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Monday, July 28, 2014

Cookie Mania!

Happy Monday everyone! I was very busy this weekend, making cookie boxes for a very special group of people. Check it out:

Chocolate chocolate!
French Sables

From left: chocolate chocolate, strawberry oat bars,
chocolate chip blondies, sables



For the perfect cookie box, be sure to include a variety of flavors; don't be afraid of bar cookies! Mine are all bite-sized to accommodate my receivers. Here are a few interesting recipes to get your creative cooking juices flowing...


Oatella Cookies
Dagmara Kokonas

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 13-ounce jar Nutella
  • 2 cups rolled oats
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the shortening with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the Nutella and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then beat in the oats.
  2. Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are just set; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Immediately transfer the cookies from the pan to racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.
MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies
The Gourmet Cookie Book Conde Naste Publications

Ingredients
For Cookies
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • White and colored sanding sugars
For Filling
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
Special Equipment
  • a heavy-duty sealable bag
Directions
Make Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Beat together butter and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.
  4. Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.
  5. Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.

Make Filling and Sandwich Cookies:
  1. Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to sealable bag and snip off a corner.
  2. Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.
Notes:
  1. The sugared dough balls should be chilled for 30 minutes or frozen for 5 to 10 minutes to help preserve their round shape. Keep the sandwiched cookies chilled.
  2. The unsandwiched cookies keep, in a metal cookie tin, at a cool room temperature for up to 4 days.

 Happy baking!



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherries, Cherries Everywhere!

Happy Hump Day everyone! I've noticed that cherries have been on super sale in the supermarket for the past few weeks - $3.99/lb at A&P and $6.99/lb at Whole Foods - so I think it's time to make use for those cherries before the prices skyrocket! Cherries are really fabulous and freeze very easily, so buy a whole bag and save some for the wintertime. In the meantime, let's do some baking!

Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust
Lori Longbotham

Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Filling
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (about) milk
  • Vanilla ice cream
Directions
For crust:
  1. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Do ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.
For filling:
  1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.
  2. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
  3. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Hand Pies
Kay Chun

Ingredients

  • One 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry, thawed and chilled
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry on parchment paper to a 14-by-12-inch rectangle and cut into eight 3-by-3 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Brush the pastry edges of the rectangles with the beaten egg wash. Mound the filling in the center of each pastry and fold the dough over; press to seal and crimp decoratively. Brush the pies with beaten egg and make a small slit in the top of each one. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden.

Warm Skillet Sour Cherries with Vanilla Ice Cream
Gourmet July 2005

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh or thawed frozen sour cherries, pitted (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch
  • Premium vanilla ice cream
  • Accompaniment: bakery butter cookies
Directions
  1. Rub together sugar and lemon juice in a 12-inch heavy skillet with your fingertips until mixture resembles wet sand. Heat over moderately high heat, swirling skillet slowly, until sugar is melted and pale golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add butter and swirl skillet until incorporated, about 30 seconds (mixture will bubble up). Add cherries, swirling skillet to coat, and bring to a boil (cherries will exude liquid; caramel will harden). Cook cherries, swirling skillet, until caramel is dissolved, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour through a medium-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then return liquid to skillet and boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, then add cherries and kirsch. Return to stove and boil 30 seconds.
  2. Spoon warm cherries into shallow bowls and top with scoops of ice cream.
Cooks' Note: Cherries can be cooked 3 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Bring to a boil just before serving.


Happy baking!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Carrot Cake For Me; Foodie's Delight For You!

Happy Tuesday! Yesterday was my 2nd wedding anniversary with my husband, and I spent the day making our favorite tropical carrot cake (I melt for carrot cake - since I was in the single digits), Chelsea Market-style crab cakes, and some roasted sides. Yum, yum. Check it out:


Crab cakes on our wedding china!

A very tricky tropical carrot cake...
this frosting sure didn't want to play nice!

A delicious 4 layer, extra creamy, extra moist slice!

Hungry yet? I'm always hungry when I look at food. So today I bring you awesome links to where you can find the biggest and smallest food towns. Looks like outrageously fabulous food (and the demand from salivating foodies) is spreading across the country! Grab your car keys and find your closest town.

1. According to my favorite travel guide
2. According to the creators of many, many, MANY, magazines.
3. According to one of my favorite food sources

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tips For a Beautiful Crumb (Cup) Cake

Cooling in the tins
Happy Thursday! I was craving mini cupcakes yesterday, and after consulting my cabinets and refrigerator, I found just the right ingredients for crumb cake! Unfortunately, one of my yummy recipes uses blueberries and I lacked the right fruit. HOWEVER, upon opening my freezer, I found strawberries (too large) and raspberries (perfect!). So I set out to make raspberry crumb cupcake mini muffins. My favorite kind of crumb anything has an excessive amount of crumb topping; the kind that falls off and gets all over the table when you take your first bite.If you're like me and live for the crumbs - you can add them to any yellow cake and transform it into a delicious crumb cake - here's an easy recipe to keep handy for just those purposes. Ready? 1:1:1:1. Easy. In a pinch, mix 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon. Add 1 stick of melted butter, and mix with a fork until all clumpy and glorious. Add to the cake before baking and voila! Super simple. Happy baking!


So small, it's practically criminal to eat just one!

Check out those berries!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Desserts for the Beach Cooler

Happy Tuesday everyone! I'll be taking a relaxing trip to the beach this weekend (weather permitting!), and it got me thinking about what to pack in the cooler. Think individually packed, easy to eat, and all-around delicious. Dream with me, as we make our way to the weekend.

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
Melissa Clark

Ingredients
Cookies

  • 80 grams shredded sweetened coconut flakes (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 330 grams packed dark brown sugar (1 3/4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 190 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 7 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 3 grams baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • 8 grams ground cinnamon (4 teaspoons)
  • 260 grams rolled oats (3 cups)
  • 100 grams dates, pitted and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 65 grams granulated sugar (5 tablespoons)
Filling

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 25 grams confectioner's sugar (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly colored and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool. Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in brown sugar and honey, then beat until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and 1 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon. With the mixer set on low, beat flour mixture into butter mixture until combined. Beat in oats, dates and toasted coconut.
  4. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together granulated sugar and remaining 3 teaspoons (6 grams) cinnamon. Roll heaping tablespoonsful of dough into balls, then roll balls in cinnamon sugar; transfer to baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between dough balls. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the filling: Using the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in mascarpone, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl. Sandwich about 1 tablespoon of filling between two cookies; repeat with the remaining filling and cookies.
Yield: About 36 cookies, for 18 sandwiches



Chewy Fig and Almond Cookie Bars
Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing the baking dish
Crust
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Filling
  • 3 cups dried Mission figs, stemmed (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup unsalted chunky almond butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, see Cook's Note
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Line the bottom with an 8-by-20-inch piece of parchment paper, allowing the excess paper to hang over the sides.
  3. For the crust: Whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat the sugar and butter using an electric hand mixer until combined in a large bowl. Beat in the egg, cream and vanilla until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the mixture forms into clumps. Press the clumps together to form a dough. Knead the dough for 30 seconds and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. For the filling: Place 1/4 cup water, the figs, orange juice, vanilla extract and orange zest in a food processor. Blend until the figs are finely ground, about 2 minutes. Add the almond butter and blend until incorporated. Add the almonds and pulse until combined.
  6. Remove the plastic from the dough and cut in half. Roll out 1 piece of dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle on a well-floured work surface. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise to make 4 equal-size pieces of dough. Transfer the dough pieces to the prepared baking dish using a spatula, and arrange in a single layer. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Spoon the filling onto the dough. Spread the filling evenly over the dough using damp hands. Smooth the top of the filling using a rubber spatula. Roll out the remaining dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut into 4 equal pieces and place on top of the filling, pinching the edges of the dough together to seal. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  7. Using the excess parchment paper as handles, remove and place on a cutting board. Cut the cookie into twenty-four 1 1/2-inch-square pieces and serve.
  8. Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.


M&M Bars
Deb Lindsey

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 slightly rounded tablespoons sour cream (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
  • 12 ounces plain M&M candies (about 2 cups)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan, then line the bottom of it with enough parchment paper so that some of it sticks up/out beyond the two short sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add both sugars; beat on low, then on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream; beat on low speed to incorporate.
  4. Gradually add the sifted ingredients, beating (on low) to form a soft dough. Stir in the M&Ms. Transfer the dough to the pan, patting it in evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake for 25 minutes; the cookie slab should be puffed and slightly golden.
  5. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until just set at the center. Cool completely in the pan. Use a round-edged knife to loosen the edges of the cookie slab, then use the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cookie slab to a cutting board before cutting it into 24 bars.

Happy baking!



Friday, July 4, 2014