven. However, the tastiness of the cookie does not depend on the thickness, in my opinion. The only thing I’d like to add in the directions is how far apart to place the cookies on the sheet. I found that it was about 2-3 inches.

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Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 18 unwrapped Reese’s miniatures

Drizzle (optional)

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter

Directions

  1. In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add in the egg, peanut butter, and vanilla and combine until well incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl. Combine until dough is formed.
  4. Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap it in the plastic and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F. Take 1 tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Make 36 balls. Take 1 ball, and press a Reese’s into it, then place another ball on top and mold the dough so it covers the Reese’s. (There are some pictures on SBA that depict this really well.) Roll the stuffed ball in your hand to make it smooth. Repeat with the remaining Reese’s. Place cookies about 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. (For softer cookies, do not brown.) Press down the warm cookies to flatten. Allow to cool on the sheet for about 10-15 minutes before transferring to wire rack. (Leave them on the sheet if you’re planning to do the drizzle.)
  7. Optional drizzle: Melt the chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons peanut butter. You can do this in the microwave, stirring often, or in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring often. (SBA says microwave, but I’d prefer the stove top. It’s up to you.) Pour the drizzle into an empty condiment bottle and drizzle over cookies in pretty patterns. Transfer to wire cooling rack. The drizzle will harden within a few hours.

 

Jewelry

Charming Earrings

Here’s how the story of these three pairs of earrings begins:

I bought a bunch of charms to make bracelets for fandoms like Harry Potter, Supernatural, and Game of Thrones. Then I realized it would probably be in my best legal interest not to sell those because of copyrights and trademarks. So I had a bunch of extra charms that no longer had a purpose.

Then one day I found that I had several pairs of charms and that got me thinking along the lines of earrings. The first pair of charm earrings I made was my witch hat earrings for Halloween and they helped me think of other designs several months later.

I decided that I didn’t want to make just plain charms attached to ear wire–where’s the creativity in that? So I went with little pops of color in all the designs.

Angel Wings

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These angel wing charms seemed a little on the dark side to me, so I chose darker accent beads and gunmetal components to really drive home that dark feel. Click here for the Etsy listing and more pictures.

Lightning Bolts

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These lightning bolt charms still make me think of Harry Potter, so I went with some Gryffindor inspired colors for the accent beads. Click here for the Etsy listing and more pictures.

Space Needles

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I confess–the Space Needle charms weren’t a part of any charm bracelet design. I bought them to make earrings, but couldn’t decide on a design until inspiration struck from the other earrings. The pop of color was pretty obvious given all the sports teams here have pretty much the same colors. But I felt that it needed a little something more, so in came the raindrop shaped hoops. They’re perfect because it’s so rainy here! Click here for the Etsy listing and more pictures. 

Have you ever bought too much of something and repurposed the extra? Let me know in the comments!

Bonus Blog

Run Like A Nerd

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Source

I haven’t gone on a single run since I set my goal to run 300 miles this year, so I figured I could use some incentive. I tried this challenge last spring, but found it a little daunting. It’s called the Éowyn Challenge, and it gets its name from one of my favorite LOTR characters.

The idea is to track your mileage with whatever activity you can do so with, be it running, walking, hiking, swimming, biking, etc. (No, driving your car doesn’t count.) Through this journey, you can break free of your cage or whatever situation you feel trapped in. The challenge started over a decade ago, but you can do it any time you like.

It originally began with the journey from Bag End to Rivendell from The Fellowship of the Ring. Of course, the journey doesn’t end at Rivendell, so there are over a dozen different paths you can follow, including ones from The Hobbit. And there are mileage charts so you can keep track of where you are in Middle Earth.

Basically, it’s a fun way to relive the events and journey of LOTR through fitness. I’m planning to make it from Bag End to Rivendell by the end of the year, a total of 458 miles. At least 300 of those will be running, which leaves me 158 to accomplish by walking, hiking, whatever. It seems pretty reasonable to me.

I’m excited to see where this journey will leave me at the end of the year. I’d be flattered if anyone joins me and would dub you my honorary Sam Gamgee.

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Now, one can simply walk into Mordor!  (Source)
Jewelry

Flower Chain Bracelet Tutorial

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with these domed flower beads when I bought them, but they were so pretty and unique that I knew I could find something to do with them. I discovered that some glass pearls I had fit perfectly inside them, making them look like actual flowers. I experimented with a couple different ways to keep the pearls inside, and went with wire wrapping. The flowers looked great on some metal chain I had, so this really cool wire wrapped flower chain bracelet was born. I liked the design so much, I made some matching earrings to go with it. Both are available for purchase in my Etsy shop, along with a similar pair of yellow earrings. If you’d like to learn how to make your own, learn a new technique, or get some inspiration, keep on reading!

The Bracelet

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Materials

  • 7 – 15 mm domed glass flower beads
  • 7 – 4 mm white glass pearls
  • 28″ (~70 cm) of 30 gauge wire, cut into 7 – 4″ (~10 cm) pieces
  • 6.5″ (~16.5 cm) of chain (32 links about 5 x 7 mm)
  • 2 – 21 gauge silver oval jump rings, 5 x 7 mm
  • 1 toggle clasp

Directions

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1. Center a pearl bead on a piece of wire. Fold the ends down and poke them through the flower bead. Pull the pearl in tight to the flower.
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2. On the back of the flower, wrap one end of the wire around the other several times until the wrapped wire is larger than the flower bead hole. Make seven flower and pearl units.
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3. Place the flower four links in on the chain. Make the wire ends go through the link.
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4. On one side of the link, wrap one wire end around, going over and then under the link. Pull it tight with a pair of pliers. Repeat with the other side of the link and the other wire end.
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5. Continue wrapping both sides until they are both wrapped around three times each. Keep the wraps tight and close together. Cut excess wire. Use pliers or a crimp tool to tuck in any sharp edges.

6. Repeat steps 3-5, placing each flower 4 links apart on the chain.

7. Attach the toggle clasp with the oval jump rings to each end of the chain.

The Earrings

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Materials

  • 2 – 15 mm domed flower beads
  • 2 – 4 mm white glass pearls
  • 8″ (~20 cm) of 30 gauge wire, cut into 2 – 4″ (~10 cm) pieces
  • 2 – 18 gauge, 6 mm jump rings
  • 2 shepherd’s hook style ear wires

Directions

1. Follow steps 1-2 from the bracelet above to make 2 flower and pearl units.

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2. Turn the flower over and place the jump ring through the wire ends and centered over the wire cluster. Wrap one end of the wire around the jump ring by going over and then under. Pull it tight with pliers. One the opposite side of the ring and with the other wire end, wrap it around in the same way, keeping the ring centered over the wire cluster. Keep wrapping until you have wrapped each end around the ring three times, keeping the wire tight and the wraps close together. Repeat this whole process with the other flower and ring.
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3. Open the ends of the ear wires and attach one to each jump ring.
Baking

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

These heart shaped cookies are sure to win the heart of your Valentine. What better combination than buttery shortbread cookies and chocolate? The recipe comes from my handy dandy Mrs. Fields Cookie Book, so you know it’s going to be delicious.

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Ingredients

Shortbread:

  • 1-1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup

Directions

  1. Blend butter until smooth with electric mixer. Slowly blend in the sugar and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and combine thoroughly, then add the flour in slowly at a low speed.
  2. Divide dough into two roughly equal pieces. Flatten each into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out disks to 1/4 inch thickness, turning often to prevent sticking.
  5. Use floured cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes (like hearts). Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 16-18 minutes, being careful not to let them brown. (For even baking, turn cookie sheets a half turn in the middle of baking, and swap top and bottom racks if applicable.) Transfer cookies quickly to a flat surface.
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  6. For the glaze: Scald cream in a small saucepan (until small bubbles form around the edges); remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and corn syrup. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. With small wire whisk, gently stir glaze until smooth, being careful not to create bubbles. Dip cookies or use a spoon to drizzle chocolate glaze to cover half of each cookie. (I covered both the front and back halves for the maximum chocolate.) Transfer to a tray or cool cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to set.

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    Bubbles along the edge of the saucepan, indicating the cream is scalded.

If you like thinner cookies, the recipe actually says that you’re supposed to roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. I like my shortbread cookies on the thick side, however, which is why I altered it. And if you’re really into chocolate, you can cover your whole cookie in chocolate, but you may want to double the glaze recipe.

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This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies about 4″ big and 1/4″ thick.

This post was supposed to be Pintertest #5, but I really wanted to make these cookies for Valentine’s Day, so I pushed Pintertest #5 back to next week. This coming Tuesday marks Sparkle and Sprinkle’s 1st birthday, so I thought I’d give you the honors of choosing what I should Pintertest next week.

Baking

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras is tomorrow, and I’ve been dying to make a homemade king cake. Searching the Internet for recipes, an Emeril Lagasse one was sure to pop up. Since he’s somewhat of an expert on New Orleans cuisine, I figured it had to be good. It definitely delivered, and the king cake is quickly disappearing. There are a few things I added to the recipe, and I’m also including how to make colored sugars for the topping, so you’ll have the basics for making a king cake all in one place. There’s also a video of Emeril making a king cake if you’re interested.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 – 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind (~1 whole lemon)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 king cake baby (can also use a dried bean or pecan half if you’re out of babies or don’t want to risk accidentally eating a baby)

Filling (optional)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup jam (optional)

Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (~1 lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp water

Colored Sugars

  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • Red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring

Directions

  1. Combine warm water, yeast, and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to someplace warm for about 10 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer with dough hook attachment, combine 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon, milk, butter, egg yolks, and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough remaining flour until the dough isn’t sticky. Continue kneading until smooth and elastic (~10 mins). Place the dough in a well greased bowl. Flip over so the greased side is on top.
  4. Cover dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. (~90 minutes)
  5. Optional for filling: Combine cream cheese and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Punch down the dough. Roll it out to about 1/2 inches in height and spread the cream cheese mixture all over the top of it. Add jam in spoonfuls and spread all around.
  6. Punch down the dough. Knead a few more times. Shape it into a cylinder and bring the two ends together to form a ring. Place the ring on a greased baking sheet and place a large metal coffee can in the middle of the ring to hold the form while baking. (I used a pie tin that I formed into a more cylindrical shape.)
  7. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cover the ring with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the can immediately, and allow the cake to cool.
  8. For icing, combine the 2 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water in a medium bowl. Drizzle icing over top of cake and sprinkle green, yellow, and purple sugars in a pattern.
  9. For sugars:
    • Purple: In a tablespoon, combine 18 drops red food coloring and 8 drops blue food coloring. Swirl around with a toothpick until well combined. Combine the purple food coloring combination and 1/4 cup white sugar in a small zip bag. Massage until all sugar is colored.
    • Yellow: Combine 5 drops yellow food coloring and 1/4 cup white sugar in a small zip bag. Massage until all sugar is colored.
    • Green: Combine 10 drops green food coloring and 1/4 cup white sugar in a small zip bag and massage until all colored.
  10. Enjoy! If you find the baby/bean/pecan, that means you are the king for the day and you get to provide the king cake for the next Mardi Gras gathering!

If you prefer, you can skip the filling, just don’t forget the baby!