Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mini Donut Muffins

There are many reasons I chose to make these mini donut muffins:
1) They are cute.
2) They involve the holy trinity of melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
3) They eliminate the need to choose between baking muffins and making donuts, and as everyone close to me knows, decision making is not one of my stronger suits.

The reason I will make these again though, is not on that list, because I didn't know it before I made the muffins.  That reason is that besides being cute, holy, and a perfect example of a good compromise, these little babies are darn tasty.

To prove my point, let's look at a math problem:

Katie made a batch of mini donut muffins.  She used four mini muffin pans that each yielded 12 muffins.  When the muffins were cool (okay, maybe while they were still warm), Katie ate 10 muffins, her sister Becky ate 12 muffins, and Becky's boyfriend the Music Man ate 3 muffins (because he had already eaten 2 actual donuts).  Katie then took the remaining muffins to work, where Friend E ate 10 muffins, Friend S ate 5 muffins, and also shared a tip on the best way to eat them.* How many muffins were left for Katie's other co-workers?
Are you having flashbacks to fourth grade math class yet?

Fortunately, my fourth grade math teacher, Mrs. Bilanin, was good at her job, and therefore I know that the answer is 8 muffins.  Mrs. Bilanin also had a very cute son a few years older than us and we all had huge crushes on him, but that's neither here nor there.  Though I do wonder what he's up to these days...
...(pardon this short break while I innocently Google/Facebook stalk Mrs. Bilanin's son)...
Yep.  Still as cute as ever. 
But back to the muffins.

My point with that little math problem is that while the three main characters - me, Beck, and Friend E - may not be known for our powers of self-restraint, we also don't indulge in just any old thing.  These mini donut muffins were GOOD.  They really did taste like little tiny cake donuts.

Do you think it would it be too forward of me to send a basket of these with my phone number to Mrs. Bilanin's son?  :-)
*Tip on How to Eat Mini Donut Muffins from Friend S: To get the most cinnamon-sugar goodness, eat the muffins upside down! 

Mini Donut Muffins
adapted from CHOW via Framed
Makes 48 mini muffins

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating muffin tins
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature (sour cream or plain Greek yogurt may be substituted for the buttermilk)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Lightly brush a mini muffin tin
with some of the melted butter, then coat with flour, tapping out any excess; set aside. Reserve
remaining melted butter for applying the cinnamon-sugar coating.

3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda. In a small
bowl, whisk together milk and buttermilk. Set both aside.

4. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

5. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in a quarter of the reserved dry ingredients. Then beat in a
third of the reserved milk mixture. Continue to alternate until all of the remaining ingredients
are incorporated, finishing with the dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

6. Fill the prepared muffin tin wells to just below the rim with batter. Bake until muffins are lightly
golden and firm to the touch, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat buttering and
flouring of muffin tins until all batter is used.

7. To coat the muffins, dip tops of muffins in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar. Roll slightly to generously cover entire top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

8. For jelly doughnuts, allow the muffins to cool and use a small pastry tip to make a hole in the bottom of each. Fill the pastry bag with your favorite jam, jelly, or citrus curd and squeeze some into the muffins.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

Have I ever told you how awesome my sister is? It's the little things, really. I'll come back to that in a sec.

First, here's another instance where a little something made a huge difference:

See, I've never been a fan of strawberry ice cream. I am always just a little bit bored with it. That said, I like the idea of strawberry ice cream. I want to like strawberry ice cream.

So when I tasted and loved strawberry basil soda at Rouge Tomate during Restaurant Week, I thought basil might be just the thing my palate needed to get on board with strawberry ice cream.

I was right. My palate = totally on board with strawberry basil ice cream.

And now back to why my sister is awesome. Here's a recent chat exchange between us:

12:01 PM Beck: maybe i will make custard for ice cream tonight
  what kind?...a bunch of random chatting about stuff like what we ate for breakfast, (because telling each other what we ate for breakfast is a Very Important Part of being sisters)...
12:10 PM me: i want to try basil ice cream
 Beck: yeah
  should i get basil and do that?
12:11 PM me: sure
  i kinda wanna make strawberry basil ice cream
 Beck: how do you add the strawberries?
 me: not sure
12:12 PM maybe that recipe thing could do it
12:13 PM yeah it does it
12:14 PM Beck: so, what do i need to buy?
 me: i sent it to you
 Beck: ok

And that was the end of the ice cream conversation. We went on to chat about a ton of other random stuff that day, including me telling her I had lost my beloved aluminum water bottle, which was followed by this exchange:
 1:45 PM
  Beck: what color water bottle you want?
 me: hmmm
  just something not ugly
  and not red
  i don't like red water bottles, for some reason
  blue or silver would be fine
  or green
 Beck: ok

And then we both went about our days.

I got home late that night and was greeted by 1) the overwhelming aroma of strawberries and basil and 2) a green water bottle.

To recap:
My sister wanted to make ice cream.
I suggested a flavor.
She made it.
And she bought me a not-ugly water bottle too.

Like I said, it's the little things.

Thank for being a great sister, Beck.  Because of you, not only do I now like strawberry (basil) ice cream, I'm also well hydrated.  I don't know what I'd do without you!


Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
Yields about 1 quart
Recipe created using: Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Maker from

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
table salt
1 cup tightly packed, coarsely torn basil leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 lb. fresh or frozen strawberries, pureed, strained, and mixed with 1/2 cup sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Stir in the basil. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavor.

3. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

4. Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175 degrees to 180 degrees F at this point. Don't let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the basil in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.

6. Cool the custard to below 70 degrees F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the strawberry puree into the cooled custard.

7. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

8. Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Match Monday: Lemon Bar Cheesecake

In my own words: I'm smooth and sweet and pride myself on being classy.  I can also be quite bold.
For fun: Dinner parties.  For two.
Favorite things: Indulging your fantasies.

Today's Match Monday treat was suggested by Dr. Magoo.*  Dr. Magoo is a physician who also happens to be - you guessed it - a dead ringer for our favorite nearsighted cartoon character.

In saying he resembles Mr. Magoo, I don't mean to insult him (nor do I mean to compliment him, I suppose); it's merely an observation.

My keen observation skills have also led me to this conclusion: Subtlety is not one of Dr. Magoo's strong points.  To quote his email to me:

"I want you to make me a cheesecake."

Now, I do realize I set myself up to receive this kind of email.  My profile mentions my passion for baking and asks if guys have a favorite treat I should attempt.

But no other gentleman has been so upfront about it.  I mean, I haven't even winked at the guy.

Don't get me wrong - I do appreciate that Dr. Magoo knows what he wants.  I can even imagine that a guy so directly requesting my, um, services, could be kind of sexy...but before we've even met?


Okay.  Sorry.  I'll calm down now.  It's just online dating, afterall.  I don't have to write Dr. Magoo back, and I certainly don't have to make him a cheesecake just because he said he wants some...

...but that doesn't mean I can't make cheesecake for myself.

Man do I love cheesecake.

Everyone loves cheesecake, right? ;-)

*Nicknames are my own.  I will never reveal usernames or identifying information beyond what is already public on

Lemon Bar Cheesecake
From Fine Cooking, April/May 2010 via Butter Plus Cream
Makes 8 slices.

For the crust:

8 oz (2 cups) vanilla wafer crumbs
3 Tbs granulated sugar
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

3 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tbs all purpose flour
pinch table salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
1 Tb pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon curd (homemade or store bought - homemade recipe below)

1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375F.

2. In a medium bowl, stir the cookie crumbs and sugar.  Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly.  Transfer the mixture to a 9 or 10 inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press use your fingers or a flat-bottom measuring cup).  Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes.  Let the pan cool on a rack.  Lower the oven temperature to 300F.

3. Beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, flour, and salt with an electric mixer at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Make sure the cheese has no lumps.

4. Add the sugar and continue beating until smooth.

5. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until blended, about 30 seconds.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

6. Bake at 300F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes.  The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist.  Set on a rack and cool completely.

7. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.  The cake can be frozen for up to 1 month.  (Place cake in refrigerator overnight to defrost.)

8. To serve, unclasp and remove the sides of the springform pan and run a long thin spatula under the bottom crust.  Slide the cake onto a flat serving plate.  Spread the lemon curd over the top of the cake.

Light and Luscious Lemon Curd
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living via Butter Plus Cream

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Put egg yolks into a medium heatproof bowl; set aside.

2. Whisk together lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the lemon juice; whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook 2 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk one-third of the lemon mixture into the reserved egg yolks. Pour mixture into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 1/2 minutes.

4. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until firm and cold, at least 1 hour (up to 1 day).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce, and a song

When Becky and I were growing up, our family went on a lot of day trips.  On the car ride home, we always made up a song to the tune of "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah."  For instance:

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!
We had a Jelly Belly Factory Day!
At Old Sacramento we almost went broke,
and at Budweiser we all got free Coke!

(Note: The over-21 crowd got free Bud, obviously.  But us young'uns were pretty darn excited about the free Coca-Cola. It smelled way better than beer.)

I got to go on a day trip with some new friends recently.  You know what's coming, right?

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!
I went a-peach-pickin' last Saturday!
Hayrides and bubbles, ice cream and sun,
Who knew farm labor was so much fun?!

(Yes, I know that "sun" and "fun" are the boring-est words on the planet to rhyme.  But quality lyrics are not the point here.  The point is to be silly.  Be silly!)

Have you ever been peach picking?  No?  Well then today's your lucky day!  I happen to have some photos from our outing.  I'll take you on a tour.

This is the peach orchard.

This is a just-picked peach.

This is a just-picked, half-eaten peach.  Yum.

 This is the adorable baby I got to go peach picking with.  Couldn't you just eat her up?! (Note: You should not actually eat her.  She is not a peach.)

 This is our (not yet) 20-pound bag of peaches.

And this, my friends, is what we made with (some of) that 20 pounds of peaches.

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce from The Pioneer Woman. It's ooey, it's gooey, it tastes like you went peach picking and maple-syrup gathering all in one day.

(Maple-syrup gathering - is that a thing? Can you do that? If so, someone please tell me where...I'm feeling another zip-a-dee-doo-dah coming on already.)

If you don't have a peach orchard near you, go pick some peaches from your local market and make this peach crisp right away. You'll be very glad you did.  And if you happen to write a song about it, please do share!

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
from The Pioneer Woman
Makes 8 servings

• 5 to 6 whole fresh peaches (best when not overly ripe or soft)
• 1 cup flour
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
• ½ lemon
• 7 tbsp real maple syrup, divided
• 1-½ cups whipping cream
• 3 tbsp light corn syrup

For topping:
1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry blender. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.

For filling:
2. Peel and slice peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches; stir well.

3. Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping.

4. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top. (I baked mine for about 40 minutes after the foil came off.)

For Maple Cream Sauce:
5. Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup, and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes.

6. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice.  Stir the mixture until cool and thickened, about 15 minutes (ice will melt and turn into ice water).

Drizzle sauce over peach crisp. Serve warm.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dearest Chocolate,

I just wanted to tell you I haven't forgotten about you.   Yes, I know how silly that sounds.  I mean, I've barely given you the time of day lately.  I've been spending my time with non-chocolatey desserts like blueberry pie, cheesecake ice cream, carrot cake cookies, and honey-peach ice cream.


Even when we have hung out lately, it's only been in the company of other treats, like mint ice cream, or oatmeal cookies AND ice cream.

That hasn't left us much alone time, has it?  So I'd understand if you're a little upset with me, Chocolate.

But I want to make it up to you.

These cookies are all about Chocolate.  One whole pound of you for only 12 cookies.  Because even though me and you sometimes have to take a break from each other (I admit, I already have a date for next week with a crisp made from a certain, freshly-picked-from-the-orchard stone fruit), I'll always come back to you, Chocolate.  That's what being BFFs means.

It will always me you and me.  I promise.

Okay, maybe you, me, and a glass of cold milk.

Always Yours,

PS - Chocolate, I know you might have been mad at me, but is that any reason to attack my e-reader?  Isn't it enough to sabotage my waistline?  I'll forgive you just this once (only because I happened to have paper towels and Fantastik nearby), but if you ever get close to my Kindle again, I might have to reconsider your BFF status.

PPS - I'm sorry, Chocolate.  I didn't mean that.  The Kindle disaster was all my fault.  I'd never take away your BFF status.  Please don't be mad at me.  I need you.

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Elinor Klivan's Big Fat Cookies
Makes 12 giant cookies

1 2/3 c semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened (for about 30 minutes)
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 large cold egg
1 generous tsp vanilla extract
1 c semisweet chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.

2. Heat 2/3 c (4 oz) of the chocolate chips in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir the heated chocolate until melted and smooth.  If lumps remain, heat in the microwave in 15 second intervals until stirring leaves no more lumps.  Set aside.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate chips until blended.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until just blended, about 1 minute.  Add the flour mixture, mixing until it is just incorporated.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup chocolate chips and the 1 cup chocolate chunks.

4. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 c measuring cup, scoop mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing cookies 3 inches apart.  (I get 4 cookies to a sheet.)

5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until they crack slightly on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie come out with moist crumbs, not wet batter, about 15-18 minutes. (Make sure you get plain cookie with the toothpick, not a chocolate chip).  I like to bake mine for one minute more than half the anticipated baking time, then rotate the cookie sheet. (So for 15 minutes in the oven, I bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the sheet.)

6. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.  The outsides of the cookies will become crisp as the cookies cool.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days, but I find that these are best on the day or day after they are baked.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

IT'S-IT! The San Francisco Treat...

We're not talking about Rice-a-Roni here, people.

The IT'S-IT is a frozen treat that made its debut at San Francisco's Playland-at-the-Beach in 1928. Not just your regular ice cream sandwich, it combines vanilla or mint chip ice cream, soft oatmeal cookies, and an oh-so-thin chocolate coating that satisfactorily snaps in two at the first bite.

IT'S-ITs are melty and messy and make you go Mmmmmm. In short, when it comes to frozen ice cream treats, an IT'S-IT is it.

I make this bold statement as an expert on the IT'S-IT. You see, every day - every single day - of seventh grade, my good friend E and I shared a mint chip IT'S-IT. As the end of the lunch period drew closer and closer, our strength against temptation grew weaker and weaker, and with 5 or 4 or 3 minutes left before the bell, I'd run to the cafeteria, grab an IT'S-IT, and devour my half as fast as I could. I still have a mad tolerance for brain freeze.

For my friend E and I - two of the neatest, nicest, shyest kids at school - the daily IT'S-IT was our chance to get messy, be spontaneous, and share a sneaky smile. Plus, seventh grade is traumatic. I think all seventh graders deserve daily ice cream.

Alas, IT'S-ITs aren't sold on the east coast. Oh, the agony! So to celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day on Monday, August 2, Katie and I decided to try our hand at creating a homemade IT'S-IT. None of the recipes we found on various blogs and food sites accurately replicated the original (you want me to dip only half the sandwich?!), so we pieced together our own.

What you'll need:
(These ingredients can be homemade or store-bought. Homemade recipes below.)
- plain oatmeal cookies
- ice cream, slightly softened
- "Magic Shell" chocolate for dipping

To assemble:

Line a baking dish with plastic wrap. Spread ice cream in the pan and let harden in the freezer. We used a 9-inch cake pan and about 1 quart of vanilla ice cream to get the desired thickness.

Get your cookies ready - match them up in pairs by size, or if you want to be really precise, use a cookie cutter to trim them into circles. We tried both and ended up liking the "rustic" look better, but if you're looking to replicate real IT'S-ITs, using a cookie cutter will produce a cleaner-looking sandwich.

When ice cream is hardened, use a cookie cutter to make circles of ice cream and place them between two cookies. Work quickly or you'll have a goopy mess!

Put the sandwiches in a baking dish and throw 'em back in the freezer to firm up.

Except maybe for this one.  This one you should eat.

When the sandwiches are firm and cold, dip them, roll them, do whatever you have to do to get them covered in chocolate.

Whatever you do, do it fast, or the ice cream will start to squish out the sides as it melts like it did in this one. Yes, that's my finger in the upper left - you try taking photos with hands covered in chocolate! Also, pay no attention to that mostly-dead basil plant in the background. I have a love-hate relationship with basil plants.

Place the sandwiches in the freezer so the chocolate hardens up completely. When you're ready to eat, make sure you have plenty of napkins! It's not a bad idea to have a bottle of stain remover handy, too.


Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from
Makes about 3 dozen cookies


    •    2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
    •    1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    •    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    •    2 large eggs
    •    3/4 tsp fine salt
    •    1/2 tsp baking soda
    •    1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
    •    1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
    •    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    •    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    •    2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix at medium speed until blended. Add the flours and mix at low speed until smooth.
  4. With a strong rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the oats. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least one hour, or overnight.
  5. Roll dough into golf-sized balls and place three inches apart on one of the prepared sheets. (We fit only four cookies on a standard size cookie sheet - they spread quite a bit.) Flatten balls to 1/2-inch discs using a flat-bottomed glass or the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through, until the cookies are nearly set and golden brown. Let cool on the sheet for one minute, and then use a metal spatula to transfer to a rack to cool completely. Keep dough in the refrigerator between batches. The more chilled it is, the easier it is to roll.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop
Makes about one quart


1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Pour one cup of the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath.
  3. Warm the milk, sugar, one cup of the cream, and salt in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. When warm, slowly pour about one third of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly (this tempers - i.e. slowly warms the eggs so they don't cook too quickly). Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula , scraping at the bottom and sides, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula.
  5. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Add vanilla extract, place bowl in ice bath, and stir until mixture is cool. Chill in refrigerator at least three hours or overnight.
  6. Churn ice cream in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
For Mint Chip Ice Cream (Becky's fav), click here!

Homemade "Magic Shell" Chocolate Coating
From AlphaMom
Makes about 1 1/4 cups


1/2 cup coconut oil (measured when solid)
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Place ingredients in heatproof bowl (tupperware works well) and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, allowing hot oil to melt chocolate chips.
  3. Stir with heatproof spatula until smooth. It will be runny.
Store in refrigerator (will thicken), or in summertime, at room temperature (will remain liquid). To liquefy, heat in microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between.

Note: This chocolate coating is great for dipping IT'S-ITs because it is thin and hardens quickly. However, it does have a noticeable (and yummy) coconut flavor that the original IT'S-ITs do not. Next time, we'll try substituting butter or another type of oil for part of the coconut oil to achieve a more accurate version of the original!