Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chocolate Cayenne Ice Cream Sandwiches - A Sweet Treat with a Touch of Heat!

I have a dear friend who spoils me rotten with her cayenne-infused goodies. Cheddar "biscuits", caramels, etc. But one of my favorite bites ever are her chocolate cayenne cookies. As she's a semi- professional baker (makes gift baskets at Christmas, Easter and so on), she's very hush-hush about her recipes. So, I ventured out on my own (okay, I did have some help from a friend who is a WAY better baker than I am), did some research and stumbled upon a brownie cookie recipe. I simply added some cayenne and played around with the cooking time and method. I must say that these cookies rock! All three people that sampled them loved them fresh out of the oven. The ice cream is just a bonus. Great for a backyard BBQ or a movie night at home. They do take a couple of days to make, but absolutely nothing about them is difficult. That's mainly due to using the Mrs. Anderson's Bread Crisping Mat, from Harold Imports Company. After baking the cookies and letting them cool, they came right off of the mat, no worries. I was very impressed (and yes, that's my own opinion, nobody told me to say that!) I'm not a huge "baker", but I am excited about this mat. I honestly see myself using it soon to turn out the thin, crisp cookies (hello, toffee bits) that I adore. These cookies are awesome, as is the mat. Add in the ice cream, and you've got a nice sweet treat with a little hint of heat! Cheers!

Chocolate Cayenne Ice Cream Sandwiches
by Chris
Adapted from the recipe "Easy Brownie Mix Cookies" from
Makes about 30 cookies, or 15 sandwiches

1 Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie box mix (18.3 ounces)
2 ounces (I used a kitchen scale to measure it out) plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (combining the two is fine)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 Tablespoons water
1 cup Ghirardelli mini chocolate chips
Cooking spray (PAM) or a spray olive oil
Extra flour for forming cookies
French Vanilla ice cream, about 15 Tablespoons (to make 15 sandwiches. If making less, plan on one Tablespoon per sandwich)

* I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but these could easily be made using either a hand mixer or good old basic stirring. I would use a sturdy spoon or a large fork, not a whisk, as the batter ends up being pretty thick and it would be difficult to get it all off of a whisk.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the brownie mix, all of the flour, and the cayenne pepper on the lowest speed (#1) for about 30 seconds, just enough to incorporate all ingredients. Add the oil, eggs, and water. Mix at a slightly higher speed (#2) for one minute or until everything is well-blended. Add the chocolate chips and gently (on #1) blend into batter for about 30 seconds. Do not over mix. Scrape the paddle attachment in order to remove any remaining dough. Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to either 325°F with convection (this is the method I used) or 350°F without. Remove the dough/batter from the refrigerator and let it sit out while the oven heats, about 15-20 minutes. At this point, you will need a non-stick spray (PAM or a spray olive oil), a small ice cream scoop or a Tablespoon (to measure the dough out), and a medium-sized coffee cup or drinking glass (to press the cookies). Spray both the scoop and the bottom of the cup/glass with your non-stick spray (I resprayed both after every 3-4 cookies throughout the baking process.) You will also need a small bowl of flour (about 1/2 cup) to use on your hands when forming the cookies (I coated my hands in flour after each 3-4 cookies as well.) Place your Mrs. Anderson's Bread Crisping Mat on a cookie sheet to fit. Using the oiled scoop/spoon, measure out about one Tablespoon of batter and roll into a ball using your floured hands. Place on the Crisping Mat. You will be able to fit 6 cookies on one sheet without issue. Once you have 6 balls of dough, use the oiled cup/glass to gently press the cookies flat. You may need to flatten them a bit more using the palm of your hand. Make sure that they are fairly even in size if you plan on making ice cream sandwiches (one of my taste testers was not able to eat ice cream, so he sampled the cookies alone. They are awesome either with or without the ice cream.) When your cookies are ready, place into the heated oven. Be sure to cover the batter and leave it in the refrigerator between batches (if it is not cool enough it will get sticky and icky!) Bake for 8-10 minutes (8 was perfect in my oven at 325°F with convection, but your oven may be a tad different.) After cooking, remove cookies from oven and let sit to cool for at least 10 minutes. When cooled through, use a plastic spatula to gently take cookies off of the mat. Let them sit on the counter, uncovered, for at least one hour. During this time they will harden up quite well.

When ready to assemble the sandwiches, pull your ice cream (I love them with French Vanilla, but you could totally do whatever appeals to you) out of the freezer and let it soften for 15-20 minutes. While waiting, go ahead and pull off enough squares of Saran Wrap to wrap your sandwiches in (you could leave some cookies just to nibble on), and match your cookies up according to size. When ice cream is softened, place a scant Tablespoon on one cookie, and top with another similar-sized cookie to make a sandwich. Press down lightly to insure that the ice cream is spread out evenly, but don't let the ice cream spread out over the edges of the cookies. Wrap tightly in the Saran Wrap, and place in the freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Roasted Spicy Asian Shrimp

Mrs. Anderson’s Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat from Harold Imports Co. is the perfect addition to your cooking and baking supply cabinet. Not only invaluable for baking cookies, pastries, breads and other sweets, the mat is also terrific for savory items. These shrimp plumped up and cooked evenly in no time at all. With a non-stick surface, cleanup was easy! Make these delicious shrimp as a tasty appetizer for your next party, or as a zesty main dish.

Roasted Spicy Asian Shrimp
by Gary
Serves 4; 6 as appetizer course

1 pound medium shrimp (20-25 count), peeled, deveined, tails left intact
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon Chinese black bean paste*
1 teaspoon sambal oelek*
1 teaspoon rice cooking wine
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 clove garlic, run through a press
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon Szechwan peppercorns, crushed with a mortar

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place Mrs. Anderson’s Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat in a rimmed baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven.

Rinse shrimp with cold water; drain and pat dry. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add shrimp, and toss to combine. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove shrimp from marinade and place on heated baking mat. Discard marinade. Roast at 425°F for 4 minutes. Turn shrimp over and continue cooking until shrimp are just cooked through and slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes more. Remove from mat and serve immediately.

*Found jarred at most Asian markets

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chocolate Chip Scones

My daughter's favourite, anything with chocolate. I made these just in time for my husband's business trip and visit with our kids. The Mrs. Anderson's baking mat from the Harold Import Company made baking and cleanup a breeze.

Chocolate Chip Scones
by Nancy
Adapted from Stacie Husmann

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425°F. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar. Add chocolate chips and stir gently. Pour in heavy cream and mix together with a fork until sticky and crumbly. On a floured surface, knead dough 10 times. Place dough on a Mrs. Anderson's Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat and shape into a 9-inch disk. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 3 Tablespoons sugar. Cut into 12 pie shaped wedges and bake 15-17 minutes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Baked Crawfish Pies

The Mrs. Anderson's Bread Crisping Mat from Harold Import Company is a great bread baking mat. This bread crisping mat did just what it's meant to do. The bottom of the pies were crisp and delicious! This is a great recipe! You can use crawfish, crab meat, or shrimp!

Baked Crawfish Pies
by Luke
Inspired by Little Crawfish Pies

4 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 Tablespoons Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
1 pound of crawfish tails
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
2 Tablespoons Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, to garnish

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, bell pepper and celery, saute for 4 minutes. Add 3 Tablespoons of seasoning to crawfish tails and cook for 4 minutes. Now, add garlic and green onions and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove skillet from warm burner and pour mixture into a bowl to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk egg and milk together to make egg wash, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut pastries into 3- to 4-inch squares and add 2 Tablespoons of crawfish mixture onto the middle of each pastry. Then fold one end over the other and use egg wash to seal the ends. Place pastries onto Mrs. Anderson's Baking Bread Crisping Mat and set on cookie sheet. Once all of the pies are made and placed onto the mat, place the sheet in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, garnish pastries with remaining seasoning and serve!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Green Olive & Pimento Bread with a Hint of Cheese

It should be pretty obvious that I like baking bread, so when I got a chance to work with a crisping mat from Harold Import Company, you'd better believe I put it through its paces.

The surface of the mat is nonstick, so there's no need for cornmeal under the dough. The mat is actually a very fine mesh, so there are holes that allow air circulation under the baking bread. It's really a great idea.

Even if the bread is a little sticky - like a sweet bread that might ooze sugary stuff - or a cheesy bread like the one I made for this challenge - the bread doesn't stick and the mat is easy to clean. It's dishwasher safe, but things like this are awkward in my dishwasher, so I've only washed it by hand.

If you bake a lot of bread, pastries, cookies, or other baked goods where a crisp, non-soggy bottom is preferred, I suggest you give one of these mats a try. And although I haven't tried it, it should be pretty awesome for reheating things like pizza, where you really do want a non-soggy bottom.

I made a round, free-form loaf studded with bits of green olives (and the pimento stuffing) with a little bit of cheese for added flavor.

Since I used a white cheese, it's not visible inside the bread, but you can see flecks of browned cheese bits where it was close to the surface of the dough. The finished bread is rich and savory, with little bits of salty green olive and sweet pimento.

Green Olive & Pimento Bread with a Hint of Cheese
by Donna

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces shredded cheese
16 pimento-stuffed well-drained green olives, sliced or roughly chopped

Combine the water, yeast, sugar, bread flour, salt and olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Add the cheese and olives and mix until well-combined.

Cover the mixer bowl and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface, place the crisping mat on a baking sheet, and heat the oven to 350°F.

Knead the dough briefly, then form it into a tight ball. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Or, what I did was use the empty mixing bowl as a cover. Set aside until the dough has doubled in size and if you gently poke the dough with a finger, it leaves an indent or slowly fills in rather than bouncing back quickly.

Slash the dough as desired and bake at 350°F until nicely browned, about 45 minutes.

Let the bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.

I received two baking mats at no cost to me from Harold Import Company.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Cookies. Who doesn't love a great, homemade cookie?! Over the years, I have made dozens of types of rolled dough, drop and bar varieties. I usually make 6 or more types around the holidays and ship them out across the country to my family and friends. The trick is usually trying to find ones that can make the trek in one piece and stay fresh.

I came across this recipe from Nature's Eats last winter. Normally, my husband and son make some disagreeable face whenever I mention anything with coconut in them. But, they actually loved these! Score one for mom!

These are easy to make, and stay fresh for days in an airtight container. I found with the Mrs. Anderson's Sweet Baking Mat from Harold Import Company that they brown nicely and they even keep their height (this is something I've been challenged with living in high altitude the past 10+ years.)

So, I highly recommended these for your picky eaters. You may even convert them to coconut after all.

Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
by Holly
adapted from Nature's Eats: Almond with Cranberry and Coconut Cookies

1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup finely shredded (angel) coconut
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons melted and slightly cooled coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375°F. Place a Mrs. Anderson's Sweet Baking Mat inside a standard baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cranberries, coconut, white chocolate chips, baking powder, sea salt and brown sugar. In a small bowl, whisk the egg until light and frothy. Gradually add the coconut oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Place bowl in freezer for 15 minutes to help set the mixture.

Remove dough from freezer and form twelve 1-1 1/4" balls, evenly space onto the baking sheet. Bake cookies on middle rack, about 10-12 minutes or lightly browned. Let cool on the baking sheet for a minute and remove to a rack to completely cool before eating.

Harold Import Company: