Friday, December 31, 2010
I do love the flavor of eggnog and there’s a pretty small window of opportunity when I can make eggnog desserts. This recipe doesn’t use actual eggnog, just the flavors of rum and nutmeg. I was going through my old Christmas cookie magazines and I thought theses sounded good. Trying to mix it up a bit with my Christmas cookie offerings this year, I added them to the list. I’m glad I did!
To break these cookies down, they are a nutmeg butter cookie topped with rum icing. Grating 2 teaspoons of nutmeg on my Microplane grater took a while, but other than that these are simple. I made the dough in advance and then just baked them up when I had a moment. They spread a little while baking, more than I expected, but not too bad. Most of them were picture-perfect and round.
I made these on the same day that I made many, many cookies, and in all honesty, not all of them turned out that well. When it came time to frost these, I was pretty frustrated and didn’t feel much like finishing them up, but I enlisted my husband to help. I made the frosting a little more boozy than the original recipe (which only called for ¼ teaspoon of rum/extract) and I think that made them taste better. You could top these with candied red and green cherries cut to look like holly leaves and berries. I topped mine with miniature candy cane decorations that I had (or mini hockey sticks, as my husband calls them!). These are tender with a great eggnog flavor. These were certainly a winner!
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon light rum
In a small bowl, combine flour, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix until smooth and combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange on baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes or until firm to the touch and light brown on the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Make the icing: In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk and light rum. Stir until smooth and then frost the cooled cookies.
Recipe from Cuisine at Home Holiday Cookies
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, we got another rewind, where you can make a recipe that you missed or remake something that you really liked the first time. This is only the second rewind that I’ve had since joining Tuesdays with Dorie. For the first rewind, I made Brioche Raisin Snails, which is made with brioche dough. I used half of the brioche dough for the raisin snails and the other half for this recipe: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see what the other TWD bakers decided to make this week.
This recipe was selected back in May 2008 by Madam Chow’s Kitchen. She has the recipe posted and you can see it on her blog. I hadn’t made cinnamon rolls since probably junior high, so I was excited to make these. They do take a bit of time, but with the holidays there are more lazy days. You can make the dough and then add the cinnamon sugar and roll them up and freeze it for when you need it. I did that and it turned out perfectly. I took the dough out of the freezer the night before I wanted to bake them and then shaped them in the morning.
These aren’t quite as quick as scones to bake, because they still have to rise for nearly two hours once you put the sticky bun topping in the pan and slice the rolls. I made these when we had guests over and it worked out great since they get up later than my husband and I usually do. They were so beautiful when they came out the pan, gooey and sticky and oh so good. We all enjoyed them a lot. These are a bit more effort but they are certainly worth it for a special occasion.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas! When I was a kid, every Christmas we would get a tin of cookies from Grandma. I looked forward to that so much because I knew that the tin would contain Surprise Cookies. Surprise cookies were sugar cookies molded around chocolate mint wafers. They were so good and only Grandma made them.
Grandma always bought the chocolate mint wafers at Frederick & Nelson department store, which closed in 1992. Plus if Grandma had a recipe for these, no one knows what it was. After Grandma passed away, I got her recipe box, but I don’t think she followed a recipe for any of the dishes I remember. I was looking though my Bake-Off Cookbook and noticed this recipe for Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies, which seemed a lot like Grandma’s Surprise Cookies. I decided to try them.
I still couldn’t find the same chocolate mint wafers that Grandma used, but I found chocolate mint UFOs at Trader Joe's that seemed like a good substitute. They are thicker than the wafers that Grandma used, but fairly close. You could also use Andes Mints, but your cookies would be more rectangular. These turned out really well and it brings me back. They aren’t the same as Grandma’s but nothing will be the same. I’m giving these to my cousins and I hope these bring back memories for them!
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¾ cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Chocolate mint candy wafers
In a large mixer bowl, blend sugar, brown sugar, butter, water, vanilla, and eggs until well mixed. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture and mix at low speed until well blended. Gather dough together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Using about 1 tablespoon of dough, mold around the candy wafer to cover completely. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 7-9 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from Laura Rott, The Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook
Friday, December 24, 2010
I really like cinnamon chips, and whenever I see a recipe that uses them, I’m eager to try them right away. I’ve finally figured out that one grocery store in my area regularly carries these chips, so I no longer have to hoard the ones that I can find at Christmas. (Of course I can also order them through the King Arthur Flour Store, but that requires some planning ahead!) I was down to one package and these were the perfect cookies to make.
This recipe fulfilled my “spice” category of cookies for Christmas: whenever I do a lot of baking I try to include spice, chocolate, nut, and fruit cookies so that there’s good variety. These are easy to put together, and I only had to pick up cream cheese at the store. I was able to make the dough and give it a good time to chill. The original recipe said to chill the dough for 20 minutes, but this dough was so soft that I would have been unable to do anything with the dough after that short of time. I think I chilled the dough for about 3 hours and it was still fairly soft.
The only trouble I had with these was with the melted cinnamon chip topping. I added some shortening to the chips to make sure that the mixture was smooth. The recipe called for you to put the melted chips in a Ziplock bag and pipe it on to the cookies. I tried this and I guess the mixture was too hot because the bag melted! I tried again (lucky I had another half bag in the cupboard) and it worked ok. I just drizzled it this time; I didn’t want to risk another melted bag. These have a great cinnamon flavor, balanced by the soft cream cheese cookie. They work well for a Christmastime cookie, but I think they would work any time of the year.
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
1-2/3 cups cinnamon chips (1 package)
1 tablespoon shortening
In a large mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Add sugar gradually, then egg and salt, followed by flour and baking powder. By hand, mix in half of the cinnamon chips. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are just starting to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining cinnamon chips and the shortening. Microwave for 30 second increments until melted. Drizzle the mixture over the cooled cookies.
Recipe from The Jey of Cooking
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Jill of Jill’s Blog. She chose the Cardamom Crumb Cake, which is a small little coffee cake flavored with cardamom, coffee, and orange zest. You can get the complete recipe from Jill’s blog and also check out how the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers did this week.
I haven’t baked very much with cardamom, just one cake that I can recall. I use cardamom pods for a rice pilaf that I make, but that’s quite a bit different. As I recall, I didn’t like the cake I had made with cardamom, but I couldn’t exactly remember why. My cardamom was pretty old so I decided to buy some new stock for this recipe. When I bought the cardamom, I thought that it smelled really strong but figured out it would be ok in the crumb cake. I made the cake and it looked beautiful. I did have to bake it a little longer but otherwise it turned out just fine.
After having this cake, I’ve decided that I don’t like cardamom. It’s too floral for my tastes. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I don’t like Earl Grey Tea and similarly floral things. For me, despite the fact that this cake was beautifully light, nice and moist and had a great crumb topping, all I could taste was the floral cardamom. I think I would really like this cake with nutmeg, or just cinnamon, since I really liked the cake otherwise. I’m glad I did try this, but I doubt that I will be making anything with cardamom anytime soon.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 38
Sunday, December 19, 2010
This recipe was posted in the King Arthur Flour blog Baking Banter on November 10, 2009 and I’ve had this bookmarked ever since. I really love eggnog and try to use it in recipes whenever I can. Unfortunately the eggnog season is pretty short and I never had an opportunity to make this last season. As my folder of “recipes to try” is getting a little out of hand, I vowed to make these this year.
I had a morning meeting at work last week and I wanted to make these for that gathering. I typically get to work before 7 in the morning, so typically baking before work is out of the question. This meeting started later in the morning and I didn’t have to come in earlier, so this was my chance. I put these together and took them to work while they were still hot. They sat on my desk for about half an hour and my office smelled wonderful. The cinnamon scent was beautiful in these.
I had read the comments on this recipe and I ended up using a smaller amount of cinnamon chips, since I didn’t want to go overboard with that. I used one cup instead of the 2 cups the original recipe called for, and that seemed to be the right amount. I really liked these, the combination of eggnog and cinnamon is just perfect. They were very well received at the meeting and my husband has asked me to make them again. These would be perfect for any holiday breakfast!
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, cut into pats or small cubes
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 teaspoon eggnog flavor)
3/4 cup cold eggnog
1 tablespoon eggnog
2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add the butter and mix until the ingredients are unevenly crumbly. (It’s ok to have larger chunks of butter.) Stir in the cinnamon chips.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and eggnog. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are moistened and hold together.
Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface and divide into halves. Shape each half into a 6-1/2” circle, about ¾” thick. Slice each circle into 6 wedges. Transfer the circle of wedges to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Carefully pull the wedges away to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2" space between them, at their outer edges. Brush each scone with eggnog and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Place the pan of scones in the freezer and freeze, uncovered, for 30 minutes. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Allow the scones to cool briefly on the baking sheet and then serve warm. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Friday, December 17, 2010
A friend of mine at work fairly recently introduced me to the world of Penzey’s Spices. I think I had seen their catalog a time or two, but I hadn’t paid them much attention. She was in Portland, Oregon and had visited their store. She bought me some cinnamon (extra fancy Vietnamese cinnamon!) and it was so good that I became an immediate fan. Looking in a catalog is nice, but it isn’t the same as being able to browse through a store.
I was in downtown Seattle recently and stumbled across the newly opened Penzey’s store. I was so thrilled that there was one close! I do get to Portland occasionally, since my husband’s sister lives there, but this one is so convenient! I had such a good time looking through the store, smelling all of the different spices. I bought more than my fair share of items on that first trip to the store, and I’m sure that I’ll be buying much more in the future.
At the store they had many recipes for using their ingredients, and this one for hot chocolate snowballs immediately caught my eye. It uses their hot chocolate mix (although I suspect you could assemble your own mix and use that in a pinch). These were easy to make and they are the perfect holiday cookie. There are lots of “snowball” recipes out there, but this one is a bit different. For me, it was like a combination of a Russian teacake and a chocolate crackle. I like both so how could you go wrong?
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup Penzey’s Hot Chocolate Mix
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-3/4 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese, hot chocolate mix, powdered sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Gradually add the flour to the creamed mixture and mix until well blended. Stir in the chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Roll the chilled dough into 1-inch balls. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm. Let cool on the baking sheets for a couple minutes. Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar and place on wire racks to cool.
Recipe from Penzey’s Spices
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Amber of Cobbler du Monde. She chose Apple-Coconut Family Cake. You can get the complete recipe on Amber’s blog. This is a really wonderful cake, with a lovely apple/coconut batter topped by apple slices. It’s not super sweet, and fits in well as a coffee cake. I really enjoyed this cake and I can imagine making this any time I want a cake that is simple but special at the same time. It’s also fairly low in fat, which is nice. Just 6 tablespoons of oil in the entire cake.
This cake is quite quick to put together; I think it took longer to peel and dice the apples that anything else! I used a couple of different apples: a Honey Crisp and a Fuji in the batter and then topped with a Granny Smith. It’s what I had on hand and thought that it might add some interest to the cake. I’m not sure that I really could taste the difference, but it was good anyway. We ended up sharing this at work while celebrating a birthday and it was well received from everyone. It’s not nearly as sweet as some other cakes; sometimes you need a break from all that sugar. The diced apples basically melted into the batter, making for a moist cake. This made testing the cake for doneness a challenge, and I ended up baking the cake about 10 minutes longer than specified, but it was well worth the wait!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 214
Friday, December 10, 2010
My husband is always on the lookout for chocolate chip cookies that are a little bit different than your typical chocolate chip, since I try to make cookies that are a little bit different in some way. This recipe is a good example of a chocolate chip cookie that has been fancied up a bit by adding a couple of extra ingredients. These cookies have three types of chocolate chips/chunks and dried cranberries. The original recipe called for fresh cranberries, but I thought that dried would be better.
This recipe makes about 30 cookies, and when I take cookies to work I have very hearty eaters. I decided to double this recipe so I would have enough to take to work. Well, that was a big mistake since I ended up being snowed in and couldn’t take them to work. Normally cookies don’t last that long in our house, but with the holidays we’ve had a lot of treats in the house, so we had these for what seemed like forever. Having extra cookies around isn’t that bad of thing!
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ sticks butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oats
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries
Preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and blend just until incorporated. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.
Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, until edges are light brown, about 13-14nminutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
Recipe from Recipe Girl
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker. She chose Translucent Maple Tuiles which are a thin, lacy cookie. (Pronounced “twill” according to her blog.) You can get the entire recipe on Hindy’s blog. The dough for these is very simple and you can make it ahead and just bake as needed. I did make the dough a day in advance, but I’m not sure how much that helped this recipe.
I’d made Florentines before, which is a similarly lacy cookie, but they were a disaster! These cookies only use a tiny bit of dough that basically melts to a lacy wafer when you bake them. I’d made the Florentines before I had parchment paper or silicone baking mats, so I was hopeful this time. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous though. I was worried that I hadn’t mixed the butter in enough, since I noticed some small chunks of butter in the dough.
I had read the question and answer that the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers have each week, and some people said they had the best luck using parchment paper. I was really hoping to use my silicone baking mats so I decided to try both: one cookie sheet with parchment, one with the baking mat. I found that both work ok, although I had better luck shaping the ones that I baked on the silicone mat. It seems like the ones baked on parchment went from too fragile to touch to so cold you couldn’t shape them. They did turn out remarkably well, so I was super pleased. It didn’t matter that there were little chunks of butter in the dough, everything just melted together anyway. I baked mine for 6 minutes as they seemed to dark after 7 minutes.
I shaped mine around cream horn molds, which gave them a very nice shape. I filled them with whipped cream so that you could see the lovely lacy pattern of the tuiles. The maple flavor shines through in these; I think this is the best use of maple syrup that I have every encountered. I loved these! They were great plain, great with whipped cream and I’m sure that you could use them as an accompaniment to ice cream or some other dessert.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 173
Friday, December 3, 2010
It’s time to start thinking about the holidays, but I haven’t really planned ahead this year, so I’m still deciding on what I want to make. I pulled out a handful of my Christmas baking magazines that I have picked up over the past year or so to start looking for ideas. I put a couple of them in my work bag, with the hope that I would be able to look at them during lunch. It’s been so busy at work that I didn’t have time to do that, but I have great friends at work. My friend looked through one of the magazines and selected this recipe. I thought these looked so yummy.
These have the elements of s’mores, with the addition of peanut butter cups. I’ve not had s’mores with peanut butter, but I can’t image that they would be bad! These are quite simple to put together, assembling more than baking. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the crumbs to cover the base of the pan, but I did, just know that the bottom layer is very thin. They are everything that you would expect them to be: gooey, chocolaty, with a great combination of flavors. Since we’re deviating from the original anyway, I think these would be good with some nuts, to make them extra crispy and crunchy.
I don’t usually talk much about the behind the scenes aspects of my blog, but do you like my new plate? I work at a college and every so often the college ceramics program has a sale. They just had the sale and I was able to pick up this great little plate, which I figured would be perfect for my photos. It’s nice to help support student artists and it is fun to have new plates for my blog. I don’t know how much the readers of this blog notice the plates I use, but I enjoy it when I find something new.
½ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup flour
12 (regular sized) peanut butter cups, quartered
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan and set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. It will look curdled, don’t worry. Add the graham cracker crumbs, salt and flour and stir to combine. Reserve 2/3 cup of the mixture. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. The layer will be very thin. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden.
Immediately sprinkle the hot crust with the peanut butter cups, miniature marshmallows, chocolate chips and the reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the marshmallows are puffed and golden.
Cool bars completely before cutting. Dip the knife in hot water or spay with cooking spray to prevent the marshmallows from sticking.
Recipe from Cuisine at Home Holiday Cookies