Friday, November 14, 2008

Walnut Coffee Cake-Whole Wheat and Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

I finally posted about my trip to New York yesterday, so make sure and read it on the post below and see all the yummy cookies, if you missed it!  Today I wanted to post a few quick recipes that I made yesterday.  The first one, for Easy Whole Wheat Walnut Coffee Cake was one that my bloggin' buddy, Anna at Cookie Madness made a few months ago that I thought looked yummy and easy and pretty healthy, so I've been wanting to make it since then.

It is perfectly moist, crumbly, nutty, cinnamon-y and super easy to make!  And wow, it looks like for once, I followed a recipe exactly as it was written.  Go see Anna's cake here and get the full, double recipe that she posted from a Pillsbury Bake-Off entry years ago.  Anna halved hers and made an 8 inch round cake and so did I. 

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You could serve this as a simple little treat/dessert, have it as a snack, or have it for breakfast!  My friends and I really liked it.

Easy Whole Wheat Walnut Coffee Cake (from a Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist in the 80's)

Streusel:

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

2  1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cake:

1 cup whole wheat flour, lightly spooned and swept

1/2 cup granulated sugar (this would be a great one for xylitol, Mom!--you gotta try it.)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

2 tablespoons egg, lightly beaten (about 1/2 an egg--I was out, but Egg Beaters would have worked great here)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing:

6 tablespoons powdered sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon water (just realized I forgot this, but it doesn't need it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch round cake pan with cooking spray (I used a sprinform pan, worked great!)

Stir together walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.  Stir very thoroughly.  Add the soft (but not melted) butter to the flour mixture and mash with a wooden spoon, combining as much as possible.  Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your hands), cut mixture in together until it is coarse and mealy like soft bread crumbs.

Mix together in a small bowl the milk, egg and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture and stir (do not beat, the wooden spoon worked fine).  Stir until well mixed.  It looks a bit like cream of wheat.

Spread about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half the walnut mixture over batter.  Spread remaining batter over nuts, then top with remaining nut mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Cool a bit, then drizzle with icing.  To make the icing, mix together the powdered sugar and water until smooth.  Spoon over cake or put the icing in a plastic sandwich bag and snip off a tiny hole in one corner.  Squeeze the icing out over the cake decoratively.

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Next.  My boys are just about out of Halloween candy. (Yeah!)  They really only have the things left that they really don't care for.  I cleaned out their pumpkin buckets so I could put them away (They've been on the kitchen counter WAY too long!) and I found that Parker apparently doesn't like Snickers and Baby Ruth.  Hmmm.  I couldn't just take the candy, oh no.  I tried, but Parker insisted that he wanted them.   Then I made him a deal to pay him $2 for six Snickers and two Baby Ruths.  It took quite the convincing that I was really making him a good deal until he finally went for it, but not before insisting I give him a 5 dollar bill and he give me three ones back instead of me just giving him two dollar bills!  So, finally everyone was happy.  I was going to make some cookies with the Snickers and Parker was even more rich!  (This kid has quite the stash of money as we've been paying him $5 for every book (chapter books) he reads and there's just no stopping this guy!)

Before I get to the cookies, we had Scott and Parker's parent/teacher conferences yesterday and they went great!  We really like both their teachers this year.  Not that we haven't like the teachers they've had in the past, but you know, there's just something about the two they have this year that really makes us feel good about their learning and the help and teaching they are getting at school.  Although Scott (5th grade) does not have a love for learning and reading as we'd like him to, he's actually doing quite well.  (All in part, due to Kevin's constant helping him with homework and studying for tests.)  Scott's teacher thinks he is about the nicest kid ever and is friends with everyone. 

Parker's teacher could not praise him enough!  This is GREAT news as last year towards the end of kindergarten, Parker was talking out in class so much that the teacher had to give him smiley or frowny faces at the end of each day so I'd know how he was doing.  We worked on this with a sticker chart at home for Parker to earn simple rewards.  It worked great, but Parker is a no fear, wanna-be-in-the-limelight kind of kid who is still learning when to not talk so much, so we were concerned how things would go this year.  In a few emails, his teacher told us there was nothing to worry about.  We were happy to actually sit down with her yesterday and Parker's teacher could not say enough good things about him.  She kept saying things like, "I'm serious, I would take this kid home right now and keep him if you'd let me," or "If I had 25 Parker's in class, that would be so great!"  She said Parker is always SO happy to be there and to do work and help out and read and well, on and on.  We even saw his kindergarten teacher in the hall and she said she sees him in class all the time and he's always just quietly reading.  Parker's teacher even suggested we possibly get him tested for being gifted.  I don't quite understand the numbers, but she said most first graders right now should be at a level 7 in reading and that Parker is at 28!  We are excited and hope that Parker continues his love for reading and learning!  He gets home from school so excited when he has homework and gets it out immediately and gets it done.  That is the one thing they are working on at school, is for him to slow down just a bit with his work.

Taylor brought home a "report card", too.  He is doing great, loves all the things they do, especially playing in the different "centers" at playtime and that he participates well, etc.  The only thing they noted with Taylor is that during play time, he prefers to play independently rather than with other kids.  We knew that and aren't really worried, since Taylor does have some friends he enjoys playing with. 

Okay, back to cookies!  I thought a good peanut butter cookie base would be yummy to put the Snickers in, so I finally made these cookies that fellow blogger, Judy, has raved about for a while now.  Check out Judy's Kitchen for a great blog with lots of yummy and healthy recipes.

Here is the recipe for these peanut butter cookies as I made them with all the fun add-ins.  These cookies are great for adding things to them and are crispy but soft and buttery. 

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Lalee's Peanut Butter Cookies, adapted from Judy's Kitchen (I made a few changes and omissions)

1/2 cup butter, unsalted

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (can use up to 3/4 cup if you want)

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

1 large egg and 1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (I was just about out and probably only got about 1/3 teaspoon out of the jar)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (I left this out, but it's probably good!)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

6 Fun Size Snickers bars, coarsely chopped (freeze for a short time first)

1 Fun Size Baby Ruth bar, coarsely chopped

3 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, coarsely chopped

(You can add whatever you want to these!)

Combine butter, peanut butter and sugar.  Cream together.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix together. (You don't have to cream each addition for very long, just until combined.)  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat until combined.  Scrape down sides.  Fold in chips, nuts, and whatever else you'd like. Chill dough for at least two hours (which I didn't do at all, as I needed the cookies right away, so they were great without the chilling.)  Drop tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 11-12 minutes.  These are good soft/slightly underbaked.  Cool on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, it's my favorite way to go) for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.  After baking the first sheet full, I threw in a Fun Size pack of mini M&M's that I'd found.

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These are great for sharing and/or giving away!  I liked the occasional chew from the caramel/nougat in the candy bars and the crunch from the peanuts.  Good cookie!  Thanks, Judy.

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7 comments:

Maria said...

Those cookies are calling my name!

Judy said...

Thanks for trying the cookies, Katrina. I can't believe you bought so many cookies in NYC, but isn't it fun to try all the different bakeries and restaurants? I've been thinking about Levain lately.
Did their cookie taste anything like any of the copycats we've all been making?

Clumbsy Cookie said...

That's the beauty of having 4 kids I guess, they're all so different and unique even if they're raised in the same way. Cool cookies, our kind, aren't they? I don't even need to bake them, I know I'll love them.

bakingblonde said...

Those look wonderful. I love the addition of chopped candy into the cookies, what a great way to use up left over goodies from Halloween. Your pictures are beautiful!

Amanda said...

Yum! The pictures make me want to eat the screen ;-D

Kevin said...

That coffee cake looks great!

Cakelaw said...

What a beautiful looking cake! The cookies are no slobs either - lucky boys.