Monday, February 13, 2012

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Soft sugar cookies

You know those soft sugar cookies you buy in the grocery store? The ones that are always placed right at the front door so you see them as soon as you walk in the store. They are never on the shopping list, but they just look so cute and soft and yummy and because you have to make them feel wanted, you take them home. Know which ones I am talking about now. Well, don't worry, I have a solution for you. Skip them. You don't need them. Ignore the looks they are giving you and the onset of cravings that strike the minute you see them. These cookies, these soft sugar cookies, are so much better.

soft sugar cookies

It doesn't take long at all to make these and you can put whatever color of frosting and sprinkles you want on them. You can make them red and green for Christmas, pink and red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patty's Day or the colors of your favorite football team. I chose pink and blue. I chose those colors, because dear readers, I have been keeping a secret from you. We are so happy and excited to announce to that we are having a baby!!! I have been keeping this secret for awhile as we are 18 weeks! We find out in just a few weeks if we are team blue or pink. When we ate the cookies we couldn't pick which one so we would eat half of one and half of the other!

soft cookies

Just a note, when I make these next time, I will make them smaller. They were just a bit big and we cut most of them in half. Enjoy!!

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Printer friendly recipe
Source: Sing For Your Supper

For the cookies:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7-8 tablespoon milk (plus more, as needed)
Food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set (do not over bake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all). Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use a spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable). Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container. Makes 2 dozen large cookies.



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate and Carmel Cookies

Chocolate carmel cookies

This month, Melissa of I Was Born to Cook gave us a snow day treat challenge for What's Baking. We have not had that much snow this winter, which I am not complaining about at all! When the snow plow and shovel gets to stay in the garage, I think thats a great winter day!

When it does snows I like to stay inside, get cozy, drink hot chocolate and munch on cookies all day. Nothing goes with hot chocolate like a chocolate cookie! I love the double dose of chocolate. These cookies have a wonderful chocolate flavor as well as little bits of carmel. They are serious delicious. I could not stop eating them and have been craving them ever since I made them.

Chocolate carmel cookies 1

So the only thing better than a chocolate cookie with hot chocolate is a chocolate and carmel cookie with hot chocolate! 

Chocolate and Carmel Cookies
Printer friendly recipe
Source: Indigo's Sugar Spectrum

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup caramel bits or chopped up caramel squares
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar. Add eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in caramel bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until set. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Fudge Brownies

brownies

This month's What's Baking was hosted by Nicole of Seven Ate Nine. (I love her blog name!) Since December is National Brownie Month, Nicole challenge us to make wonderful brownies. I found a chocolaty, fudgy brownies recipe on King Arthur Flour. These brownies have a crusty top, but are so rich, soft and fudgy. I loved them. I used dutch processed cocoa and chocolate chips. Yep, did I say they are rich. The night I made these, I had planned to halve the recipe because I don't like to keep baked goods around the house. I got through the first part of the recipe halving everything until I hit the cocoa, didn't halve it, so back to the store I went to get more eggs so I could make the whole recipe. I took them to school and all the teachers loved them. I hope you enjoy them, either plain or with ice cream! Happy National Brownie Month. Enjoy!!


Fudge Brownies
Printer friendly recipe
Source: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin snickerdoodles

While there is still the wonderful smell of fall in the air, I wanted to bring you a few pumpkin recipes. I love all desserts that have pumpkin in them. I have yet to venture into the savory pumpkin side of things. I love baking, but just don't want to keep a lot of sweets in the house. I have no control and will eat them all! I like to make them, keep a few for us to try and munch on and then send them off to work with him where there are lots of people to share with.

These were really soft and had a great pumpkin flavor to them. I really like snickerdoodles and the cinnamon sugar coating that encompasses them. These pumpkin snickerdoodles have that same great coating with an extra spice and punch of flavor from the pumpkin. I will definitely make these again. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Source:  Annie's Eats
Printer friendly recipe

Yield: about 3-4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of allspice

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the pumpkin puree. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Combine the sugar and spices for the coating in a bowl and mix to blend. Scoop the dough (about 2½ tablespoons) and roll into a ball. Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2-3 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy-bottomed drinking glass in water, then in the sugar-spice mixture, and use the bottom to flatten the dough balls slightly. Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until just set and baked through. Let cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butternut Squash Crumble

Butternut squash

Bringing you another fall dish before its to late. Michael was out of town one weekend and I like to try things that he would curl his nose up while he is out of town.   I was looking for a vegetable dish that would make a great dinner as well as lucnhes for the next few days.  I saw the butternut squash at the grocery store and knew that was the way to go.  I love summer squash and have only tried acorn squash once. I was not a fan of it.  Maybe I need a better recipe.  We tried a butternut squash dish last year, but I don't remember to much about it.  I wanted something different and this crumble sounded intriguing. It was really easy to make and the crumble part was amazing. I halved the recipe and used half of my squash because I wanted to try something else with the other half.  That didn't happen.  After finishing all of the crumble, I couldn't wait to make it again with the other half. It makes a fabulous lunch or would be wonderful along side your turkey for Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Crumble
Source: White on Rice Couple
Printer friendly recipe

Ingredients:

Squash:
4 lbs Butternut Squash (1 large or multiple small) peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4″ pieces
3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for sauteing butternut squash
Sea Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, for sauteing shallots
1/2 c (3-4 lrg) Shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Italian Parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Smoked Chicken or Turkey Stock (regular stock will work fine too)

Crumble:
1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4 c (1.5 sticks) unsalted Butter, cold and cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 large Egg Yolks
3-4 Tablespoon Ice Water

extra butter for buttering gratin dishes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375° F

2. Generously butter a 10″ gratin dish or several small equivalents.

3. In a very large skillet heat 3 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add butternut squash and saute until all of the squash starts to soften and brown (about 15 min). (If you don’t have a large enough pan, divide the oil and butternut squash into 2 batches and first cook one half then the other half).

4. While the butternut squash is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil then add sliced shallots. Saute until soft and lightly browned.

5. As butternut squash and shallots finish cooking, add them into a large bowl. Add parsley and stock, then mix well. Pour butternut squash mixture into buttered gratin dish(es). Cover tightly with foil or lid and bake in oven until just tender (about30 min.)

6. While butternut squash bakes, prepare crumble. Place flour, sugar, thyme, and sea salt in a medium bowl. Add butter pieces and pinch with your fingers until mixture is a coarse meal. (You’ll still have some pea sized lumps of butter.) Whisk together egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons of ice water. Add to flour mix until just combined. If mix is too dry, add remaining 1 Tablespoon of ice water. Set aside in fridge until squash is ready for topping and finishing bake.

7. Take butternut squash from oven. Remove foil. Scatter crumble topping over squash then return to oven. Bake for another 30 min or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Pumpkin Fudge

Pumpkin Fudge

A few months ago, Michael and I went to a little island in Michigan that is know for its fudge. There were so many fudge shops each with its own variety of flavors. We went into a few of the shops to watch them make fudge. It it amazing to see them pour the fudge from a copper kettle onto a marble slab and then mould it by hand. We tried a few flavors and they were so good, super sweet, but really good.

I have never made fudge before because I always thought it was hard and time consuming. I saw a pumpkin fudge recipe on the Sugared Whisk and decided it was time to give it a try. It really was easy to make. My arm got tired from all the whisking but it was worth it. The pumpkin and white chocolate go so well together. This is a must make fall treat. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Fudge
Source: Sugared Whisk
Printer friendly recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup (5 fl oz can) evaporated milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups (12 oz) white chocolate chips
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped nut (walnuts or pecans)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with foil

Combine sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter, and spice in a medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Stirring constantly, over medium heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, still stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture reaches soft ball stage (a candy thermometer will read 234 to 240 degrees).

Quickly stir white chocolate chips, marshmallow crème, nuts, and vanilla extract into hot mixture. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until morsels are melted, immediately pour into prepared pan. Let hot fudge stand on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered.

To cut, lift cooled fudge from pan and remove the foil backing. Cut into 1” squares. Makes about 3 pounds.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Sweet potato cupcakes

In my last post I told you that it was still warm here in the Midwest. Funny how a few weeks can change things. Fall has arrived! Its colder in the mornings and has been pretty chilly all day long. Fall is the perfect camping weather though. Michael and I have been camping the past few weekends and its so much fun to go for a walk through all the leaves that have fallen. The weather makes it more fun to snuggle up close to the fire as well.

sweet potato cupcakes 1

For this months What's Baking, Ange of The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen challenged us to fall flavors.  She asked that we try to go outside the normal flavors of pumpkin and apple. While pumpkin is the ultimate fall flavor to me, I decided to pick another vegetable that is in season in the fall, sweet potato. I love sweet potatoes and was intrigued when I saw them used in a cupcake. The sweet potato adds a wonderful warm flavor to the cupcakes. Michael is not a fan of sweet potato, but I had him try these without telling him the secret ingredient. He really liked them but could not put his finger on the flavor. He was surprised when I told him they were sweet potato, he might have accused me of trying to poison him, but he actually ate a second one. Maybe it was the marshmallow frosting which he burned with my torch before eating! Enjoy!!


Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
Printer friendly recipe
Source: Annie's Eats

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
17 oz. sweet potato puree
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sweet potatoes and vanilla extract, beating just until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. (These cupcakes do not rise much, so fill the 24 cupcakes about 2/3 full)  Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Brown with a kitchen torch and garnish with a sprinkle of brown sugar.