Monday, December 26, 2011

Reindeer Cookies

As we were going through the cookie cutters to make our cookies for Santa Will came across the giant lobster cutter.  I have never had an excuse to make lobster cookies and now that I see them as silly reindeer I might never make them.

This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe.  The cookies are nice and soft and are sweet without being too sweet.  I like to double the recipe and break it into 4 portions, so there is always some in the freezer ready to bake off.

Sugar Cookies
(from Martha Stewart) - Printer Ready

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-inch one-piece-shaped cookie cutter. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, put in  freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.  Bake until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.

The cookies the kids made for Santa.
Merry Christmas!
Check out more wonderful cookies at the Secret Recipe Club Cookie swap:
Secret Recipe Club Cookie Party

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buche de Noel Trifle

This cake was just not meant to be.  I think my excitement at having my Mom's birthday cake ready by the time she came down for a visit and the fact that I would finally be posting my Cake Slice cake on time jinxed the whole process.

I should have known to step away from this cake when I broke a half dozen eggs, but no I just went to the store and bought more.  Over baking the cake should have been another sign, or when the cake broke apart while rolling it, but no I just carried on.  By the time I messed up the filling it was too late to turn back.

So instead of a Chocolate Hazelnut Buche de Noel birthday cake my Mom received a Chocolate Cherry trifle.   While it wasn't the look I was going for it was very tasty.  

This ended up not resembling Tish Boyle's Chocolate Hazelnut cake in the least bit.   I used her cake and buttercream recipes, but that was it.  The trifle consisted of chocolate sponge cake, with a rum glaze and chocolate fudge cream layered between buttercream sprinkled with dried cherries and almonds.  .

To see what this month's cake slice bakers cake was supposed to look like, check out the other bakers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Swap

I love cookies swaps.  We had great cookie swap parties at the office where I use to work, but it has been a couple of year since I have been to a really good one.  The last one I went to most of the cookies were purchased at local bakeries which I found very disappointing.

This year I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Exchange, and knew I wouldn't be disappointed.  It was hosted by Lindsay and Julie and over 600 bloggers participated each sending a dozen cookies to 3 other bloggers.

My family quickly devoured the cookies.  It was as if they had planned their mailings as we had just finished one batch when the next arrived.
  • Our first batch came from Jessica  -My Kitchen Adventures - she sent one of her family's favorites - "Melting Moments" and some wonderful peppermint Fudge.
  • Next, from Sofie - The German Foodie, we received "Mami's Hazelnut Shortbread" which is an amazing cookie made from an old German recipe.  
  • Then came a batch of delicious Peppermint Mocha Chocolate Chip cookies from Brookie at Baking with Basil.

All of the cookies were delicious and as I said quickly devoured, which is why I have no pictures of them.

On my end I made Black Forest Crinkle Cookies, which went to The Dainty ChefGreens and Chocolate, and Kudos Kitchen .

These are a super simple chocolate cookie and since there you don't need to use a mixer are great to make with kids.  Edy worked with me on this project and actually taught me that to get the best results you need to really coat the cookies in powdered sugar.  When I roll cookies in sugar I do a quick roll, when a two year old does it, it is a much more thorough process and yields much better results.  So if you don't have the pleasure of having a two year old assist you, just think like a two year - more is better.

Black Forest Crinkle Cookies
(recipe from Cuisine at Home)
Printer Ready

¾ cup All-purpose Flour
¾ cup Sugar
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Butter
⅓ cup Cocoa Powder (not Dutch process)
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Coffee (or 1 tsp instant coffee granules mixed w/ 2 Tbsp. hot water)
⅓ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
⅓ cup Dried Tart Cherries
¾ cup Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350°, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl, set aside.  In a small bowl melt butter in microwave.  Once melted add cocoa powder to butter and whisk until combined.  Add egg, coffee and vanilla, mix until combined.  Add butter mixture to flour, mixing until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.  

Shape into 2” balls.  Roll balls in powdered sugar, place on to prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2” apart.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, cookies will be cracked and soft - do not over bake.  Let cookies cool 5 minutes on tray, then transfer to cooling racking.  

Not sure how it happened, but the cookies got out of the house before I got a picture of the finished product.  Guess I will have to make them again!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ginger Scones

I was talking about this recipe last night and had such a craving for it that I decided to make it this morning, with the help of my youngest chef.  I first had these a couple of years ago while visiting my brother and sister-in-law, She makes some of the best scones, in fact I didn't make these for a long time because I didn't want to ruin my memory of how good they were.

These are a basic scone recipe, so if you aren't a ginger lover you can easily substitute the crystal ginger with your favorite filling - blueberry, cranberry, chocolate chips the options are endless.


Ginger Scones
Printer Ready

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
2 cups All purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven 425°
Cut butter into ¼” cubes, or smaller, place in freezer while preparing rest of ingredients.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder and sugar.  Toss to combine.  Using a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently combine the dry ingredients and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.  Add heavy cream and mix until the dough begins to form.  Pour mixture out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until mixture forms a sticky ball.  Pat into a flat circle, sprinkle ginger on top, fold in half and pat back into circle.  Cut into 8 wedges and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are a light brown.  Cool completely.

In microwave melt chocolate chips.  Dip ends of scones in chocolate or drizzle chocolate on top.

Monday, December 5, 2011

SRC - Pear Spice Bread

It is Secret Recipe Club time again and this month I would like to introduce you to Sara at Cupcake Muffin.   Her site is filled with wonderful recipes and it was hard to pick one recipe.  To make the decision making process easier I decided I would make whatever she was she made this time last year.  Even narrowing it down to one month's worth or recipes it was still a hard choice.  She had one of my favorite things, "everything in the fridge soup", it sounded tempting, but I decided to go with her Pear Pecan Spice Bread  

I love quick breads they are easy to make and are a wonderful gift.  I often make a few batches to give as gifts at Thanksgiving time and had planned on doing that again this year.  When I came across Sara's recipe I still hadn't decided what to make this year so I was thrilled to be able to give this recipe a try.  I didn't get around to making the bread until the day before we were leaving for Thanksgiving.  I had a lot of baking to do that day and this was the last thing I made.  Unfortunately my final product showed that I was tired and unfocused when I made this.  

As I was pouring the bread into the pans it didn't look right I thought it was because I had used whole wheat flour and for some reason I don't always get good results when cooking with whole wheat.  I had also added more pear and pecan than called for and thought that might be effecting the batter as well.  I decided to sample the bread before wrapping it up and presenting it as a gift.  And, good things I did, as it turns out what made the batter look funny was the fact I had forgotten to add the sugar.  

The bread was still super flavorful and I could tell if the sugar had been added the loaves would have been gobbled up.  We still managed to eat one loaf, by toasting the slices and covering them in butter and cinnamon sugar.  This was super yummy, but the bread still needed a little sweetness.   The remaining loaves I stuck in the freezer and will use at Christmas to make stuffing.  I am very excited about this as I didn't get to make any stuffing for Thanksgiving.  

Here is Sara's recipe for the Pear Pecan bread, give it a try.  I recommend adding the sugar, but if you forget it it is still super flavorful.  

Pear-Pecan Spice Bread
Printer Ready

(from Cupcake Muffin)

Makes 1 loaf, or 4 small

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
1 cup peeled, grated very, very ripe pear
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup peeled, diced pear

Note: You'll need 2-3 large pears for the grated and diced pear combined.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with oil.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom.  Add the pecans and toss to combine.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, egg white, sugar, grated pear, and vanilla.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in the diced pears, again until just combined.
4. Scrape the batter into the oiled pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a tester comes out clean.