Archive for October, 2010

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Happy Halloween!  Here are a few photos of the sugar cookies I made for Halloween this year.  (I used the same recipes that I always use for the cookies and icing.)

I made ghosts:

And candy corn:

Black and purple bats:

And spiderwebs:

The inspiration for the spiderwebs is from here and here.

The whole bunch:

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Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies

I recently purchased Fine Cooking Magazine’s special holiday cookie issue, and when I flipped through the magazine, this was one of the first recipes that caught my attention.   I made these cookies for a family BBQ last weekend and they were a big hit.  The base of the cookie is a chocolate shortbread, and the centers are topped with a mint-chocolate filling.  For a festive touch, I sprinkled a few Halloween colored nonpareils on top.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 5 ¼ oz. (1 cup plus 2 ½ Tbsp.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ oz. (1/4 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. table salt
  • granulated sugar, to roll the cookie dough balls in before baking

For the Chocolate- Mint Filling:

  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) chopped semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 ½ oz. (3 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • Scant ¼ tsp. pure peppermint extract

Directions

Make  the cookies:

  1. Sift the flour and cocoa together into a medium bowl. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt; continue beating until blended and smooth, about 1 minute more. Add the flour-cocoa mixture and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, about 1 minute. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm enough to roll into balls, 40 to 60 minutes.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.
  3. Using your palms, roll heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough into 1-inch balls.   Roll each ball into granulated sugar to coat.  Arrange the dough balls 2 inches apart on the lined sheets. With a lightly floured thumb or index fingertip, press straight down into the middle of each ball almost to the cookie sheet to make a deep well. (Or use the end of a thick-handled wooden spoon.)
  4. Bake one sheet at a time until the tops of the cookies look dry, 8 to 9 minutes. Gently redefine the indentations with the end of a wooden spoon. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then let them cool completely on racks.

Make the filling:

  1. Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water. Stir with a heatproof spatula until almost melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds more. Stir in the mint extract.
  2. Let the filling cool, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and a bit warmer than room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes. Spoon the filling into a small pastry bag with a small plain tip. (Or use a small plastic bag and cut a tiny bit off a bottom corner of the bag.) Pipe the filling into the center of each cookie. Cool completely before serving or storing.  The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies

Source: adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Cookies, Brownies, & Bars Issue

Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes

These little beauties are the perfect combination of a cupcake and a hot fudge sundae.  The recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, “Joy the Baker”- when I saw these on her blog, I couldn’t wait to try them.  They have all the yummy toppings you would find on a sundae, only instead of ice cream, the base is a vanilla cupcake.  The vanilla cupcakes are topped with a layer of chocolate ganache, followed by whipped cream, and finished off with sprinkles, nuts, and a cherry.  These cupcakes were really easy to make.  The cupcake batter takes mere minutes to whip up, and the ganache takes only a few minutes to make too.  You can use whipped cream from a can, but it’s so easy to make it yourself (and it tastes way better too).  The whipped cream recipe below, found in my trusty Williams Sonoma Baking cookbook, is amazing- the proportions of cream, sugar, and vanilla extract are spot on.  These cupcakes are the perfect thing to make to satisfy an ice cream sundae craving on a cold day (or any day!)  Enjoy!

Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • a scant ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes. Do not over mix.
  4. Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache:

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Put chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan.  Pour cream evenly over chocolate.  Let stand for one minute to soften, and then stir until smooth.  If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, frosting will continue to thicken as it stands.

Source: (for cupcakes & ganache) –  Joy the Baker; Originally from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy cream, well chilled
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a deep bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form and the cream is billowy, about 2 minutes.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use or for up to 2 hours.

Yield: 1 ½ cups

Source: The Williams Sonoma Baking Book, Pg. 377

To assemble the cupcakes:

Top the vanilla cupcakes with a layer of chocolate ganache, slightly sweetened whipped cream, slivered almonds, sprinkles and a cherry.  Serve immediately.

 

To assemble the cupcakes, spread a thin layer of chocolate ganache onto the cooled cupcakes with a spoon, knife, or offset spatula.

 

 

Next, pipe whipped cream onto the cupcakes. I used a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip to pipe the whipped cream. (You could also just put a dollop of whipped cream onto the cupcakes with a spoon, or fill a Ziploc bag with whipped cream, snip a corner off, and pipe it on).

 

 

Top with sprinkles, nuts, and a cherry, and then eat one!

 

Apple Pocket Pies

My sister and I both like to bake, and lately we’ve been trying to meet up once or twice a month to try out a new recipe together.  It’s always fun to bake with a friend, and it’s nice to have an extra set of hands to help out (and take pictures)!  First we made caramel sauce together, and most recently we made these apple pocket pies.  Before choosing this recipe, we tossed several ideas back and forth.  There are so many good recipes to choose from- sometimes it’s hard to decide what to make first!  Ultimately though, we went with these because they looked cute, yummy, and portable – a requirement for me, so that I could bring some home to my hubby :)  Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for hand pies both on the internet and in cooking magazines.  You can make them free-form (see photo of the triangle-shaped pie below), but I think it’s easier to use a hand pie mold.  My heart-shaped mold is from Williams Sonoma, and they come in a few other fun shapes too.

These little pies turned out very well!  The crust was flaky and buttery, and the apple-cinnamon filling was delicious!  They are also fun to eat because you can pick them up with your hand – no fork required.  They are a great thing to enjoy any time of day (dessert, a snack, breakfast…).  Served a la mode with some vanilla ice cream, they would make for an elegant dessert.  And the best thing is, they can be made ahead and stored in the freezer until you are ready to bake them (perfect for a party!)   Enjoy!

To read Kristine’s recap of this recipe, click here.

Apple Pocket Pies

Dough:

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 6-8 Tablespoons cold milk (cold water can be substituted)
  • Apple Pie Filling (recipe below)
  • Egg wash (recipe below)

Directions

1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about 5 pulses.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses.
2. Add 6 Tbsp. cold milk (or ice water) and pulse twice.  The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more milk (or water), 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing twice after each addition.
3. Divide the dough in half, wrap with plastic wrap, and press each into a disk.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
4. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.
5. On a floured surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a round 1/16 to 1/8 inch (2-3 cm) thick.  Brush off the excess flour. 

a. If using the pocket pie mold:  Cut out 4 of each shape (4 with decorative cutout & 4 without cutout- the cutout will serve as a steam vent during baking).  Re-roll the dough scraps if necessary, and cut out more shapes.  Repeat with the remaining dough disk.  Next, place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the pocket pie mold and gently press the dough into the mold.  Fill the center with 1-2 Tbsp. pie filling and brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash.  Top with the decorative cutout shape.  Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie.  Remove the pie from the mold.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Or:

b. To make triangle shaped pies: Cut the dough into 6 inch squares.  Re-roll the dough scraps, and cut out more squares until all the dough has been used.  Place 2 Tbsp. pie filling in the center of each square and brush the 2 edges (the corner edges) of the dough with the egg wash.  Fold the dry edges over to make a triangle.  Press the edges of the dough together and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.  Using a small knife, make a couple ½-inch slits in the top of the dough so that steam can escape.

Place the shaped pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Freeze the pies for 30 minutes.
6. To Bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the pies with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling, 15-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma
Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients

  • 2 large baking apples (such as Granny Smith)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Peel and chop the apples into small pieces.  Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir to mix.

Topping:

  • Egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • Turbinado sugar (this is optional, but it gave the pies a nice sweet crunch)

Source: This is an adaptation of an unknown source

Yield: 8 pies (Recipe can be doubled)

 

Use the pie mold to cut out a heart of dough (this will be the bottom side of the pie).

 

 

Using the pie mold with the heart cutout, cut out another piece of dough (this will be the top side of the pie).

 

 

Place the heart-shaped piece of dough without the cutout in the pie mold. Then add 1-2 Tbsp. of apple filling.

 

 

 

Brush the edge of the dough with the egg wash.

 

 

Place the piece of dough with the heart cutout on top of the filling.

 

 

Press the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Then you are ready to chill the pies, brush them with the egg wash, and bake them!

 

 

The finished product

 

 

If you don’t have a pie mold, you can make the pies in the shape of a triangle (see directions above).

 

 

Football Sugar Cookies

Last weekend, Eric and I celebrated our anniversary.  My anniversary gift to him was tickets to a football game, to see his favorite team (The 49ers) play.  To go along with the tickets, I made football-shaped sugar cookies.  We went to the game last night, and sadly, our team lost, but it was a close game! (The score was 24-27).  Here are a few photos of the football sugar cookies.  Enjoy!

Also, I recently updated my “About” page – head on over and check it out!

Cinnamon- Spiced Whipped Cream

Cinnamon whipped cream is a wonderful alternative to regular whipped cream.  It’s sweet and fluffy and has a nice cinnamon flavor.  It went very well with the pumpkin pecan cupcakes that I recently made.  And it would also be great on top of a piece of pumpkin pie.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon- Spiced Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and beat until stiff peaks form, 2-3 minutes longer.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Williams Sonoma Holiday Entertaining Cookbook

Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes

It’s pumpkin season!  Fall is my favorite time of year, and lately I’ve been cooking and baking a lot with pumpkin.  Besides these cupcakes, I’ve also made pumpkin scones and winter squash soup, and there are many more pumpkiny things on my “to-make” list.  These cupcakes were fabulous!  They were light and fluffy and full of the flavors of pumpkin and spices.  The spices included in the batter are cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg – together these 4 spices comprise what is simply referred to as “pumpkin pie spice.”

I made half of the cupcakes with pecans, and half without, to compare.  Both Eric and I agreed that the ones with pecans were much better.  They added flavor and crunch to the cupcakes.  These cupcakes are great served for breakfast, dessert, or even a snack– (trust me; we kept going back for seconds – and thirds!  all day long).  I think these cupcakes would also be wonderful baked with a streusel topping of chopped pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and butter – which essentially would turn them into muffins.

For the frosting, I used cinnamon-whipped cream, but they would also be great with cinnamon butter cream or cream cheese frosting.  And for a cute and festive touch, I garnished the cupcakes with a candy corn.  Enjoy!

(I will post the recipe for the cinnamon-whipped cream tomorrow).

Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional, but really add a nice flavor and texture)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  2. In another large bowl whisk pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.
  4. Stir in the chopped pecans.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake pan, lined with paper liners.  Fill cups about 3/4 full.  This batter perfectly makes 12 standard sized cupcakes.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 (F) degrees for 22-24 minutes.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Then transfer cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

SourceGlorious Treats Blog; Originally adapted from the cookbook Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

Looking for other delicious cupcake recipes?  Try these:

 

Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

 

 

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

 

 

White Cupcakes

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

 


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