Friday, December 25, 2009

Gingerbread Pancakes

I messed these up a little. Actually, MY HUSBAND messed these up a little. Or blame Acme because they didn't have buttermilk on Christmas morning! I found out after the fact that you can substitute milk & vinegar (or lemon juice) if you don't have buttermilk. My husband thought the substitute would be sour cream, which led to our pancakes being very thick. They were still tasty and gave a very Christmas-y feel to breakfast before opening our gifts. (I could not wait until afterwards - Hungry Laura would have come out!)

Adapted from:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch nutmeg
pinch black pepper
1 1/8 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter (or vegetable oil)
2 tbsp dark molasses

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and black pepper in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, melted butter and molasses. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined.Heat a nonstick or lightly greased pan over medium high heat, until a drop of water sizzles on it. Drop dollops of batter to make 3-inch pancakes. Turn when the edges of the pancakes begin to look dry and the bottom is golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Cook second side until it is golden, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.Serves 2-3 people with lots of maple syrup.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

This is the BEST cake I have ever made. It's incredibly rich. However, I only made this a 2-layer cake instead of 3, so I made 2/3 of the recipe. I can only imagine another layer....:) This is also the messiest cake I've ever made. It does not look pretty! (Hence, the picture is of the slice of cake and not the entire thing.) Maybe that's something I will have to work on... I've baked this cake twice and this time it seemed a bit undercooked. That is not a problem though! It just adds to the intensity of the chocolate! :)

Adapted from:

INGREDIENTS for chocolate cake (frosting & glaze below)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amazing Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Oh my God, these were so good! My favorite of the Christmas cookies that I baked this year! Though these can have to baked around Christmas - they may be added to a staple recipe of mine. I didn't toast the coconut since I was being lazy - I had so many other cookies to bake! I also omitted the pecans, since I'm not a fan.

Adapted from:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted (I didn't toast it)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, toasted (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 325°F and line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, corn syrup, and vanilla. Beat until combined. With the mixer running, mix in the flour, salt, and baking soda, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. With a large spatula, stir in the coconut, white chocolate, cranberries, oatmeal, and pecans. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges are golden and top of the cookie is dry but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for a minute or two, and then move to a wire rack to cool completely

Chocolate Crinkles

I'm finally getting all of the recipes I baked over Christmas up on this blog! It's about time :) These chocolate crinkles were very Christmas-y indeed. They were bite-sized and fudgy. Though maybe next time I might add some more chocolate. I know, I can never get enough chocolate! It just seemed like it could be kicked up a notch...:)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls (3-4 hours or overnight).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
Place the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. With lightly greased hands, roll a small amount of chilled dough to form a 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter ball. Place the ball of dough into the confectioners sugar and roll the ball in the sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Gently lift the sugar-covered ball, tapping off excess sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue forming cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. (If you find the dough getting too soft for rolling into balls, return to the refrigerator and let chill until firm.)
Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centers are still soft. (For moist chewy cookies do not over bake. Over baking these cookies will cause them to be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Ah, time for Christmas cookies...:) Too bad I'm posting this a week later! These were exactly what I was looking for - I never made sugar cookies (well, in my adult years anyway) so I wanted to try them out. These did flatten out more than I expected, but they were still very chewy and delicious! This recipe makes A LOT of cookies. It says it yields 30, but I must have made my cookies smaller. I had to have my husband bring some into work because I could not have these lying around the house!

Adapted from:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups margarine
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup white sugar for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets and flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned at the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, December 18, 2009

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

Oh. My. God. Fabulous. These are the winner for the Christmas Party. They were so good and very holiday-esque. (Can you tell I'm obsessed with Gingerbread lately?) I even put the tree in the background of the picture for added effect ;) I almost didn't try them out, but as I was asking my husband's opinion on what to make he said "I love blondies!". Thank you, Dan. This recipe calls for a 17x12 pan, which I don't have and even if I did I didn't want 4 dozen bars if they were terrible. So, I made them in an 8x8 pan and made 1/3 of the recipe. I set the timer for 13 minutes (which wasn't enough) and kept checking every couple of minutes until they looked done. You don't want to overbake these - I think mine were slightly underbaked and they were very chewy! I will definitely be making these again (most likely in a 13x9 pan using half of the recipe).

Adapted from:

INGREDIENTS - Makes about 4 dozen 2-inch squares
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses (I used honey)
10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
2. Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.
3. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Another one of my experiments for the Christmas party but this also didn't win. These cookie bars are good, don't get me wrong. I've seen these on a few blogs before and they get rave reviews, which is maybe why I was slightly disappointed. I was thinking they were going to be the best thing I ever tasted! Worth making again though :)

Adapted from:

INGREDIENTS - makes 30 bars
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish). I used my wet hands to spread the batter into the pan. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife.

Gingerbread Bars with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

These were yummy :) They are cakey and muffin-like and the icing gave it something extra. I made half of the recipe in an 8x8 pan since I made a few desserts in testing them out for my parent's Christmas Party this weekend. I love trying new recipes but hate serving them if they're not great or just okay. These were good, however, I will be going with another dessert for the party (Gingerbread Blondies - fabulous!!) in addition to the obligatory Premier Cranberry Cheesecake Bars and Cookies n' Cream Mint Brownies (recipe for that will be up next week after I bake them!).

Adapted from:

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg1 tablespoon McCormick® Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon McCormick® Ground Cinnamon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup molasses (I used honey since I didn't have molasses)
2 tablespoons water

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Lemon Extract

1. Grease 9x13x2-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Cream butter in large mixer bowl. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar, egg, ginger, and cinnamon.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in molasses and water; mix until just blended. Spread in prepared pan.
4. Beat Lemon Cream Cheese Icing ingredients until smooth. Using 1/2 cup lemon icing, spoon dollops (about 1 teaspoon each) over batter in pan. With a knife, swirl through ginger base with large strokes. Bake 28-30 minutes or until batter begins to pull away from pan edges. Cool 30 minutes.
5. Spread remaining lemon icing over bars. Cut using a sharp knife. Store in refrigerator. (My kitchen counter was fine since our heat isn't working....the beauty of living in an old house!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I kind of made these wrong. They were still very good (and festive!) but probably didn't turn out the way they were supposed to. I didn't refrigerate the dough for 2 hours, used ground ginger instead of freshly grated ginger and rolled the cookies in sugar after I baked them instead of before. Oops! Oh, and I did not use "best-quality semi-sweet chocolate" (I used Nestle). And I substituted honey for molasses (which is perfectly acceptable). Hm...this all doesn't sound too good for me as a baker. However, I wasn't too upset that I made all of these mistakes since I wasn't bringing these to anyone's house or serving them at a party. I just wanted to kick off the Christmas season and got lazy in the process...oh well. They were still delicious!

Adapted from:

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
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.

STOVE TOP Spinach Balls

Ah, the infamous spinach balls...I've been making these for a few years now. They're so easy and I get raves about them. I usually leave out the chopped onions because I'm not a fan (I think the stuffing flavoring of mushroom & onion is enough). They also freeze well. For a party, I will make twice the recipe (mix in separate bowls) and freeze a couple of weeks ahead of time. You bake them first, put in a freezer bag, defrost and then bake again at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes the day you are serving them. (Can be frozen for up to 3 months)

Adapted from:

1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix Monterey Style with Mushroom & Onion
1-2/3 cups hot water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
2 pkg. (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained and patted dry
1 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 eggs
HEAT oven to 400ºF.
MIX stuffing mix, hot water and butter in large bowl until well blended.
ADD remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Shape into 60 (1-inch) balls. Place in single layer in 2 (15x10x1-inch) pans sprayed with cooking spray.
BAKE 15 to 20 min. or until lightly browned.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Melting Moments Cookies

It's Christmas time! And therefore, time for Christmas cookies. These cookies do melt in your mouth - tiny shortbread cookies rolled in powdered sugar...yum! My husband said they would even be better with a Hershey's Kiss in the middle. I would not oppose chocolate being added to anything! Maybe next time...

Adapted from

1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1/2 cup Cornstarch (corn flour)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar
1 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup (110 grams) powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or until firm. (I on the other hand, did not have an hour to spare, so my dough was refrigerated about 20 minutes...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. When dough is firm, form into 1 inch balls and place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 12 - 14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, line another baking pan or tray with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle about half of the confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar onto the bottom of the pan and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Put the remaining sugar in a fine strainer or sieve and then sprinkle the tops of the cookies (or you can just roll the cookies in the sugar - I put the powdered sugar in a bowl and rolled the cookies in that. Much simpler!).
These cookies store very well. Place in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper and they will keep a couple of weeks.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.