Brown Sugar Caramels

Brown Sugar Caramel by Bakewell Junction

Brown Sugar Caramel by Bakewell Junction

My hubby has been trying to watch what he eats, so I decided it was time to make something he doesn’t like.  I had seen the Brown Sugar Caramels recipe in a guest post Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake wrote for Lora from Cake Duchess on December 10th and since my hubby doesn’t like caramels, I made the recipe thinking it would prevent him from being tempted.  He hasn’t been tempted all that much but he did taste them and he really liked them.

While my caramels tasted delicious, they didn’t look as good a Liz’s.  They turned out a little soft too.  This could be because of a few factors.  I didn’t have half and half, so I substituted half with heavy whipping cream and half with whole milk – isn’t that what half and half is?  The 3 quart sauce pan I started cooking in was too small and the mixture was about to boil over, so I had to switch to a 4 quart stock pot when I got to about 225 degrees.  I would recommend making this recipe in a pot that is at least 3.5 quarts.  I also didn’t have non-stick aluminum foil, so I lined the 8 by 8 inch pan with regular foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  Liz’s tips were very helpful and the caramels turned out wonderfully since I’d never made them before.  I’ll enjoy making these again.  You can find the Brown Sugar Caramels recipe on Lora’s site.

Enjoy!!!

This post may also be entered in the following linky party.  Click the buttons below to see the other great posts in the blog hop.

Foodie Friends Friday

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 8 ~ Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies by Bakewell Junction

Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies by Bakewell Junction

It’s the eighth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Welcome back and thanks for reading about all the Christmas cookies I make.  Today I’m sharing another recipe that I’ve been making for the past several Christmases.  These are decorated cookies and since I’m sharing them with you, I made some changes to make them look a little less cartoonish (that’s a new word – no need to thank me).  I also used some tips from Bridget at Bake at 350 while making these.  Since Bridget makes the most beautiful cookies, I thought that my cookies would look better by following her lead.

As I mentioned last week, the star I cut out of the Mini Linzer cookie tops are used at the top of the Christmas Tree cookies.  I iced the stars and topped with sparkling sugar to give them a little sugar bling.

Enjoy.

Using an inexpensive cookie sheet (tips via Bridget), line it with wax paper and placed the cookies along the edges so they could be decorated without smearing any of them.  Then I ringed the cookies with a thin bead of icing (another Bridget tip).  I turned the cookie sheet as I went along until they were all done (another Bridget tip).

Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies by Bakewell Junction 2

I filled in the center of the cookies with icing and before the icing dried, I added the star at the top, used Sugar Pearl Sprinkles for the garland and melted chocolate for the trunk.

Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies by Bakewell Junction

Christmas Tree Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Yield:  25 – 30 cookies                  Cook Time:  10 – 12 minutes

Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I put the stick in the microwave upside down for 8 seconds and then right side up for 6 seconds to soften)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (I use extra large)

Royal Icing

  • 3 tablespoons powdered egg whites (I skip the powdered egg whites)
  • 4 cups (1 pound box) powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • Green food coloring

Decorations

  • Sugar Pearl Sprinkles
  • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate, melted (heat in the microwave for 30 second increments and stir until melted)
  • White sparkling sugar

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine the butter, egg, vanilla and sugar and blend with an electric mixer, since this is a small dough a hand held mixer will do.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined – this will be more of a folding motion rather than stirring.  Shape dough into a flat disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Step 3:  Place the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll to 3/8 inch thick with a floured rolling pin.  Using a 4 1/2 to 5 inch Christmas Tree shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies.  After you finish cutting the rolled dough, you can gather the scraps into a flat disc and roll out the dough again and repeat cutting out the cookies.

Step 4:  Place the cookies on the cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Bake chilled cookies 10 – 12 minutes until edges begin to become golden.  Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets.  Carefully move cookies to cooling racks and let cool completely.  Repeat for the remaining cookies.

Step 5: For the icing (make 1/4 or 1/2 the recipe), combine the powdered egg whites, powdered sugar and water in a bowl.  The icing should be the consistency of honey.  Reserve two teaspoons of the icing to remain as white.  Mix in enough of the green food coloring to the remaining icing to turn it a vibrant green color.

Step 6:  Line an inexpensive cookie sheet with wax paper.  On top of the wax paper, ring the edges of the cookie sheet with the cooled cookies facing outward.  Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of the green icing into the corner of a ziploc bag and cut about 1/8 inch of the tip off.  Pipe the green icing along the outline of each of the cookies but bypassing the trunk at the bottom of the cookie.  Cover the remaining green icing with a damp paper towel and then plastic wrap to store until the next day.

Step 7:  While the outlined cookies are setting, pour 2 teaspoons of the white sparkling  sugar into a small bowl, dip the star cut-outs from last week’s Mini Linzer cookies in the reserved white icing and then dip the iced side of the star into the white sparkling sugar.  Place the stars iced and sugared side up on a platter to dry.

Step 8:  Since the outlined cookies have set a bit, use a small spatula to spread the melted chocolate on the cookies’ tree trunks.  I used a demitasse spoon because I’m just more comfortable using spoons rather than a spatula.  After all the cookies’ trunks are finished, let the outline and chocolate dry overnight.

Step 9:  Stir the green frosting to ensure it hasn’t separated.  Using a spatula, fill in the outlined cookies to the edge of the outline.  After filling in several, go back to the first one and add the star at the top of each filled cookie and then add the sugar pearl sprinkles in rows to look like garland.  I added a row from each point on one side of the cookie to the other and then some of them I added a swag going diagonally from one row of garland to the other – to look almost like a z.  Repeat in batches of several cookies for the remaining cookies.  Let dry overnight.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for many days when stored this way.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe from Family Circle magazine, 12/12/2000.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 8, November 15, 2012

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I’ve seen some of the other bloggers that participate in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats listing their submissions from the prior weeks.  I like this idea, so I’ve incorporated it into this week’s post.  If you’ve missed my posts for the prior weeks, here’s a reminder:

This post was also entered in the following linky parties.  Click the button below to see the other great cookies in the blog hop.

Cookies 2012

Sweet 2 Eat Baking

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 7 ~ Mini Linzer Cookies

Mini Linzer Cookies by Bakewell Junction

Mini Linzer Cookies by Bakewell Junction

It’s the seventh week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

The weeks are flying by and I’m sharing another recipe that I’ve been making for the past several Christmases.  Although these cookies have mini in the name, they aren’t small cookies.  They are rich and when they’re first made they are a bit crispy but as the preserves and flavors meld together the crispness goes away and they melt in your mouth.

Just so you know, the star I cut out of the cookie tops are used on another cookie that I make for Christmas.  I’ll post those next week.  Be sure to tune in for that.

Enjoy.

Mini Linzer Cookies

Yield:  18 – 20 sandwich cookies                  Cook Time:  10 – 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup good seedless raspberry preserves (I substitute grape jam because that’s what my husband likes)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix with an electric mixer.  Add vanilla to the butter mixture.  In another bowl, combine flour and salt.  Add flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until dough begins to form.  Shape dough into a flat disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Step 3:  Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thick with a floured rolling pin.  Using a 2 3/4 in inch plain or shaped cutter, cut out cookies.  For half of the cookies, cut a hole out of the middle in the shape of a star (for Christmas).

Step 4:  Place the solid cookies on the cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Bake chilled cookies 10 – 12 minutes until edges begin to become golden.  Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets.  Carefully move cookies to cooling racks and let cool completely.  Repeat for the remaining solid cookies.  Place the cut out cookies on the cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Bake chilled cookies 10 – 12 minutes until edges begin to become golden.  Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets.  Carefully move cookies to cooling racks and let cool completely.  Repeat for the remaining cut out cookies and the star cut outs.

Step 5:  Pair similarly sized solid and cut out cookies together.  Spread the jam or preserves on the flat side of solid cookies.  Dust the top of the cut out cookies with powdered sugar.  Press the flat side (bottom) of the cut out cookies on top of the preserves creating a sandwich cookie with the preserves in the middle and the powdered sugar on top.  Reserve the star cut outs for another cookie in the Christmas cookie platter.

Tips:  The dough is a bit crumbly, so when rolling the dough try to close any cracks.  Since the solid cookies have more dough, bake them separately from the cookies with the center cut out.  This way the cookies with the center cut out can be baked for less time and aren’t overcooked.  Watch the star cut outs carefully as they are much smaller than other cookies and will cook much more quickly.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Enjoy!!!

Adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook recipe on Food Network.  A variation of Eli Zabar’s shortbread cookies.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 7, November 8, 2012

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This week in addition to the Christmas Treats, I’m joining Food Bloggers Support for Sandy.  This is was created by Barb of Creative Culinary and Jenn from Jenn Cuisine to show support for the victims of Sandy.  Be sure to visit their sites to see what the other supporters have made.  It would be great if you could join us or donate to the Sandy relief efforts.  There are still many people who don’t have electricity, heat or homes.  If you’re looking for an organization to donate, some of the organizations that are helping victims of Sandy are:

 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 5 ~ Italian Almond Crescents

It’s the fifth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Whew!  It’s been a busy week at work and at home.  Glad to able to share this easy cookie recipe with you.  My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and it’s been in my husband’s family forever.  The cookies are similar to Italian Wedding Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies.  These cookies contain nuts whereas the my earlier post for Almond Crescents contained almond flavoring.

This recipe is a staple during the Christmas season.  I hope it becomes a staple for your family too.  The cookies are buttery but they aren’t very sweet, so the powdered sugar coating makes the sweetness just right.

Enjoy.

Italian Almond Crescents

Yield:  5 dozen cookies                  Cook Time:  15 – 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pound (2 cups) blanched slivered or sliced almonds, then finely chopped
  • 1 pound of butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

Step 2:  Mix flour, corn starch, sugar and almonds in a large bowl.

Step 3:  Using a fork or spatula mix the butter and vanilla into the flour mix until just combined.  Form crescents with about a tablespoon of dough.  Place on lined cookie sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough, placing about 1 1/2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread a bit.

Step 4:  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet.  If you remove the cookies from the cookie sheet too soon the cookies may break as they are fragile when they’re warm.

Step 5:  After the cookies have cooled, dredge each one in the bowl of powdered sugar.  Be sure there’s a nice thick coating of powdered sugar on the cookies.

Tips:  Do not bake cookies too long.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Enjoy!!!

Barely adapted from my husband’s family recipe.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 5, October 25, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 3 ~ Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

It’s the third week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Last week I wrote about the Pizzelle cookie which is a Christmas a tradition in my family.  This week I’m making a cookie that has been a tradition in my brother-in-law’s family.  My sister’s husband’s family makes this cookie during Christmas and other holidays all year long.  When my sister began making them and bringing them to family gatherings, we found that we loved them and then added them to our Christmas cookie list.  Once I began making these cookies regularly, I’ve developed a method for forming and baking the cookies.

These cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth quality.  They are light and slightly sweet which is a perfect foil for the sweet frosting.  Being small and bite-size makes them easy to pop in your mouth and, trust me, you won’t be able to stop at just one.  Small cookies don’t really have any calories do they?

One recipe makes a lot of cookies but since they’re small, I don’t see this as a problem.  I give these away to friends and family.  If I’m visiting, I bring along a variety of cookies and these are always included.

Enjoy.

The dough is pretty easy to mix but handling the dough is needs some show and tell.  After the dough is chilled, cut the dough into quarters.

Cut thin slices from the dough currently being used, similar to french fries.

Rounding the edges with your fingertips.

Cut the dough into three inch strips.

Begin creating the vertical cork screw.

Bring the dough around.

Finish the cork screw.

Ready for the oven.

Hot out of the oven.

Barely golden on the bottom.

Frosted deliciousness.

Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

Yield:  190 – 200 cookies                  Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 pound or 2 sticks butter (softened or melted – I melt the butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour plus some additional for dusting while forming the cookies

Icing:

  • 1/4 pound or 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2 pound box or 3 1/3 – 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk (after adding 1 1/2 tablespoons, add remaining milk in small increments)
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

Directions:

Step 1:  For the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  With an electric mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Stir in the baking powder and 4 cups of flour until combined.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for easier handling; at least 4 1/2 hours (I usually chill overnight).

Step 3:  Once the dough has chilled long enough, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it in quarters with three parallel cuts.  Remove a quarter of the dough out of the refrigerator at a time to form the cookies, so the dough doesn’t get too soft and sticky.  Place the remaining dough into the refrigerator until ready to shape the next quarter batch.

Step 4:  Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour.  Place the quarter of dough removed from the refrigerator on the work surface and cut a thin slice (about 1/4 inch thick); then cut the slice into french fry shapes.  Break the pieces of dough into about three inch lengths and round the edges longways with your fingertips so the three inch lengths look like they were rolled.  Twist the dough into a vertical corkscrew curl and place on the baking sheet.  Place each cookie about a half inch apart.  Repeat until all the dough is finished from the quarter batch removed from the refrigerator.

Step 5:  Repeat step 4 for the remaining three quarters of dough until all the dough has been shaped into cookies.  Bake cookies for 10 minutes, one cookie sheet at a time.  When done, the cookies should be set and the bottoms should show barely a hint of golden color.  Let cool completely.

Step 6:  For the frosting, mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk together in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining tablespoon of milk in small increments as necessary to reach a creamy but not runny consistency.

Step 7:  For festive colors divide frosting into batches.  Stir in drops of red food coloring into one batch until the desired shade is reached.  Place a dollop of frosting on each cookie.  Repeat with green food coloring.

Step 8:  Let frosting dry for several hours or overnight and then store in an airtight container.

Tips:  If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half.  Handling the dough to much can make the cookies tough.  Cooking them too long can make them dry.  If some of the cookies are stuck together during baking, this will just make it easier to frost – they can be broken apart after the frosting dries.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Variations:  After chilling, you can roll the dough and use cookie cutters to shape the cookies.

Enjoy!!!

Adapted from my brother-in-law’s family recipe.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 3, October 11, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 2 ~ Pizzelle

It’s the second week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

A staple of my Christmas cookies is the Pizzelle.  Pizzelle means small pizzas.  Although these cookies don’t resemble the savory pizzas we are accustomed to, they are flat and they usually have a diamond pattern.  You may have seen them shaped as circles and in different flavors.  Growing up we only had one shape (rectangular) and one flavor (vanilla), so for me this all I need.  You may also be more familiar with the electric Pizzelle irons which make the cooking part much quicker but they don’t always give me the taste and tradition that I grew up with.  We only had the iron that was heated on the stove.  It makes one cookie at a time, one side at a time.  I still use my grandmother’s iron which is probably about 70 years old by now and it makes the best cookies.

Pizzelle cookies are light, crisp and slightly sweet.  You don’t get overwhelmed with decadence, sweetness or richness – not that there’s anything wrong with those things, as many of my recipes are decadent, sweet and rich – but when you’re in the kitchen chatting with your family or friends and there’s a stack of Pizzelle nearby, you’ll find that you’ve eaten one, then two, then before you notice ten or twelve.

One recipe makes a ton of cookies and that’s definitely a good thing.  I give these away to friends and family.  One of my friend’s young adult sons have fought over these cookies.  Every year my sisters demand to get their fair share of the Pizzelle for Christmas.  Last year I brought Pizzelle to my cousin’s open house party and her father said that my Pizzelle tasted just like my grandmother’s did fifty years ago when she brought him some.

Our favorite way to eat Pizzelle is to nibble on the ends first before eating the rest.  As you can see from the cookies in the pictures we don’t fill the entire rectangle with dough for a couple of reasons.  First, you get more cookies when you use less dough and second, they’re more fun to eat when you’re able to nibble on the ends.

You can still purchase a Pizzelle iron similar to mine.  My youngest sister purchased one online from Fante’s at http://www.fantes.com/pizzelle.html.  The iron is made in the US and is inexpensive.  When I showed my sister how to make Pizzelle, I found that the iron was little different, in that, the handles were a little more lightweight than my iron but made no difference to the quality of the cookies made with it.

I realize this is a lot of discussion around one cookie but it’s just that this recipe has been such an integral part of our Christmas tradition for so long (since before I was born) that I felt it needed to be shared.

Enjoy – it’s worth it.

My sister’s brand new Pizzelle iron.

The dough for this recipe is different than most cookies.  The dough is much thicker and you’ll need to mix it as far as you can with your stand mixer.

A closer look.

The dough after additional manual mixing of additional flour.  Note that I use an Ice Cream Spade to mix in additional flour until the dough is about the consistency of Play Dough.

Shape the dough into finger-like portions to get ready for cooking.

After cooking the dough you have delicious Pizzelle cookies.

Pizzelle

Yield:  175 – 200 cookies                  Cook Time:  3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen large eggs (only 11 eggs if using extra-large)
  • 1 1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla or to taste (I usually pour directly out of the bottle until I see the mixture change to the correct color)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 5 pounds flour, approximately
  • Cooking spray as needed

1/4 Recipe

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2.5 ounces oil (75 ml – just below 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla or to taste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups flour, approximately

 Directions:

Step 1:  With a stand mixer beat eggs on medium until frothy.  Blend in oil, baking powder and vanilla.

Step 2:  Lower the mixer speed so the dry ingredients aren’t splashed out of the bowl.  Slowly add sugar, waiting for each cup to be blended before adding the next until all the sugar is incorporated.  Begin adding flour in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time.  Wait for each addition to blend with the remaining ingredients.

Step 3:  Once the dough becomes too thick for the mixer to continue, divide the dough in half and transfer each half into ceramic or glass bowls.  The reason I separate the dough is to mix it to an even consistency throughout when the dough is halved.

Step 4:  Using a very heavy and very strong spoon like an Ice Cream Spade, continue blending the flour in small increments into one of the bowls of dough.  You will not be able stir the dough but you can fold it over itself and use the back of the spade to drag the flour across the dough (it’s easiest if your dragging motion starts from the point of the dough farthest from you and drag the spade towards you) and thereby incorporating it.  Be aware that you should not use your hands to mix the dough as it changes the flavor of the cookie.

Step 5:  When the dough no longer sticks to the spoon (very thick), turn it over in the bowl to ensure the consistency is equal throughout.  If there are parts of the dough that aren’t as thick or are sticky, then continue incorporating flour until it is the same consistency throughout.  Repeat from Step 4 with the second bowl of dough.

Step 6:  Begin forming the dough into finger-like portions about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long.  After forming many of the dough portions, spray both sides of the pizzelle iron with cooking spray.  On a gas stove turn the heat to medium.  Heat the iron for 10 minutes alternating sides every minute.  Have a large tray nearby to stack the finished cookies.

Step 7:  Open the iron while it sits on the gas burner and place one dough portion in the center of the iron with the long portion of the dough matching the long portion of the iron.  Close the iron so the dough will squeeze into the crevices of the iron.  Cook on one side for a count of 10 or 12 seconds and then turn over and cook the other side for 10 or 12 seconds.  Check the cookie it should barely have a golden blush.  The first cookie may be too dark or too raw.  If it’s too raw, cook it on the side(s) that need it a little longer.  Once the cookie is done, use a fork to lift one end and quickly pick it up and place it on the tray to cool.  You’ll need to adjust the heat setting so you can get into a groove with making the cookies.  Repeat cooking until all the dough has been cooked.  You may need to spray the Pizzelle Iron with cooking spray periodically as you cook (maybe after half the dough is cooked).  As the cookies are made you will be making stacks by creating a row of cookies across a tray and then repeating to make a second row, a third row and so on.  The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

Tips:  These cookies need to be made on cool dry days because warmth and humidity change the dough and you’ll use more flour than needed and the dough becomes difficult to work with.  If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half or a quarter.  While cooking it’s helpful if you have someone else forming the cookies, so you constantly have dough portions ready to cook.

Storing:  Store cookies on a tray and cover the top so they don’t get dust on them.  The cookies are fine for quite a long time (several weeks).

Variations:  Sprinkle with powdered sugar (don’t breath in while eating or you’ll start coughing).  Drizzle with melted chocolate (my husband loves this).  Shape into a cone while still warm and fill with ice cream or make an ice cream sandwich.  Alternatively top with cannoli cream.

Enjoy!!!

My family recipe adapted about fifty years ago from a friends recipe.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 2, October 4, 2012

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Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies

A lot has been going on in the past few weeks.  My husband and I both had family visiting and staying with our sisters.  I had intended making some tasty treats for the barbeques that were planned during their visit but I didn’t have the time to make the more time consuming treats that would have wowed them.  Instead, for the first barbeque, I made Slutty Brownies and these Chewy M&M Sugar Cookies that looked so good on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures blog.  I’d recently seen a couple of other bloggers that loved this recipe too, so kudos to Tracey.

As it happened, my husband called me out to look as something he was working on outside (I don’t remember what it was) while I was making these, so one batch cooked too long and became crispy.  That didn’t cause a problem because my husband and his brothers loved the crispy ones too.

Enjoy.

Hot out of the oven.

Ready to eat…bet you want a bite.

Yield:  24 cookies                 Cook Time:  11 – 13 minutes

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 oz room temperature cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces (I used Neufchatel cream cheese)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable (or canola) oil (I used olive oil – I know you shouldn’t use olive oil for baking but that’s all I have in the house)
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/4 cups M&M’s (I used 1 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup to add on top)

Directions:

Step 1: Mix the first four ingredients in one bowl.

Step 2:  Place 1 1/2 cups of sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl.  Mix the warm butter with the cream cheese mixture.  The mixture may still have some lumps now.  Mix in the oil.  Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.  Using a spatula, begin folding the flour mixture into the cream cheese mixture.  Mix in 1 cup of the M&M’s before the flour mixture is fully incorporated.  Once the flour mixture is fully incorporated, you should have a soft dough.  Be sure not to over-mix.

Step 3:  Add 1/3 cup sugar in a small soup bowl for rolling.  Using a heaping tablespoon for each cookie, roll the dough into a ball and then roll in the sugar reserved earlier until all the dough is used.  Since my cookies were a little flat the first time I made them, I chilled the dough balls in a medium bowl for a couple of hours after shaping and rolling in sugar.

Step 4:  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place 12 cookies evenly apart on the sheet.  Flatten the dough balls slightly until they are about two inches wide.  Add a few M&M’s into the top of each cookie.  Repeat until all the dough balls are used.

Step 5:  Bake each tray individually in a preheated oven at 350 F for 11-13 minutes.  The cookie edges should be set and the tops should be puffy and crackly.  Cool for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely..

Cookie recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Easter Bread

My family has come to expect me to bake Easter Bread for Easter Sunday.  I’ve used this recipe for the past few years and my family really loves it.

A few years ago I was looking for an Easter Bread recipe to remind me of the bread my Grandmother used to make every Easter.  Although my Grandmother’s recipe was delicious, we no longer have the recipe and the bread was a little dry and heavy.  I searched the internet and I wanted a recipe that produced bread that was moister, lighter and sweeter than the one I remember as a child.  I had seen an Easter Bread recipe on the La Lama Mountain Ovens site and modified it to my liking.  Although I’ve said before that I usually have more difficulty with yeast recipes, this one went well from the first time I tried it.

I usually double this recipe to make six breads because I give at least four away.

Enjoy the recipe.

After rolling out the dough for one bread.

After braiding the dough.

Form the braid into a circle and pinch ends well.

Transfer into the pan and add colored egg(s).

Hot out of the oven.

Easter Bread

Yield:  3 breads                Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

Starter:

  • 2 packages dry yeast (1 package yeast = 5 – 1/4 teaspoons; therefore substitute 2 1/2  or 2 1/4 teaspoon jarred yeast)
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 or 4 handfuls of white unbleached flour

Bread:

  • 8 cups white unbleached flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 oz melted butter, cooled (one stick)
  • 1/2 cup Rum (possible substitutes whiskey or bourbon)
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs (eggs don’t need to be hard boiled as they will cook during baking; be careful not to crack)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • nonpareils

Directions:

Step 1:  For the starter, add 1 teaspoon sugar to warm milk, then dissolve yeast in the milk.  Use your fingers to mix the yeast until it dissolves.  Whisk (or stir) in flour by the handful until about the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or until bubbly and about double in bulk..

Step 2:  While the starter is rising, mix 8 cups flour, 2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon salt together and put this mixture onto a large wooden table.  Make a well in the center large enough to hold all of the starter plus the wet ingredients in the next step.  I have a huge platter that I use for this step so if my flour well gives way, I don’t have a mess dripping onto the floor.

Step 3:  Beat eggs in electric mixer until light and foamy, add melted butter and rum and just beat to mix.  Scrape the starter from step 1 into the well of dry ingredients.  Pour egg mixture in slowly while using a fork to start incorporating the flour into the well, making a soft dough.  This will take some time and a lot of patience because you do not want to collapse the flour walls while you have a very runny egg mixture in the middle.  Once you have a soft dough working, start kneading vigorously using a dough scraper to help it along.  The dough will start off being very sticky.  Keep adding dustings of flour and kneading until it is soft and velvety, being careful not to add so much flour that it become hard or dry.  This kneading will take about 15 min.  Place in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to double.  It will take 2 or 3 hours.

Step 4:  Deflate the dough but do not knead it.  Cover again and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Step 5:  Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces of about 2 lbs each (make large thick loaves – yields softer bread).  Cut each piece in half for a total of six pieces and roll each piece into a long log, working from the center out.  Rotate working each piece, resting the others. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to work with.  When all are the size you want (2 to 3 feet) to form them into twisted rings to fit the pan, then take two of the rolled logs and twist together to form a braid, pinching ends together well.  Place on greased (using cooking spray) sheet pans (I use the disposable aluminum half steam tray pans – the bread turns out better) and insert two dyed eggs per bread between the braids but so they are still visible – I usually place one on each side of the bread for visual appeal.  Cover bread with clean towels and let rise overnight.  Repeat for the other two breads.

Step 6:  Preheat oven to 350.  Place all three uncovered breads in the oven.  Bake until golden brown for 30 minutes to yield soft moist bread.  Rotate the breads 180 degrees and top shelf to bottom shelf for even baking when adding egg wash.  After 20 minutes of baking, brush each loaf with a mixture of 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle with nonpareils.

Step 7:  Cool completely before wrapping.  Keep breads well wrapped, so they don’t dry out.  You can double wrap and freeze if not eating in the near term.

Recipe adapted from La Lama Mountain Ovens.

Tips:  When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour.  Use your dough scraper as one “hand” when kneading.  You may consider preheating your oven to “low” for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages.  This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish.

This post may also be entered in the following linky party. Click the button below to see the other great posts in the blog hop.Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Pandoro (also Pan D’oro)

For Easter Sunday I visited my sister and planned to bring Pandoro and Easter Bread.  I’ve baked this Pandoro a couple of times already and I think this is the best version yet.  The result was a light and sweet Pandoro.  My sister and head taste tester really liked it.  My sister-in-law said the Pandoro was better than those commercially made.

I had seen this on La Lama Mountain Ovens site some time ago and had set it aside for a while before trying it.  This past Christmas I decided it was time to give this recipe a try.  I usually have more difficulty with yeast recipes, so this one took a few tries before I got it to where I was happy with it.  As you can see in the pictures I didn’t use a Pandoro pan, I used disposable aluminum pans that are similar to angel food cake pans but without the center hole.

Enjoy the recipe.

After mixing is competed.

After de-panning.

Ready to take a bite.

Pandoro

Yield:  2 cakes                Cook Time:  60 – 70 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten, divided
  • 2 large yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/4 tsp, instant dry yeast OR 7 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Step 1:  Combine flours in a large bowl.  Remove 3/4 cup for kneading later.

Step 2:  Make your starter by placing 2 3/4 cups of the blended flour, 1/2 cup warm water, 3 eggs lightly beaten, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 stick (2 oz.) of unsalted butter and yeast in your mixer bowl.  With the paddle attachment, mix until well blended.  The consistency should be of a very thick pancake batter.  Tightly wrap the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place until it doubles in volume.  This should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Step 3:  Combine remaining dry ingredients while the starter is rising.  Add 1 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp salt to the blended flour and mix with a wooden spoon.

Step 4:  Assemble the dough by stirring down the raised starter in the mixer bowl.  Add the remaining blended flour from Step 3, the lightly beaten 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks, 2 tsp vanilla and 2 1/2 sticks of softened butter.  Begin mixing at the lowest speed with the dough hook for 2 minutes.  Gradually increase the mixer speed to 1/2 speed for an additional 3 minutes.  Prepare your kneading surface with the 3/4 cup flour reserved for kneading.  Dust your hands with flour  and, using a spatula, move the dough onto the kneading surface.  Gently knead while adding flour until the dough feels very silky and buttery and kneads to the point of just barely sticky.  You may find it easier to use a dough knife to help with kneading.  It is important not to add too much flour as the dough must remain very soft.  Place the dough in an oiled large ceramic bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free area until it doubles in volume.  This should take between 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Step 5:  For panning and proofing (overnight), punch down risen dough gently until deflated.  Turn onto lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a sausage shape and then into a tight ball.  Using cupped hands on top of the dough ball, rotate the dough around in a circle continuously until the surface feels taut, always maintaining the ball shape.  Do not put too much flour on the kneading surface as you want some friction between the dough and the surface it will slide on, just as you want to exert some friction on the ball with your hands as you rotate it – this is what tightens the dough ball.  Finally, turn the ball over in your hand and pinch the seams which have opened up on the flat bottom tight in the center.  Reverse again and place in a well buttered pandoro pan and gently pat down until surface is flat.  Place the two filled pans in a warm, draft free area and let rise until the dough reaches the top of the pan, until the next day.

Step 6:  Bake and de-pan by placing both pans on lower rack of preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until cooked through (check at 20 minutes and then test with a toothpick or skewer every additional 10 minutes, at least twice).  Remove from oven and place on cooling racks.  Do not attempt to de-pan the loaves until completely cool. Remove from pans and sift confectioner’s sugar over if serving, or double wrap and freeze.

Recipe adapted from La Lama Mountain Ovens.

Tips:  When handling the dough make sure your hands and all the implements you use are well dusted with flour.  Use your dough scraper as one “hand” when kneading.  You may consider preheating your oven to “low” for 10 minutes and then shut oven off to make a good environment for the various raising stages.  This can dramatically shorten the process time from start to finish.  Do not open the oven to peek until the whole baking cycle is done.  It is critical to let the loaves cool to room temperature before de-panning the loaves.