Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve Champagne Cupcakes

I love champagne.  Last year I found a recipe for champagne cupcakes and have been wanting to make it ever since.  The stars aligned today, and I baked up these beauties in my kitchen this afternoon.

There are quite a few steps, so these are a little time consuming.  The steps are easy, and the cupcakes are delicious!

Champagne Cupcakes
yield 18 cupcakes
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup champagne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.  in a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little).  Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.  Bake for 17-22 minutes.  Set aside.

Champagne Pastry Creme Filling
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup champagne
2 tbsp cornstarch 
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch in 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Combine the remaining heavy cream, sugar and 1/2 cup champagne in a saucepan; bring to a boil then remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg and egg yolks into the cornstarch/heavy cream mixture.  Pour 1/3 of boiling champagne mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook.  Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil.  Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.  

Cut a divot into the top of each cupcake and fill with pastry cream.

Champagne Frosting
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne
2 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan.  Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons.  Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together.  Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus  1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well.

Frost the cream-filled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

Recipe from Sprinkles Bakes

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes

This is the second time I've made these cupcakes, and they are wonderful!  The cupcake portion is a little involved, but the cake is worth it.  The extra effort results in a cupcake that tastes and has almost identical texture to a ladyfinger.  The texture isn't completely the same because while the outside of the cupcake is crunchy, the inside is perfectly chewy and soft, like a cupcake should be.  It's a great base to soak up the coffee syrup and hold a nice mound of mascarpone & heavy cream frosting.

Tiramisu Cupcakes
makes ~18 cupcakes
1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean pod, halved & seeds scraped
4 Tbsp butter
3 eggs + 3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.  Mix milk, vanilla seeds & scraped bean, and butter ina microwave safe bowl, and heat in 15 second intervals until butter is melted.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk eggs & yolks, and sugar on high speed until fluffy & pale.  They should hold a nice ribbon for several seconds.  Remove the vanilla bean pods from the milk & discard.  Switch the mixer to the paddle attachment, and on low speed, add flour mixture slowly, following with milk, mixing just until combined.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Coffee Syrup
1/2 cup coffee, brewed at double strength, or espresso
1/4 cup sugar

Add sugar to coffee right after it brews.  Stir to combine.  While cupcakes are still warm, poke 4 to 5 holes in each cupcake and brush liberally with coffee syrup, repeating several times.

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Whip heavy cream until you get stiff peaks.  Add mascarpone, vanilla, and powdered sugar and beat another minute.  Frost cupcakes, and finish with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

Recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride, adapted from Martha Stewart.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eggnog Macarons

These little French cookies are a tasty treat and a challenge to make.  These would be a great way to use up some leftover eggnog that has accumulated in your refrigerator.

These had the perfect eggnog flavor, not overpowering, but enough so you knew it was eggnog.

The directions are very detailed, so I'll direct you to the recipe I used, from the queen of macarons: Tartlette

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are a new tradition that I hope to continue for many years to come.  

Cinnamon Rolls
Yield: 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller cinnamon rolls
6 ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon extract or 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
3 ½ cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 1/8 to 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
For the filling:
6 ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
other spices to taste (ginger, cardamom, allspice, etc.)

For the white fondant glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. to ½ cup heavy cream

Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon zest/extract until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. (You may have to add a little flour or water while kneading to achieve this texture.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don’t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces about 1 ¾ inches thick for larger rolls or 12 to 16 pieces about 1 ¼ inches thick for smaller rolls.

Line one or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately ½ inch apart so they aren’t touching but are close to one another.

Proof at room temperature for 75-90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

Preheat the oven to 350° with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
Bake the cinnamon rolls for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the rollss in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the rolls are warm but not too hot (see instructions below). Remove the buns from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving.

White fondant glaze for cinnamon rolls:Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Add lemon or orange extract and 6 tbsp. to ½ cup warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

When the rolls have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops.

Recipe from Annie's Eats

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This recipe comes from one of the best kind of cookbooks - an old church cookbook - published in 1957.  It's a cookbook that my dad's great Aunt helped put together and one that his mom & great aunt often used when cooking and baking Greek foods.

2 1/2 sticks butter, clarified (melted on the stove, with the foam skimmed off the top)
1 lb chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
~1 lb phyllo dough

Combine walnuts and spices in a large bowl and mix.  Brush bottom of a 9x9 pan with butter, and then lay one pastry sheet down.  Brush with butter, and repeat until there are 4 layers of phyllo.  You'll have to trim the sheets to fit.  Add a thin layer of the walnut/spice mixture, then add a layer of phyllo and brush with butter.  Keep repeating a think layer of walnuts & 1 sheet of phyllo until the walnut mixture runs out, then finish with 4 sheets of phyllo with butter brushed on each.  Slice into diamond shapes before baking: slice into ~5 rows, then cut diagonally down each row.  Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes, until top is brown.

Vanilla Bean Honey Syrup
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 honey
1 cinnamon stick
vanilla bean seeds from 1 vanilla bean
(you can also add the scraped vanilla bean to the mixture and remove with the cinnamon stick)

While baklava is baking, make the syrup.  Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick, and pour over the baklava when you take  it out of the oven.

Syrup recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa Hat Cupcakes

If you think Santa is sick of cookies, you may want to leave him one of these cupcakes, instead.

Simply use your favorite cupcake recipe, and whip up a batch of your favorite frosting.  Save a small portion of the frosting, then color the rest red.  Use a large piping tip (I used Ateco 807) to pipe the hat, and a small star tip (Wilton 18) for the final touches.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cinnamon Buttermilk Bread

This loaf of cinnamon quick bread is super moist and very tender, thanks to the buttermilk.  It has a cinnamon sugar swirl that really puts it over the top.  I multiplied the recipe so I could bake up some smaller loaves to gift, so if that is your plan, you'll want to double the swirl.  Maybe you should double the swirl anyway :)

Cinnamon Buttermilk Bread
makes a 9x5 loaf
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp margarine

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.  Mix wet ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, then add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Prepare the swirl mixture by mixing ingredients and cutting together until crumbly.  Pour half the bread batter into a greased loaf pan, followed by 1/2 the swirl mixture.  Add the rest of the bread batter and the rest of the swirl mixture on top.  Use a knife to swirl the top layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

I wanted to put a twist on the normal peanut butter hershey kiss cookies.  My favorite hershey kisses are the candy cane kisses, so I knew I was going to use those.  All the recipes for the traditional kiss cookies had peanut butter it in, and I didn't think that would taste too good.  I ended up creating my own cookie recipe for these, which turned out fabulous.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
makes 7 dozen cookies

7 dozen candy cane kisses, unwrapped (you'll need two regular sized bags)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Beat sugars, cream cheese, shortening and butter until fluffy.  Add eggs and mix well.  Stir in flour, baking sode & powder, and mix until fully combined.  Scoop with a small cookie scoop and roll into 1" balls.  Roll balls in additional sugar.  You can use colored sugar, like I did!  Place about 2" apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly brown.  Remove from oven and place 1 kiss into center of each cookie.  Let cool on wire rack.

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Blossoms

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

These are cupcakes for chocolate lovers.  A rich, moist cupcake, filled with a velvet chocolate ganache, and topped with marshmallow frosting.  Just like the perfect cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate Cupcakes
from Hershey's 
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 cup hot water or coffee

Mix dry ingredients, then add in all wet ingredients except hot water.  Beat on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add in hot water and mix until combined.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full at bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache
6 oz dark chocolate chips
6 oz semi sweet chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp corn syrup

Mix all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring in between.  It should take about 90 seconds.  Continue stirring until all chips have been melted, and let cool slightly.

After cupcakes are cooled, cut a cone shape out of the center.  While the ganache is still warm, spoon a heaping teaspoon into the hole.

Seven Minute Frosting
from Martha Stewart
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Mix egg whites, sugar, water and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over a pot of simmering water.  Whisk gently until it reaches 160 degrees.  Transfer bowl to stand mixer and whip for 5 minutes, until frosting has tripled in size and is glossy.  Pipe on cupcakes and toast using a torch if desired.

Idea from A Cozy Kitchen's Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peppermint Chocolate Cake Roll

This Peppermint Chocolate Cake Roll is a delicious holiday treat.  The cake is light and springy, and the buttercream has just the right amount of peppermint and a nice crunch from the sprinkles.

The poured chocolate ganache is a beautiful final touch to this treat, giving it a dark glossy finish.  Don't be scared of the genoise cake, it's really not difficult to make and is totally worth it!

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Roll

The genoise cake instructions are very detailed, so I'll direct you to Martha Stewart's recipe, which is what I followed exactly.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip with a wire whisk for 5 minutes.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar, then the heavy cream and peppermint extract with the mixer on low.  Turn the mixer back up to high and whip for 2 more minutes.  If desired, add in 1/3 to 1/2 cup sprinkles by folding in with a spatula before spreading on cake roll.

To assemble, unroll the cake roll, and spread buttercream evenly.  Roll back up and place on a wire rack.

1 cup dark chocolate
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp water

Place chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments in microwave until almost melted. Stir to melt completely, then add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Add water to get to a pourable consistency, and pour over cake roll.  Decorate with crushed candy canes or sprinkles as desired.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pretty Peppermint Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows taste so different than store-bought marshmallows you're used to.  The homemade version is soft and creamy and has a very fresh taste to it, nothing like the borderline stale rubbery marshmallows that come in plastic bags.  And while they seem intimidating to make, if you have a stand mixer they're really no work at all!

To make these extra festive, I added some peppermint extract and a little red food coloring.  I can't wait to float a few of these in a mug of hot cocoa!

Peppermint Marshmallows
makes a 9x9 pan
3 (.25 oz each) envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
red gel food coloring

Prepare a 9x9 pan by lining with a piece of plastic wrap and spraying with cooking spray.
Pour the 1/2 cup cold water and 3 packets of gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for 10 minutes. Add sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Let boil rapidly for 1 minute, then turn on stand mixer to high and pour down the side of the mixer bowl into the gelatin.  Add salt and beat on high for 12 minutes.  Add peppermint extract and mix well.  At this point you can add the red food color and mix until marbled or fully incorporated.  Coat a spatula or your hands with cooking spray and pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and even out.  Cover the pan with another piece of plastic wrap coated with spray.  Let sit 2 hours, then cut into desired shapes, then roll in powdered sugar.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Saturday, December 17, 2011

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake

This cake takes all the favorite flavors of the holidays and bakes them up into one tasty treat.  Apple, Pumpkin, & Cranberries are all mixed into the cake spiced with cinnamon and ginger.  I used my new favorite glaze to top this cake and give it a sparkly finish.

All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake
recipe from Dorie Greenspan
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, chopped coarsely
optional: 1 cup pecans, chopped coarsely

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger in a large bowl and set aside.

Beat butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between eggs.  Beat in vanilla, then reduce speed of mixer to low and add in pumpkin and apple.  Next, add in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries and pecans.  Transfer batter to a bundt pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Fudge with Cherries

This is a throwback fudge recipe passed on to me from my husband's grandma.  It's out of a magazine from maybe the 70s?  All I know is it's easy to make and quite delicious.  This year I sprinkled half the pan with dried cherries before it set, because really, what's better than chocolate and cherries?

Chocolate Fudge
makes a 9x13 pan
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) margarine
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz semi sweet chocolate
7 oz marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, margarine, and milk in a 2 1/2 qt heavy bottom saucepan and heat over medium high.  Bring to a rolling boil, then turn down to medium and boil, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring to combine completely.  Add in the marshmallow creme and vanilla, beating until mixed through.  Pour into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper and let set.  If desired, sprinkle with dried fruit or nuts before setting.  Cut into 1x1 inch squares and enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Egg Nog Pound Cake

I am a fan of eggnog, but I think that this cake would be delicious even if you weren't.  The eggnog flavor isn't overpowering, and you get just a hint of nutmeg.

The cake itself is light and buttery, with a crunchy sugar vanilla rum glaze that sparkles (so pretty!)

Eggnog Pound Cake
3 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt & nutmeg and set aside.  Beat the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer until creamy & smooth (about 1 minute).  Add the sugar slowly, and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing completely after each addition.  Turn the mixer down to low, and add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with the eggnog and vanilla in 3 additions.  Mix until completely incorporated, then spoon mixture into a prepared Bundt or tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 65 minutes.

Crystal Sugar Glaze
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp dark rum (or light rum + 1/4 tsp vanilla)
2 tbsp water

Mix ingredients thoroughly.  Let cake sit 10 minutes after removed from oven, then turn out onto a wire rack limed with parchment.  Pour the glaze over the cake slowly and let cool completely before serving.

Recipe from My Baking Addiction

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cinnamon Sugared Almonds

You know those nuts they sell from carts that have such an amazing aroma you can smell them from almost a mile away?  These are those nuts.

Just a few simple ingredients that you'll likely have on hand, and you can have your whole house filled with that delicious scent in 20 minutes.  Even easier?  Use your crockpot!

Cinnamon Sugared Almonds in the Crockpot

1 1/4 cups sugar
2 TBSP + 1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups almonds (should be a 1 lb bag)

Whisk egg white and vanilla in a large bowl.  In another bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Add the almonds to the egg white mixture and toss to coat.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the almonds and  stir gently to coat.  Generously coat the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray and pour the nuts in.  Cook on high for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bailey's Vanilla Bean Fudge

This fudge tastes just like a glass of bailey's and cream.  The Bailey's isn't overpowering, but the flavor is definitely there.  It's creamy & smooth and the vanilla bean flecks add a punch of vanilla flavor and pretty specks throughout the fudge.

Bailey's Vanilla Bean Fudge
yield 64 pieces
2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream
2 cups (~12 oz) good quality white chocolate chips
seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
7 oz marshmallow creme

Line a 9x9 pan with parchment or foil.  Combine sugar, butter, cream, and Bailey's in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and use a candy thermometer and cook until 234 degrees (should take 7-10 minutes), stirring constantly.  Once the mixture hits 234 degrees, remove from heat and add chocolate chips.  Stir until the chips have melted and the chocolate is smooth.  Add vanilla bean seeds and marshmallow creme and mix until well blended.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cool until room temp.  Cut into ~1x1 squares and enjoy!

Recipe from Not So Humble Pie

Monday, December 12, 2011

Colorful Swirl Cookies

Today is the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies series.  These colorful swirl cookies were a bit of a challenge to make, but the end result is so pretty!  I'm going to try making these one more time, with red & white, to coordinate.

These can easily be adapted to any season by changing the color and the sprinkles.  The directions are kind of long, so here is the source I used for the Christmas version (Our Italian Kitchen), which was adapted from Sprinkles Bakes.

Enjoy!  & stay tuned for a lot more Christmas recipes in the next two weeks!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Definitely the most time consuming cookie (hence the late post today), but these are so worth it in the end!  I've been through many sugar cookie recipes, and finally landed on the perfect recipe.  I also experimented with royal icing and tried a new recipe today.  The end result is these cute trees, Christmas light bulbs & ornaments.

Sugar Cookies

Yield ~40
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour
Directions:Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. 
Source: from
Royal Icing
3 oz pasteurized egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Whisk the egg whites and vanilla in a stand mixer on medium until frothy.  Add powdered sugar slowly and mix until combined.  Turn the speed up to high and mix 5-7 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Color as desired.  To thin, add water by the 1/2 tsp until you reach flooding consistency.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Snowflakes

These gingerbread snowflakes are perfectly spicy and perfectly pretty.  I love the snowflakes, but I also made some cutout reindeer, along with mini & regular sized gingerbread men.

Don't be scared about the pepper, you won't be able to pick out the flavor once everything is mixed together :)

Gingerbread Cookies
yield 24 cookies
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground gloves
1 tsp finely ground pepper (do it!)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses

Sift together flour, baking powder & baking soda; set aside.  Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, then mix in spices, salt, eggs, and molasses.  With the mixer on low, add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Divide into thirds and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4 inch thick and cut out snowflakes (or whatever shape desired).  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.  Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, until crisp.  Cool on wire rack, then decorate with royal icing and sanding sugar.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Peppermint Oreos

These cookies are delicious!  I was a little skeptical if they could really be a replacement for Oreos, but figured even if they weren't, a dark chocolate cookie and peppermint buttercream filling sounded good anyway.  I had no need to worry.  The cookies taste exactly like the real thing!  Even better, they have fairly normal ingredients and mix & bake super fast.

Homemade Oreos
yield 28 sandwiches
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey's Special Dark)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients together in a stand mixer, then add butter.  Blend on low, then add eggs and beat until smooth.  Drop by a heaping teaspoon onto lined baking sheets - I used my small cookie scoop - and bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool.  Once cookies are completely cool, match up pairs of similarly size & shape cookies.

1 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
drop of red food coloring

Cream the butter in the stand mixer, and slowly add in the powdered sugar.  Mix until combined, add the cream & peppermint and beat on high for 1 minute.  I added the food coloring last and barely mixed in so I could get a swirl look to the buttercream.  Place buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a #10 or #12 tip and fill cookies.

Recipe barely adapted from Cate's World Kitchen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

No, these aren't the cute meringue cookies with the sweet filling, but they're just as good!  This cookie combines coconut, vanilla, & a dip in chocolate for one delicious treat!

Coconut Macaroons
yield 32 cookies
1 bag (14oz) shredded sweetened coconut
4 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 oz melted chocolate (semisweet or dark is recommended)

Mix the coconut, egg whites, sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until completely combined.  Drop by the tablespoon onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees, until the cookies are lightly golden.  When cooled, dip the bottom (or drizzle the top!) with the chocolate.  Enjoy!

Recipe from Real Simple

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canadian Butter Tarts

These are arguably my favorite Christmas "cookie".  They're really not a cookie, but more like mini buttery caramel pies that everyone loves.  They are a little tricky to bake, because more often than not the filling bubbles over, but they're still worth it!

Canadian Butter Tarts
yield 2 dozen mini tarts
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup currants or nuts
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 batch pastry

Use a circle cutter to cut the pastry and press down gently into a mini muffin pan.  Mix the ingredients, and place a tablespoon of the filling into the pastry.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Have you ever had a palmier?  Delicious, right?

Did you know they are so, so, so easy to make?

Seriously.  2 ingredients.  Even better, they look impressive, like you slaved away in the kitchen all day.  I even made little mini palmiers because my second sheet of puff pastry wasn't looking too hot.  I used a 1/3 of the sheet & I may just like the minis better :)

1 package puff pastry
~2 cups sugar

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a surface generously sprinkled with sugar.  Pour about 3/4 cup of sugar on top of the puff pastry and spread evenly.  Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a 12x12 square.  Roll two of the sides toward the middle, until the big roll looks kind of like a heart.  Cut slices just under 1/2" thick and lay on a baking sheet.  Give them some room, they'll puff up!  Bake at 40u0 degrees for 6 minutes, flip over, and then bake for another 4-6 minutes.  You want both sides to be golden brown, so adjust the baking time as necessary.  If your baking sheet is lined, you can let them cool on the sheet. If not, remove immediately to let cool.  These are best the day they are made!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

These chocolate cherry cookies are one of my favorites that I remember making every year.  They are relatively simple, but look extra special with the cherry half and the chocolate drizzle.  I usually use white chocolate, but found some green candy melts and thought it would look extra festive!

Chocolate Cherry Cookies
makes 4 dozen
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 (10 oz) jar maraschino cherries
6 oz chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.  Roll dough into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet.  Press down with your thumb to make an imprint, and place a cherry in the center of the cookie (I cut the cherries in half and only use a half for each cookie).  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  When cookies are cooled, drizzle with chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cookies

These are my favorite, Christmas or not.  I love cinnamon, so that is my own addition to this recipe.  I love that these cookies are a little crisp on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside.  The dough is pretty simple, so really it's just a vehicle for the cinnamon sugary goodness that you roll it in!

Snickerdoodle Cookies
makes 5 dozen

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together and set aside: 1 cup sugar & 1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and eggs thoroughly.  Sift together dry ingredients, and stir in.  Roll into 1" balls, then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on cookie sheet.  These spread, so leave some room! Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shortbread Cookies

These shortbread cookies are a Christmas staple.  I can't remember a single Christmas without them!  They are buttery, rich, and melt in your mouth.  I can remember helping my grandma make these and watching her cut the candied cherries into minuscule pieces that she uses to decorate them.

I (obviously) did not use the candied cherries on mine, I'm a bit of a rebel!

Shortbread Cookies
makes a lot - the recipe says not to double!

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup corn starch
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients, then add the butter in a little at a time.  Mix well until the sides of the bowl come clean.  Roll into 1" balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten.  You'll want the cookies to be about 1/4" thick before baking.  If you want to add sprinkles (or cherries), decorate before baking.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lemon Oat Lacies

It's day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies series!  Today's cookie is Lemon Oat Lacies.

This is my grandma's recipe, and if I remember correctly, one of my mom's favorite Christmas Cookies.  They are "lacies" because that's how they look after their final sprinkle of powdered sugar!  Because we always have so many cookies at Christmas, we tend to make our cookies smaller.  These were portioned out using a small cookie scoop, probably about a tablespoon of dough.

Lemon Oat Lacies
yield 6 dozen

2 cups margarine
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
3 cups oats
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla

Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the flour, oats, lemon zest and vanilla.  Chill for 15 minutes (or longer), then roll into 1" balls and dip in powdered sugar.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  When cooled, dust with powdered sugar.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spritz Butter Cookies

It's the first day of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Series!  Over the next 12 days, I'm going to be sharing my favorite Christmas cookies with you!

First up are Spritz Butter cookies.  I'll be honest that I've never made these before, and the only ones I remember trying are the hard, tasteless cookies from the store that came in a plastic container.  However, I managed to snag a cookie press at 75% off at last year's after Christmas sales, so Spritz cookies it is :)

I searched through a few recipes to find one that I hoped would be the best.  The addition of the cream cheese in this recipe was ultimately what made me choose it.  I knew it would give the cookies a rich, creamy flavor that can't be achieved by only butter.

The recipe also called for cinnamon and orange zest, which are both usually welcomed ingredients.  I added just half of the cinnamon and omitted the orange zest, as I wanted a more pure butter flavored cookie.

Buttery Snowflake Spritz Cookies
yield: 6 dozen
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, salt, and cinnamon, set aside.  Cream together butter and cream cheese, add sugar and egg yolk and beat until fluffy.  Mix in vanilla, then gradually add dry ingredients. Follow instructions for filling cookie press.  Add colored sugar sprinkles if desired, then bake for 12-15 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.  Store in an airtight container; will keep well frozen.

Recipe adapted from

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cranberry Crumb Bars

If you have any leftover cranberries, please use them in this recipe!  The addition of almond meal to the crust & top crumble is a delicious addition that takes these crumb bars over the top.  The cranberries are soft, but not mushy, after almost an hour in the oven.  The bars are sweet enough to stand up to the tart cranberries, but not overly sweet.

I used my food processor as mentioned in the recipe, and this barely took 5 minutes to put together.  I also forgot to add the cinnamon, but made up for it by a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar right before I put these in the oven.

Cranberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
juice of 1/2 an orange
4 cups fresh cranberries
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 & line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  In your food processor bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, flour, almond meal, salt & baking powder.  Pulse to combine, then add cubed butter and pulse several times, until mixture is crumbly.  Add egg & pulse until mixed.  Pat half the dough into the bottom of the pan.

In another bowl, mix orange juice, sugar, vanilla & cornstarch until combined.  Add cranberries and stir to coat.  Pour the cranberry mixture over the bottom layer of dough, then sprinkle remaining dough on top of cranberries.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture & bake for 45-55 minutes, until top is light golden brown.

Cool completely before cutting.
Recipe from My Baking Addition

Starting tomorrow, I will be posting a "12 Days of Christmas Cookies" series, featuring all of my favorite Christmas cookies!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

50th Anniversary Cake

Vanilla bean cake with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream:

Piping done with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream; teal fondant circle.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bachelorette Cookies

Another idea from Pinterest, these cookies were for a friend's bachelorette party.

I used a roll out sugar cookie recipe and cut the cookies with a heart cookie cutter, then trimmed off the point.
Bake as directed, let cool, & decorate with royal icing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Bread with Pecans

Fresh cranberries are very deceiving.  They are a beautiful bright red color & wonderfully fragrant.  However, one bite of a fresh cranberry will pucker your mouth right up.  When mixed with some sugar, flour & buttermilk, those tart little cranberries can bake up into a delicious loaf.

The buttermilk is the key to this tender quick bread, along with the orange zest, & the toasted pecans add a nice crunch on top.

Cranberry Nut Bread
recipe from Baking Illustrated

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toasted pecans

Mix flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, & salt in a large bowl and set aside.  Combine orange zest, juice, buttermilk, butter, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with spatula just until moistened.  Add cranberries & pecans* being careful not to over mix.  Pour into a greased 9x5 pan.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes.  Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

*I did not mix the pecans into the batter, but sprinkled them on top of the loaf before baking.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

In an attempt to bake at least one more pumpkin recipe this year, I came across this recipe that I had bookmarked last year.  I was slightly skeptical at first, mixing chocolate with pumpkin, but the end result is delicious!  I think the cream cheese really ties the pumpkin & chocolate together for a delicious treat.

Start with your favorite brownie recipe.  When adding a swirl to a brownie recipe, I find no shame in starting with a box mix :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl
for a 9x13 pan

1 cup pumpkin puree
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Mix ingredients together with a mixer or by hand.  Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter in a parchment lined (or greased) 9x13 pan, then use a tablespoon to dollop pumpkin filling on top*.  Spoon the remaining brownie batter into the pan and use a knife to swirl together.  Bake at 325 (for a dark pan, 350 for glass) for 40 minutes.

*I didn't use all the filling, unless you like a lot, you'll probably only need about 75% of the mixture.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Pies

These little pies are perfect for when a craving hits and you don't want a whole pie sitting around your house.  The fact that they look like little pumpkins is just a bonus.  For extra cuteness, you can used melted chocolate in a piping bag to draw jack o'lantern faces after baking!

Using a large pumpkin cookie cutter, cut out a piece of your favorite pie dough (homemade or store bought - I won't tell!) & press it down into a cupcake tin (no liner or nonstick spray needed!)  Fill with pumpkin pie mixture & bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  These baby pumpkins popped right out of the pan after cooling!  Top with some fresh whipped heavy cream & enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Filling
makes 12 mini pies*

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup evaporated milk

Mix together sugar, cornstarch, salt, spices, pumpkin & eggs, then add milk.  Stir until well combined.  Fill muffin tin about 2/3 full (should be about 1/4 cup).  Bake 20 minutes at 375 & let cool before removing from tin.

Pie filling adapted from Martha Stewart
*filling recipe can be doubled to fill a 9" pie

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie

The Perfect Apple Pie recipe I posted last week was a delicious and simple apple pie.  This apple pie was on a whole other level.  The apples are cooked in cinnamon, caramel & southern comfort and then topped with a brown sugar & pecan streusel.  The apples are perfectly cooked, not mushy, while the streusel is nice and crunchy.

This will be making a presence at my Thanksgiving Dinner table.  Check out my Holiday Treats ordering page to order one for yourself!

Recipe from Ezra Pound Cake