Monday, February 21, 2011

Iced Sugar Cookies

When I was about 8, my family moved to a small rural town in Southwestern Minnesota that has the BEST family-run bakery ever! (And to show how tasty they are, after my family moved out of town, and I went off to college, I would time my trips home so that I could swing through town and by the bakery, sometimes even calling my order in ahead of time to be sure they didn't sell out!)

They have two of my favorite sweets. The first, was a cream cheese filled bear claw. And, I know I wasn't the only one around who liked them. If we were too late getting to the bakery on a Saturday morning, I'd have to settle for a glazed doughnut, or something else equally tasty, but not what I preferred. If I got my hand on this recipe, I'd be in big trouble.

My other favorite was their iced cookies. A simple sugar cookie with a delicious icing. Pumpkins for Halloween, hearts for Valentines day, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day..... These, too, were a favorite among many in town, and the large window display of trays would often sell out. I've tried multiple cookie & icing combinations, and haven't found anything even similar to theirs until now. The cookie is slightly different (I think it's the lemon), but the icing is almost a perfect match. These recipes will most likely become my new "go-to" for sugar cookies.

(These were made for my Superbowl Party)

ROLL OUT SUGAR COOKIES (From The Way The Cookie Crumbles)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4teaspoon lemon zest

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. In a one-cup measuring cup, lightly beat the egg with the extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar; add the lemon zest. Beat on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, pour in the egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and mix just until evenly blended.

Lightly knead the dough to form a ball, press it into a disk 1-inch thick, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375F. If you’ve chilled the dough overnight, it’ll need to sit at room temperature for half an hour or so to soften slightly. On a very lightly floured sheet of wax paper with a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thick. Cut cookies using a floured cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps, always using as little flour as necessary.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 5-9 minutes, until they no longer look wet on top. The baking time will depend on the size of the cookies you’ve cut. You don’t want the bottoms to be browned, except for maybe just a bit on the edges. Let the cookies rest for a couple minutes on the sheets before transferring them to cooling racks to finish cooling.

SUGAR COOKIE ICING (Adapted from All Recipes)

1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
assorted food coloring (I use the gel colorings)

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and creamer until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

While working at a grocery store bakery, I learned the trick to quickly icing cookies was to dip them face down, then to scrape off the excess with your finger. (I recommend wearing gloves!)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fluffy Waffles with Banana Foster Sauce

I LOVE breakfast foods... at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner! This made a wonderful breakfast for dinner meal. The waffles were extremely light, with just the right amount of sweetness. And the sauce was delicious! I've made it a couple times in the past, and each time it reminds me of this quaint B&B my husband & I stayed at 4 or 5 Christmases ago. A similar sauce was served with granola & nuts, and while my husband didn't like it, I eagerly ate both of our servings!

Both components are easy to make, making it a great weeknight meal, or a special treat on the weekend mornings (without having to do any preparation the night before or wonder if you have buttermilk in the fridge).

FLUFFY WAFFLES (Adapted from All Recipes)
Feeds 2-4 people

2 eggs
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups milk (I used soy milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat a waffle iron.

Beat together eggs and sugar. Pour in butter, milk, salt, and vanilla; mix until well blended. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix the flour into the liquid.

Spoon 2/3 cup of batter onto the preheated waffle iron at a time. Close the iron and cook until steam no is no longer coming out and waffle is browned.

Makes enough for topping 1 large waffle

1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Serve warm over fresh waffles.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Cake Truffles

"Cake Balls" are definitely not something new in the blog world. I've seen various adorable varieties for a few years. However, I haven't tried making them until now. I wanted something quick & easy to make to share with my new interns & medical students. These definitely fit the criteria!

I can't remember the last time that I made a boxed cake mix! Back when I used to decorate cakes for family & friends (10+ years ago) all I would make were boxed cakes, as every cake recipe I tried failed. I'm so glad that I've graduated from boxed cake mixes! While they aren't awful, they are always soooo domed compared to most homemade ones.

Anyways, even though these were incredibly simple to make, they were thoroughly enjoyed by all! (And one of my attendings probably had at least 5 of them during the afternoon). There are numerous flavor options - I used a chocolate fudge cake mix & fudge frosting for a chocolatey treat.

Cake Truffles

1 cake mix, baked as instructed on the box
1 can of prepared frosting
Chocolate Bark / Candy Coating

Crumble up cake in bowl of mixer. Add canned frosting & mix until well combined. Place bowl in the fridge & cool for a few hours.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop up approximately 1 inch balls, and place on a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper. Place in the freezer for 2+ hours.

Melt coating per manufacturer instructions. Coat balls with chocolate coating & place on waxed paper to cool. Decorate as desired with sprinkles or additional colors of coating.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I'm not one for "cakey" brownies/blondies/bars. If I want cake, I'll make cake. When I saw this recipe, I could tell by the photos that this would be a bar I like - dense & chewy! These were fantastic! They were very quick to whip up (which is great, when I get the urge to quick make a treat to bring the work the next day... after I've finished my presentation at 11PM that night!) Not only are they easy to make, they store well in a tupperware - it's now 4 days after I made them, and they still are soft & chewy.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS (Adapted from Eat at Allie's)
Makes 9x13 pan

2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting the excess hang over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Mix the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Press the batter out into the prepared pan.

Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, about 22-24 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Carmel Pecan Candies (AKA "Turtles") had always been a special treat in my household while growing up. They were my mom's favorite candy, and if we were lucky, we'd get a bite of her cherished treat (she often got large boxes of them for holiday presents). I love the chocolate/pecan/chewy caramel combination & knew it would make a fantastic cupcake flavor. Plus, it gave me another opportunity to find a chocolate cake recipe that I really liked. (I liked this better than the Hershey's recipe that so many love). And, it gave me another opportunity to use the tasty dulce de leche that I've made a few times this year. I used the same frosting for this as I did for my Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche Cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes (From Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010)
Makes 12-15 cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.

Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

DULCE DE LECHE BUTTERCREAM (Adapted from Joy the Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche

Cream together butter and dulce de leche on low using an electric mixer. Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.

Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with drizzles of chocolate syrup & dulce de leche (slightly melted), and top with a half of a pecan.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

When I was young, we would often make long trips to see my grandparents on the weekends (depending on where we lived at the time, it may have been up to 10 hours!) In late elementary, we lived about 4 hours away from my grandparents. Half way there, we would pass through a town with a Perkins, where we would always have dinner. Before I learned how much I loved their Omelets with a Raspberry & Cream muffin on the side, I was dedicated to my chocolate chip bear pancakes.

I rarely make chocolate chip pancakes, as they seem a little bit too much like dessert for my husband (although I LOVE having chocolate for breakfast). These brought back fond memories of my trips to Grandpa & Grandma's house, even though I didn't shape them into a bear.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES (Adapted from All Recipes)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and oil; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown. Keep warm.


This recipe participated in Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mini Corn Puddings

I made these mini corn puddings to accompany my Spicy Chili. While they were named "puddings" due to how moist they are, they are definitely still muffins. I enjoyed the texture & flavor of the muffins themselves, but to me, they have a bit too much whole corn kernels for them to become a staple in my recipe box. (And when I make them again, I'm sure I'll cut the corn down by about half). If you like lots of corn in your corn muffins, I think you'll love these!

MINI CORN PUDDINGS (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes approx 12 mini muffins

Butter, room temperature, for pan
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg white
3/4 cup sour cream
Approx 5 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Butter 12 mini muffin cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix in egg, sour cream, and corn. Mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).

Dividing evenly, spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake until tops have browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes in pan; turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve, or cool completely and store at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 2 days.