Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cream Cheese Cookies

I haven't made these cookies in years. I got this recipe from my Mother and remember her making these cookies when I was a little girl! This year my daughter and I decided to make these cookies that are very flaky and tender. I will tell you that the pastry style dough is a little hard to work with but the result is a wonderful cookie that melts in your mouth. I am going to work on this recipe and make some changes to see if I can keep the essence of this cookie but make it more easier to make.  For now I will to share with you the original recipe.

1 lb shortening
12 oz cream cheese
2 egg yolks
4 cups flour
milk to seal

Nut Filling or Jam
1/2 stick of butter
1 lb ground walnuts
1 cup sugar

Cream shortening, cream cheese, egg yolks in a large bowl. Blend in flour.  Refrigerate dough over night. Divide dough in fourths, keeping dough that you are not working with refrigerated until you are ready to use. Roll out dough in 10x sugar to 1/8 inch thick on pastry sheet or wax paper.(use a lot of powered sugar so dough does not stick) Cut dough into squares and fill with walnut filling or jam. (This year I used a wonderful Fig & Ginger Jam from Stonewall Kitchen.) Pinch opposite ends of dough together. Seal with milk. Bake 350 F for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are golden but now browned.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Traditional Pecan Pie

My family just loves a traditional Pecan Pie. For years I've wanted them to try different flavors like, chocolate and more but no, no, no, they tell me. So I am going to share how I make my traditional Pecan Pie. It's easy and delicious!

Pie Crust  
1-1/4  cups  all-purpose flour 
1/4  teaspoon  salt 
1/3  cup  shortening 
4  - 5 tablespoons  cold water
1. Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size.
2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball.
3. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough. Roll dough from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.
4. To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry.
5. Rim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Do not prick pastry. Or you can use a pre-made pie crust(I like Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust)

1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans halves
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.Whisk the first five ingredients thoroughly. Pour into pie crust. I like to place the pecan halves in a circular design.
Bake on center rack of oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Do not over bake.
TIP: Pie is done when center reaches 200 F. Tap center surface of pie lightly; it should spring back when done.


    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

    I love these bars cookies, not only are they a hit with family and friends but they are quick and easy to make. Who doesn't love the combination of chocolate chips and peanut butter. If you are not a baker these beauties are a good first cookie to try and I know that you will make them over and over again. Don't wait until Christmas make them for any occasion. I was so happy to have my daughter Mandi to bake these with me!

    2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
    1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
    1 1/2 cup flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup butter
    1/2 cup chopped peanuts
    2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
    1 beaten egg
    1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

    Preheat oven 350F

    Combine oats, brown sugar, four, baking powder, soda in a very large mining bowl. Cut in butter til crumbly. Stir in chopped peanuts
    Combine 1 3/4 cups of crumb mixture with chocolate pieces and set aside. Stir egg into remain mixture: press int a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes.
    Stir together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until well blended. Carefully pour peanut butter mixture evenly over baked cookie layer. Sprinkle with chocolate crumb mixture
    Return pan to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more until edges are golden.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 48 .


    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Oatmeal Cherry Rounds

    These Oatmeal Cherry Rounds are easy to make,simply delicious, and add a festive look to any cookie collection. If you are a cookie virgin I would suggest these Oatmeal cookies as a great first cookie to bake.  I used red cherries, you can use red and green cherries or a pecan in the center is also nice.

    1 cup butter
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cook)
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 package(4 oz) red cherries

    Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until well mixed. Combine dry ingredients and add to cream mixture, stir in oats.  Shape dough into small balls and roll in sugar, place on ungreased cookie sheet. Cut cherries in half and press half in center of ball pressing down to flatten cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

    I do love to bake cookies and yes they do take time to make but so worth all your effort. My fondest memories of Christmas are helping my mother bake. One of my jobs was use my grandmother's cast iron single pizzelli mold. My mother, as she still does today at 88, would make the dough and then it was my job to hold the mold on the stove and cook on each side just until the cookie was done. The mold only made one cookie at a time. I still have the retired mold.


    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Yesterday after a day of marathon baking, I thought I give it a try to create a really sinfully fudgy chocolate chip cookie. I wanted the cookie crisp on the outside and chewy inside. I am so pleased with the result and I am happy to share it with you. It was fun to experiment with this cookie and if it didn't work out I was ready to try again! I think the next time I make these cookies I will melt some white chocolate, drizzle over the cookies to make a more festive presentation.

    2 1/4 cups flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 eggs
    4(1 oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
    2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
    1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans(optional)  I didn't add the nuts.

    Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir flour with baking soda and salt: set aside. Beat butter with sugars at medium speed until creamy,  add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until combined.
    Gradually mix in melted chocolate at low speed.

    Stir dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts(optional).  Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 minutes to 11 minutes.  Don't over bake. Cookies should be soft and fudgy inside.

    More cookie recipes to come later this week!


    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Mandi's Spinach Triangles

    Mandi's Spinach Triangles

    As I've said I come from a long line of cooks and bakers so it is no surprise that I have shared my love of cooking with my children. My motto is if you like to eat you should be able to cook!  I am sharing with you this recipe from my daughter Mandi. She made this easier version of Greek Spanakopita with puff pastry instead of phyllo dough.  Phyllo dough isn't hard to work with but it just takes a little more time and you have to get use to using the phyllo leaves. I have some really good recipes that use phyllo that I will share in another blog. Cooking is like anything else the more you do it the better you get and once you try  phyllo dough or puff pastry and see how easy it is you will have the confidence to cook and bake well. It's like my piano teacher use to say, practice, practice, practice! Mandi said that the triangles took a little time but were delicious. She brought them to a holiday party and they disappeared in no time!

    Mandi's Spinach Triangles
    1 package (17.3 ounces)  Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
    3 eggs
    1 tablespoon water
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 
    1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
    1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    Heat the oven to 400°F.  Beat 1 egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.  Stir the remaining eggs, cheese, spinach, onion and parsley in a medium bowl.

    Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square.  Cut into 16 (3-inch) squares. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making 32 in all.

    Place 1 tablespoon spinach mixture in the center of each square.  Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg mixture.  Fold the pastry over the filling to form triangles.  Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Place the filled pastries onto baking sheets.  Brush with the egg mixture.

    Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Let the pastries cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes.


    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Two Christmas Cookies to get started!

    My love of baking started when I helped my Mother bake cookies at Christmas time. Since then  I've never stopped  baking cookies for Christmas. Baking isn't very hard and I am always amazed when I hear people say I don't like to bake. What's not to like, sugar, butter, chocolate, all those wonderful ingredients in one place. Baking is very precise, you need to measure the correct amount of ingredients and follow the recipe especially if you're a beginner. Once you get some experience with baking you can add your personality. Christmas cookies make wonderful personal gifts to share with family and friends. And so many beautiful boxes, bags, tins can be used as containers for your cookies gifts.

    A few tips that will help novice bakers. Read all the recipe through before you start and assemble everything that you need. Do any preparation before you start, if the recipe calls for chopped nuts, chop and set aside, eggs separated, same thing.  This will make the flow of baking so much easier. Only use unsalted butter. I love Cabot, it's made in Vermont by the cheddar people, I'm not sure if this butter is available outside of New England.  The first time you try a recipe always bake for less time than the recipe calls for and then add additional minutes if needed. Unless your oven is calibrated perfectly and even then, ovens do bake differently. Nothing is worse than over baked cookies, cakes etc. Dry is not good!

    At Christmas I just start baking cookies and stop when I don't have any more time left. I have so many recipes and cookie cookbooks and I keep buying more, I just can't help myself.  I try out one or two new cookies each year to see if I can find another favorite for my holiday tradition. The two recipes that I have included below are some of the first cookies that I make with my mother. These cookies are very basic and easy to make. Out of tradition I make them every year and I want to share them with you.

    Sandies - These are wonderful cookies to make a few weeks ahead of time because they keep very well.
    1 cup butter
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 teaspoons water
    2 cups flour
    1 cup chopped pecans

    1 cup confectionery sugar- for rolling cookies after baking

    Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and water. Add flour and mix well. Stir in pecans. Shape into small balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 325 F over for 20 minutes.  Remove. Cool slightly .  Roll in confectionery sugar
     An easy way to do this is put sugar in plastic bag and add 3-4 cookies and gently shake around to coat cookies. Or you can put sugar in a bowl and roll around to coat.

    Anise Biscotti
    2 1/2 cusps flour
    1 cup sugar
    4 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon anise seeds,crushed (Use mortal and pustular or put in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin)
    2 teaspoon baking power
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 large eggs.

    Chocolate for dipping
    3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I like Ghirardelli)
    3 tablespoon shortening

    1. In a large bowl put 1 1/2 cup flour and remaining ingredients. Mix at low speed until just mixed, increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl with spatula. Add remaining cup of flour; finish mixing with a large wooden spoon. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour until firm.(or place dough in freezer for 30 minutes)
    2. Preheat over to 375 F. Grease large cookie sheet.  Divide dough in half. On floured surface shape each half into a 10 x 3 inch loaf.  Place both loaves, abut 2 inches apart, on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes
    3. Remove cookie sheet from oven; immediately slice each loaf crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Turn slices cut side down on same cookie sheet. Bake cookies 5 minutes longer or until light golden. Remove cookies to rack to cool.
    4. Microwave chocolate and shortening on low for 1 minute or until chocolate melts.. Stir to combine. Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies on wax paper, let dry until firm.

    Store cookies in tightly covered container.

    Give baking a try, it is so much fun! I have plenty more cookies to make and recipes to share.