baking · chocolate · comfort food · Cookies · dessert · easy · Party food · quick · snacks · Swedish · vegetarian · Yummy

Havreflarn – Swedish Oatmeal Crisps

After more than a year of thinking about it, I finally did an Ancestry DNA test to find out more about my heritage. I’ve always been told that I’m at least 50% German, because my great great great grandparents immigrated here from Germany. Of course, no one in my family was taking into consideration that they could have immigrated to Germany from elsewhere sometime before that. Nope. We’re German, and that’s that.

Turns out that that is all a goddamn lie. My results came back last week and I am actually predominately English and Swedish, and only 15% German. While I am immensely disappointed in my lack of Norwegian ancestry (as I felt very at home in Oslo), I have fully embraced my Swedish heritage. After frantically emailing several new family members (none of which have emailed me back – fuckers), I immediately went on the search for a traditional Swedish cookie recipe. No joke, I found this recipe on Pinterest while using an elliptical at the gym. I’m not even a little sorry. I maxed out at like 20 minutes of exercise that day, and promptly ran home to start baking. I followed the recipe to a T, and my cookies still ended up looking like this:

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So I adjusted some things for the next batch. I decreased the butter by 2 tablespoons and made the cookies a little smaller. Don’t get me wrong, the original batch was still delicious. They just weren’t quite as pretty. Also, the recipe called for an entire stick of butter and it only made 6 cookies. The bowl with the dough had a puddle of butter at the bottom after I’d finished scooping it all out. It was fucking madness.

In addition to celebrating my newfound heritage, I’m also on the lookout for anyone on my biological dad’s side of the family. Not knowing who he is has never bothered me much, but now we have all this technology, so why not use it? I’m curious as fuck about this entire family that is out there waiting to be found. It’s crazy. I am the product of artificial insemination via sperm donor, so I’ve been messaging all the people I don’t know on my DNA match list (which contains over 400 people) with things like, “Do you know of any men in your family that went to medical school in Minneapolis in the 80’s and possibly donated sperm?” I’m like that lost duck in the children’s book looking for it’s mom. Except it’s my dad, and I have the internet. So I’ll just continue to message everyone on Facebook with names from my DNA list asking, “Are you my dad?” And maybe eventually someone will know something. Or at least check their fucking messages and respond even if they don’t.

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When I researched these cookies, I found out that Swedish women used to have coffee parties back in the day. At these parties they would serve seven different types of cookies. If they served less than seven, they were considered cheap asses. If they served more than seven, then they were showing off. Honestly, you’re lucky if you get one kind of cookie at my house. Who makes seven different kinds of cookies for one party? Those guests sound like a bunch of entitled bitches.

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6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

3/4 instant oats

2 tablespoons light cream (or half and half)

Preheat oven to 375. Butter and flour 2 cookie sheets, as these WILL stick.

In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Once melted, lower heat to medium-low and add in the sugar. Stir until fully incorporated. Continue with the flour and oats, again mixing well after each ingredient with a wooden spoon. Finally add in the light cream. Continuously stir over medium-low heat while the edges bubble for just a few minutes. Pour dough into a medium sized bowl and set in the fridge for 10-20 minutes, or the freezer for 5-10 minutes (dough will still be warm, but not hot). Each cookie will be about a tablespoon of dough. Press each ball of dough down a little bit with the back of  a spoon. The dough should still be a bit warm, so this should be easy. It will encourage the cookies to spread, which helps make them thin and crispy. Because they do spread so much, make sure to leave lots of space between each cookie. Limit yourself to 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Recipe makes about 12 cookies.

OPTIONAL BUT AWESOME: Dip half of them in melted chocolate. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips that I microwaved for 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Place dipped cookies on parchment paper to cool.

baking · cake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · snacks · vegetarian

A Disaster of a Chocolate Strawberry Cake

This cake was delicious, but a fucking mess. I forgot to grease the cake pans like a goddamn amateur. It was my friend’s birthday cake (sorry, Stacy), but she was nice about it. Seemed wasteful to throw away perfectly good cake that was just a little (a lot) broken. We don’t waste cake around here!

Speaking of which, I went to a wedding 2 weekends ago where they had chocolate cake with Bailey’s cream in the middle. FML. YAAAASSS. I had two pieces, and I’m not even a little sorry. Wedding cake slices are tiny as fuck. I had one after dinner, like a normal human. Then I drank a bunch and ate another one a few hours later. I know how to do a wedding right.

It should also be noted that Hannah and I fucking badgered our way into this wedding like fucking pros (except it was by accident). I never thought Jeni would give in to our bitching about wanting to be flower girls (I never got to do it as a child). When she came up to us several weeks ago to announce that we’d be walking the dogs down the aisle, our jaws dropped. Were we really so annoying that she put us in her goddamn wedding? I can’t believe it, even now. It’s like we have a super power or something. I think we should go around begging our way into weddings more often. And dog walker? Fuck. That’s literally the best job in the wedding party. We didn’t have to buy fancy dresses, or plan any parties. We just got to show up, play with dogs, and still be apart of the whole thing.

I fucking love weddings that don’t involve dancing. This one took place in a bowling alley (but, like, a fancyass bowling alley), and also had a photo booth. I know all the hipsters do photo booths at their weddings, but my friends and I have never been cool enough. This was legit my FIRST photo booth. Excitement! And the wedding was for a coworker, so most of my badass work friends were there. We got together for a clinic photo and that shit fucking killed me. The longer I look at it, the harder I laugh. It literally NEVER stops being funny. Hannah and I did one together, too, which is just fucking fantastic. I can’t with these people. I love them so much.

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Are you seeing this?! We’re pretending to stab the bride. Obviously.

We also all traveled “up north” together last weekend. For those that don’t know, “up north” in Minnesota refers to basically anything more than an hour or so north of the Twin Cities. It’s where everyone goes on the weekends in the summer. The thing is, I don’t love being in nature, so I don’t often go up north. Stories from our drunken adventures will be in the next blog post. Have I mentioned yet how much I love my co-workers?

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Chocolate Strawberry Cake (originally from here – which is where you should go to see what this is actually supposed to look like)

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
For the Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
For the Ganache:

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream

For the garnish:

Sliced strawberries – as many as you’d like. I used about 16oz.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. GREASE THE PANS RIGHT AWAY (don’t be like me, or your cake will fall apart). You’ll need two of the 9 inch round cake pans.

In a stand mixer, throw in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, then add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat for 2ish minutes before adding the boiling water. Pour into GREASED pans (again, don’t be like me). Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean). At this point, I like to place my cakes into the freeze to stop the baking process. Leave ’em in there for 20ish minutes. Remove from the pans (this is easier if you greased the pans).

For the frosting:

Start by beating the butter on high in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Once smooth, set aside to make the ganache (aka the BEST part).

For the ganache:

Heat the cream in a small pot over medium-high heat until it starts bubbling around the edges. Place the chocolate into a small, heat-safe bowl and pour the scalded cream over the top. Let sit for a minute. Stir until smooth.

To assemble:

Spread the frosting over the bottom layer of cake and top with sliced strawberries before adding the second layer of cake. Pour the ganache over the whole thing. Let it set for a couple of minutes before adding more sliced strawberries.

Done. Nailed it. Eat up! Doesn’t matter if it looks janky. Serve that shit with no fucking shame. Never apologize for baking someone a cake.

 

baking · cake · Cheesecake · chocolate · comfort food · Dating · dessert · vegetarian

Brownie Cheesecake for a Visitor

As previously mentioned, my love language is “acts of service,” which is primarily demonstrated through cooking and baking. Since the guy was visiting from Hawaii last week, and I had missed his birthday by a few weeks, I made him this birthday cheesecake (which is better than a boring normal birthday cake). He mentioned in passing once that he loves cheesecake. I pay attention to these things. He also mentioned that he doesn’t like cream cheese, which obviously doesn’t make any fucking sense. Honestly, it was almost a deal breaker, but I was able to move past it. I’m mature like that.

The cleaning frenzy was out of control to prepare for his visit. I bleached my bathtub for God’s sake. WHO AM I? I just kept hearing my friend, Liz, teasing me for the mold and soap scum during her last visit. To drive her point home, she drew a heart in the soap scum with her finger, which was both cute and disgusting.

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Y’all. This visit was incredible. We saw so many things, and had so many conversations and experiences. He tried AcroYoga for the first time. He attended a Yin class that I taught. We drove to Duluth and walked along the shore of Lake Superior (where he picked up trash and I swooned). We went to the science museum and the sculpture garden. I cooked dinner while he made cocktails. We went to fancy ass restaurants. We ate the most marvelous food together, including peanut butter stuffed jalapenos (The Butcher and the Boar) and a hamburger that was sauteed in duck fat (New Scenic Cafe). I ate meat despite my vegetarianism (FML, that shit was good). I don’t know why he has that effect on me. I just so rarely have dinner with someone else that loves food as much as I do. It makes me want to try everything being served.

Despite all the fun things we did together, my favorite part of the whole trip was simply walking around the city. We sat together. We people-watched. We talked. We held hands. We watched the sun set. I was basically living inside a movie. Obviously.

At the end of the visit, I cried a bunch at the airport. Like, a bunch. It was messy and embarrassing, as most human experiences are (at least the ones worth having). When I apologized for crying and “being weird,” he simply said, “Don’t apologize. You’re open and honest. I appreciate that about you.” I’m sorry… what? Who the fuck is this guy? What the fuck is happening? Am I being punked?! (Does that reference make me sound old?)

There’s still a 4,000 mile barrier and a lot of uncertainty. I get that. But, fuck it. I’m holding on as long as I can, while remaining open and honest. Isn’t that what life is all about? Staying open to the experience? #noregrets

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Anyway! There are several steps in this recipe. I sort of enjoy the fact that it looks really complex (and comes across fancy as fuck). While it can be a bit time consuming, it’s actually fairly simple. Don’t let all the steps scare you! Go make this for someone you care about, or just for yourself. I have a friend that likes to eat this cheesecake in the bathtub while listening to Tom Waits. My guy ate it for breakfast in his underwear (which is the biggest baking compliment I’ve ever received – also, y’all know how much I love eating sweets in my underwear). This is a judgement-free zone. You do you.

The trick to making this pretty is not skipping the ganache layer. Ganache provides it with a smooth, luxurious finish. Otherwise it can look sloppy as fuck. Don’t be a sloppy fuck. Plus, why would anyone even consider skipping an extra chocolate layer? It’s absurd.

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Brownie Cheesecake (originally from Smitten Kitchen)

For the brownies: Follow the instructions here. Set in fridge until cool (I made these the night before). Once cooled, cut into smallish squares (approx. 1″).

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For the crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate Teddy Grahams (or Annie’s brand Bunny Grahams)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into a greased pie pan, getting some up the sides as well. Set in fridge until ready to fill.

For the cheesecake:

3 (8 ounce)  packages of cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 cups brownie cubes (You will have extra! You’re welcome!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. On a lower speed, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sugar.  Make sure to scrape the bowl occasionally to get all that good stuff mixed together. Once everything is fully incorporated, fold in the brownie cubes. Pour filling over the crust and bake for 45 minutes. Outer edges will brown slightly. Let cool completely. I usually throw it in the fridge right away, but that’s not what the pros do because it can cause the top to crack. We’re not worried about cracks, though, because we have some motherfuckin’ ganache to cover all of our mistakes. Only cover with ganache once fully cooled.

For the ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring heavy cream to a simmer (basically once the edges start bubbling), and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute or two, then whisk together. Pour over the cooled cheesecake and place back in the fridge. Once set, dig in!

Now then, I’m off to finish the last piece of this… while watching Netflix in my underwear. I suggest you do the same.

baking · cake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · easy · vegetarian

The Best Chocolate Cake

I made this cake a few weeks ago for Hannah’s husband’s birthday. He requested chocolate cake, and gave me no other fucking information. I was like, “But what kind of chocolate? Chocolate on chocolate or vanilla frosting? Maybe a raspberry filling? German chocolate? Nuts? Ganache? Dark or milk?” Honestly, my chocolate questions can go on and on… and they did. Hannah told me she was just going to pick up a sheet cake from the grocery store if I didn’t shut the fuck up (how dare she). Who the fuck would choose a shitty sheet cake over homemade? Fuck.

So I found this recipe on Pinterest, and was very excited about it’s simplicity. I guess I don’t need to add all the bells and whistles to end up with a delicious cake. This shit is moist as fuck, and the frosting begs to just be eaten by the spoonful. Now, I understand my cake decorating skills are lacking. This surprises no one. Despite my art degree and love of baking, I’ve never been great at making my cakes beautiful. But who the fuck cares? Some day I’ll take a class to learn, but until then… my ugly cake still tastes better than your masterpiece. Besides, everyone knows fondant tastes like shit.

Unrelated Hawaii story: Cortney took me to the Polynesian Cultural Center on one of my last days. I know this place is supposed to teach us about all the different Polynesian cultures (which it did!), but our favorite part was the half naked men dancing. During the first performance we stopped at (I believe it was the island of Tonga), there was one dancer that was so attractive that Cortney and I immediately started aggressively elbowing each other and gesturing with our eyes. He was one of those guys that you think has to be famous or a model or something. I mean, normal people don’t just walk around looking like that. It’s distracting. He must cause so many car accidents by just crossing the street every day. Fuck. So there we were, in the middle of all these wholesome families, just losing our goddamn minds. At one point during the performance, a few of the dancers walked into the audience. Our guy stood a few feet away from us and we got the giggles like a couple of fucking inappropriate teenagers. I was actually pretty embarrassed, but I could not stop. It was completely fucking involuntary at that point. I couldn’t even look at Cortney because I knew the giggling would amplify to uncontrollable laugh-snorting. By the end of it, I was full on crying. I would like to remind everyone that I am 31 years old.

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The Best Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk or half and half

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup strong hot coffee

 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons milk or half and half (or more if it needs thinning)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch cake pans and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, both sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. Set aside. In a mixer, mix together milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once fully combined, add in the hot coffee. Divide between the 2 pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

My trick to keeping the cake from drying out is cool it in the freezer. Just throw both pans in the freezer straight from the oven. Leave them in there for about 20-30 minutes.

For the frosting:

Beat the butter in the mixer until fluffy. Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until creamy. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more milk.

Frost the shit outta that cake.

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There was a lot of alcohol involved.

baking · breakfast · brunch · chocolate · comfort food · Cookies · dessert · easy · quick · snacks · vegetarian · Yummy

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

So my mom finally wrote down her chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you remember, she’s not great at measurements. She doesn’t understand that baking is science. In fact, she scoffed when I told her.

In her defense, the cookies always turn out perfect. I figured her baking skills are genetic, so my version of these would also be perfect.

But then Hannah fucked it all up.

The brown sugar I had was rock hard. I’m not allowed to go to the store, and I knew there was a way to soften it… but I couldn’t remember how. Hannah was sitting in the background drinking White Russians. She hears me complaining, and says very matter-of-factly, “Just microwave it with a little water. It’ll be fine.” Rather than take the 2 minutes to Google a real method of softening brown sugar, I take her advice. The sugar at the bottom of the bowl melts into brown goo, and the sugar on top stays rock hard. Sigh. When I yelled at Hannah, she responded with, “Kelsey, I’ve never baked anything in my life. Why would you listen to me?!”

She just sounded so confident. She’s an excellent bullshitter.

In the end, the cookies turned out acceptable. Next time I bake, Hannah is not invited.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 sticks of butter, softened (My mom says to melt them all the way, but I know that’s bullshit)

Splash of vanilla

2 eggs

2 3/4 cup flour

Dash of salt

Teaspoon baking soda

2 cups dark chocolate chips

Coarsely ground sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together both sugars, butter, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl (or if you’re my mother, the same bowl) mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together. Pour flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix well. Remove from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips. Form into 1 or 2 inch balls, and place on a cookie sheet. Add a few pieces of salt to the top of each ball of dough, and press in slightly (so they don’t fall off).  Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Make sure to eat at least 10 while they’re still warm and gooey.

 

baking · cake · Cheesecake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · peanut butter · Yummy

Butterfinger Cheesecake

I am exhausted.

I went to the grocery store the other day, and had all this baking shit to buy. The shopping basket was overflowing. I got half way through my shopping, and decided I couldn’t carrying anything else, so I went home. Does that ever happen to you? Like, I just no longer had the energy to even carry my groceries.

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I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for weeks, but then I thought I’d wait, because all I’ve been posting is sweets. I promise that’s not all I’m eating – but it’s the holidays! Baking is mandatory. The other cookie and cake recipes will be shelved for the time being – this is my last dessert recipe for awhile.

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So. Butterfinger cheesecake came about for a coworker’s birthday at the beginning of the month. She requested cheesecake. When I asked what kind, she thought about it for a moment, then shouted, “Butterfinger!” as if it was the best idea she’d ever had.

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My cheesecakes are always baked in a pie pan. Why? Because I’m not fancy enough for a spring form pan. Fuck that shit. I wouldn’t even know how to use it. Pie shaped cheesecake is just as good. Don’t judge me.

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Butterfinger Cheesecake

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cookies (I used Simply Amy Bunny Grahams)

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons peanut butter, melted

Whisk melted butter and peanut butter together. Mix all ingredients together, and press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. Fill immediately, or refrigerate to use later.

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For the filling:

2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened (please don’t use a low fat variety – that’s gross)

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

A splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in a mixer, until light and fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, vanilla, and sugar. Mix well, until everything is fully incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 40 minutes. The center should still be slightly jiggly, with edges slightly browned. Let cool before adding the topping.

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups Butterfinger bars, chopped

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

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Sprinkle the candy over the cake in an even layer. In a small sauce pan, bring cream to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Place chocolate chips in a small bowl, and pour in the hot cream. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir together until chocolate is fully melted. Drizzle over the top (or glob, in my case). Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you’re lucky, you have leftover candy that you get to eat in private. Maybe top it off with a salad, because, you know, balance.