Friday, December 31, 2010

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

It is almost the end of 2010.  I am sure that most of you have new years resolutions that you want to complete in 2011.  Then again, I saw someones list that was things they definitely knew they would not achieve. I would say the list of things to not to complete makes things a lot easier!

Anyhow, I do have some resolutions for 2011.  One of them is to update my blog with my own photos.  So for the month of January there will be no new recipe posts.  I will be fiddling around with my new camera and posting my own photos and discarding the others on the old posts.  As you can see by the above picture, I do have some things to learn with the camera.  Notice the glare and the shadow in the above photo, I have a long way to go.

The cupcake recipe makes 16 light and airy cupcakes that do taste of champagne. These are a very appropriate dessert to bring in the new year with.  So enjoy the hot chocolate and the fireplace for the first month of the year and I will be back blogging in February with some more wonderful recipes!

Pink Champagne Cupcakes
adapted from Cupcakes Galore Cookbook

pinch of cream of tartar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup pink champagne
6 egg whites
red food coloring (optional)
1 stick butter (room temp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin pan, greasing the top edges of the cups to cover any spill overs.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes.  The consistency should become fluffy and light.

With a wooden spoon, fold 1/2 the flour into the batter until combined.  Then add the champagne and continue to mix with spoon.  Add the last of the flour mixture and stir until no flour remains.  If you want pink cupcakes, mix in drops of red food coloring until you reach the desired color.  Set aside.

Then take a clean bowl and add the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar.  Beat at high speed until peaks form but it is not dry.  Fold the egg whites completely into the batter.  Then spoon batter into muffin cups, filling only 2/3 full.

Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Place cupcakes on cooling rack. Frost as desired.

I used more of a glaze with 2 cups powdered sugar and 3 tbs of champagne.  Then I dipped the tops of the cupcakes in the glaze and sprinkled with sanding sugar.  You can also use the standard buttercream recipe below for a thick, decorative frosting. 

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

2 tbs pink champagne
2 cups powdered sugar
red food coloring
3/4 cup butter (room temp)

Sift powdered sugar into medium size bowl.  Add butter and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.  Slowly add champagne and food coloring. Continue to beat to desired consistency.  If it is too thick, add a some more champagne.  Pipe frosting or spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Limoncello Cream Cheese Mini Tarts

I never turn down any food or drink that has lemon or lime.  I guess these favorites are a result of the times I lived in California and Florida. These flavors take me straight back to the white sand beaches of Destin Island in Florida's gulf or the groves of sunny California.

Anyhow, I decided to bring out that huge bottle of  Limoncello.  Instead of mixing it in with lemon italian ice and having a slushy drink, I made the hard decision of making these tarts.  The baking resulted in a creamy tart with a sweet flaky crust, so I did not regret the decision.  Also, it looks like I still have some left for that slushy!

Limoncello Cream Cheese Mini Tarts 
adapted from Pixie-baker

1 tbs lemon zest
1/2 cup cold butter (cut into cubes and frozen for 30 minutes)
splash of ice water (optional)
2 eggs
1/2 cup Limoncello (or lemon juice)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Butter the inside of four 5 inch tart pans or one 9 inch tart pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift confectioners sugar, flour and salt together.  Put in a food processor bowl.  Add pieces of frozen butter.  Using the pulse mode, pulse on and off thirty times.  If it still seems dry add 1/8 tsp of water and pulse about 6 times.  Check dough to see if you can form into a ball, if not continue adding water 1/8 tsp at a time and pulsing until you reach the right consistency.

Take the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces.  Take each piece and place it between two sheets of wax paper.  Roll piece until it is 7 inches in diameter, then place in freezer for 10 minutes.  Peel off wax paper and place on tart pan.  Wait 3 minutes or until dough is pliable and press into one of the tart pans, making sure it is even all around. Should it break, just smooth and press with  your fingertips.  The heat from your fingers will help shape it back in place.  Cut excess dough from top edges with a knife. Continue with this process to form the remaining 3 tart shells.

Cover each with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Once the oven has preheated and tarts froze the alotted time, place tarts on baking sheet.  Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden. Remove tarts and set aside. Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer for 3-4 minutes.  It should have the consistency of thick frosting and have no lumps. Add the granulated sugar and beat with mixer until evenly dispersed in the cream cheese.  Then add one egg and beat until combined.  Add the remaining egg and continue to beat.  Pour the Limoncello and sprinkle zest into batter.  Blend all ingredients with electric mixer. 

Take the filling and pour into each tart shell, making sure not to over fill. Tarts should be evenly spaced on baking sheet and placed in oven.  Bake until the filling is not watery or becomes set.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Remove and place tarts on rack to cool.Serve cold and topped with whipped cream. 

Monday, December 27, 2010


Alfajores are cookies that originated from Spain and then went on to South America.  They are sandwich butter cookies filled with Dulce de leche (or caramel)and then dipped in chocolate.  I did read on the net that several school children used the cookie recipe for a school project on Argentina.

The recipe is time consuming since these are cut out sandwich cookies.  My forming technique is to roll the dough on wax paper, freeze the dough and then cut them out.  This avoids having the dough turning sticky or using too much flour to keep it from sticking. The less handling of the dough after it freezes is better. Frozen dough does not lose its shape when you cut it and it is easy to peel off of waxed paper. This recipe makes about 18-25 sandwich cookies.

adapted from Sunset Magazine 12/2001

1 tsp baking powder
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup butter (room temp)
3 tbs dark rum
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups of  Dulce de leche or caramel sauce
2 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

Clear out space in freezer for at least 2 baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and baking powder.  Set aside.

Then take a large bowl or mixing bowl and add sugar and butter.  With an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter together until smooth.  This should take about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolks, beating until well combined.  Continue to beat, adding vanilla and rum until dispersed throughout batter.

Using a wooden spoon, mix 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter. When the batter no longer has dry spots, continue with the same process until all flour mixture has become part of the batter.

Cut 8 pieces of wax paper that has the same size as the baking sheets.  Divide dough into 3 or 4 sections. Place one piece of wax paper on a smooth surface, then 1 piece of dough, then top with a piece of wax paper.  Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick, making sure size can fit on baking sheet. Place on baking sheet and put in freezer for 30 minutes.  Do the same with another piece.  Put the remaining 2 dough pieces in the fridge.

While dough is chilling/freezing, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take one baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Once rolled out dough is ready, remove one baking sheet from fridge. Peel of top sheet of wax paper and cut dough into 2 or 3 inch circles. Place each circle on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake in oven for about 10 minutes, just so the edges start to brown.  Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack.

Repeat the rolling, freezing, forming and baking process stated above with the remaining dough pieces and dough scraps.

Once all cookies have cooled, divide the total number of cookies into two even groups.  One group will be face up and the others face down.  On the face up group, spread with one tablespoon of the Dulce de leche/caramel filling, going all the way to the edge.  Then top with the cookies from the face down group, lightly pressing to adhere to the filling.

Lastly, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.  When completely melted, dip half of each cookie into chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Candies

Since this will be my last post until after Christmas, I first wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas. I hope all get to spend some quality time with family and friends. May your 2010 Christmas celebration be filled with joy and always be considered one of the cherished moments in your life.

Now back to the candy...

My mom makes these candies practically every year.  They are delicious, but there is an issue of wax.  In her candy coating, for appearance purposes, she uses melted wax along with chocolate.  I am not sure if wax is really a good thing to be eating, but she likes the shiny appearance.  Also Betty (Betty Crocker) has a coating that uses chocolate fudge frosting mix and several other ingredients.  I did not elect to do either as you will see below. This recipe makes about 5 dozen candies.

Chocolate-Coconut Candies
courtesy of Betty Crocker's Cookie Book

3 cups of chocolate chips (bittersweet or semi sweet)  
1 package of chocolate sprinkles
1 tsp almond extract
4 3/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar (1 lb)
4 cups sweetened flaked coconut (1 lb)
3/4 cup mashed potatoes (pure potatoes, nothing added)

Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.

Combine last 4 ingredients on a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed. Test the consistency by rolling a heaping teaspoon into a ball.  If it seems too sticky, take the bowl of coconut mixture and place in fridge for 1/2 to 1 hour to firm up.

Once it is the correct consistency, continue to roll heaping teaspoons of the coconut mixture and place each ball on the baking sheets.  Several balls can be placed on a sheet, since the size will not change.  When all the coconut mixture is formed and placed on the sheets, put sheets in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour.

In the meantime, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.

To coat the coconut pieces, you can either use a toothpick to dip each piece, drizzle it on top of the pieces or drop in chocolate and spoon out. After placing each piece back on the waxed paper, top with chocolate sprinkles.  Additional wax paper sheets may be needed for the coconut rounds, they need more spacing than before since they cannot be touching with the chocolate coating. Also, if you get through coating 2/3 of the batch of coconut pieces and see there is going to be too much chocolate, you can always give them a second coat.

With a twist: Try changing the flavoring in this recipe up to suit your taste.  I have considered using pink food coloring, kirsch (cherry liqueur) and 1/2 of a maraschino cherry in the middle to give it a cherry flavor. Also, the consistency reminds me of the inside of a peppermint patty, so peppermint is another possible flavor.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chive Parmesan Scones

It is time for a savory breakfast, but first I wanted to mention a few things about cheeses.  I have a container of powdered Parmesan cheese that states 100% real cheese-no fillers.  The ingredients on the label suggested otherwise.  When I read "no fillers", I expected only one ingredient on the label: Parmesan cheese.  Instead, I found several ingredients.

Based on the above, those containerized powdered cheeses are far away from fresh cheese. It is best not to skimp and use the powdered cheese in this recipe. You know the motto- better ingredients, better taste.

This recipe makes 12 scones, but that will vary on how big or small you cut them.

Chive Parmesan Scones
courtesy of

1 beaten egg
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
2 teaspoons baking powder

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder together.  Add the grated Parmesan and chives, mixing with a wooden spoon until all is evenly distributed. Take the cold butter and cut into small cubes.  Put butter in with the flour mixture.

With a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients.  Keep working until the texture turns to small pea sized clumps. You can also use a food processor to create the same results.  With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the beaten egg and cream just until the dough holds together.  Remember to avoid over-working the dough.  You do not want to change the bread texture.

Put the dough on a floured surface and shape into a round disk, about 9 or 10 inches in diameter.  Cut into 12 sections like a pie and place each piece on the baking sheet.  Bake about 20-25 minutes or until dough turns golden on the edges and some on the top.  Let cool on baking sheet. 

These are best warmed and eaten the next day.  The flavors need some time to develop. 

Try serving a gourmet breakfast by topping these scones with a slice of warm smoked ham and hollandaise sauce. That kind of starting meal truly insures a wonderful rest of the day.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins

Doughnuts are made with very little ingredients and the doughnut business is considered one of the most profitable. After all, most of us would rather buy some than pull out a big vat of oil and wait for the dough to rise. I do not find them very easy to make. Luckily, it did not take long for an alternative to arrive-the flavor of a doughnut in a muffin. This recipe makes 18-20 muffins.

Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
courtesy of Taste of Home Magazine

1 1/2 cups of milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup of oil
1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 1 1/2 cups for topping
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon plus 2 teaspoons for topping
1 cup melted butter

Grease inside and tops of muffin tins.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together oil, eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar and milk.  Set aside.

Take a large bowl and sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add the oil mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until combined, being careful not to over beat.  Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the topping amounts of cinnamon and sugar noted above.

Once muffins are done, let cool for a few minutes. Remove each muffin and roll in butter, then in sugar mixture.  Set on wire rack to cool. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spicy Sausage Calzones

Well it is crunch time! I am sure a few of you do not have any time to even turn around.  Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, wrapping presents and decorating the house does not give anybody much time to cook dinner.  The conversation went like this in our house...husband: "What is for dinner?" Me: "Dinner..well to be honest I had not even thought about it...

I looked through some cookbooks and recipe magazines.  I was surprised to find this recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine.  I love pizza (yum) and found these calzones to be quite tasty. With only 5 ingredients that require little effort to make, that added an extra bonus.  This recipe is for 4 calzones.

Spicy Sausage Calzones
adapted from Bon Apettit Magazine

1 10oz tube of refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups (14 oz) of marinara sauce
8 oz hot or sweet italian sausage

Take sausage out of casings and place in a medium size pan.  Cook over medium high heat until done, breaking up large clumps with fork.  This should take about 8 minutes. Place in separate bowl with slotted spoon and let cool.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease one baking sheet.

Once the sausage has cooled down, resume breaking up pieces to insure there are no large chunks. Then take a wooden spoon and mix in 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce.  Add the ricotta cheese and mozzarella. Sprinkle salt and pepper, seasoning to taste.

Open pizza dough package and fold dough out onto prepared baking sheet.  Using your hands, stretch the dough to a 11-12 inch rectangle.  Cut the dough evenly into 4 squares.  On each square, place 1/4 of your sausage mixture.  Fold dough over mixture and seal the edges.  You can do this by using the tines of a fork or fold or roll up the edges. Take a paring knife and cut 3 slits in the top of each calzone (this allows for steam to escape while baking).

Place calzones in oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.   Remove from oven to cool for about 5 minutes.  While cooling, warm the remaining marinara in a saucepan.

Serve calzones warm with sauce on the side. 

With a twist:  There are many variations of fillings, depending on each person's taste. However, it is important that it not be too watery or too dry. In addition, the dough can be brushed with oil and sprinkled with garlic powder or Parmesan cheese. Use your imagination and taste to personalize this recipe. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wedding Cookies

This cookie is a favorite and has many names.  The recipe for these cookies was first published in the 1950's and the actual country of origination is unspecific.  The name of the cookie has been linked to several countries: Russia, Mexico, Italian and even areas of the Middle East.

Anyhow, this particular recipe was one of the top ten in a cookie contest. This is a common cookie recipe, but with the difference being macadamia nuts instead of pecans. This recipe makes 4-4 1/2 dz, depending on the size of your cookies.

Wedding Cookies
adapted from LA Times Cookie Bake Off

confectioners sugar or sanding sugar (for rolling cookies in)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
2 cups finely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Add vanilla and set aside.

Take a smaller bowl and sift together flour and salt.  Mix in chopped nuts. Then, with a wooden spoon, blend into creamed butter mixture.  Stir together until no more flour remains.

Take portions of the dough and roll into 1 inch balls. If you are using colored sanding sugar, now is the time to roll the balls into that sugar. Then place balls on ungreased cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned.  The bottom of the cookie should be browned and a few toasted spots on top-do not wait until the tops have cracked. Remove pan from oven.

If using confectioners sugar, roll each of the warm cookies in sugar. Place cookies on rack to cool.  You can roll again once the cookies have cooled.  It is important that cookies cool on rack.  A flat surface combined with the sugar coating will cause them to be soggy on the bottom.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry Fudge Pie

Red fruits are my favorite-strawberries, cherries and cranberries.  Also, when it comes to pies and these particular fruits, cherry is the only one that I prefer in a baked pie.  The others I serve cold as a topping on cheesecake or as a cold pie.

This particular pie recipe is unique in the combination of cranberry and fudge. Since cranberries are so acidic, you have to be careful about the amount and richness of the chocolate that is used.  White chocolate or bittersweet chocolate would diminish the cranberry flavor. The semi-sweet chocolate ganache was right on the mark. 

You will find the recipe to be very easy.  The end result is a very elegant and decadent pie, which is perfect for the holidays. Also, it does not take a big slice to satisfy, so you can get 8-10 servings instead of the normal 6-7 slices you would get out of a baked pie.

Cranberry Fudge Pie
adapted from King Arthur Flour  

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup cranberry juice
6 tbs melted butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together confectioners sugar, graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into a 9 inch pie pan, completely covering bottom and sides evenly.  Bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes until set.  Remove pan to let cool and turn off oven.

To make the filling, you will need to heat up water in the bottom pan of a double boiler.  Once the water comes to a boil, fill top pan of boiler with heavy cream and chocolate chips. Stir mixture until chips have melted and cream is no longer separate.  This will take about 4-5 minutes.

Pour the hot chocolate mixture over the graham cracker crust in the pie pan.  Smooth until chocolate is level in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle nuts evenly over the bottom.  Place pan in fridge to cool for 2 hours

While pan is cooling, you can make the filling.  In a small saucepan mix granulated sugar, salt and cranberry juice.  Set stove to temperature to medium high and place saucepan over heat.  Bring to a boil and then turn temperature down to medium.  Add the dried cranberries and let cook for about 5 minutes.

Then add the whole cranberries and let cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Most of the berries would have burst in the cooking process and the mixture should have started to thicken.  Pour mixture in a heat resistant bowl and place bowl in fridge to cool.

Once the graham cracker/chocolate pan has chilled for 2 hours, the cranberry filling should be cool enough to use.  Spoon the cranberry filling on top of the chocolate nut layer.  Smooth out the filling and make sure that it covers all the chocolate/nut layer. Place pan back in fridge for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

In reviewing some cupcake contests, I have found that the red velvet cupcake has been a winner several times over.  In addition to that, it's festive color makes it very appropriate for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

I believe that there are as many variations of the recipe as variations in taste, especially in the amount of cocoa.  This particular recipe has the largest amount of cocoa, 1/4 cup.  I like chocolate, so I passed on those other recipes calling for only 1 or 2 tablespoons of cocoa.  The amount of red food coloring is also a personal preference, yet some brands of colorings are stronger than others.  I used only a 1/2 of the large bottle of Adams brand, which resulted in a very burgundy color as shown above.  Next time I will try less.

Regarding the frosting, you can click over to the original recipe that has one with a lot of cream cheese or use a lighter recipe by going back to my 2 posting in Aug 2010.  The lighter recipe holds up if you want fancy decorated cupcakes.  This recipe is for about 18-24 cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from The Food Maven

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp to 1 (1 oz) bottle of red food coloring
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the top cup edges of your muffin tin and place paper liners in the cups.

Sift together baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa in a small bowl and set aside.

Then take out a medium bowl and hand held mixer.  Fill bowl with oil and add one egg.  Beat at low speed for 1 minute until combined. Add the other egg and beat again until combined.  Mix in the food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Make sure the sides of the bowl are scraped with a spatula and all is blended.

Pour in 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon.  Continue to mix batter and add 1/3 cup of flour. Follow those steps until all is combined into bowl.

Spoon batter into prepared paper liners.  Fill only 2/3 full, the batter does rise and you do not want it spilling over.  Place in oven to bake for 15-25 minutes, or when tester comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool for 2 minutes, remove and place on wire racks to cool.

When completely cool, frost as desired or sprinkle confectioners sugar on top.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Annie's Banana Cookies

Instead of the same old cookies this holiday season, I am trying out new recipes. Since this particular recipe calls for toffee chips and roasted bananas, it is about as far away from the standard/traditional that you can get.

Monkeys would probably complain that they need more banana flavor, but it is just right for us humans. The addition of toffee chips brings the flavor to another "more human" and tastier level. The cookies are thin and chewy in texture. The recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Annie's Banana Cookies
adapted from LA Times Cookie Contest 

sea salt (optional for sprinkling)
3 bananas
3 tbs butter melted
1/4 cup brown sugar (for sprinkling)
8 oz toffee chips
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter or one stick
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line one baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take each banana and slice lengthwise into two pieces.  Place on baking sheet skin side down.  Brush cut sides with butter and sprinkle tops with brown sugar using total of 1/4 of a cup.  Bake in oven 15-20 minutes.  Scoop out banana and place in large bowl and discard skins. Set bowl aside.

In a smaller bowl, sift together salt, flour and baking soda.  Then take your bowl with the bananas and add butter, both kinds of sugar, vanilla and eggs.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.

With a wooden spoon, fold in flour mixture in two increments.  When no flour remains, mix in all the toffee bits.

Take two baking sheets and line with parchment paper.  Drop a tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet. Continue with this process, spacing each drop of batter about 1 1/2 inches apart. At this time, you can opt to sprinkle sea salt on top of each.  Then bake in oven for about 9-11 minutes.

This cookie needs turn a little toasty on top, not just brown on the edges.  Remove pan from oven and leave on cookie sheet to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Friday, December 3, 2010

S'more Cookie Bars

We all want s'mores every once in a while, but the weather may be too windy or cold for a big campfire. The next option would be to light a fire inside and roast marshmallows.  No fireplace? Well don't despair, these bars give you the same great flavor combination of marshmallows and chocolate and does not require any fire to be built.

The recipe uses marshmallow cream and I had some on hand.  Since this recipe, I have found out that there is marshmallow cream that you can buy that actually has a toasted flavor. You can find it by clicking here.  I will definitely be using the "toasted" cream next time.

S'more Cookie Bars
adapted from Saveur Magazine 

7 oz jar of marshmallow cream/fluff
2 4-5 oz chocolate bars (milk or dark, your preference)
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch square pan. Take a long piece of parchment paper and line bottom and two parallel sides, leaving an overhang on the sides for handles.  Grease parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together salt, baking powder and flour.  Then whisk in graham cracker crumbs.  Set aside.

Take a large bowl or stand mixer bowl and put it both types of sugars and butter. With an electric mixer, cream together ingredients until fluffy. Then beat in egg and vanilla extract. Set mixer aside.  With a wooden spoon, fold in 1/2 of the flour mixture into the batter until combined.  Repeat with second half of flour.

Once no more flour remains, take dough and split in half.  Using your hands, press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the pan, making sure it is even.  Then place the candy bars in a single layer on top of the dough.

The next layer will be the marshmallow fluff.  Using a spatula, scrap out all the fluff and put in pan.  Taking a wet knife or dampened hands/palms, smooth the fluff evenly over the candy bars. Set pan aside.

Then take a piece of wax paper and place the second half of the dough on top.  Press or roll into an 8 inch square and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.  After freezing, take out square and flip into pan (over the fluff) and peel off wax paper.  Wait 10 minutes for dough layer to soften and then press down to make sure that there is no air between fluff and dough layer.

Bake s'mores for about 30-35 minutes.  They should be a light golden brown when done.  Wait until completely cool before lifting out of pan with parchment handles.  Then cut and serve.   

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

It was about 24 degrees this morning and I was craving apple pie.  However, I opted for something that would fall under the breakfast category. Since these rolls contain apple cider, apple butter and apples-my craving quickly subsided. Plate these up with some hot tea in the morning and the apple lovers in your family will be in the kitchen in no time.

I noticed on the original recipe, the dough called for 10-12 cups of flour and 3 packets of yeast.  This seemed way too much for the recommended pan to use, which was a pie pan.  Dividing the recipe by three resulted in the proper amount of dough. Also these rolls rose high in the pan, so pan with higher sides ( 9 or 10 inch square or round cake pan) works much better.

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from 

3 1/2 tbs butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
1 egg
2/3 tsp salt
3-4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups apple butter
2 apples (finely diced)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs butter (melted)
2 tbs apple cider
4 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup granulated sugar, warm water and yeast.  Set aside for 5 minutes to foam up.  Beat in egg, 3 1/2 tbs melted butter and salt.  Pour into stand mixer bowl and fix mixer with dough hook

With the mixer running on low, slowly add 3 cups of flour.  Once combined, put mixer on medium and add the other cup of flour. Let dough knead in mixer for 4 minutes.  If it still remains sticky after this time add some flour and continue to mix.  Dough should be done when it is smooth and elastic.  It no longer sticks to the bowl. You can do this without a stand mixer, just mix with wooden spoon and knead with your hands for 8 minutes.  Due to the stickiness of the dough, it is best to use a stand mixer if you have one.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. During this time, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and butter a 8 or 9 inch square pan

Once you dough has doubled in size, punch down.  Then place on a well floured surface and roll into a rectangle, about 10x14 inches.  Spread the top side evenly with the apple butter, leaving 1/2 inch border on the bottom length of 14 inches.  Then you will sprinkle on the rest of the filling: diced apples, cinnamon and brown sugar (in that order).  Roll the dough into a 14 inch log.  Cut into 9 pieces, about 1 1/2 inch wide.  Place each piece with the spiral showing into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

While rolls are baking, prepare the icing. Whisk 2 tbs of melted butter with 2 tbs apple cider.  With a mesh sieve or sifter, sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into cider mixture.  Whisk until all is combined.  Continue to add powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency. Pour warm icing over warm rolls just prior to serving.