Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Homemade KitKat® Bites

When I set out to attempt a homemade version of KitKat® bars, I had no idea that it would be one of the most difficult recipes I've ever tried to create. (It was a tough job taste-testing all of that chocolate.)

homemade kitkat bites
*this post is sponsored by Imperial Sugar

There are lots of copycat versions floating around out there. It was the wafer part that was giving me issues. Some recipes use crackers...and I tried my own versions...with two different crackers, only to be disappointed. Crackers and chocolate are good, but they're no KitKats.

Homemade KitKat® bites
I've dipped those filled wafer cookies in chocolate before, good, but again, not KitKats.

I found wafer sheets on Amazon. I'm sure they would have worked really well, but they're expensive and available almost exclusively online.

Homemade KitKat® bites
Then, I stumbled upon the wafer-y goodness of the cake ice cream cone. Ding, ding, ding!!! 
The perfect wafer consistency!

Homemade KitKat® bites ... made with a secret ingredient!
I tried a few versions with the cones, finally settling on this one made in a mini muffin tin. Do they look like a KitKat® bar? No. But, they are the closest rendition of one I've tasted. And I've been doing lots and lots and lots of tasting.

Homemade KitKat® bites
Instead of crushing the ice cream cones, you'll actually chop off the bottom. (This is easiest to do if you break off the hollow part with your hands, then trim the flat part of the cone.)

Homemade KitKat® bites
The grid of the cone bottom is then filled with chocolate cream and placed in a chocolate coated muffin tin.

Homemade KitKat® bites
The whole thing gets topped off with even more chocolate.

Homemade KitKat® bites! I'm sharing the recipe over on Imperial Sugar today!

Homemade KitKat® bites
*KitKat® is a registered trademark of Nestle and a product of The Hershey Company.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cookbook Crush, August 2016: Not Your Mama's Canning Book

Whether you're a seasoned canner, a once-in-a-while canner, or a canning-scares-me-so-I-buy-my-cans type of canner, pay attention. I have a FABULOUS book for you. All of you.

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
Not Your Mama's Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them is a brand new cookbook by my friend Rebecca Lindamood.

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
Before I get into the book, let me tell you a bit about Rebecca. I love this woman. We first met in Oklahoma...on Ree's ranch...for an absolutely magical few days where a group of us became friends for life. Rebecca is the mom to 5 boys...FIVE. She's gorgeous, elegant, whip-smart, hilarious, and a killer cook. Killer. (Her blog is Foodie with Family.)

On this trip was the first time I'd ever seen anyone CAN anything. Rebecca and Ree canned up a bunch of jars...now I can't even remeber WHAT they canned...but I remember I was in awe of how it was second nature to both of them. They knew what to do, how to do it, and it didn't look scary at all. In short, Rebecca knows her stuff.

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
Not Your Mama's Canning Book starts with the basics, everything you need to know...the how, what, and why of canning. Supply lists, step-by-step instructions, everything.

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
Then, we get into the canning recipes. Y'all. I'm not kidding when I say I want to make and can pretty much everything in this book. There are jams, pickled things (please tell me you're as obsessed with pickled red onions as I am), sauces, syrups, soups, condiments (hello, cranberry ketchup!).

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
THESE vanilla fig preserves are calling my name, BIG TIME. Doesn't it just look so dreamy?

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
Now, in addition to the canning recipes, Rebecca includes almost 40 recipes for USING what you just canned! Remember I said that Rebecca is a killer cook? Well, you're about to be one as well when you make her recipes.

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
I mean......

book review: Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood
......and THIS! I think about this recipe A LOT. More than is normal, I'm sure.

As a non-canner, I can say that I've been converted. I'm off to order jars and supplies...and I'm making those vanilla fig preserves, pronto.

Not Your Mama's Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them by Rebecca Lindamood. This is going to be your go-to book on canning.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

And so, it begins... (copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies)

My baby started his SENIOR year of high school today. Senior. Year. 

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
I know, it's such a cliche: Where did the time go? Wasn't he just starting Kindergarten? Time goes by in the blink of an eye. I'm still 29, right? Yada yada. Well, IT'S ALL TRUE. 

As he left today, I wondered if I should have a good cry, a stiff drink, or throw up. All three? 

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Instead, I'm distracting myself with cookies. There's a rule in this house: cookies are mandatory for the first day of school. No exceptions. Cookies for lunchbox, cookies for after school snack while rehashing the day. 


When I was in New York recently, some friends stopped by Levain Bakery before my flight arrived. Julie bought extra cookies so I wouldn't miss out. (Julie is a true friend.

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
{That is ONE cookie, split in half!!!

I've had Levain's chocolate chip cookies before and they are a revelation. This time, I also had the chocolate peanut butter chip. Now, normally I'm not a huge fan of the chocolate cookie. Cookies with chocolate chips, yes. Chocolate cookies with other chips, no. These changed me. For life. 

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies ... seriously AMAZING!
Levain cookies are BIG. HUGE. MAMMOTH. Six ounces of puffy, life-changing cookie. The cookies have an exterior that's slightly crisp, while the inside is thick, soft, and, when the cookies are warm, gooey. *sigh* 

There are lots of copycat versions of Levain cookies. I took inspiration from Jessica, Michelle, this blog, and this one

A few notes...
I used a mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour. The New York Times cookie uses bread flour, but this one had a different texture to me. Do NOT substitute regular whole wheat flour.

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
For the chips, I went with a combination of peanut butter chips and peanut butter-filled chips. I hoarded the peanut butter-filled chips when I found out they were discontinued. If you are not a hoarder like me, please use all peanut butter chips. Reese's chips are good. 

HUGE! > copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
The cookies are, um, substantial. Six ounces! You'll get seven 6-ounce cookies and one smaller (but still big cookie).
copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

When measuring the cookies, you'll need a scale. (I like this one...it works like a charm, is small, and inexpensive.)

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
You'll also need to press the dough together. It's a little dry and that's ok. Don't be alarmed. 

copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
The Levain cookies are a little ragged looking. Not ugly by any means, but not the perfectly round cookies we're used to seeing on blogs and in some bakeries. I used the tip here from Fran of breaking the cookies in half once measured and then pressing the rough edges together.  

HUGE! > copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
After they're all measured, they'll rest in the freezer for 1-2 hours before baking. For baking, I used these commercial cookie sheets lined with parchment, figuring these are what they use at Levain. 

Now, speculation is that Levain Bakery bakes their cookies in bread ovens. This got me thinking of bread baking and how steam in the oven creates a nice crust on bread. So, when I baked the cookies, I kept a pan on the lowest rack of the oven. When I put the cookies in, I threw some ice cubes on that bottom pan and closed the oven quickly to trap the steam. 

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, move them to a wire rack to cool.
Please, though, PLEASE eat one warm. I'm telling you...they're life-changing. 

Here's what I plan to do: stock my freezer with the dough, then pop a few in the oven when friends come over. Gigantic, warm, gooey cookies fresh out of the oven. There's nothing better. 

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
(copycat) Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
{makes 8 cookies}

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
14 TBSP unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
10-ounce package peanut butter chips
1 cup peanut butter-filled chips (or more peanut butter chips) 

Whisk the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. 

Cream the butter with the sugars until combined and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. In three additions, add the flour mixture, just until combined. Stir in the chips. 

Pressing the dough together, measure out 6-ounce portions. (You'll have one that is around 4 ounces.) Place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Break each portion in half, pressing the smooth sides together well and leaving the rough edges exposed. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1-2 hours. 

Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and one on the bottom rack. Put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack. Line another sheet with parchment. Preheat oven to 375. 

Place 4 cookies on the lined cookie sheet. Place the cookies on the center rack, while pouring a cup-full of ice on the cookie sheet on the bottom rack. Quickly close the door to trap the steam. 

Bake the cookies for 19-22 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies feel done, but the insides are still soft. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. (The smaller cookie can bake for 17-19 minutes.)

Serve warm. For room temperature cookies, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds, if desired. 

copycat of the famous Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Jack has one in his lunchbox...and one waiting for him when he gets home from school today. Our last first day of school at the kitchen table with cookies. Oh, I'm going to soak up every detail. ♥



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