Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Laissez le bon temps rouler, everyone.

That’s French for “Let the Good Times Roll.” It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot at this time of year, as it’s usually the time for Mardi Gras. I have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration. Unfortunately, I’ve never even been to Louisiana. I do really like Cajun food, though. For now I guess that’s as close as I’m going to get.

Gumbo, jambalya, beignets, and pecan pralines are just a few of the things that come to mind when it comes to Mardi Gras food, or Cajun food itself. There’s also a little dessert called King Cake that gets associated with both, and will be the focus of today’s post. It may be called a ‘Cake’, but I prefer to think of King Cake as a very enriched delicious sweet bread that’s filled with delicious sweet stuff.

The fillings can range from cinnamon sugar and pecans, cream cheese, marzipan, or fruit. The most common is cinnamon sugar with pecans. The top of the cake is drizzled with a thin glaze or icing, then showered in purple, green and yellow sprinkles–the common colors of Mardi Gras. Most King Cakes are filled with a small plastic baby to signify the Baby Jesus. The person who finds the ‘Baby King’ in their piece of cake is supposed to have a lucky year.

I made my first King Cake two years ago. I kept things simple, with a twist, and filled it with chocolate. I didn’t get around to making one last year, so I knew that going into this year I was going to be sure I didn’t make that mistake again. I did want to shake things up and make it a different way than I did before. I also wanted to do more than just a cinnamon sugar-pecan filling.

I have one complaint with a lot of the cinnamon sugar fillings in bread that both I’ve seen, and tried : the cinnamon sugar often ends up getting absorbed into the dough while baking, and by the time all is done, there’s not much of it left. I wanted this King Cake to be truly decadent and full of…filling by the time it was finished baking.

I found a recipe for a King Cake that does just that on LemonBaby.co. The filling in Amanda’s recipe is made from a mix of melted butter, cream cheese and brown sugar and toasted pecans. The dairy gets simmered together with the sugar until it forms a smooth sweet sticky spread, then the nuts get mixed in just before it all is slathered on the risen dough. Most King Cakes are shaped into rings, but for this one I choose to make a loose braid that I then wound into one big mass. Feel free to do whatever you like with this one in shaping.

Huge props to Amanda for this recipe. It was EXACTLY what I was looking for. The pecan praline filling doesn’t get absorbed by the dough at all during baking, and the cream cheese gives it a nice tang of flavor to counterbalance all the other sweetness that goes on in a King Cake. It would pair perfectly in the morning with a cup of coffee.

King Cake requires some time, but the effort is definitely more than worth it.

******************************************************************

Pecan Praline Cream Cheese King Cake

Recipe Courtesy of LemonBaby

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk
  • Purple, green and yellow sanding sugar or sprinkles

 

Directions

Pour the warm milk into a glass measuring bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle the one tablespoon of sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

Stir together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla extract and mix on medium until combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually, in about three increments, mixing on medium speed just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

. (The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours–2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the cream cheese over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar with a wire whisk. When the mixture starts to bubble, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Set aside to cool completely.

When dough is finished rising, turn out onto a clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles.

Roll the risen dough into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle on top of a piece of parchment paper. Spread the filling on half of the long side of the dough. Fold the dough in half covering the filling. Pat dough down firmly so the dough will stick together. Cut dough into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together and braid the strips. Press the ends together at the bottom. (This will probably get messy; it’s ok, just tuck in what you can of anything that falls out.)

Gently stretch the braid so that it measures 20 inches again. Shape it into a circle/oval and press the edges together. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cake to a large sheet pan (preferably one without sides). Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk the one egg together with the tablespoon of water in a small bowl and brush egg wash all over the top of the cake with a pastry brush.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. (You may have to cover it with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.) Inner temp of the bread should be 200-205 Degrees Fahrenheit. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make icing, stir powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk at a time together in a bowl with a fork. Add enough of the milk until it reaches the consistency that you like. Use a fork to drizzle over the top of the King Cake. Sprinkle the purple, green and yellow sanding sugar on top in a pattern. Allow to sit for about one hour until the icing has dried.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #264, co-hosted this week by Angie and Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Red Velvet Cookies

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day.

I know I’m overdue for a new post and I didn’t want to let this holiday go by without finding an excuse to bake something red and/or Red Velvet Flavored. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me here on the blog and I like keeping up with tradition.

This year I’m keeping it’s nice and simple and bringing over a batch of cookies. Red Velvet flavored cookies.

Aren’t they pretty?

A couple weeks back I made a post where I sang the praises of moon cake molds as stamps/cutters for making the prettiest cookies you ever did see. I’ve done it before in several existing posts on the blog, and I still can’t recommend them enough. They take ordinary cookie dough and turn it into sheer, edible art.

The dough for these cookies is pretty straightforward. They’re flavored with melted chocolate, cocoa powder as well as LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion, another product for which I can’t recommend strongly enough. Most people think that Red Velvet flavor is really ‘just’ chocolate. I used to think that too; this emulsion proved me wrong. Red Velvet definitely has chocolate flavor, but LorAnn’s emulsion gives it that tangy aftertaste that automatically makes me think of a red velvet cake with tangy cream cheese frosting. Su-blime.

Be sure to refrigerate your cookie dough until it is thoroughly chilled. I usually let mine chill overnight in the fridge. The colder it is, the better it will hold it’s shape/design. Have extra powdered sugar on deck for you to dip your cookie stamps in, as well as for the dough itself. I try to avoid using flour to roll out cookie dough, as adding extra flour just adds more gluten, which dulls the flavor and can make them taste bland.

Enjoy!

**********************************************************************************

Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Springerle Joy

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons Red Velvet Emulsion (Like LorAnn Oils)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry, powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the baking powder, dry milk and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the Red Velvet emulsion, vanilla extract, melted chocolate chips and cocoa powder.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, in about 3 increments, stirring just until combined.

Scrape dough out into one disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into quarters. Keep the other 3 portions in the fridge while you work with the one.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes.

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Allow to sit on baking sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to cool completely on wire racks.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing these at this week’s Fiesta Friday #263.

Snickers Cookie Bars

I’m really not too much of a ‘candy’ person anymore, with one very important exception: chocolate bars.

I don’t think I will ever stop loving chocolate bars. I still remember the first one that I was ever allowed to have as a kid: a Nestle Crunch Bar. After that, I think it was a Payday. I’m also a fan of Twix, 100 Grand, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s with Almonds, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream, Krackle, and Butterfinger.

Major pass on Almond Joy, Mounds, Milky Way and Three Musketeers. Those I don’t like.

You may have noticed one glaring omission from that list. It was intentional, for reasons that you’ve probably guessed. I’ve been considering making today’s recipe for several weeks now, but I was nervous about it. Finally, I made a split second decision and just decided to go for it.

And here we are. My tribute to the best, the ULTIMATE candy bar ever made.

I think I was nervous about trying this for several reasons: first, the candybar it’s inspired from is just so perfect all on its own. Nougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate; why mess with that kind of sheer perfection?

Second, no matter how many times I’ve done it, and done it successfully, the process of making caramel still makes me nervous every time.

Still, since I had all the ingredients I needed on hand I decided to just go for it. Couldn’t hurt to try.

There’s not a whole lot of labor required for these, but I do recommend giving yourself time to do it in stages. Unlike our favorite candy bar, the first and bottom layer of these is a very rich cookie. The dough comes together in minutes. Once it’s baked and cooled off, you can move on to the tricky part: the caramel.

Here’s the thing about caramel: as much as making it makes me nervous, the truth is that if you have a working thermometer that you pay close attention to, you’ll be just fine. This one is far from the most difficult I’ve made and because we’re making caramel and not candy, it doesn’t take very long. After the caramel peanut layer has been given time to set, things get super simple. You melt some chocolate, spread it on top and sprinkle some peanuts on top of that and you’re done. Waiting for the whole thing to set up before cutting into it is the hardest part, honestly. Because these are very sweet and rich, a little bit of one goes a long way in satisfying a sweet tooth, which means there’s more to go around.

*********************************************************************

Snickers Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

For Cookie Layer

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp and cubed
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For Caramel Peanut Layer

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup, light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts

For Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • One tablespoon of softened butter, cubed.
  • A couple tablespoons of chopped peanuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in, in about 2 increments, mixing just until blended and a soft dough forms. Press the dough into a pan and use a spatula to make the top as smooth as you can.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour while you make the caramel.

Melt the butter in a high-sided saucepan with at least 2 qt capacity. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar and heavy cream. Cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves completely and liquid comes to a boil.

Cook until caramel reaches temp of 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit. (I STRONGLY recommend a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer for this). Remove from heat.

Stir in the peanuts. Spray a spatula with cooking spray and spread the caramel over the cooled cookie layer. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (I let mine sit overnight just to be on the safe side).

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and keep stirring until the butter dissolves completely. Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the caramel layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Let sit for an additional 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set and harden up before using the parchment paper to lift up out of the baking dish and cutting into squares.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #261, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Julianna @ Foodie on Board.

Golden Sandwich Rolls

I have a theory. I can’t prove it beyond question but, I just don’t think I’m wrong.

Theory: A lot of people are scared of baking because of poorly written recipes–especially poorly written recipes for bread.

I struggled a lot in some of my more advanced science classes in college, and I’ll always remember especially struggling when having to complete an experiment as part of the assignment in labs. The directions were almost never very detailed–at least, not detailed enough for me to understand them.

Baking is, essentially, a science experiment. A poorly written science experiment is most likely going to go poorly, especially when the person reading the directions is not familiar with the material. The order in which ingredients are added in a science experiment matters–the same is true with baking just about anything.

Adding the flour into a cake batter before the butter and sugar is creamed will result in a cake that has the texture of a rubber tire. Mixing an egg directly into hot milk (rather than tempering them first) will result in scrambled eggs instead of custard. Room temperature, unchilled chocolate chip cookie dough will result in cookies flat as pancakes, every time.

Baking directions need to be clear and concise, leaving very little room for interpretation because more often than not, there isn’t much room for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read bread recipes (in cookbooks authored by very famous bakers, or on very popular websites, by the way) and seen them read something like this:

“Combine all ingredients together to make a smooth bread dough, and allow to rise.”

Like…what?

How is someone (who is not a baker) supposed to follow that?

Using yeast used to make me nervous too. In the beginning when I was first starting out learning how to bake, I too avoided bread recipes because when I read through a lot of the recipes, they just weren’t clear enough to where I felt comfortable enough to try. I get it guys.

Whenever I post a bread recipe on this blog, I try to ensure that it’s written as clearly and concisely as I can make it. I know that I do make some things that seem ‘advanced’, but I still want them to be accessible for people who aren’t used to baking and may want to try it out.

Today’s recipe is another where I tried to write it out to make baking with yeast incredibly easy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, it’s nearly fail-proof. They’re a simple golden, rich sandwich roll that I think would be perfect for sliders, or breakfast sandwiches (which is how I’ve been enjoying them). Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to give them added flavor. The crumb inside is soft and fluffy, yet also toasts very well. This is one experiment that I can guarantee won’t go wrong, and that you’ll be very happy that you tried it out.

Golden Sandwich Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice
  • 3 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of softened butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 5 1/2-6 cups of all purpose flour (you may not need it all depending on time of year and your location)
  • sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Place the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Pour the yeast-water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the dry milk, remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, pepper, dried herbs and beaten eggs. Use the paddle attachment to mix the ingredients until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the softened butter, mixing just until butter is absorbed (it’s okay if it looks a little curdled).

Add the flour in one cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

(The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.

Place two sheets of parchment paper onto two sheet pans. Turn dough out onto your clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles. Divide it into 2 halves, keeping one half covered with plastic wrap while you work with the other.

Roll dough out into a rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch cutter (square or circle, doesn’t matter) to cut out individual rolls. Place the rolls on the lined sheet pans. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Cover both sheet pans of rolls with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towels. Allow to rest and rise until puffy and grown (they may not be doubled in size, but they should’ve grown at least a little) about 50-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray the tops of the rolls with cooking spray and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15-20 minutes (check them early, mine baked quickly).

Remove to a wire rack to let cool completely.

*Thump the bottoms of the rolls with your thumb and forefinger; a hollow sound means they’re done. Bread in general is finished at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.*

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #260, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Chicken Lo Mein

There are usually only three things that I’ll want when ordering Chinese takeout. These three things are also the standard by which I judge whether or not the place has good food or not. I figure that they’re deceptively simple; not hard to do per se, but also so simple that they’re easy to mess up. When they’re done badly, they’re awful. When they’re done well, they’re fantastic.

Sesame chicken.

Lo mein.

Egg rolls.

Together they’re the perfect trifecta of takeout. The only thing better than finding a great place that makes it, is being able to make it yourself at home. (Not to mention, it’s cheaper.)

I’ve been making my own egg rolls and lo mein for several years now. I posted the recipe for the egg rolls here shortly after first starting Cooking is My Sport, but I waited to post my recipe for lo mein. I wanted to wait and see if I could improve it while also keeping it pretty simple, with ingredients that could be found in most general grocery stores.

This is a great weeknight meal to make. Once you get all of the ingredients together and prepped, the dish comes together pretty quickly. I used cabbage and carrots with the noodles and chicken, but if there is any other vegetable that you prefer to have instead, feel free to use it. Stir fries are very flexible recipes and this one is no exception. The sauce for the noodles is sweet from hoisin, salty from the soy sauce and tangy from the rice wine vinegar. It’s delicious, and I’ve found myself using it for more than just a stir-fry sauce. I’ve used it as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, spread it on sandwiches–it’s that good.

Now I just have to get around to making my own Sesame Chicken. TBC.

*************************************************************

Chicken Lo Mein

Recipe from Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • onion powder
  • ground ginger
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

For Stir Fry

  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 20 oz. shredded cabbage
  • 10 oz. shredded carrots
  • About 15 oz of your choice of Asian style noodles (I prefer wide and flat ones, like Guan Miao Sliced Noodles)
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • peanuts and sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

Arrange chicken in one layer in a sheet pan. In a small cup, stir together 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar.

Sprinkle an even coating of onion powder, ground ginger and black pepper on both sides. Pour the soy sauce-vinegar marinade over the chicken, stirring it a few times to make sure it’s evenly coated. Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup combine the 1 cup of hoisin sauce, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and whisk together with a fork. Set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok or other large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken to the wok and cook on both sides until it’s cooked through. (You may have to do this in batches).When the chicken is done, remove it to a separate platter and keep loosely covered.

When chicken has finished cooking, heat some more oil into the wok. When it’s nice and hot, add the carrots and cabbage to the wot and allow to cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the skillet to another platter, and wipe the skillet clean.

Meanwhile, cook your noodles according to the package directions and drain when they’re finished. Keep the heat on the stove up on high and add 1 more tablespoon of oil to it. Add everything back to the wok/skillet: chicken, vegetables and noodles, and stir together. Pour the stir fry sauce from the glass measuring cup over the lo mein and stir quickly so that it’s evenly mixed. (You may not need to use it all; it all depends on how ‘saucy’ you want the lo mein to be. Use your own discretion.) Allow to cook for 1-2 more minutes–this is just to make the sauce coat the noodles.

Remove from the heat and add the fresh mint and green onion to the lo mein. Sprinkle with the peanuts and sesame seeds.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #259, co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

So, here’s a random but I think very useful tip for those of you who love to bake: the prettiest cookies do not have to come from cookie cutters, or cookie stamps.

At least, not most of them. I will say that certain springerle molds can make absolutely beautiful, unreal looking cookies. The problem with most springerle molds is that because they’re hand-crafted wood, they don’t run cheap.

I got into collecting cookie stamps a little while ago and although I got some pretty nice ones, the designs weren’t as elaborate as the springerle molds, which was what I really wanted. Then one day, I was surfing the web for cookie stamps, and stumbled across something different. They were called moon cakes. Mooncakes are Chinese pastries that are typically eaten during the Mid-Autumn festival. I’ve never had one and had never heard of them until then; all I knew that the designs on top of them were beautiful.

Traditional mooncakes are made with what’s called a mooncake mold. It’s a plunger like tool where the ball of filled pastry gets pressed into a shaped mold, then imprinted on top with the intricate design. After I’d done my quick Google search to learn how THAT was done, I then turned to the thought that aligned with my interest: would I be able to use the mooncake mold as a cookie stamp?

Since they were much, MUCH more cheaper than springerle molds, I decided to take a chance and ordered a set of mooncake molds to put my theory to the test. They came in a couple of days and within hours I was in the kitchen rolling out cookie dough. What do you y’all think? Was I right, or was I right?

A couple of things: first, this is a recipe that can be made with ANY cookie stamp, mold or cutter you have. The dough is a basic butter cookie that is flavored with cinnamon and vanilla but you can always switch the flavors up to what you’re inclined towards. It bakes up crisp on the outside and tender on the inside–just as a butter cookie should be. Second, if this post has inspired you to buy and test out mooncake molds for yourself, I would recommend to always use a cookie dough that has been designated as a cut-out cookie recipe. There’s no point in going to the trouble of using the mold if the recipe is one that doesn’t hold it’s shape or design after baking.

*********************************************************************

Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing just until combined and yellow disappears. Add the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the cinnamon and salt, stirring together with a fork. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 1 cup increments, mixing just until combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Roll dough out on a clean and floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie stamps into powdered sugar, then tap to remove excess. Press firmly into the dough. Use a slightly larger round cookie cutter to cut out shape, then transfer to cookie sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough.*

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes

Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 9-12 minutes. Allow to set on sheets for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Linking to the Fiesta Friday #258, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

Ginger Pound Cake

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all had a great holiday season that was filled with great food, relaxation and time spent with loved ones. It’s crazy that we’ve already left 2018 behind. I have a lot of optimism that 2019 will be a good year with lots of much needed change. After I finished the 12 Days of Christmas, I needed a wee break to recoup from all that baking. I’ve got my rest and I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. So, let’s start this year’s recipes off the right way, shall we?

I’ve spoken before on here about my love for ginger. You can search the Recipe Index for the various recipes I’ve used it in in; it’s a great ingredient. There are a lot of uses to be found for it and lately, I’ve always seemed to have a stalk or 2 of it in my fridge. Ground ginger often finds its way into desserts like gingerbread, but my favorite way to use and eat it is when it’s been candied/crystallized.

The only downside to candied and crystallized ginger is that most of the time, it doesn’t run cheap in the stores. In my opinion at least, it’s often overpriced. Not to worry though. There’s an easy way around that. You can always just make your own.

It’s easy. It’s MUCH more inexpensive. It’s worth it. (Check out my instagram now for the step by step instructions) And when you’ve finished looking that over (and after you’ve made some crystallized ginger for yourself), come back here and check out today’s recipe. Trust me, we’re going to put it to good use.

A pound cake is the perfect dessert/blank canvas to test out a wide variety of flavors. It’s already plenty delicious on its own–any added flavor you give to the batter will serve to just amplify the finished cake. I’ve done quite a bit of it here on the blog already, and now I’m pleased to share this new addition to the Pound Cake Pantheon of Awesomeness (I totally came up with that on the spot, can’t you tell?)

The recipe uses ginger in two ways: ground ginger that gets sifted in with the other dry ingredients, and crystallized ginger that gets steeped in milk for a few minutes. Both the ginger and the ginger flavored milk are then mixed into the batter.With six eggs in it, this is going to be one very tall cake. If you’re not sure if your bundt pan can fit up to 16 cups, then I’d recommend splitting it between two loaf pans, just to be on the safe side.

The texture of this cake is sublime. It’s rich, buttery and moist enough to where you could eat it plain and still be totally satisified–or go the extra mile and throw on the ginger flavored icing. Combined with the richness of the cake itself, the ginger here adds a spicy sweet flavor that’s got great bite, but still isn’t overpowering. I really enjoyed this cake and I think you will too.

**********************************************************************

Ginger Pound Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Southern Cake Book

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 ounces of crystallized ginger, finely minced
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 16 cup (10 inch) Bundt or tube pan.

Simmer milk and ginger together in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until thoroughly heated. (Don’t let it boil.) Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Add the vanilla extract to the milk.

Stir together the flour with the ground ginger in a bowl with a fork, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, beating 5-7 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. (Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you’re doing this to ensure even mixing.)

Add the flour to the butter mixer alternatively with the milk (begin and end with the flour). Beat at a low speed, just until combined after each addition.

Pour the batter into the cake pan. Lift and tap it down on the counter a few times (this will prevent air bubbles from forming). Place the cake pan on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and cake reaches an inner temp of 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. It shouldn’t be too runny, just loose enough to drizzle. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle the icing over the cake in a decorative design. Allow to to sit for about 30 minutes, just until icing has set. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #257, co-hosted this week by Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.