Another item I made this holiday season to include in gift boxes was cranberry-nut bread. I picked up a mini loaf pan recently and thought little mini loaves of this bread would be a great treat. I used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated because they never seem to let me down. I did omit the nuts from this bread as I wanted everyone to enjoy it, even those who may have nut allergies. The combination of the cranberries and the orange juice/zest was incredibly fragrant and made the whole house smell amazing. The mini loaves turned out just as cute as I'd hoped they would. I completely forgot to note how long it took for these mini loaves to bake so I apologize. If you decide to make mini loaves just keep an eye on them and test them with a toothpick when they start to become golden.
from Cook's Illustrated
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest from 1 large orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries (about 6 ounces), chopped coarse
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarse (I omitted)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Grease bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (I used 4 mini loaf pans). Stir together orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix.
Scrape batter into loaf pan and spread with rubber spatula into corners of pan. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving.
Yields one 9-inch loaf or 4 mini loaves.
This week's TWD was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry: tall and creamy cheesecake! I've only made cheesecake one other time so I was really looking forward to making it again. Also, we're heading to a party for New Year's Eve so I figured I could bring the cheesecake, getting it out of my house so I wouldn't be tempted to eat it all!
Dorie includes a number of fun variations on the traditional, plain cheesecake in her book and I had my eye on the one marbled with chocolate. However, when I started baking the cheesecake, I completely forgot about melting the chocolate until the cake was about to go in the oven so at that point I decided to stick with the plain version. That is, until I saw what happened to my poor cheesecake in the oven. It developed a huge crack!
As you can see, it really wasn't terribly appealing visually. And I know it probably would have tasted the same with or without the crack, but I wanted it to look pretty too! So, I decided what my cheesecake really needed was a chocolate ganache layer on top. It proved to be the perfect cover for my less than perfect cheesecake :) Now the crack will be our little secret.
Aside from the giant crack, I didn't have any problems with this cheesecake. I'd never baked anything in a water bath so it was fun to try that for the first time with this recipe. I'm not planning to try any of the cheesecake until the party so I'll have to post a taste update on Thursday. Based on what the other TWD bakers have had to say, I predict it'll be delicious!
Thanks to Anne for her selection this week. It was fun! The recipe can be found on her blog. Be sure to check out the other TWD posts this week as there are so many different types of cheesecake that have been made.
I've been feeling a bit down this week. You see, on a whim I bought a 12-pack of Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist recently. I don't even like the original Sierra Mist that much but I've been on a cranberry kick this year and cranberry lemon-lime soda just sounded so yummy to me. Well, as it turns out, this is some of the most delicious soda ever. It's also a pretty red color and it's just plain fun to drink. As I got down to the last can I knew I had to get some more at the store. Unfortunately, it seems that the folks at the Pepsi Company only make Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist around the holidays. I've searched 4 different stores this week and there's no Cranberry Splash Sierra Mist to be found. So I guess I have to wait another 11 months for my soda to return. I'm going to operate under the assumption that this soda will be back next holiday season so I have something to look forward to!
I made two different cookie trays this year for the holidays. This first one included five different types of treats. I made these trays for my mom who gave them as gifts and they were definitely enjoyed by those who received them. To avoid a really long post with recipes for all five items, I'm going to include a link to each recipe as well as my thoughts on each one.
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
I made these cookies for the first time earlier this month to test the recipe. I really enjoyed them and it was an easy decision to make them again!
I'd made these truffles last Christmas after seeing them on many, many food blogs. They were a bit too rich for me but everyone else loved them. The thing I love most about these truffles is how easy they are to make. It takes some time to dip each of them in the chocolate but it's not complicated.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
I used the recipe on the lid of the Quaker Oats container for these cookies but instead of typing it out here, I've included a link to the same recipe on a food blog. These are pretty classic and had great flavor. Mine spread a bit more than I would have liked in the oven but it wasn't a big problem. They were still plenty chewy and delicious!
Decorated Sugar Cookies
This has been my go-to sugar cookie recipe since I discovered it on Annie's blog last Christmas. I think the almond extract in these cookies makes them incredibly delicious and superior to any other sugar cookie I've ever tried. If it didn't take me so long to make the dough, chill it and roll them out, I'd make these a lot more often. I wound up decorating these cookies with royal icing. It was my first time using royal icing and it went fairly well. Next time I want to play with the consistency of the icing a bit more so I can outline and flood but I still thought these came out cute.
I tested this recipe earlier in the month and thought these were great cookies. They're also quick and easy as you make the dough in the food processor and can then use a cookie scoop to quickly transfer them to the baking sheet. When you're making this many cookies, an easy recipe is a good recipe!
We were given some leeway with the recipes for December since it's such a busy month for everyone. This butterscotch pudding was actually last week's recipe but I didn't get a chance to make it until this weekend. The final recipe for December is a cheesecake and I'll be posting that on Wednesday!
The butterscotch pudding was chosen by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases. I can't recall having ever tasted butterscotch pudding so I was a bit intrigued by this recipe. That said, I have tasted other butterscotch flavored treats and generally haven't liked them so I didn't expect this to be my thing. A number of the TWD bakers had trouble finding a small bottle of decent scotch for the recipe but fortunately for me, Shane had a nice bottle of single malt scotch on hand so I didn't have to go out and purchase any.
This week I was reminded how easy pudding is to make yet how many dirty dishes it creates. I made only a third of this recipe to avoid wasting an entire batch if no one liked it. That wound up being a great call. Even the scotch drinker in our house wasn't a fan of this pudding. For me, the alcohol overwhelmed the pudding entirely. I really wanted to like it but I couldn't get past all that scotch!
Thanks to Donna for her pick! I'm glad I tried the pudding even if it wasn't a hit in my house. The recipe can be found on her blog if you're interested. Come back tomorrow to see how the cheesecake turned out!
I watched most of the holiday specials on Food Network this year. Some of them were really interesting and contained a lot of great recipes and ideas. This treat was included in one of those episodes. I thought it was a cute gift idea so I decided to make it. It's a really great combination of so many holiday scents and flavors with the cranberries, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. The house smelled wonderful as these baked! Since I packaged these up to give away, I didn't try them but if they taste anywhere near as good as they smelled, I'm sure they were a hit.
Spiced Cranberries and Almonds
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups dried cranberries
3 cups almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I omitted)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Melt butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in large pot over medium heat. Stir in cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Add cranberries, almonds, and coconut flakes and stir to combine.
Spread mixture on greased cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is crunchy and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl when cooled and serve.
I love breakfast. I'd venture to say it's my favorite meal of the day. It's rare, however, that we go out for breakfast and it's just as rare for me to make something special here. A few weeks ago I made challah knowing that we probably wouldn't eat much of the bread and hoping that I'd be motivated to use the stale loaf for french toast. After it sat on the counter staring at me for a few days, I did just that!
I knew I wanted to try this french toast recipe from Alton Brown as I'd watched the episode of Good Eats where he made it and it looked delicious! I was skeptical as I made it. When the bread went into the oven after being browned on the stove it was still fairly soggy and I was sure I'd somehow screwed up this simple recipe. Fortunately, that wasn't the case as it came out of the oven golden and beautiful. It smelled so good! Shane and I both loved this recipe and it was definitely worth the time it took to put together!
1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter
In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
Shane loves chocolate cookies so when I saw these festive treats I knew I wanted to make them. Shane brought them to work to share and they were very well received by his coworkers. People really seemed to like the peppermint glaze though I did leave some of the cookies unglazed, mostly because I knew Shane would prefer them that way. These were really simple and I think they're a perfect holiday treat with the flavor combination of chocolate and peppermint.
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
from Elly Says Opa
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
For the glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
3-4 Tbsp. milk
crushed peppermints (about 12-15) for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds if necessary.
On low speed, beat the flour mixture in a little bit at a time. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, with cookies about 2″ apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just cracked on top (be sure not to overbake!). Set aside to cool completely.
To make the glaze, stir the sugar, extract and milk together in a bowl until smooth and of good glazing consistency. If you want, you can stir in the crushed peppermints at this point, or you can just glaze each cookie and then top with crushed peppermints before the glaze has set.
We decorated our own gingerbread house this year for the first time. It was a lot of work!
Cute boxes I used to package holiday treats for our neighbors and our mailman.
In front of our tree after hosting our first holiday!
I know I haven't updated the blog in quite a few days but it's not because I haven't been cooking/baking. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I've been so busy in the kitchen I haven't had time to update with everything I've made. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be able to get all of the delicious goodies posted.
I made these peppermint meringues a few weeks ago. They were more of a novelty than anything else. I didn't really have a desire to eat them so much as a desire to see if I could achieve the stripes on the meringues. It actually ended up being much easier to accomplish than I expected! My stripes aren't dark (and this picture is a very poor depiction of what they actually looked like) but they were there. These reminded me of the mints you sometimes get at restaurants. They were crunchy/firm on the outside but the inside was soft and melted in your mouth. The original recipe added chocolate ganache and sandwiched two of the meringues together, and while I skipped it, I've included that part of the recipe below.
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Red gel-paste food coloring
For the Ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; secure corners with masking tape. Fit a pastry bag with a small open-star tip. Set aside.
Make meringues: Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir gently until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Mix in peppermint extract.
Using a new small paintbrush, paint 2 or 3 stripes of red food coloring inside the pastry bag. Fill bag with 1 to 2 cups meringue. Pipe small (3/4-inch-high) star shapes onto prepared baking sheets. Refill bag as necessary, adding food coloring each time.
Bake cookies until crisp but not brown, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Meanwhile, make ganache: Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until just simmering. Pour over chocolate in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let ganache cool at room temperature, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes, until thick enough to hold its shape, about 45 minutes. (If ganache sets before using, reheat in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; repeat the cooling process.)
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip with ganache. Pipe a small amount onto bottom of 1 meringue. Sandwich with another. Repeat with remaining ganache and meringues. Transfer to wire racks; let set 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.
Not too many things are better than homemade bread in my book, but homemade bread with a garlic butter glaze just might be. So, the decision to try these rolls was easy. Sadly, it wasn't the best experience for me. I found this dough incredibly difficult to work with. It was very sticky and I had to add a lot of flour to make it manageable. The process of rolling the dough into the ropes was also sort of a pain and took more time than I'd like. The flavor of the knots was ok, but didn't blow me away. Shane seemed to like them but I don't think they were his favorite either. I've seen a number of other bloggers who really enjoyed this recipe so perhaps I'll try it again eventually and have better luck!
Soft Garlic Knots
from Annie's Eats
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup + 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
For the glaze:
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10 inch long rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center. Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic or press it through a garlic press. Mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.
On a daily basis I get an email from Martha Stewart as part of her Cookie A Day distribution. Generally, the cookies are seasonally appropriate and I've been tempted to try many of them. When this recipe for chocolate-espresso snowcaps arrived in my inbox, I decided to test it out as I thought these cookies would be fun to include in my holiday baking.
Unfortunately, I didn't end up loving these cookies. They're fairly simple to make though you will definitely wind up with chocolate hands when you roll the dough. The double roll in the confectioners' sugar does produce a very nice looking cookie. For me, the espresso flavor was just too strong but I should mention that I don't like coffee so that probably played a role. Others who tried these thought they were just ok. I'm glad I tried them but I probably won't make them again.
As an aside, I didn't intend to include only the recipe for the coconut macaroons posted below. In fact, I didn't even realize I'd done that until Shane pointed it out a day later. The macaroons were incredibly easy to make (gotta love cookie dough made in the food processor) and got rave reviews. Shane brought them into work, and at his company Christmas party a few days later, several of his coworkers mentioned to me how much they loved the macaroons! They look cute too....kind of like little snowballs. I definitely intend to use the recipe for my Christmas cookies this year.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant espresso
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, for coating
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients; beat in milk just until combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar twice.
Place balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields 18 cookies.
from Cooks Illustrated
14 oz flaked, sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup egg whites, plus 1 tablespoon, from about 3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle levels of oven and heat oven to 325 F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Turn coconut into food processor and process for 1 minute. Add sugar, process 15 seconds longer. Add egg whites and extract; process 1 full minute until the paste resembles slushy snow. Scrape sides and corners of workbowl with spatula; process until stiff but cohesive, malleable paste forms, about 5 seconds longer. If mixture is crumbly or dry, turn machine back on and add water by drops through feeder tube until proper consistency is reached.
Allowing scant 2 tablespoons of paste for each macaroon, form a dozen cookies upon each baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake macaroons, rotating sheets midway through baking, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Leave macaroons on baking sheets until completely cooled or else they may tear.
Yields 24 cookies.
This week's TWD was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl: buttery jam cookies! I was thankful for this pick as I've recently been trying out all kinds of cookie recipes in the quest for the best ones to make as gifts this holiday season. This is a recipe I likely would not have made had it not been for TWD so I was glad to try it out. I was also grateful for the simplicity of the recipe. I've been baking so much lately that I'm not sure I would have been up for something complicated or time consuming.
Dorie says the recipe for the buttery jam cookies yields 45 cookies. I decided to make a half batch since I already have so many sweets sitting around. I must have made my cookies a bit too large as the half recipe only yielded 17 cookies. Dorie suggests apricot jam for the cookies but I only had strawberry preserves on hand so that's what I used.
I had read some of the comments from other TWD bakers about these cookies before I made mine. A few had mentioned that the cookies didn't spread much so if you didn't flatten them before they went in the oven you'd have little mound shaped cookies. That comment totally slipped my mind so I wound up with mound cookies. I did, however, remember that many of the TWD bakers didn't love these cookies so I had low expectations. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised! I loved them! The jam is definitely subtle and I couldn't really taste the ginger in them at all. They were essentially little cakey biscuits, with just enough sweetness to make me happy.
Many thanks to Heather for choosing these delicious cookies! The recipe can be found on her blog. Head over to TWD to see how the other bakers fared with these cookies.
Sometimes I have really productive Sundays. This has not been one of those days. It's been a really lazy Sunday, which allowed me plenty of time to make homemade bread. As much as I love sweet desserts, I think I'm just as fond of fresh bread. I am continually amazed by what can be created with a little yeast and some flour!
This was a recipe from Cooking Light that caught my eye yesterday. I've seen a few challah recipes on other food blogs and I've always loved how pretty the braided loaf looked. This recipe was also the first time I've made bread without the use of my stand mixer. It was actually really easy, though it did make quite a mess in my kitchen with all of the flour on the counters. The bread made my entire house smell wonderful as it baked and it came out of the oven golden and beautiful! We have already tried a piece and it's delicious but I must confess...I fully intend to use this bread as the vehicle for french toast or a french toast casserole :)
from Cooking Light
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100 to 110 F)
3 tablespoons honey
Dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour (about 14 1/4 ounces), divided
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds (I omitted)
Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and egg; stir well with a whisk.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 F), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down. Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl. Cover and let rise an additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 15 minutes.
Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25-inch rope with slightly tapered ends. Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal. Braid ropes; pinch loose ends to seal. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Combine 1 teaspoon water and large egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended. Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
When I sat down to figure out a few cookies recipes to try last week I wanted to include a non-cookie that would be simple to make. I remembered these Rice Krispie treats I'd seen on Annie's blog and figured they'd be a good option. I haven't made Rice Krispie treats in a long time and I think I forgot that while they are simple (from the standpoint of no baking required and few ingredients), they're also a sticky, gooey mess! I had some trouble getting them into the muffin tins and pressed down to create level tops. Eventually, I wound up using a piece of wax paper as a tool to press them down, but it was still tricky. Shane brought these to work and at the end of the day there was only one left so I think people liked them. I probably won't make them again anytime soon (unless there is a specific request) but I'm glad I gave them a try.
Black and White Rice Krispie Treats
from Annie's Eats
4 tbsp. butter, divided
1 ½ oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
4 cups mini marshmallows (or 40 regular marshmallows), divided
6 ½ cups Rice Krispies, divided
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Line 18-22 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt 2 tablespoons butter, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Stir frequently to incorporate cooca and prevent scorching. Add 2 cups mini marshmallows and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy and melted. Add in 3 ¼ cups Rice Krispies and stir to combine, making sure chocolate covers the whole batch. Stir in mini chocolate chips and divide the mixture evenly among prepared muffin tins, filling each half way up. Press down to create a level top.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt 2 tablespoons butter and remaining mini marshmallows in microwave for 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows are fluffy and butter is completely melted. Add in vanilla and remaining Rice Krispies, and stir to coat cereal completely. Divide evenly among chocolate-filled muffin tins, filling each the rest of the way to the top.
Chill in the refrigerator 15 minutes or let sit at room temperature until set before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
I have been lusting over Martha Stewart's Cookies book for a while now. Every time I go to Target, I browse the book section and stop to flip through this book. I have so many cookbooks that I couldn't justify getting this book just yet. Then, a brilliant idea hit me. I checked the library for the book and they had it! These chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies are on the cover and have been staring at me since I got the book about a week ago.
I made these cookies along with a few other types the other day to test the recipes so I can figure out what kind of Christmas cookies I'll be making as gifts. These are really simple to make, particularly because even though you chill the dough after making it, you don't have to roll it out. You simple break off chunks and roll them into balls. They bake up beautifully and when they come out of the oven the inside is all gooey and delicious. Yum. For me these were the perfect combination of gingerbread and chocolate. I think these will definitely be making the cut for this year's Christmas cookie list!
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
from Martha Stewart's Cookies
7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (I omitted)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields 2 dozen cookies.
I love apple pie but I love it even more when someone else makes it. I'm still apprehensive to make pie dough as I seem to have mixed results. When you combine that with the time required to peel and core all of the apples, you get a dessert I don't make too often. That said, sometimes I get a craving and nothing else will satisfy it. I suppose I could buy a pie but it's just not the same. I've been meaning to make this apple crumb pie from my Williams Sonoma Pie and Tart book for a while now so when the craving for apple pie struck, this is where I turned. I like this pie because it combines apple pie with apple crisp by using a crumb topping instead of traditional dough on top. Also, the filling has so many delicious fall spices that it's perfect for this time of year. The whole house smelled amazing as the pie baked and I had quite a few slices before I decided it was time to share with others :)
Cinnamon Apple Crumb Pie
from Williams Sonoma Pie and Tart, by Carolyn Beth Weil and Chuck Williams
1 rolled-out basic pie dough round (recipe here)
For the Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
For the Filling:
7 large, tart, firm apples, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, strained
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Unfold and ease into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Using kitchen scissors, trim the edge of the dough round, leaving 3/4 inch of overhang. Fold the overhang under itself and pinch it together to create a high edge on the pan's rim. Flute if desired.
To make the crumb topping, in a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the filling, place the apples in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apples and toss to distribute evenly. Immediately transfer to the dough-lined pan. Sprinkle evenly with the crumb topping.
Refrigerate the pie until the dough is firm, 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Bake the pie until the crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to set.
I have to rewind one more time to post a final Thanksgiving dessert I made. I wish I'd had a chance to get this up sooner but oh well. This recipe comes from Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine. I'm not a huge fan of Rachel's tv shows but I adore her magazine. It's full of great ideas and fun recipes. Most of the baking recipes are really simple as Rachel focuses more on cooking than baking and generally speaking, the baking recipes don't interest me. This one, however, caught my eye. It just looked so beautiful in the photos I wanted to replicate it. I decided to throw it together for Thanksgiving because I was already making a number of other desserts and needed one more but wanted something easy. I didn't actually try the finished product, but those who did really enjoyed it. It's perfectly light and airy after a huge Thanksgiving meal. I also think it's a fun dessert if you want something with pumpkin but don't want to make pumpkin pie.
Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
from Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine
3 cups heavy cream
one 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of salt
one 7.5-oz jar marshmallow cream
3 cups chopped gingersnaps, plus crushed gingersnaps for sprinkling
3 tablespoons dark rum
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Reserve 2 cups whipped cream for serving; refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Fold in half of the marshmallow cream, then half of the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining marshmallow cream and whipped cream until combined.
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the gingersnaps with the rum.
Spoon one-third of the pumpkin mousse into a clear glass serving bowl, spreading evenly, and sprinkle half of the cookies on top. Repeat with half of the remaining mousse and the remaining cookies, then top with the final layer of mousse. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Just before serving, top with the reserved whipped cream and sprinkle with the crushed gingersnaps.