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Drop Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

As promised, my first Halloween-esque post! The good thing about this treat is that it can be made anytime not just Autumn/Halloween and believe me I make these quite often.

My Mom and youngest nephew, Jordan, are Sugar Cookie-aholics – seriously. When they see me it is their requested item. They don’t understand that sometimes you don’t feel like baking or that you don’t always have the ingredients in the house but since I love them dearly and I don’t see them as often as I should; I bake them sugar cookies. Guilt is a very powerful feeling and if sugar cookies make them happy then why not!

This is a very simple cookie to make. It only takes the very basic ingredients to make these cookies and as soon as you mix up the dough they can go in the oven to bake and then eat (cool them first to avoid the burning the roof of your mouth). These sugar cookies are soft morsels with just the right amount of sweetness to sooth anyone’s sweet tooth. You’ll never buy store bought sugar cookies again, I promise you!

In case you were wondering, the dough is quite sticky so this recipe will not make a good roll out and use cookie cutter type sugar cookie as I remembered that after mixing the dough. There went my idea of pumpkin cut sugar cookies – darn-it!

Until Next Time when I’ll be back with another Autumn/Halloween treat!

Jennifer

Drop Sugar Cookies

Adapted from America’s Test kitchen Holiday Cookie’s Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1 teaspoon Custard Powder or cornstarch*

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick of salted butter, softened

1/2 cup of Vegetable Shortening

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup of sanding sugar (your choice in color)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees, Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, cream of tartar, custard powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using your mixer cream butter and shortening together, approximately two minutes. Mix in sugar until incorporated. Add lemon and vanilla extract, mix. Add one egg at a time to the creamed mixture; mix for approximately 2 minutes each per egg. Finally add the dry ingredients (make sure mixer is on low) to the wet and mix until fully incorporated.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough balls dipping in sanding sugar before setting the dough on the baking sheet. Space out the balls to allow them to spread during baking.

Place cookie sheet with cookie dough in the oven, bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. Let cool and eat!

*custard powder/cornstarch can be omitted, it’s optional. Not sure it even makes a difference but I simply like to use it.

 

 

 

Marshmallows

Mmmm, Marshmallows

Do you have a cooking bucket list? I do and boy is that list long!  Well, I can finally cross off marshmallows – Done and Doner!

Over the holidays I decided to try my hand at making them even though the thought scared me. Deciding to put my fears aside I collected all the ingredients needed to make marshmallows and waited two weeks.

 I’m a procrastinator … I’ll do it but tomorrow or perhaps the next day or better yet the 12th of never.

Cue the snow!

There is nothing like snow waylaying you to make you venture into the kitchen to try the impossible.  Being trapped in the house trumps procrastination – every time!  So with being cooped up in the house I dug out all the ingredients and made marshmallows and you know what? I don’t know what I was afraid of … it was actually pretty easy and straight forward.  Who knew sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and meringue powder could transform itself to delectableness!  Makes that saying, “Nothing to fear but fear itself” quite true.

Once you experience the taste of homemade marshmallows you will never return to your local market for store bought – you will insist on handcrafted with love marshmallows.  They add some much needed oomph to your hot cocoa and they make Rice Krispie® Treats spectacular!  Do it yourself marshmallows will have you dreaming about other places where you could use them … say like Moon Pies or Marshmallow dipped strawberries.  The possibilities are endless!

Until Next Time,
Jennifer

Marshmallows
Courtesy of Gourmet Magazine/Epicurious and adapted very slightly by me.  Please find Gourmet’s recipe below.

Ingredients
about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water (about 115°F.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon Meringue Powder
4 Tablespoon Water
pinch of Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Directions

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F., about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. In a large bowl with cleaned beaters mix meringue powder and the 4 tablespoons of water until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners― sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly 1-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl and add marshmallows in batches, tossing to evenly coat. Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature one week.

Red Velvet Cupcakes v1

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yes, version one (v1).

Like any new blog entry this came about with the thought of “let me try making this.” I tried making Red Velvet Cupcakes and was not impressed with the outcome so I will keep trying until I have a Red Velvet that can give Duncan Hines a run their money!

The only saving grace for these v1 cupcakes was the buttercream – it covered a multitude of sins in my “great” opinion.

I like Red Velvet but it will never take the place of a good chocolate anything. Red Velvet contains cocoa powder just not enough to give me my chocolate high that I need and crave. I know Red Velvet has southern roots yet until watching “Steel Magnolias” I had never heard of it.

Red Velvet v1 was no bueno for the following reason – I thought they were dry, perhaps even a little crumbly. The taste was uninspiring – was not good or bad, just blah. Red Velvet v1 was unremarkable; quickly forgotten after being eaten. The saving grace of this cupcake was the icing. The icing was a buttercream that had hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and cheesecake (thanks to the help of cheesecake flavored oil).

A traditional cream cheese icing would have been the icing if I had not been mailing these “treasures”. I try to avoid making others sick with my food; it tends to make them not want to eat any of my creations afterward. Just a common courtesy I like to extend.

There are several different recipes for Red Velvet in my recipe binders that I am ready to try … try try another day, another blog posting.

Version 1 was a modification on Chocklit’s Red Velvet Cupcakes.

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Chockylit’s Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 10 cupcakes

1 1/4 cup Cake flour
1/8 c Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 cup of Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste
1/8 ounce Red food coloring paste
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Butter, softened
1 Egg
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Sift all your dry ingredients except sugar (flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) into a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla bean paste, and red food coloring paste together in a bowl; set aside.

Cream sugar and butter together until fluffy; add egg and mayonnaise until incorporated.

Add half of the dry ingredients and half of the wet ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix together. Add the remaining dry and wet ingredients to the creamed mixture and incorporate until mixed.

Add batter to the cupcake liners (that are of course in your cupcake/muffin pan); fill the liners 3/4ths full.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for approximately 17-20 minutes; middle should be “springy”.

Cool for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.

“Cheesecake” Buttercream Icing
Adapted from Wilton’s Buttercream Icing
Makes 3 Cups of Icing

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 drops of Cheesecake Flavored Oil
1 teaspoon butter vanilla flavoring
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons half and half

Cream shortening and butter in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly incorporated, approx 3-5 minutes. Add cinnamon, cheesecake flavored oil, and butter vanilla flavoring to creamed mixture and blend. Next add powdered sugar to the blended mixture 1 cup at a time until all has mixed together, will be stiff. Add half and half to mixture and beat until light and fluffy, if still thick continue to add half and half by the teaspoon until you achieve the light and fluffy texture needed.

Icing the cupcakes
You can use what ever method you would like to ice your cupcakes.
1. Frost your cupcakes the old fashioned way with a knife/ small spatula.
2. Add icing to a pastry bag and snip a large hole off at the end of the bag and pipe buttercream onto the cupcakes.
3. Add icing to a pastry bag with a large tip (such as the French Tip) and pipe buttercream onto the cupcakes.

Remember if shortening makes you leery, you can always substitute it with butter; however if your cupcakes are going to be traveling (especially in the summer months) the shortening may not be a bad idea!

Until Next Time,
Jennifer

Sweet Potato Bread

Sweet Potato Bread

A few weekends ago the age old question of – “What should I make?” struck me.  After perusing through my cabinets and with holiday season upon us … I decided to make a Sweet Potato Bread.  Of course, I could have gone with the ever popular Pumpkin Bread. Since, I don’t like Pumpkin anything, I nixed that idea.

It seems that Pumpkin and Butternut Squash are the most popular items for autumn. I don’t care for either. Picky eater table of one!

I love Sweet Potatoes — okay I love Sweet Potato Pie and Candied Sweet Potatoes. I chose to see this bread making experiment as a challenge – step out my comfortable box and try something different.

It’s great to stretch one’s boundaries from time to time. It’s even better when it’s a success.

This particular Sweet Potato Bread is more like a sweet/spicy bread with undertones of Sweet Potato.  Moist like the Banana Bread and finished off with a crumb topping.   Dare I say if you were doing homemade gifts this would be a great gift to give!

This year I am going to do homemade/ quasi homemade gifts for my family, except for my youngest nephew – I don’t have a way of making a homemade or even semi-homemade iPod.

I hope you will also enjoy this recipe as much as my office guinea pigs did!

Sweet Potato Bread
Adapted from My Kitchen Café’s Buttermilk Banana Bread
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup baked & mashed sweet potatoes or 1 large sweet potato baked and mashed
4 tablespoons buttermilk
½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon of robust molasses
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of allspice
¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In a bowl cream butter and sugar together; add eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Add in the following: mashed sweet potatoes, buttermilk, vanilla bean paste, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger; mix all together.

Add the dry sifted ingredients into the wet mixture; mix until combined.

Pour mixture into a large greased loaf pan (9 ¼ x 5 ¼ inch) and bake for 55 -60 minutes.

Let cool for approximately an hour before serving.

Note: You can top the batter before baking with either an evenly coating of brown sugar or a crumb topping for some extra razzle dazzle!


Until next time!
Jennifer

Birthday and Cupcakes

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Today is the day that I am a little bit older but apparently not wiser since I just realized why my mixer was being a pain in the tuchus, it was set on the wrong bowl setting! I have had this mixer for over a year and never did it occur that the bowl setting was the problem. Since I have corrected my problem it creams, mixes, and whips like a dream!

My single requirement for this day is that I am off, no work allowed on my day. Thought being, why should I be stressed on my day ?? So it has been a great day and I have received many birthday wishes from family and friends and that means the world to me! Of course with birthdays having cake (or cupcakes) is an important thing. I began thinking on what to make … whattomakewhattomakewhattomake???

A great idea came to me last night – Brown Sugar Cupcakes and Chocolate Chip Buttercream!!!! I have dubbed this brizillant creation “Chocolate Chip Cookie” Cupcakes. Genius! This treat takes all the fabulous components of a Chocolate Chip Cookie yet in a cupcake form. The cupcakes are moist and the chocolate chip buttercream sweet. When I ravaged (yes, ravaged) my cupcake it reminded me of the rich “Dinky Doozie” from Great American Cookie Company, a favorite indulgence for me when I happen to venture into a mall (so twice a year).

Having a great birthday is always a good thing – this cupcake is pure sinful rich exquisite icing on my birthday. LOL

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

The Brown Sugar Cupcake recipe is from the book Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Falkner (I have added this book to my wish list) which I located from fellow food bloggerMolly’s Menu; so with that being said, I am simply posting the link so you can get the recipe for yourself. I did not make any changes to recipe; I followed it to the letter. Don’t forget to let the cupcakes cool!

Chocolate Chip Buttercream

1 stick of room temperature butter

1/4 cup of vegetable shortening (Crisco)**

4 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

4 Tablespoons milk

2/3cup Mini Chocolate Chips

In a mixing bowl cream softened butter and shortening. Add 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar and mix. Add remaining 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. (Should resemble thick paste) Add Vanilla Bean Paste and milk. Mix until you achieve smoothness and consistency. (If mixture is too thick continue to add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time) Fold chocolate chips into buttercream until incorporated.

** I used Crisco Shortening “sticks”, they make for easy measurement and worth extra pennies to have in my opinion. You can omit the shortening, and subsitute with additional butter.  I find that the shortening gives me the little bit of stiffness I am in need of especially when shipping cupcakes or transporting cupcakes in the summer time.

Icing the cupcakes

Like before, you can either do the old fashion icing of the cupcakes – using a spatula or knife to ice the cupcakes or you can get all fancy with it and look like you just ran to your favorite Cupcake shop by using a pastry bag (tip or no tip – you decide!) and pipe the icing on the cupcake.  Today I chose to extra fancy and pipe the icing with a tip.

Until Next Time!

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