Sunday, February 07, 2016

Perfect, Chewy Maple Cookies with Maple Glaze


My husband has been working in Canada for the last couple of weeks and has been bringing me home all sorts of maple treats. I've been in such a maple mood that I decided to try my hand at some maple cookies.

If you like crispy cookies, these are not for you! These are chewy, moist cookies that make your mouth sing!  They have just the perfect hint of maple from real maple syrup. I'm not talking about pancake syrup, that has the same amount of real maple sugar in it that an oak tree has. I'm talking about the real kind that comes from boiling the spring maple sap down into it's golden deliciousness. 

If you like more maple flavor you can add in some maple extract! You can decide how much maple you'd like!


INGREDIENTS 
COOKIE DOUGH
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp maple extract (optional) This is for more maple flavor- if you prefer.
  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

GLAZE
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS melted butter
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS
COOKIES
  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs, maple syrup and (optional- maple extract) until fluffy.
  5. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder and with mixer off, add to the creamed ingredients. Turn mixer on low and mix until just combined.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the greased or lined cookie sheets.
  7. Bake in the 375° oven for 10-12 minutes until cookies are lightly golden browned. the tops will be cracked.
  8. Remove from pans to cool.

GLAZE
  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 3 TBS melted butter and 1/3 cup real maple syrup together until well blended. If the glaze is too thick you can add a couple of drops more of maple syrup or water to thin out.


PUTTING THEM TOGETHER
  1. When cookies are completely cooled, drizzle glaze over the tops. I use the whisk or fork that I mix the glaze with. I dip into the glaze and then go back and forth over the cookies.

These freeze really well if you don't eat them all first!



Friday, December 04, 2015

Peanut Butter Blossom or Kiss Cookies


These cookies are chewy and peanut buttery and delicious. You can use a Hershey's chocolate kiss in the middle or a Brach's Chocolate Stars. I like the stars because they come in milk or DARK chocolate and as far as I'm concerned, the darker the better when it comes to chocolate plus they look so pretty. We love these not only at  Christmas but any time of the year.
Ingredients
• 48 Hersheys' Kisses or Brach's Chocolate Stars
• 1/2 cup butter
• 3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Granulated sugar to roll dough balls into before baking
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees 
  2. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. 
  3. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. 
  4. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. 
  5. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
  6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Do NOT put the chocolate on the cookie yet.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie, the cookie will crack around edges. 
  9. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. 
  10. Cool completely. 
Makes About 4 dozen cookies

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Scandinavian Almond Bars- Easy and delicious


Scandinavian Almond Bars


These cookies are so good and very fast to make- ready in 30 to 40 minutes. They are delicious, unique and pretty.We make them all year long but love them during the holidays. This recipe came from my husband's Swedish Grandmother and is a family favorite.
   Makes 4 dozen

Dough
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp of almond extract
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Topping
1/2 tsp sliced almonds
2 TBS milk

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
3-4 TBS milk
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  • In a small bowl sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and the salt. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.

  • Add the egg and almond extract and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder and salt; mixing just until combined.
  • Divide dough into 4 pieces, and roll each one into a log about 12 inches long. Place 2 logs onto each well greased or preferably parchment lined cookie sheet-  4 to 5 inches apart. 
  • Flatten each roll by hand until it is about 3 inches wide. The dough is sticky so you may need to flour your hands a bit. They don't have to be perfect, once their cut you can't tell if they weren't totally even. I love that about this recipe!

  • Brush flattened roll with milk and   sprinkle with sliced almonds.
  •  Place both sheets into preheated oven.




  • Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Rotate trays half way through. 






  • While the cookies are still warm,  cut them crosswise at a diagonal, into slices about 1 inch wide.





    • Make the Glaze: 
      • In a small bowl, mix together powdered sugar, almond extract, and milk until smooth.
    • Place glaze into a small zip lock bag and snip a small corner off. 
    • Drizzle the glaze, out of the corner hole, over the completely cooled cookies.
       Store in a sealed container. These freeze really well.

    Tuesday, December 01, 2015

    Soft Candy Cane Kiss Cookies with a Chocolate Star

    I found this great recipe on Pintrest and just had to try it. It looks so festive and I love peppermint so it was a great recipe to try. I combined parts of the original recipe from Recipe Girl and parts of the Hershey's Candy Cane Blossom cookie recipe to make these. I wanted the cookie to be soft and chewy like a little pillow of goodness!

    As I was taking the first batch out of the oven I had to move the bag of Brach's dark chocolate stars, from making these peanut butter blossom cookies, out of the way and inspiration hit me. Why not put both the chocolate star and the kiss on top? In many places the Chocolate stars are hard to find, I have to order mine on Amazon now. You can substitute Hershey's drops or any kind of chocolate disk or melting wafer.  You could even use 5-6 chocolate chips on top then press the kiss into them once they've melted a bit.

    Click here for a Printable version of this recipe!

    Candy Cane Kiss Blossom Cookies

    Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
    Prep Time: 30 min 
    Cook Time: 12 min 
    When the fall holidays arrive, the Candy Cane Kisses begin to appear on supermarket shelves too. These are an incredibly delicious flavor delivered by the Hershey’s Kisses people. And they’re amazing tucked into a cookie too.

    Ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
    1/2  teaspoon peppermint extract
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 large egg
    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup Candy Cane flavored Hershey's Kisses, finely chopped- 15-20
    granulated sugar
    additional, unwrapped Candy Cane Kisses- about 30-32
    Chocolate stars- about 30-32

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Make room in either refrigerator or freezer for your cookie sheet. Or you can do what I do which is to just let them sit out for an hour and they'll set up.
    2. In large mixer bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until creamy (2-3 minutes). 
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet mixture and beat, scraping bowl until just blended.  Stir in chopped Kisses.
    4. Shape dough into 3/4-inch to 1-inch balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place 1-inch apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.
    5. As soon as they come out of the oven, press a chocolate star  point side down in the center of each cookie. They'll crack a little around the edges, so just use your fingers to kind of hold the cookie together while you press the chocolate on.  Do all the cookies on the tray then go back and place a kiss on top of the chocolate star pressing down until the chocolate squeezes out from under the kiss forming a flower around it.


     You can leave the cookies out to set up or put cookie sheet (with cookies) immediately into the freezer (preferred) or refrigerator so that the Kisses will set quickly. Store in a covered container- at room temperature for up to a week. In the freezer they should be ok for a month.

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Homemade Plain or Peppermint Marshmallows and Cocoa Mix for Teacher Gifts or Neighbors


    Here is an easy gift to make for teachers, neighbors or friends. Marshmallows and cocoa mix. If you've never made marshmallows, I hate to be the one to tell you that they are super simple and very impressive. I love making peppermint marshmallows to put in cocoa but you can make plain if you prefer. You can also try rolling them in toasted coconut or even chopped nuts to eat them like candy.

    Homemade Marshmallows:

    * 3 packages unflavored gelatin
    * 2 cups granulated sugar
    * 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    * 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    * 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    * Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

    Sprinkle powdered sugar into 2 8"x8" pans or one 9"x13" until bottom is completely coated.
    Pour the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with your whisk attachment and allow this mixture to sit while you make the syrup.

    In a large saucepan, preferably one that has a spout, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Place the lid on the pan for 1 minute to wash down the sides of the pan. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. If you live at higher altitudes, reduce the final temp by 2 degrees for every 1000 feet in altitude. I live at 6000 feet so I only cook my mixture to 228 degrees. Remove from the heat.

    Turn the mixer onto low speed, while mixer is going, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. The gelatin will be all chunky when you turn on the mixer. Once all of the syrup is poured in turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.





    Pour the marshmallow batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or whatever topping you are using.

    For the peppermint, I removed half the marshmallows for the plain pan and then stirred in 2 drops of red food coloring and 1/2 tsp of peppermint flavoring into the remaining half. After placing this into the second pan I sprinkled crushed peppermints over the top.

    Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

    Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. I dip a knife into very hot water before each cut then roll each strip in powdered sugar before cutting into squares. Roll the sides of each square carefully in confectioners' sugar.
     

    Once they have dried for a few hours and aren't sticky, they  can be bagged up for gifts or stored in a  sealed container or sealed baggies.

    Creamy Cocoa Mix
    This makes 20 cups of mix or about 60 servings. I make a big batch at the beginning or the winter and we use it all season. 

    • 13 cups dry milk powder
    • 6 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 1/2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer (1- 15oz jar of powdered creamer) 
    Sift together all these ingredients into a large bowl.
    For extra chocolaty goodness I  add-
    • 2- 12 oz package of mini chocolate chips 
    Stir to combine the scoop into jars for gifts or store sealed in a container for storage.

    Variations- You can use flavored creamer if you want flavored cocoa or try adding some cayenne pepper to the mix for a bit of spicy heat.

    To use this cocoa mix; Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into mug and add boiling water. Stir and enjoy.

    Alton Brown has a Recipe for Cocoa mix that I haven't tried just because I love the creaminess of my recipe but for those who don't want to use powdered creamer here is his recipe.
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
    • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container.

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    Brandy Snaps with Cinnamon Eggnog Cream or Brandy Cream




    I love brandy snaps.  They are light lacy crisp tubes that you can fill, leave unfilled and dip one end into melted chocolate or leave plain. They take a bit of practice but after one or two you'll find them very easy to make!

    You really have to find some Golden syrup to make this recipe. Karo just doesn't work as well. I get mine at Cost Plus but Amazon has it as well.

    This recipe makes 24 cookies.

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • Preheat oven to 350ยบ 
    • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment and then grease the handle of a wooden spoon well and set aside. 
    • Into a small bowl stir together the flour and the dried, ground ginger
    • Add the butter, sugar and golden syrup to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Don't stir too much or allow the mixture to boil or the sugar can crystalize.  This will take about 10-15 minutes
    • Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the flour and the lemon juice. 
    • Using a tablespoon, scoop 1 TBS  onto the cookie sheet.  Place 3-4 scoops 4" apart onto a cookie sheet. 
    • Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden brown, spread out and bubbling. 
    • Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. The cookie needs to be just firm enough to remove, but pliable enough to shape. I use a thin knife or very thin spatula to carefully peel up an edge. If the edge doesn't stretch out it's time to shape!   
    • Roll the cookie around the greased spoon handle and set on a cooling rack. 
    • You have to move fast to get them all done before they harden up too much. 
    Let the cookies cool completely before dipping one end into melted chocolate or filling with the Brandy cream or the Eggnog cream. 

    Brandy Cream
    1 1/2 cups whipping cream
    2 TBS Brandy
    1/3 cup sugar
    Combine cream, brandy and sugar and whip until stiff peaks. 

    Cinnamon Eggnog Cream
    1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
    2 TBS Brandy
    3 TBS Eggnog
    1/2 tsp of cinnamon
    1/3 cup sugar
    Combine all the ingredients and whip to stiff peaks. 


    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Thanksgiving is coming!

    After years of trying Pumpkin cheesecake recipes, I found this one and with a few changes came up with what I think is the best recipe out there.

    Depending on the oven and the temperature of the ingredients, the cheesecake may bake about 15 minutes faster or slower than the instructions indicate; it is therefore best to check the cake 1 1/4 hours into baking. Although the cheesecake can be made up to three days in advance, the crust will begin to lose its crispness after only one day. To make slicing the cheesecake easy and neat, use a knife with a narrow blade, such as a carving knife; between cuts, dip the blade into a pitcher of hot water and wipe it clean with paper towels.
    Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

    Crust
    3
    ounces graham crackers(5 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
    3
    tablespoons granulated sugar 
    2
    ounces pecans ,chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    1/2
    teaspoon ground ginger 
    1/2
    teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4
    teaspoon ground cloves 
    4
    tablespoons butter, melted

    Filling
    1 1/3
    cups granulated sugar 
    1
    teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2
    teaspoon ground ginger 
    1/4
    teaspoon ground cloves 
    1/4
    teaspoon ground nutmeg 
    1/4
    teaspoon allspice 
    1/2
    teaspoon salt
    1
    can pumpkin (15 ounces)
    1 1/2
    pounds cream cheese, 3-8oz packages , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes
    1
    teaspoon vanilla extract
    5 large eggs that have been brought to room temperature
    1
    cup heavy cream 




    Before beginning crust, dry your pumpkin- This makes the filling thicker and creamier:
    • To dry your canned pumpkin: Line baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Spread pumpkin on paper towels in roughly even layer. Cover pumpkin with second triple layer of paper towels and press firmly until paper towels are saturated. Peel back top layer of towels and discard. Grasp bottom towels and fold pumpkin in half; peel back towels. Repeat and flip pumpkin onto baking sheet or into an extra mixing bowl; discard towel.
    1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, nuts, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
    • At this point, bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot for the Bain Marie. A bain-marie is the French term for a water bath.
    2. FOR THE FILLING:  Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.

    3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula. Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition. Add your dried, canned pumpkin and vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 3 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add heavy cream and bourbon and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

    4. Set springform pan with cooled crust on an 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan.This is to keep the water out of the springform pan while the cheesecake bakes.

    Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough of your boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan.

    Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.
    • For baking at altitude. Subtract 2 degrees for each 1000 feet of altitude. For Denver, the center of the cake should register 140 degrees.
    Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

    5. TO SERVE: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
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