Friday, July 08, 2011

Bake sale!

Since I bought a house and moved into town, I don't get to see my dear former next-door neighbor Ken nearly as often, and I miss him. He clearly misses me, too, as he posted a message on Facebook saying that he had signed me up to contribute some goodies for a bake sale at the hospital on his behalf. (Tee hee.) But he is such a good guy and always does so much for me and my roommate that I agreed to help out.

When I think "bake sale," I always think of Cookie Madness. As a mother of a school-age daughter and as a previous winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, Anna gets asked to bake for events A LOT. So on her blog, she even has a category of recipes that work well for bake sales. In perusing that part of her blog, I spied a luscious-looking treat called Magic Blondies that resembled a cross between a cupcake and a seven-layer (or "magic") cookie bar. And I thought, that's the ticket! They were very easy to make, and they looked so cute. I knew they would sell well.

Magic Blondies
(Source: Martha Stewart via Cookie Madness)

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup (180 gram) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (120 grams) chopped toasted pecans
1 2/3 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) coarse salt
9 tablespoons (125 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (220 grams) packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin (standard size) with paper liners; set aside. Stir together coconut, chocolate and pecans; set aside. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low or by hand, stir in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Mix in about a cup of the coconut mixture.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Sprinkle remaining coconut mixture over tops and bake on center rack for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs.

Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days.

I made a double batch of the blondies, and though the recipe led me to believe that I would end up with 24, I actually got 16 out of each batch! I suppose I was making them a little small, but I had enough of the topping for the extra blondies, too. It's a mystery. In any case, 32 treats probably would have been enough ("It's a GESTURE, Claree!"), but I felt bad for Ken who was very sick last year due to celiac sensitivities, and now he's a gluten-free guy. His favorite flavor combo is peanut butter and chocolate, so I decided to whip up some more of the peanut butter cookies that I made recently, but convert them to gluten-free. Now I am well aware that you can make great peanut butter cookies without any kind of flour at all (just peanut butter, sugar and eggs), but I really loved that recipe, and I had a hunch that I could swap out a gluten-free baking mix of some kind.

I decided to try Bob's Red Mill, but I realized after I was home from the store that they recommend the addition of xanthan gum. The next day, I went by the co-op to procure some, but it was $14 a package, and I only needed 1/2 teaspoon or so. Thus, I threw caution to the wind and made the cookies without the xanthan gum, and they came out great. I was worried that they were spread a lot and possibly burn, but I kept a close eye on them while baking, and they came out puffy and golden, then spread a bit as they cooled. So they were flatter than the version with wheat flour, but they had a good texture, and terrific flavor. In fact, if I didn't tell you they were gluten-free, you would never have known. It didn't hurt that I also swapped out Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups for regular chocolate chips. ;-)

I got 35 cookies out of this recipe, which made enough for us to sample a couple and for Ken to have a few, and still have plenty left for the bake sale. I was worried that people might be turned off by the idea of a gluten-free cookie (like it might be dry and tasteless), but the lady at the hospital who coordinated the event said they sold like hotcakes, as did the blondies. So...bake sale mission accomplished!

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)

1 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth or chunky)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (I used dark)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or mini Reese's Cups, cut in half)

For sprinkling: 1/4 cup (or so) sugar, regular or superfine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips or mini pb cups. Chill dough for a few hours.

Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (I use a regular cookie scoop) into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a criss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (until just a pale golden color). Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for one minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Oh, one last note about packaging. I wish I would have thought to take a picture, but I forgot. I bought some of those cellophane treat bags at Wal-Mart for $1.50 (20 or 25 bags?). They had cute little balloons on them that matched the ballon cupcake liners that I used for the blondies. Then my wonderful roomie wrapped everything for me while I was teaching my night class on Wednesday. She cut the baggies basically in half, then placed a blondie in the bottom part, and closed it with a twist-tie. Then she used the leftover top of the bag to fashion a little envelope into which she placed two peanut butter cookies, and sealed it up with a piece of clear packing tape. So we packaged more than four dozen bake sale items in an attractive manner for less than three bucks without much hassle. Score!


Randi said...

cute packaging makes everything better.

Unknown said...

I just made these and baked them for more like 35 minutes cuz they just didnt' seem to be getting done. They are browned on top but still are kidna like cookie dough looking inside. not really raw, but just very soft and mushy. is that normal? it doesn't taste bad but i was making it for a bake sale, and if it's not done I don't wanna sell it!!!

Joy Bugaloo said...

No, that does not sound normal. The cake tester might have a few moist crumbs on it but otherwise should come out clean. The cakes should be tender but not mushy or raw on the inside.

Unknown said...

so it should be pretty much a regular cake texture? Thanks so much for your help!