Friday, March 9, 2012

What I REALLY want to learn to do...

Is make candy.  Seriously.  Candymakers should rule the universe.

I made some caramel sauce from scratch for Thanksgiving, and let me tell you, I thought I was pretty dang hot stuff.  I could tell my husband was impressed too, because I caught him telling people I'd made it from scratch a few times when he thought I was out of earshot.  LOL! 

Candy making is super delicate though, and I'm a wuss. 
I found a recipe I'd love to try though, one of these days.  Here's hoping I stumble upon some guts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pocket Sandwiches

Do you know the phrase "Couldn't boil a pot of water"?

Maybe, in baking terms, that would be "Couldn't bake a potato."

That's me... oh boy. 

So what, you may ask, is someone who can't bake a potato doing here giving baking advice?  Who knows... but I *did* say I was a beginner, so maybe I get a little slack, huh?

Last night, I was making these pocket sandwiches, and thought baked potatoes would go nicely alongside them.

I had the potatoes in early (because goodness knows they take a while), and was going about my evening when I heard a pop.   I thought "That's weird," but sometimes things make funny noises settling in my oven, at different temperatures, so I didn't think TOO much about it.  A few minutes later, I smelled something funny, so I went to check it out.  Any guesses?  Yeah, you probably know what happened.  I EXPLODED my potato.   It literally popped OUT of its skin.  They were sitting there side-by-side, pretending like nothing had ever happened.  I have never been so thankful for the foil liner we put on the bottom of our oven!  I pulled that out, wrapped the potato back up in its skin and went on about the rest of my evening.  And then, with *my* dinner, I had a 'smashed' potato instead of a regular old baked one ;)

Today, of course, my oven got a real good hose-down inside, but that's a whole different story.

I've been meaning to do a post on these sandwiches for a while.  They're a staple in our menu here at home because they're pretty flexible.  I probably make them every 2 weeks or so.

I got the idea from an old family recipe called Kraut Runza.  I'll do a post on those some day, but need to have someone to make them for first.  They're basically hamburger and cabbage rolled up in bread dough and baked.  Sounds... eh... not so appetizing, I know... but until you've had them, you have no idea what you've been missing out on.

Anyways, I was craving them last fall, and looking for a recipe so I could make the bread dough on my own, instead of buying it pre-made.

I finally found the recipe for "Basic White Bread" in my Kitchenaid Mixer cook book.  It works pretty well.

Then, I had the brilliant idea that I could wrap up just about anything in bread dough and it would taste awesome, so that's what I do.

Bread dough first:

1/3 cup low-fat milk
3T sugar
2t salt
3T butter or margarine
2 pkg active dry yeast (that's 4 1/2 t)
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour

Heat milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a small saucepan on low-med-low heat until the butter's melted.  At the same time, put your water and yeast in the bowl of your mixer, to get the yeast going.

After about 5 minutes, your yeast should be nice and foamy on the top of your water, and your butter should be melted in to your milk.  Add the milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups of flower into the bowl of your mixer and let your dough hook go to work.  (If you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, I'm sure that you can mix it by hand in a large mixing bowl, and then knead by hand on your counter.)

Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time... your dough should be slightly sticky to the tough, but pulling away from (and cleaning) the sides of your bowl.  Depending on the weather (temperature and humidity), you may not need all 6 cups of the flour.

Grease the bowl (I use my mixer bowl, to cut down on dishes), and turn the dough to cover it with oil... Then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise.  Give it about an hour in a warm dry place, away from drafts.  I like to heat my oven to about 150 and then turn it off, and leave my dough in the oven to rise.  Give it about an hour, until it's about doubled in size.

Towards the end of the dough's rising time, I'll get together my fillings.  This is where you can get creative, and a big part of why I like this meal.

I'm a lot more food-adventurous than my husband and son, so everyone can have this the way they like it.

My son usually likes ham in his... for my husband and myself I'll usually pan-fry up some chicken.  I'll add some Swiss cheese and ham to his to make it kind of a Cordon Bleu thing... and I'll vary what I put in with mine.  Last night was barbeque sauce, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, and bacon bits.  It was way yummy.

Other variations we've done: marinara sauce and pizza fillings, taco meat, other lunchmeat (like turkey), and lots of variations on the chicken (ranch dressing, teriyaki, you name it).

Once the fillings are done and the bread's done rising, it's time to put these bad boys together.

I pull off a small chunk of  the dough (a little less than palm size) and roll it out real thin.

Add whatever toppings you're looking for and then pull and pinch the edges together.

This seems to be the best shape for us:

Throw them onto a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven at 350.  They'll bake up to a golden brown in 10-12 minutes.  So yummy!

This recipe will make 10-12 sandwiches... or, if you're like me, I'll make one for each of us, and then use the rest of the dough to make rolls.  We love to eat those warm with a bit of butter and honey.  Mmm.

Happy filling... I'd love to hear what you put in yours!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Orange Dream Meringue Cookies

This might be my favorite project so far.  They're fun.  They're fun to make, but even more fun to eat.  They literally melt when you put them in your mouth. 

Big plus, they're gluten free... and essentially fat free too.  Sugar, though... there's plenty of that.  LOL.

My mom and I 'discovered' meringue cookies at the grocery store a few years back.  We LOVED them.  I never thought they'd be something I'd be able to make, though.  Who knew?

They're pretty simple, and have very few ingredients.  I got the original meringue recipe from here, but I'll be honest.  I didn't even watch the video... just read through the directions, and played around on my own. 

I did tweak her original recipe for flavor though, and am so glad I did.  These were awesome.


3 Egg Whites, at room temperature
3/4 Cup Caster or Superfine Sugar  (If you don't know what this is, don't worry... I'll explain in a minute.  It's not nearly as intimidating as it sounds)
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Ok... so Caster Sugar.  I got worried when I couldn't even FIND this at my local grocery store.   Baking is just a *hobby* for me, and not something I'm looking to sink lots of money into, buying ridiculously obscure ingredients...

So I came home and did some research.  It's also known as Superfine sugar, and is just exactly that... very, very fine sugar.  If you can't find it in the store, you can take 3/4 cup of granulated white sugar and pulse it in a food processor (or I used my Magic Bullet) until it's very fine.  It was a piece of cake.

The first thing you want to do is separate your eggs, and put the yolks aside for some other recipe.  (Mine went into homemade ice cream.)

A few things about separating eggs: 

  • They separate easiest when they're cold.
  • I use my hands to separate them, because I don't want the shell to pierce the yolk
  • It's no big deal to get white in with your yolk, but you can *not* have any yolk in with your whites.  The fat in your yolk will keep your whites from whipping up right.

Give your eggs about half an hour to come up to room temperature.  They'll whip better this way.

Once your eggs have come up to temperature, put them in the bowl of your mixer and mix until they're foamy.  Also, now's probably a good time to preheat your oven.  200 degrees, folks.  These bake LONG and low.  That helps the moisture in the cookies to evaporate out slowly, and leave you with the crispy goodness you have at the end.

 Is that foamy enough?  I don't know, I got impatient.  It's possible my eggs weren't quite warm enough.  But in the end, they were fine, so I must have done something right, right?

At this point, add your Cream of Tartar.  Whip until the eggs hold 'soft peaks'. 

 Now you can add your sugar, a bit at a time.  That gives it time to incorporate completely into your eggs and dissolve so that your cookies aren't grainy.

At this point, your meringue should hold 'stiff peaks'... 
If that isn't a 'stiff peak', I don't know what is, lol.

After the sugar is completely incorporated, add in your vanilla and orange extract.  This is where I strayed from the original recipe.  I had some orange extract laying around and thought that'd be fun to use.  The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon vanilla... so I just halved that and used 1/4 t (I was afraid to cut it out completely, although I'm now sure it'd be fine.)  I didn't want to over-do the orange, either, so I just replaced the other 1/4 t with my orange extract.  

Later on this week, I plan on doing several batches, in varying flavors, and sending them out to family, just because I was so pleased with how they turned out.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper... it's way easier to get your cookies off of than the actual cookie sheet would be.  A great tip from "Joy of Baking" was to put a little meringue on the underside corners of your paper to help it stick to the cookie sheet, so it doesn't keep rolling up on you.  I also cut my parchment paper to fit the cookie sheet, because the stuff hanging off the edges was causing all sorts of trouble. ;)  

At this point, it's time to scoop your meringue into a pastry bag (or even use a large ziplock bag, it's no big deal).  A good way to do that is to stand your bag up in a drinking glass and fold the edges over the cup... then you can put your stuff into the bag without making as big a mess as if you tried to just hold it in your hands.

Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag.  


And now you just squeeze them out into these cute little puff shapes.  (Or whatever shape you want, for that matter).  I had enough 'batter' (can you even call it that?  I don't know... what would you call it?) for 2 trays worth of cookies. 

Bake at 200 for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours.  I did 1 1/2, but some were still a little soft on the very inside... I'd err on the long side, if I were you.

Roughly halfway through your baking time, rotate your baking sheets so that everyone gets fair and even heat and all that jazz.

Here's time for a little admission:  I must not have read the original tips very well, because most of mine cracked.  When I went to do a Google search to find out how to keep meringues from cracking, it took me BACK to the page I got the recipe from... She had the tip.  WHOOPS.  Supposedly, they won't crack, or at least as badly, if you refrain from opening the oven door during the first half (or so) of your baking time.

Also, she says to then crack the oven door after you're done baking and have turned off the oven... and let them sit in there for a few hours, up to overnight.  HA.  That didn't fly in my house.  1, I needed the oven for other stuff.  2, no cookies last that long without the line forming in my kitchen.  So I took them right out of the oven... Again, no harm, no foul, because they tasted great.  I'm sure she has a reason for doing it that way, but it wasn't a big deal.

GOOD LUCK... these are awesome.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tenaj and Nelle's Belly Buttons

Yup, you read right.  Belly Buttons.

So, this post is going to be more how-not-to than how-to... Making these was a total comedy of errors... but that's what being a beginner is all about, right?

The idea for these cute little treats came from 'eavesdropping' on my mom and a few of her friends on one of their Facebook walls.  Someone suggested making 'belly buttons' and eating chocolate, and I was hooked.  I tried to stay out of it, but shockingly enough, a Google search of the term belly button didn't bring up anything even remotely related to chocolate.  So I had to ask.

What I got in return were directions for these.  It was perfect timing, because I'd been looking for something simple to give to my son's teachers for Christmas.

They're simple.  If you're not me, lol.

You can use any shape pretzel for them... In some places, they sell pretzel wheels... so they're round and even cuter than what I came up with.  Small pretzel twists would work too... these are waffle shaped.  What I *did* like about the waffles was that the chocolate couldn't really melt through the holes... they were too small... so no mess on the cookie sheet.

All you'll need are M&Ms, Hershey's Kisses, and your pretzels, in whatever quantity you're looking to make.

Unwrap the kisses and place them on the pretzels, and line a cookie sheet with the pairs.

Then what you're supposed to do is have your oven preheated to somewhere between 300 and 350.

Place the kiss/pretzels in the oven for 1 minute and a half to 2 minutes... just long enough to melt the chocolate and make it squishy.

The best advice I got on this from "Nelle" was to do one at a time to start with, so that I could figure out the *exact* right time/temperature combination.  That way, if you get it wrong a time or 2, you're only ruining one, rather than a whole tray full. 

This is where I don't have the patience for this project.  Or maybe I just don't have the oven for it, I don't know.  I absolutely couldn't get it right... so I gave up the one at a time thing and threw whole cookie sheets in, knowing they wouldn't be perfect, but I just didn't care at that point.

My oven isn't the reliable when it comes to temperatures. I *think* it usually runs about 50 degrees hot.  That's just my best guess though.  It's not usually a big deal, I adjust the temperature by 50 degrees and watch whatever it is that I'm baking.  Usually it's a long enough process that there's a little room for error.

Not so with little chocolate belly buttons.

It's supposed to happen so fast that there's no room for adjustment/error.

Every other batch I threw in was either not melty enough or burned.  I'm not kidding.  It's like they took turns.

What you're supposed to do when you take them out of the oven is then push the little M&Ms down on top of the kiss.

If you do it right, and it's perfectly melty, the chocolate will smoosh.  It'll be beautiful.

If you don't... if it's not melty enough, the chocolate will crack and it won't look quite so cute.

If you don't... and it was TOO hot, or too long, the chocolate will burn... and then it won't smoosh nicely either.

It's been pointed out to me that you can't tell they don't look so good from the pictures.  You're gonna have to take my word on it, lol... Half of them were cracky and half of them look funny cuz their burned little points didn't smoosh nicely, so the bent over.

At the end of the day, though, they still taste good.  And my son's teachers appreciated the gifts, little cracks in the chocolate or not.

They don't take long to cool, I threw them in cute little Christmas bags, and off they went.

Who needs to be perfect?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peppermint Patties

I think powdered sugar just might be the messiest ingredient ever... it's 10x worse even than flour.

After I made these, my kitchen looked like a war zone... that had been snowed on ;)

But, if you like peppermint, these are totally worth it.  Technically, there's no baking here, but you won't judge me, will you?

Once again, I'm a recipe thief.  Or at least borrower.  I got this recipe from here.  

I'll have a small adjustment or 2 for you as we get on, but nothing major.

Here's what you need:

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips.  (I only had roughly 2 cups (one bag), and was able to cover all of my patties.  It was a bit of a stretch at the very end, but it worked.  I don't think you *really* need that 3rd cup, if you don't have it laying around)
3 tablespoons shortening

And I'm going to say that you want some parchment paper, foil, or plastic wrap.  It doesn't matter which... it's just something to put your patties on that will be easy to peel them off of.

And here's what you'll do:

In a large mixing bowl, put condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar and peppermint extract.  Mix on medium speed (with your paddle attachment, if you have one.  If you don't, I'm sure your regular mixer is fine.)
Once everything is incorporated, add the rest of the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.  By the end, your dough should be 'stiff but pliable'. 

Here's where I'm going to differ a bit from the original recipe. 
It said to roll 3/4" balls of dough.  That's what I did, and they ended up being HUGE.  You almost can't eat a whole one because they're so rich.  I'd do about half that.  So, here I'm gonna say "Do as I say, not as I do..."  the pictures are going to be off, because I made them big. 

Then, you're going to flatten it in your hand.  Don't leave it there long though.  And I'm talking within a matter of a few seconds... long enough for me to take this next picture, was long enough for the dough to get meltyish and stick to my hand.  You don't want that.  Flatten and get it off of your hand onto your plate as fast as you can.

See how big that ended up?  Yikes.  I should have known at that point.

Anyways, I put mine on plates.  That was fine, but if you can, I'd put them on parchment paper, foil or plastic wrap, because it'll be easier to get them off here in a few steps.

Once you've done this with all of your dough, put them into the freezer.  The original recipe says "no more than 30 min".  I have no idea why, or what would happen if they were in there longer, but basically they just need to be in there long enough to cool and hold their shape.

While your dough is in the freezer, it's time to melt your chocolate. 

Again, the recipe said to melt it in the microwave, but I've already told you how I feel about melting chocolate in the microwave. 

I ALWAYS use a double boiler.  The one thing I'll say about a double boiler, though, that I didn't think to mention before is that you have to be SUPER careful not to get *any* water into your chocolate.  I don't know why, but one drop of water will seriously seize that whole pot of chocolate up and make it completely unusable. 


Ok... curiosity got the better of me, and I didn't want to leave you hanging, so I went and looked it up.  Here's what happens:  Chocolate is a mixture of fat (from cocoa butter) and dry sugar and cocoa particles.  When water gets in there it reacts with the dry stuff, and they all start to stick together.  What you end up with is a MESS.  It's gritty and lumpy, and not fun, I promise you.  It's completely unusable for dipping at this point.  To read up on this, and what you can use your chocolate for if it seizes, go here.


Once your chocolate is melted, it's time to add the shortening.  I thought this tip was pretty cool.  The shortening will thin out the chocolate and make it shinier too.  That would work for lots of candy-making... or even cake balls... anything you wanted to cover in chocolate.  That little bit of shortening makes the chocolate way easier to work with.  

Anyways, work the shortening through until it's melted into the chocolate. 

At this point, you can start pulling your patties out of the freezer.  I had mine just on plates, so had to pull them off with a spatula.  That was a pain and some of them smooshed a little bit (not that you can tell from the final product, though).  You can do the same, or just peel them off of whatever you put them on.

Then, grab a fork and set a patty on the tines.  You can dunk the patty into the chocolate this way. 

You may even have to flip the patty in the chocolate to make sure that it's covered... and then use the fork to lift it out onto your baking sheet or whatever you're cooling them on.  I covered this with parchment paper too, though again, you could use foil or plastic wrap.  Just whatever makes it easy to peel them off at the end.

Don't worry if you feel like the chocolate's getting everywhere... I got better at dunking and getting them to the baking sheet very quickly, and they ended up looking much cleaner/better the more I did.  Not that it's the looks that always count.  They're yummy, and really, that's all most people care about.

Keep going until you've covered them all in chocolate.  They'll cool just fine on your counter, but if you want to speed up the process, you can put them into the fridge or freezer for a bit.

Anyways, this was a fun seasonal treat to make, and easier than I thought they'd be.  If *I* can do it, you can do it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cheesy Garlic Bread... Um... Muffins?

Ok, so inspiration for today's post comes from a lot of places... and I'm not sure I can name them all... but I'll try.

I love monkey bread... You know, the bread that you make for breakfast?  Cinnamon and sugar, and you pull it apart and eat it?  Awesome.  I'm a little obsessed.

Fast forward, and I'm trying to think of new and different things to do with monkey bread.  I found a recipe for garlic bread done monkey style and loved it.  And THEN... this geniusness.

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

Pizza, all wrapped up in neat little pull-apart bites... *and* you get to dunk it.  Cool.

I took it one step farther, and thought it'd be fun to make them individualized.  I *think* I saw this idea somewhere once upon a time for regular monkey bread, so I can't even take all the credit... I just put all these ideas together.  I don't remember where I saw the little muffin things originally, though.  Wish I did.

Anyways, I always start out any italian bread thingy with this breadstick recipe.  We love it... so I use it for bread sticks, or garlic bread, and even pizza crust.  Why fix what's not broken, right?


Directions for the dough...


1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons, if you're getting yours from a jar)
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fine salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 plus 2 tablespoons warm water

To start the dough, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup warm water in your mixing bowl.  Let it sit for about 5 min, until foamy.

Add in flour, butter, sugar, salt, and 1 1/4 + 2 tbs warm water, and mix for about 5 minutes.

Then knead for about 8 min.  If you're lazy like me, though, you can just let the dough hook on your mixer do this part, if you've got one.


Dough Accomplished

I always let my dough rise in my oven... I preheat it to about 150 and then turn it off before I put the bowl in... it's perfect.  Warm, and away from any potential drafts or disaster my house/family/pets might throw its way.  While it's rising, for this recipe, I cubed my mozzarella cheese into 1/4 in cubes.  Also, it's time to make some garlic butter... about 2 tablespoons butter and some minced garlic or garlic powder, whatever you happen to have on hand.  I'll leave the measurements up to you... it's all about how garlicky you want to get.

After about an hour, that's what it looks like.  Awesome dougheyness.

Punch down the dough, and here's the fun part...
Pull out a piece a little larger than a super ball.

Wrap it around a cube of cheese, making sure to seal the dough all around.  I left out the pepperoni, because my husband doesn't always like it... but you could put that, or whatever your favorite bite-sized topping might be, if you wanted.

Then dunk the whole ball into your garlic butter.

Put the ball into a section in your muffin tin.   Each section should fit 3 dough balls perfectly.

Back into the oven to rise for a while.

Then, I pulled the dough out and preheated the oven to 350.

I had a few cheese squared left when I'd run out of dough, so I just put those on top of the 'muffins' and put the whole thing in to bake.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 350, and viola!  Personal cheesy bread muffins.  

Pull apart and dunk in marinara sauce for some yummy pizza goodness!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And now, for something completely different...

I don't know what I'm doing...

This whole baking thing is incredibly new to me.  I was never much of a cook, let alone a baker.

What I DO know, though, is that since I've started TRYING, I'm really enjoying myself.

It all started when I got a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer for a wedding gift.  It's gorgeous.  I can't say enough about it.  I was particularly excited about the dough hook.  I love fresh bread.  I've found lots of ways to wrap dinner up in fresh bread dough, for something a little unique.  Maybe a post on that later.

Anyways, I wanted to see what my mixer can do, so I've been trying out lots of new stuff.  Eventually, my husband started asking me to make stuff to take to his monthly 'carry-in' lunch, rather than just buying something at the store. 

That brings me to today's post.  I made these cookies, and he came home saying that several people had asked for the recipe.  I was so excited.  What a compliment!

I'll be honest, I didn't make up the recipe myself.  I'm new to this, remember?  And I'm not too proud to give credit where credit's due.  I got the recipe here.  I don't feel bad for passing it along, though, because if you read through her post, she grabbed it from somewhere else too :D  Isn't that what's so great about the internet?  I'd never know how to do *any* of this without the internet... but now, I've got a million and one resources right at my fingertips.

When I sent these in to work with my husband, I called them Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies:

Seriously, how yummy do they look?  And they're pretty easy.  I mean, if *I* can do it, so can you.

Here's what you need: 

Nonstick vegetable spray or parchment paper
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350. 

The first step is to melt 1 cup of your chocolate chips.  The girl I took the recipe from melted them in the microwave, but I've got some horror stories for you about melting chocolate in the microwave, so I always use a double boiler.  I don't have a fancy one, I just use 2 pots on the stove.

If you decide to melt your chocolate in the microwave, use a glass bowl, and it should take about 2 minutes.  Don't forget, though, to stop and stir 2 or 3 times.  That's where my horror stories come in.  YIKES.

Ok, back to it:  Double Boiler.

See how beautiful that is?  And no worries about burning/clumping.  That's what I've had happen in the microwave.

Anyways, at this point, you're going to remove your chocolate from whatever heat source you've used and let it begin to cool a bit.

With an electric mixer (Did I mention I love my Kitchenaid?), beat the egg whites to soft peaks.  
  Sorry the picture's not so great.  I don't have great light in my kitchen, and am trying to figure out the best way to take pictures that show the best.  You know what soft peaks look like, though, right?

At this point, beat in 1 cup powdered sugar, until your mixture looks a bit like marshmallow cream.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, your cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt until just blended.

On low speed, mix your dry ingredients into your egg meringue mixture.  

Stir in the melted chocolate, which should be about lukewarm by now.  Once that's blended, add in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  At this point, your dough will be very stiff.

Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Take about 1 tablespoon of the dough, roll into a ball, and then roll in the powdered sugar until it's thickly coated.

Place on cookie sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake in oven for roughly 10 minutes, until cookies are puffed out and tops have cracked. 

This pic is worth posting again.  So yummy.

Cool cookie sheets on racks for 10 minutes, then move the cookies to the racks.

Makes about 18 cookies, depending on how big you've ended up making them.  The first time I made them, the sizes varied a bit, and I ended up with 15 or so.  The second time I made them, I was really specific about how much dough I used each time, and came up with exactly 18, which is what the original recipe said it should be. 

These turn out fudgy inside, and the meringue gives them a crunchy outside that's reminiscent of the crispy outer part of a brownie, which is my absolute favorite part. 

I'm working on ways to make this recipe my own.  I'm thinking variations on a theme... what could I do differently?  I figure you could do anything to them that you'd do to a brownie... add nuts (my guys wouldn't eat them, but some people might like them that way.)... Or caramel sauce... Or my favorite idea right now would be to add a drop or 2 of peppermint oil and roll them in crushed candy canes.  Seasonal cookies!

What would you do?