Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cookies

I am not a cookie person...At least I'm not a cookie baking kind of person.

You can't stick a toothpick inside to tell if they're done, so I either cook them too long or not enough.

Growing up my mom made cookies, but decorating them meant smearing a little frosting on and then adding sprinkles.  Which was fine.

They tasted great, but would not win awards for looks.  So I'm trying my hand at really decorating cookies.

Can you say time consuming?  Holy Smokes!

They took FOREVER.  And I'm sorry, I just don't like the taste of Royal Icing.

Sure it's amazing stuff.  But taste, is not part of that.  I guess I'll have to experiment with that at some point.

And because this blog SHOULD have been called, "Clutz in the Kitchen" as I was staging my cookies with a tall glass of milk...

 yup, you guessed it...I had to spill it all over everything.

 Did you catch that?  I dumped a FULL glass of ice cold milk all over my cookies, the table, my tripod and the floor.  All before 9AM.

What a great way to start my day.

Mary's Sugar Cookies
From: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 c butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tarter

MIX sugar and butter.  Add egg and flavorings; mix thoroughly.  Stir dry ingredients together and blend in.  Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours (I think I acutally left mine over night.  Though you should cover the bowl.)

PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough in half and toll 3/16 inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut with cooky cutter; sprinkle with sugar (I did NOT do this).  Place on lightly greased baking sheet (on one lined with parchment paper as I did).

BAKE 7 to 8 minutes, or until delicately golden.  Makes about 5 dozen 2-inch cookies.

FROST with your favorite icing.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones

This is a left over kind of recipe.  Let me explain...

This recipe only calls for 3/4 cup of solid packed pumpkin.  But the smallest amount you can buy is 15oz, which is more like 1 3/4 cups of pumpkin puree.  So this is the recipe I make with the left over pumpkin from another recipe I like to make.  Pumpkin Apple Coffee Cake.

The original recipe does not call for chocolate chips, which really is a crime.  So, I added them just to stay out of trouble.

I like to eat these slightly warm, covered in a layer of butter and topped with peanut butter.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones
From Best Ever Cookies by Nestle

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Solid packed pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (this was not in the original recipe - clearly an oversight)

COMBINE flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add chocolate chips to flour mixture, stir to combine.  Combine pumpkin and milk in small bowl
Add to flour mixture; mix until dough forms.

KNEAD dough gently on floured surface 10 to 12 times.  Pat half of dough into one 7-inch circle, cut into 6 to 8 wedges.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Place wedges 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. (I use parchment paper)

BAKE in preheated 450 degree F oven for 12-14 minutes or until light golden in color.  Remove scones to wire rack to cool. Makes 12-16 scones.

 Not bad for left-overs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Coffee Cake

I love brioche.

I wish all bread could have loads of eggs, butter and honey in it.

And maybe pumpkin, cream cheese, sugar and apple slices.

And a layer of streusel topping.

The person that invented streusel topping was a genius!

I mean, it's one of those no-brainers, why didn't I think of that, I love all those things and together they make me want to cry for joy while eating the entire bowl, kind of ideas.

Butter, flour, brown and white sugars, and cinnamon.  How can you go wrong?

This is the combination of three different recipes, but only the best parts of each.  It looks like a lot of work but it's totally worth it.  Trust me.

NOTE:  This dough is EXTREMELY wet.  Most of the dough recipes from this book are.  So, while making this coffee cake you should fully expect to cover all the surfaces in your kitchen with flour, and your hands and all utensils within reach with sticky dough.  It's all part of the fun.  Or at least that's what I tell myself to keep from going crazy.  It really IS worth it.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese filling
From Nestle's Best Ever Cookies
1 cup solid packed pumpkin
3 oz cream cheese softened
2 T. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 medium apple, peeled and thinly sliced.

BEAT cream cheese, pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar in the bowl of mixer until thoroughly combined and smooth.  Set aside.

Streusel Topping
From Baking Illustrated
1/6 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 T. granulated sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1/2 T. unsalted cold butter cut into 6 pieces

COMBINE all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add butter pieces and toss to coat, then using a pastry blender cut in butter to make coarse crumbs.  Chill thoroughly before using.

Stop freaking out over the directions, let's remind ourselves how good brioche coffee cake is, here take a bite of mine.

Brioche dough
From Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day (makes 4 one pound loaves)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 T. Kosher salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

PREPARE pumpkin filling(recipe to follow).  Slice apple and toss with a sprinkling of granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Set each aside.

MIX all ingredients together except for flour in a large lidded but NOT air tight bowl (5-quart bowl so it allows for the dough to rise). Mix in the flour without kneading using a spoon or sturdy spatula.  The dough will be loose (extremely wet) but will firm up when chilled; don't try to work with it before chilling. (You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished products.)

COVER (but not air-tight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

REFRIGERATE in lidded (but not air-tight) container and use over the next 5 days.  Beyond 5 days freeze the dough in 1-pound portions wrapped in a layer of plastic, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.

On BAKING day, liberally dust surface of dough and cut off a 1-pound portion (about the size of a cantaloupe).  Roll dough into rectangle shape 1/8 inch thickness on a liberally floured surface (this dough a extremely wet which allows it to stay fresh for 5 days in the fridge).

Spread 3/4 of the filling down the middle 1/3 of the rectangular dough.  Cut 1-inch wide strips down each side, using a pizza cutter.  Fold the strips, left over right, crisscrossing over the filling, creating a braid.  Cover the top of the braid with remaining pumpkin mixture.  Allow braid to rest for 40 minutes.

PREPARE streusel topping while preheating oven to 375 degrees F and allowing braid to rest.  Sprinkle topping over pumpkin on top of braid.  Place on cookie sheet in the center of the oven and BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes.  Place on wire rack to cool slightly; serve warm.

Go ahead and ask me to marry you, I know you'll want to.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

French Chocolate Ice Cream Perfection

This is the BEST. chocolate. ice-cream. ever.

It's brown silk in my mouth.

I'm in love.

Even though it was my anniversary, I just want to be with this chocolatey bowl of heaven.  Sorry honey, you've been replaced.  I've found another.  My new lover doesn't mind that I'm going to gain an extra 50 pounds.

If you don't currently own an ice-cream maker I would highly recommend you run right out and buy one, just so you can make this chocolate ice-cream.  It's just that good.

French Chocolate Ice-cream
From the Deni Ice-cream maker instruction manual
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
1 1/2 T. mint extract (which I omitted)
2 cups cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Beat milk and egg yolks together.
  2. Blend in sugar.
  3. In a saucepan, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and gently sift cocoa and add mint (if you're into that sort of thing) into the egg mixture.
  5. Cool, then add cream and vanilla.
  6. Mix well and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Follow standard freezing instructions for your ice-cream maker.

What a great way to start the day.  Who says ice-cream is just for dessert?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn is Apple Season

I love this time of year.  The air changes and the breezes get cooler.  The nights are chilly but many of the days are warm.  The trees put on their fancy clothes...cloaking themselves in brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange.  Shuffling through the fallen leaves that have blanketed the ground.  Turning on the oven to bake up something hardy and filling is a welcome change to the heat of the summer.

Yup, this is definitely my favorite time of year.  And what better way to celebrate the arrival of autumn than with Apples!  Apple slices for snacking, apple cider for sipping and apple crisp to finish off a bright autumn day.

Apple crisp is such a simple dish to prepare.  Apple slices peeled and sprinkled with sugar and topped with a mixture of oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and some spice.  Bake it for a half hour or so and then enjoy!  I got my recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  The first one I made was gone that night, so I made up another one the next day for us to enjoy a little longer.  Served warm and paired with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice-cream, this is pure joy in my mouth.

Layers of apples and topping.
Pick up a bag of apples at your local orchard today and start enjoying autumn!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler seems like one of those comforting desserts.  There's something very homey about it.  The sweet fruit filling with a dumpling like topping conjure images of country living.  I modified a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook by increasing the peaches, sugar and cinnamon.  And the proof is in the tasting, my version is just right for my tastebuds.  I stumbled upon the combination of cinnamon and peaches a little while back and have paired the two ever since.

Recently I received a free copy of Cook's Country magazine and on the front cover was Texas-Style Fruit Cobbler.  It never occurred to me that different parts of the country might make cobbler in a different way.  I know, very narrow minded of me.  I was tempted to try this new version but liked my current method so much that I passed, this time.  But there's always next summer.  Here's how my cobbler looked a few wks ago when I made it fresh.  Yum!  Enjoy.

Fresh peach cobbler.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fashion Runway Cupcakes

Jewelry and makeup cup cake toppers for a Fashion Runway birthday party.

When someone has a birthday theme of fashion runway...What comes to mind besides freakishly skinny models with waky hair and clothing that you'd never be caught dead in public wearing?

Yeah, me to.  I was at a loss at first.  So then I had to think fashion...And my friend Megan immediately comes to mind when I hear the word fashion.  And I think of high-heeled shoes, designer handbags, jewlery, lipstick and nail polish.  I went with the last three in that list; jewelry, lipstick and nail polish.  Turns out I should have stuck with the makeup for a little girls birthday party...but making jewelry was a good experience.  Plus I got to buy and use my first mold.  Which was not as easy as I thought it would be.  Well, everything is a learning experience.