thumbring cookie

Jelly Filled Meltaway Thumbprint Cookies

There are three secret family recipes my mom told me to never to share on my blog. 1. Her meatball recipe. I don’t even know her meatball recipe. 2. Crostini (Its ...

3donunts

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts

Please meet the chocolate doughnut…. Hot, fresh, cakey, crunchy… smothered in chocolatey goodness….. And the cinnamon sugar doughnut… rolled and dunked in sweet sugar and spicy cinnamon.. Or how about ...

sticky buns

Mini Pecan Sticky Buns and Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I have been in a sugar coma since about 3 o’clock yesterday. Actually I don’t even know if you can call it a sugar coma. Its more like sugar dependency. ...

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

 

So I decided to beat my willpower to the punch today and ignore my new years resolution.

Cut back on sugar? Aren’t goals supposed to be realistic? I think I was reaching too far… I think I’ll aim for less sugar before noon. Or at least not with breakfast.

I decided to compromise and bake this yummy Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snack Cake. Did you catch those last couple words? SNACK cake. Doesn’t that kind of give you permission to treat that cake like a granola bar? But seriously. Who just ‘snacks’ on cake. Maybe that will be my new resolution. I’ll ‘snack’ more.

This recipe came from a new cookbook I got this Christmas from my aunt. She has this amazing knack for finding the best baking books for me. The concept of the book is almost as delicious as the recipes. Lauren Chattman (the author) wrote Cake Keeper Cakes with the intention to develop only easy and humble cakes that were quick and delicious. Rather than cakes being reserved only for special occasions, she wanted to remind of us that cakes can be simple (and delicious) enough to keep around everyday.

Cookies have gotten all of the glory over the past decades. She’s trying to push over the chocolate chips and bring in the bundt cakes.

I love her story- she was inspired by a little cake keeper she saw at gourmet shop by her house. Her mission was to have a cake keeper at home that she would always keep filled with some new kind of delicious snacking cake. I loved the idea of always having some new yummy aroma baking in the kitchen all week.

I told my mom I wanted to do this…

I think I got an eye roll.

(some people are actually trying to keep their new years resolutions. oops.)

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8 whole graham crackers, finely ground (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff

Preparation:

To Make the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.
  2. Combine graham crackers, flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Cream butter in sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed. With the mixer on low add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and beat until smooth.
  4. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour and milk, ending with the last 1/3 of flour.
  5. Scrape batter into pan and smooth top. 
  6. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Place butter in a medium bowl and cream until smooth. With the mixer on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the vanilla and the Fluff and mix until smooth. Use immediately or keep covered in plastic wrap in the frig for up to 3 days.

Store cake at room temperature in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars

So whoever decided that Rice Crispy Treats adds should only be targeted towards kids was totally wrong.

Same with Cocoa Puffs and Cinnamon Toast crunch.

Why should only toddlers and pre-teens get to enjoy the sweet crunch of deliciously processed sugar cereal? Trix are not just for kids!

What they really need to do is run an add that shows adults sneaking Captain Crunch at 2 in the morning. Or stashing sandwich baggies of Cocoa Puffs in their glove compartments for the morning drive to work. And what about the broke college kid who eats Cheerios for breakfast, lunch and dinner??

This is their real audience!

I found these Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars in the Baked cookbook and instantly fell in love. These are Rice Crispy Treats…. all grown up. And sooooo much better.

I slightly altered the recipe to use semisweet chocolate instead of dark (I like a sweeter chocolate when I work with peanut butter, if you prefer a more bitter bite definitely substitute in dark, both are great).

These bars are rich, smooth, and crunchy all in one. And did I mention super easy? The hardest part is doing nothing while you wait for them to set in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Bars

(Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer:
  • 5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (make sure you coarsely chop or they will not melt correctly)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the Chocolate Icing:
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preparation:
To make the crispy crust
  1. Lightly spray a paper bowl with cooking spray and rub into bottom and sides of 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. Put cereal in bowl and set aside.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan and add sugar and corn syrup (be careful not to get any sugar or corn syrup on sides of saucepan when you pour them in). Use a small wooden spoon to mix until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in saucepan and cover over over medium-high heat until thermometer reads 235 degrees.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir. Quickly pour mixture over cereal and mix until thoroughly coated. Use your hands to pat cereal into bottom of pan. Let cool while you make the next layer.
Make the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer
  1. In a large bowl stir together chocolate and peanut butter. Set over a pot of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatular until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and stir 30 seconds to cool slightly.
  3. Pour over cooled crust and smooth.
  4. Put pan in refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm.
Make the Chocolate Icing
  1. In a large bowl combine chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
  2. Set over a pot of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and stir for 30 seconds to slightly cool.
  4. Pour over chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and place back in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until the top hardens.
Store in an airtight container in the frig for up to 4 days.










Quick Mini Pizza Appetizers with Arugula, Peppers, and Prosciutto

Happy 2012!

Well… almost.

Can you believe its already been another year? I keep accidentally typing 2010 for some reason. I’m a little behind. I literally almost sent out a resume yesterday that said December 2010. And the first line under my ‘skill’ section says “detail oriented…”

I’m excited for New Years Eve though! As a kid we’d always work it up and make NYE into a huge deal. We’d all sneak like a half of beer from our parents, buy some cheap party hats… and then realize that nobody’s parents wanted to host a bunch of teenagers. But not anymore! O the perks of being older and slightly more mature. A bunch of us are renting a trolley this year and going all over Chicago with a last stop at Navy Pier for the fireworks.

So with all of the fun festivities going on this weekend who wants to waste time slaving in the kitchen… again. Wasn’t it just Christmas??

That’s why these Mini Pizzas are awesome for a New Years appetizer. They’re super easy to make and only need just a few common ingredients.

I swear you can do these pizzas in basically 4 steps. And the first one involves cracking open a can.

I used store bought pizza dough to cut some serious time (even though I love making homemade dough). But you can definitely make your own if you get ambitious. Nothing beats homemade dough but in a pinch store bought is a great alternative.

*Note- I like to use San Marzano tomatoes for my sauce, they really do make a huge difference with the flavor. You can find these at pretty much any grocery store.

Mini Pizzas with Arugula, Roasted Pepper, and Prosciutto

Makes 15 mini pizzas
Ingredients:
5 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. pizza dough, preferably whole wheat, thawed if frozen
1 14-1/2-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained (preferably San Marzano)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lightly packed arugula, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers (rinsed if jarred)
1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and move racks to the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets with 2 teaspoons oil.

1. Lightly coat a large bowl with 1 tsp. of the oil. Place dough in the bowl, cover loosely, and let sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

2. Put the tomatoes, oregano, garlic, 2 tsp. of the oil, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse to make a chunky sauce.

3. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 3 equal parts; you’ll have twelve 1-oz. pieces of dough. (Alternatively, use a scale to divide the dough.) Shape each piece of dough into a 3-inch round and put on the baking sheets.

4. Spread about 1 Tbs. of the sauce over each dough round, leaving a little border around the edge for the crust. Top each with arugula, then some strips of pepper and prosciutto. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmigiano on top.

*Goat Cheese and Pesto Variation: substitute store bought pesto, goat cheese, and jarred peppers (shown in picture below)

5. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is browned, 12 to 14 minutes, swapping the pans’ positions about halfway through for even baking. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and serve.


Calories: 140, Fat: 5 grams

Adapted from Fine Cooking, pizza sauce recipe by Ellie Krieger

Nutella Swirl Poundcake

I LOVE Nutella. Nutella cookies, Nutella cake, Nutella frosting, Nutella ice-cream, Nutella on toast, Nutella anything!

And to think… somehow I survived without ever experiencing this stuff until my junior year of college.

That year I was lucky enough to get to study abroad in Rome, Italy. It was an absolutely amazing trip (and not a bad change of scenery from the cornfields at the University of Illinois?)

Nutella was absolutely EVERYWHERE in Rome. It was like their peanut butter. Every bakeshop had Nutella cookies; gelaterias had Nutella gelato, and every sidewalk vendor, grocery store or vending machine had jars upon jars of the stuff.

Nutella Cookies!

You know how we have those little cheese and breadstick snack packs in the states? The kind your mom would give you as a kid to go to school with.. and then you’d trade for a bag of chips or oreos? Well they had cookie sticks with NUTELLA. Genius! And why are Italians so skinny again?

So now every time I see a jar of Nutella I always think of Italy. I’ve been back a couple times now and I swear it gets more beautiful every time. If everyone could just live like they were in Italy and wake up next to ancient buildings and eat homemade pasta and go to work at 10 in the morning the world would be a much happier place.

Here’s a couple of my favorite pictures I took while over there!

Little house in a town outside Pescara

Cinque Terre

Pretty buildings on one of the Five Cities

This one’s so small because we took it with an iPhone. I got to take a cooking class with Diane Seed, a really amazing Italian chef. We made the best pesto pasta yumm

Eating Nutella Gelato in Rome!

The Coliseum at Night

These awesome guitarists playing outside a church in Sienna

My mom, dad and I with our friends who live in Pescara

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake


Ingredients: 

4 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and dust with flour.

2. Combine eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and lightly beat. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl at medium-high sped until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

5. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. After the last addition mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.

6. Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan and smooth with a spatula. Spread 1/2 the jar of Nutella over the batter and smooth with a clean spatula. Scrape another 1/3 of the batter on top. Scrape the remaining Nutella on top and smooth. Spread the remaining batter over the Nutella and smooth. Run a butter knife blade through the batter to create marbling. Do not over mix.





7. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Store in a cake stand or wrap in plastic at room temperature for up to 3 days.



Merry (after) Christmas!

I hope you all had a great holiday! I know I did. I just woke up from a solid 12 hours of  happy recuperation.

Yesterday we had the whole family over for Christmas. My mom has been making Christmas dinner since I was a baby and it’s always soooo good! We had beef tenderloin, turkey stuffed with cranberry stuffing, spinach gratin, roasted balsamic vegetables, fresh bakery rolls, salad, two kinds of mashed potatoes….and I haven’t even gotten to the desert spread yet.

I always bake all of the deserts (this year I did 8 kinds of cookies and a new delicious chocolate cream pie, I definitely got the ‘make way too much food’ Italian gene from my mom).

(This is a pic of my desert spread in our dining room. I love jazzing it up with little Christmas lights and garland.)

(If you want some of these recipes I have these Chewy Sugar Cookies, Jam Thumbprint Meltaways, and Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies posted here, just click on the link!)

But what I really want to brag about is my turkey roulade with cranberry stuffing. There are really few things that freak me out, but for some reason prepping a turkey is like handing me a tarantula and telling me not to move for an hour. But chicken? no big deal. Beef? I’m fine. Fish? Who cares. But turkey. gross. Its something about the skin and its little dangling legs…

But by a Christmas miracle I conquered my totally rational fear of raw turkey and baked an awesome new roulade recipe. It’s from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. I’ve found a couple really great recipes out of her cookbook. She takes classic and simple home recipes and makes them healthier with easy substitutions.

(My mom and aunt)

So Christmas was a success! Lots of fun, too much food, and my whole family. I wanted to post this awesome Chocolate Cream Pie recipe I made yesterday but I forgot to take pictures! I took them of the prep, but I completely forgot to take one before we all dug into it (and there’s no leftovers for me to take a picture of now either! That’s how yummy this one was…). It’s from the Sono Baking Company Cookbook. This cookbook has yet to fail me (and I”m sure it never will). After I recover from my sugar coma from the past few days I’ll try and make it again to show you all because it was yummmmmmy. Sorry…

(My two brothers and our close friends at their house celebrating the holiday)

This year my mom’s brother’s family brought their new cavalier king charles spaniel puppies! My dog’s the one on the left and she is the biggest wuss EVER. These little one year old pups would back my brave little dog into the corner and wag their adorable tails at her while Tory (my dog) would get this ‘holy crap’ look on her face and wait for someone to rescue her. Being a guard dog is clearly not in her future.

(My dad and I after we cut down our Christmas tree. We’re so hardcore….)

 

Hope you all a great one! More recipes to come…. 


Chocolate Chip Brownie Double Deckers

This recipe just helped answer one of the world’s most burning questions…

And no, I don’t mean how to rid world hunger or why the Kardashians have more viewers than Oprah.

This is bigger.

Do I take the brownie or the cookie from the dessert tray?

Answer:  Both… and at the same time!

Yes, America, bigger is better. These bars are two layers of  yummy fudgy brownie and chewy chocolate chip cookie. The two batters come together in a deliciously rich and tender bar.

I made my brownie layer from scratch but you can definitely pull out your favorite boxed mix and cut your time in half.

Also, the great thing about making bar cookies is that they are fast. You don’t have to worry about spooning individual balls of dough and baking tray after tray of cookies. Especially with Christmas so close, the less time in the kitchen the better!

If your in search of some super quick cookie recipes, also try my Chewy Sugar Cookies, Jam Meltaway Thumbprints, or Double Chocolate Cookies. These all mix up in only one or two bowls and have just a few easy steps.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Brownie Double Deckers

(from The Weekend Baker, by Abby Dodge)

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Chip layer:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Brownie Layer:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and position rack to the middle rung. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan

To Make the Chocolate Chip Layer 

  1. Put butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Take pan off heat and whisk in brown sugar until no lumps remain. Set aside to cool while you make the brownie layer

To Make the Brownie Layer

  1. Put butter in medium saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Take pan off heat and add cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar and salt and whisk until blended.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the chocolate mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just blended.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Set aside while you finish the chocolate chip layer.

To Finish the Chocolate Chip Layer

  1. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla to the cooled butter mixture and whisk until blended.
  3. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop the dough over the brownie batter in large scoopfuls and spread with a rubber spatula. Be careful to evenly drop batter across brownie layer because it gets difficult to spread.
  5. Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with small, gooey clumps of brownie sticking to it. Do not over bake or they won’t be fudgy.
  6. Cool completely before cutting.

Adapted from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge

How to Bake Perfect Cookies in 6 Simple Steps

Say good-bye to flat cookies!

Adios to ugly ones!

And hello to evenly baked!

It’s officially the week before Christmas! This means LOTS of cookie baking, party planning and gift wrapping. With so much going on this week the last thing you want to worry about is having to re-bake a batch of burnt or flat cookies!

I’ve come up with six easy tips to keep the happy in ‘happy holidays’ without the fuss of messy cookies!

1. Check your oven temperature.

If your oven isn’t accurate, your baking time isn’t accurate. You can follow a recipe absolutely perfectly, but if your oven isn’t the right temperature you might botch the baking time.

This is super easy to fix. Just put an oven thermometer in your oven and set the oven temp to 350 degrees. When your oven shows that its preheated to 350, check the oven thermometer inside the oven to see if it also reads 350. If your oven is off just compensate by adjusting your oven to either cooler or warmer to match the oven thermometer.

-For example, if your oven says its at 350 degrees but your oven thermometer reads 400, you need to adjust your oven temperature by decreasing the heat to 300. Now your oven is truly at 350 degrees when you bake.

2. Do not over-soften your butter.

I know its tempting to throw your butter into the microwave when a recipe calls for butter at ‘room temperature’. I do it too! Its hard to remember to take butter out of the fridge in the morning on days you need to bake. Just be careful! Very careful.

You don’t want to accidentally heat the butter to the point where any of it is melted into a liquid. When you ‘over-soften’ butter it messes with the consistency of the cookie. Melted butter hinders sugar from creating air pockets- thus fluffy cookies. Instead you get a denser, flatter cookie.

The best way to do is this the hard way- remember to take the butter out in the morning if you’re baking in the afternoon. But we’re all tech savvy by now, right? Just set a cellphone alarm…or write it on your hand.

OR soften the butter VERY slowly in the microwave. I always turn the heat percentage on my microwave down to 10% and soften for 10 seconds, rotating the butter stick halfway through. Repeat until you can can press a soft indent with your finger onto the top of the stick.

3. When a recipe says ‘cream the butter until light and fluffy’… do it. 

Creaming the butter is what creates air pockets in the dough and gives you that fluffy consistency (notice how this all goes together… you need well softened butter to cream the butter right). This usually takes one to a few minutes to do. You’ll know when its done when your dough’s color lightens and the batter looks softer and lighter.

4. Use an ice-cream scoop to spoon your cookies onto the baking sheet.

This ensures your cookies are all the same size. Same size cookie dough equals consistent cookies! This way you don’t end up with half your cookies burnt and the other half undercooked. Also, your cookies will be b-ea-u-ti-ful! The scoop makes uniform balls that bake into even and pretty circular cookies. Check out my Jam Thumbprint Cookies to see an example.

(You can get these at pretty much any kitchenware store, Target, Wal-mart, etc. I got mine at Williams-Sonoma)

5. Invest in some silicone baking mats. 

I know its kind of a pain in the butt, but seriously these are awesome. You get even cookies that don’t stick to the pan… EVER. So oo worth it. If you don’t feel like splurging now, just wait for the sales after Christmas and pick up a couple for next year. I use these every time I bake cookies and I’ve never had to mess with a cookie stuck to my pan since!

(You can buy these at any kitchen ware store, I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma)

6. Rotate your baking sheets halfway through the baking time. 

Even if you just bought the newest more tricked out oven, chances are the heat is not always even throughout. To compensate just rotate your baking sheets halfway through so all cookies are baked at the same temperature. This way you won’t have burnt cookies in the back and perfectly cooked ones in the front.

Follow these easy tips and start drinking those cranberry cocktails for fun! And not because you just burnt the ninth batch of sugar cookies…

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring three things with me I would choose Ryan Gosling, sun tan lotion, and these Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich cookies.

Actually I might just scratch the first two and only bring my sandwich cookies. Then I wouldn’t have to share.

One of my favorite Christmas cookies my mom and I bake every year is this classic chewy peanut butter cookie with a hershey’s kiss on top. You all know this one, right? It’s on the back of the hershey’s kiss bag. I swear you can find some of the best recipes on the back of food packages. Nestle tollhouse cookies? YUM. Quaker oatmeal cookies? Libby’s pumpkin pie??

But sometimes even a classic needs a little facelift.

These peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies take the best food combo in the world – PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE and somehow magically make them even better. Ridiculously better. Obsessively better.

These are soft peanut butter cookies with smooth semisweet chocolate filling smushed in-between them. It’s such a simple combo, but the balance of texture and flavor is out of this world.

And! As if these couldn’t get any better…. these are so easy to make. The peanut butter cookie is only 5 ingredients, mixed in only 1 bowl! Also, you can freeze the rolled balls of dough before baking for up to a month so you can make a batch now and have them all ready to go to bake for Christmas.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Filling:

10 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Preparation:

For the Cookies:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line four cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.

2. In a large bowl beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, and baking soda on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on low speed until just blended, about 25 seconds.

3. Shape level  1/2 tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter. Arrange the balls 1-1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Do not press down. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed and crackled but still moist-looking, about 11 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, move the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

For the Chocolate Filling:

Melt the chocolate and the butter in the microwave or in a medium heatproof bowl set in a skillet with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool and slightly thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.

How to Assemble the Sandwiches:Turn half of the cooled cookies over so they are flat side up. Spoon 1 tsp. of the chocolate filling onto the center of each cookie. Top with the remaining cookies, flat side down. Press gently on each cookie to spread the filling almost to the edge. Set on the rack until the filling is firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Yields about 60 sandwich cookies.

Note* I made these cookies half the size as the original recipe calls for. Because they are so decadent I liked these better as smaller cookies. If you would like to make larger ones just use a 1 tablespoon measure to form the balls of dough and use 2 teaspoons of chocolate filling instead of 1 teaspoon.

Nutrition per sandwich cookie; Calories: 125, Fat:8

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

So every year my family and a bunch of our other family friends have a “Santa Brunch” at one of our local restaurants. We’ve been going there for forever since I can remember. The restaurant is decked out in Christmas decorations and they have the absolute best Mrs. Clause ever. This lady’s been doing it since I was a toddler and I swear she’s the real deal.

It was a really great afternoon, lots of good food and great friends. The only one missing was our puppy, Tory….

Again, she’s really not the sharpest crayon in the box. She knows that she’s not supposed to drag her bed out of her kennel (for some reason she always does that). The beds like 5 times her size and she drags it around like a toddler and his blankey.

So when we got home she had dragged it out of her kennel… around the corner… and was trying to pull this gigantic bed (about 3ft x 5ft) through a 1 1/2 foot gate door. Seriously. Like trying to hide it in our basement while we were gone. It was too cute! She just sat there in front of her mess wagging her tail.

But now for more important things! Like snickerdoodle cupcakes! I love this recipe because its such a fun update on a classic cookie. Everyone always bakes snickerdoodle cookies so I thought it’d be fun to try something new.

The cake is soft and moist with warm hints of cinnamon sugar. They’re topped with a light whipped sugar frosting and dusted in more cinnamon. Very pretty!

I made mini cupcakes in addition to the full sized and actually liked them better as the smaller version. Not only are smaller cupcakes better for get togethers when you have a couple different kinds of desserts available, they also let the pop of cinnamon shine when you just take a couple bites. I think the flavor got a little lost in the bigger version.

Also, don’t get intimated by the frosting! I used to get nervous whenever a recipe would call for using a ‘candy thermometer’. I always thought that it just made the recipe way too complicated. Just the opposite! This recipe is very quick and very simple. Just clip the thermometer to your pot and wait for the mixture to reach 230 degrees and then remove from heat. No worrying about keeping it at a constant temperature or having to work super quickly to not burn your ingredients. Very easy!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

2. Cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

3.  Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

4. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

5. To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

 Frosting:

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Yields 28 regular cupcakes, or 64 mini cupcakes


Adapted from marthastewart.com

Jelly Filled Meltaway Thumbprint Cookies

There are three secret family recipes my mom told me to never to share on my blog.

1. Her meatball recipe. I don’t even know her meatball recipe.

2. Crostini (Its this amazing cheesy spread with green onion and bacon you melt over toasted baguette slices YUM)

3. And….Jam Meltaway Thumbprint Cookies.

oops.

We’ve been making these for the Holidays for as long as I can remember. Our family friends do this thing every Christmas where we all swap cookie plates of our favorite homemade cookies. Everyone is always dying waiting for these to come around.

These butter cookies are deliciously soft and delicate; little yummy pillows of sugary goodness topped with a sweet taste of tart strawberry jam.

And as if these couldn’t get any better….they’re also probably the easiest cookies I’ve ever made. They’re so simple; just creamed butter and sugar with some egg and flour. Roll and top with jam and done!

Just be careful. These are addicting. One is never enough. Neither is two… or three..


Jelly Filled Meltaways

Ingredients:

- 2 sticks of butter

- 1/2 cup sugar

- 1 egg yolk

- 2 cups presifted unbleached flour

-preserves of your choice ( I like strawberry or apricot)

-confectioners’ sugar

Preparation:

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees

2. Cream butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.

3. Add egg yolk and flour. Mix well.

4. Form dough into small balls. Indent center of cookie and fill with preserves Bake for 10-12 minutes.

5. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar

Adapted from Noteworthy

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