Apple-Cranberry Galette

We are on the cusp of what has become my favorite week of the year: the week of Thanksgiving.

It’s always extremely busy for me. I spent an immense amount of time on my feet, and by the end of it, I’m very tired.

And still, I absolutely love it.

If I had to list the only things about I don’t love, it would be the fact that I still don’t have the kitchen of my dreams withan abundance of cabinets/storage, unlimited counter space, and multiple ovens.

But, knock on wood, some day. Soon.

In the meanwhile, it pays for me to be able to make a schedule for myself to cook/bake/store things in ‘stages’, so that the day o Thanksgiving itself isn’t so hectic. Some dishes have to be made the day of, but most desserts can be done ahead of time, usually the night before so as to save time + oven space. This dessert is one of them.

I visited an apple orchard several weeks ago, and had quite a few apples I needed to use up. This was one of the uses I found for them, for a few reasons. First, I had never tried apples and cranberries together in a dessert before, and I thought this would be a good time to change that. Second, it’s pretty easy to put together.

Third, I think that this is a good dessert alternative to make for people who don’t like the ‘Usual; Suspects’ on the dessert table at Thanksgiving (Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie or Pecan Pie).

Fourth: it’s pretty. (Yes, this is a legitimate consideration for me; I’m a Libra.)

This dessert has all of the things I love: flavor, texture and ease. The tart of the cranberries and the sweet of the apple play wonderfully against each other, and the contrasting textures of the fruit really works.

And to top it off (literally,) this crumble streusel topping is EVERYTHING. It’s buttery, crunchy and is honestly delicious enough to eat all on its own, or stirred into ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Americans on here who celebrate, in your own way. For me, it’s always about family, food, and gratitude for them both.

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Apple Cranberry Galette

Recipe Adapted from a Previous Recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Filling

  • 5-6 Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady Apples, peeled and diced into about 1 inch pieces (aim for about 4-5 cups)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

For Crumble Topping

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the sugar and salt and stir together with a fork.  

For Crust: Use a box grater to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You can also a pastry blender, or alternatively, you can dice the butter into tiny cubes, and cut it into the dry ingredients that way. Add the ice water and stir with the fork, until it comes together in moist clumps and forms a mass. if mixture is too dry add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

For filling: In a large bowl toss together diced apples, cranberries, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, zest and vanilla. Set aside.

For Crumble: In a medium bowl, mix together granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle in melted butter and, using a fork, stir until mixture is crumbly and all the flour is incorporated; the crumbs should be smaller than 1 inch.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll it into a roughly 11 x 14-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from refrigerator. Arrange filling evenly in the center of the dough, leaving a 4-inch border all around; reserve the juices.

Brush exposed dough border with beaten egg and fold edge in up over fruit, making pleats every 2 inches. Pour remaining juices over exposed fruit, brush the folded outer edge with beaten egg. Cover exposed fruit with about 1 heaping cup of crumble. (You may have some leftover, this is fine.)

Bake galette until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #459, hosted by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cinnamon Sugar Butter Pie

This time of year, I tend to end up making a lot of pies. Most of them tend to be standard old faithfuls for the holidays, but I also try to be intentional about trying new kinds out too.

For the next few weeks, you all will see the product of those intentions here on the blog, with the majority of the recipes to come being my recent pie bakes. This is the first.

In the top 5 rankings of Jess’ Favorite Pies, Pecan Pie is not only in the Top 2, it is not #2.

It took me a while to discover it, but my love for Pecan Pie runs deep. I’ve observed that so far. as pies go, the feelings most people have tend to be at polar extremes; people either love it like me, or they hate (like I used to think I did.)

I know some people who don’t like pecan pie because they think that it’s ‘too sweet’. Others steer clear of. it because they don’t like nuts. I can’t help the people in the first camp. For the people in the second, however…well, pop a squat.

If I had to describe today’s recipe in a nutshell, it would be…a pecan pie, but with an oatmeal crust, and without the nuts.

If that sounds appealing to you then, by all means: follow me camera.

When it comes to the huge positives with this pie, is that–as with a pecan pie–it’s really easy to put together, and it’s comprised of really simple, generic ingredients most of which you probably already have in your kitchen. Mine was mixed and baking in the oven within half an hour. Another hour after that, it was done altogether.

For the cooks in the household that need every spare moment we can get on holidays like Thanksgiving, desserts like these really are a Godsend.

Finally, when it comes to taste, I would describe it as a warm, comforting cinnamon-sugar flavored hug around my tongue. I was surprised by how well the oat cookie crust complemented the filling, and also how much I actually did not miss the nuts in this pie.

And when eaten à la mode? Chef’s Kiss, truly.

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Cinnamon Sugar Butter Pie

Recipe Adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Crust

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Filling

  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons milk powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the salt and cinnamon. Stir with a fork and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, use a handheld mixer with the beater attachments to beat the butter and the brown sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat just to combine. Stir in the oats. Stir in the flour mixture, until well mixed.

Pat dough evenly into the pie plate. Bake 5 minutes or until lightly browned. (Crust will appear slightly underbaked.) Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the filling: in a medium bowl, beat the white sugar and brown sugar together with the unsalted butter until creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and mixing just until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and beat just until mixed.

Pour the filling over the pie crust. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil. Bake 10 minutes. Remove foil; continue baking 5-7 minutes or until edges are set (center will still be jiggly) and top is golden brown.

Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #457.

Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

One of the reasons I got into baking in the first place was because I appreciated that there are some desserts that are really like pieces of art; they’re just as nice to look at as they are to eat. Or at the least, they make you do a double take and wonder to yourself, “Huh. I wonder how that’s done.”

Today’s recipe is one of those desserts. The moment I saw them I was interested, not just because the flavors sounded good to me; they were pretty to look at and I immefiately wanted to know how they were made, and whatever that technique was, try it for myself.

As it turns out, the technique for these cookies really isn’t complicated. What it comes down to, is making two different cookie doughs–a standard sugar cookie dough and a pumpkin flavored one–then sandwiching them together.

After the cookie doughs are sandwiched together, the sandwiched dough gets portioned off into individual layered cookies that get baked, and bam: Business as usual on the outside, party on the inside. Pumpkin swirl cookies.

A few notes/tips I learned from my first go around in making these: they are HUGE, bakery style cookies, roughly the size of your palm. If you would like to have more/make them smaller, then once you have cut the layered 24 squares, you can either stop there and bake them like that (there won’t be as many layers on the inside though). Or, you can divide the portioned 12 dough balls in the last step before baking in half.

Also, chilling the dough (preferably overnight) is a MUST for this recipe. The pumpkin cookie dough is very moist and it will not be fun/cooperative to work with un-chilled.

Be patient on the baking time. Because these are such big cookies, and because there are two different cookie doughs, they take a lot longer to bake than regular cookies.

Lastly, enjoy them!

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Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

For Sugar Cookie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

For Sugar Cookie Dough:

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

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg and the vanilla, and mix until just combined.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Assembly*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the pumpkin cookie dough and place on a lightly floured piece of parchment. Lightly flour the top and a rolling pin and roll into a larger rectangle about 10 1/2 by 16 inches (see Cook’s Note). Slide the parchment with the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you repeat the process with the sugar cookie dough. Roll and refrigerate the sugar cookie dough in the same manner.

Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour from the top of the pumpkin cookie dough. Using the parchment to help you, flip the pumpkin cookie dough onto the sugar cookie dough, lining up the 2 rectangles as closely as possible. Cut the dough in half crosswise with a very sharp knife or pastry cutter so you now have 2 rectangles that are 10 1/2 by 7 inches.

Stack the dough rectangles on top of one another so you now have 4 layers of alternating cookie dough. Cut this stack crosswise into 6 rows, then lengthwise into 4 rows so you end up with a total of 24 squares.

Stack one layered square on top of a second one and, using lightly floured hands, gently press the edges together and round into a domed ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squares, evenly spacing 6 dough balls on each lined baking sheet.   

Use your palms to slightly flatten the balls. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the cookies are puffed in the center and golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet to cool completely.

For glaze: combine confectioners sugar and pumpkin spice together in a small bowl. Add milk in tablespoon increments until it’s reached the desired consistency. (You may not need to use it all). Use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies and allow to set, about 20 minutes.

*For a video depiction of cookie assembly, see here.

*The pumpkin dough will be much softer than the sugar cookie dough so you will have to use more flour when rolling out to prevent sticking. Work quickly; if the dough gets too soft or warm, place the whole piece of parchment on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for a few minutes.

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 at Fiesta Friday #455, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Cider Cookie Bars

It’s my favorite time of year: Autumn.

The weather isn’t too hot, but still isn’t too cold. You can break out the sweaters and boots without needing to break out the heavy winter coats. Depending on where you live, the trees begin to change color.

And then, of course, there’s the food of it all.

Much like peaches and strawberries with summer, apple cider is one of those ingredients that are very ‘seasonal’ for my tastebuds. I get the hankering to have it at very specific times of year. Late September-early October is the perfect sweet spot to where I will take apple cider whenever I can get it, in as many different ways as I can get it.

We all know apple cider is delicious enough on its own, but did you know it’s a pretty great ingredient to bake with as well? It’s true. I’ve put it to some delicious uses several times before on the blog, first with donuts (baked and fried), then another time with pound cake.

Today, I’m back to experimenting with cider but with something a little different.

Cookie bars have become one of my favorite desserts over the past few years. They’re simple to make, and they also deliver on the most important factor for me when it comes to successful desserts, outside of flavor: the texture.

With a cookie bar I get the full bodied, chewy texture I like, with a smooth filling on top to balance it all out. As with a lot of the desserts on this blog, these started with a Blank Canvas base recipe, that I customized to my preferences. The cookie base is a standard Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust that I’ve used before with other cookie bar recipes, but this time added some spices to give it more of an ‘autumn-y’ flavor. The filling is an apple cider ‘quick custard’ where you let the oven do the work rather than cooking it over the stove with traditional custard recipes.

You guys, I was so pleased with how these turned out. The pâte sablée is a tasty enough cookie on its own, but adding the apple cider custard was the perfect addition of flavor and texture. This is one is already set to become one of my favorite autumn desserts, and should you try it, I think it’ll become one of yours too.

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Apple Cider Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from BHG & a previous recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

For Cider Custard Filling*

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

For Boiled Cider Syrup:

In a large saucepan bring cider to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 to 2 hours (depends on pot size), uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool completely.

*Note: You can buy pre-boiled cider syrup. You’ll need 1/2 cup total for this recipe.

For Cookie Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one with the beater attachments), beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg and egg yolks, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; lightly spray with cooking spray.


Press Pâte Sablée cookie crust into bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the dough about every 1 inch.


Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together boiled cider syrup, milk, and 3/4 cup cream. In a medium bowl whisk together brown sugar, flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and the salt. Add cider mixture. Stir until combined.

Increased oven temp to 375 degrees F. Pour cider custard onto cookie crust.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until custard appears set at edges but is still slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #453.

Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

One of the biggest (and ongoing) lessons of my adult life has been to find ways to celebrate myself. They don’t have to be ((and mine typically are not) huge, grand, pricey gestures. But they are necessary. And, mind tend to taste really good.

This past week, I turned 33. Per a tradition I’ve been keeping for about nine years, every year for my birthday, I bake a new cake to celebrate…well, myself. 32 was an amazing year for me. There was a lot of new changes, a lot hard work, and a lot of great accomplishments–among them, getting a year older.

Great accomplishments always call for great cake. I’ve made quite a few great pound cakes in past years for past birthdays, but the pound cake will jus† always be my favorite, so here we go again for Year 33.

This year’s pound cake is pretty simple in terms of ingredients, but I did a few things differently that set it apart from some of the other ones I’ve made.

First, I used brown sugar instead of white to give it a deeper, more caramel-y sweetness. Combined with the five eggs, using brown sugar also gives the cake a denser texture, which I’m a huge fan of. So far as mix-ins, I added Heath Toffee Bits, which I’ve also never used in a cake before but thought they would pair well with the brown sugar and denseness of the cake. The other new addition was the browned butter frosting, which I’ve done in glazes before, but not frosting itself.

While I do think the cake is delicious enough to eat on its own, I do think the browned butter frosting added a really pleasant, nutty flavor to it that cut through some of the sweetness. Also, toffee bits are now a new favorite add in for me, so you’ll probably be seeing those used a bit more in baked goods to come on here.

I really liked my 33rd birthday, and I really liked this cake.

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Brown Sugar Toffee Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Bake From Scratch

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla emulsion
  • 1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits

For Browned Butter Frosting

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Butter Vanilla Emulsion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Combine the milk and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk-extract mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined after each addition.

Stir in toffee bits and pecans.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Tap the pan a few times on the countertop to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

For Browned Butter Frosting

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer

Carefully pour butter into a bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to butter, and stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add more milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Place in the refrigerator to allow frosting to set, about 30 minutes.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #452.

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

So, oatmeal cookies. They’re a pretty polarizing food. In my experience, people either love them or they absolutely hate them. I’m somewhat in the middle. I admit that when oatmeal cookies are bad, they are truly wretched.

But oh, when they are good…

I think that the biggest potential downfall of an oatmeal cookies comes down to the texture. If the balance between the oats and the cookie’s moisture isn’t found, then the whole thing ends up giving someone the feeling that they’re chewing dried cud, very quickly, and within seconds they’re reaching for a glass of milk or water to wash the whole thing down.

Flavor is also key. A lot of typical and ‘gourmet’ oatmeal cookies are made with purple raisins. I think this is a huge mistake. The flavor of purple raisins is very pungent, and in this circumstance, not in a good way. In my opinion, it doesn’t complement the flavor of rolled oats very well. Other dried fruits work much better; dried cherries, cranberries, or even golden raisins are all better than purple.

Most recently, I’ve found that another huge boost to oatmeal cookies (both in terms of preserving moisture and enhancing flavor) is adding peanut butter. This isn’t entirely surprising; there are very few things that peanut butter cannot enhance or make better. But I’ll be honest and admit that until I tried today’s recipe I had never thought of putting peanut butter in oatmeal cookies.

But I’ll tell you: whoever did think of it first was really onto something.

So are these peanut butter cookies, or oatmeal cookies? I truly think they’re both. The oats provide the dominant texture, but the chunky peanut butter also adds texture from the nuts AND added moisture from its fats. It’s a really really good combination that would be a good enough cookie on all its own, even if it weren’t for the other add-ins.

The title of this recipe really does say it all. On top of the oats and chunky peanut butter, it also contains semisweet chocolate chips, toffee bits, and mini-peanut butter cups that I diced up into halves to make for better dispersement. The result is a bite that has so many different things going on, but has a really hearty, and yet also (somehow) richness to it that is really delicious.

Like with the vast majority of cookie recipes on this blog, I strongly recommend letting the dough rest in the fridge for a while to let it get nice and chilled before baking. That way, you’ll get rounded cookies with decent lift rather than flat pancakes. The taste won’t be that different, but one is prettier to look at than the other. Your choice.

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Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (Don’t use natural pb here, it won’t come out the same)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark, it doesn’t matter)
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Spread the oats on a large baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool. Line 2 separate baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted rolled oats, chocolate chips, toffee bits and mini peanut butter cups. Stir with a fork and set aside.

Combine the peanut butter and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the dry ingredients, just until combined.

Scoop out 12 equal mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup each), arranging the dough balls in a resealable plastic container you’ve lined with parchment paper or foil.

Refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.

Arrange cookie dough balls about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Lightly flatten with your fingers.

Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the edges of the cookies are set but still soft, 20 to 24 minutes. If any cookies are misshapen, use a spatula to press the edges back into a round shape. Let the cookies cool 10 minutes on the pans, then transfer to a rack to cool completely (the cookies will hold together best when fully cooled).

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 at Fiesta Friday #451.

Bakewell Tart

I’ve mentioned it before on here, but it bears repeating that (like many of you, I’m sure) I am a HUGE fan of the Great British Bakeoff.

On the one hand, it’s a cooking competition, but on the other hand, it’s also a cooking show that is just as much about the science/skill behind baking as it is the ‘competition’, which I appreciate.

I was already pretty fond of baking by the time I first started watching the show, but I can say that my love for it increased even more after Bakeoff. I’ve learned new techniques, tried out new recipes, and become a better baker from it, which is probably one of the reasons why I always keep coming back for more.

If you’re familiar with the show and have been watching for several seasons, you’ll know that while in some cases they introduce variation, overall there are some ‘staples’ that are bound to appear in some form or fashion throughout the respective season. For instance, there are consistent themes assigned to every week such as ‘Biscuits’, ‘Cake’ or ‘Bread’, and during those themed weeks, there’s always going to be at least one contestant who bakes a certain recipe, just because they’re so common in British baking.

The Victoria Sponge cake is one of them, as is sticky toffee pudding, or ginger biscuits, or lemon drizzle cake. Another, is the Bakewell Tart.

Like several other recipes, the Bakewell Tart is one that prior to watching Bakeoff, I had never even heard of before. We don’t really see very many of them across the pond in America, at least not in the places I’ve been. It’s a tart composed of a shortcrust pastry that gets topped with jam or preserves, frangipane, almonds and a glaze of some kind.

The Bakewell Tart is considered a staple English dessert and as such, it’s been featured more than one on Bakeoff in both the technical challenge and as signature where contestants can try to remix it with their own special twist. In honor of the fact that the newest season of Bakeoff is soon to come in the US, I decided to finally get around to making one myself.

I’d watched the show enough to know that Bakewell Tarts are relatively easy to put together, and since this was my first go around with it, I tried to keep things ‘simple’ so far as the ingredients were concerned. My personal touches were to use raspberry preserves for my fruit filling, and to also decrease the amount of icing used on top to a drizzle. If you watch the show and remember the Bakewell Tart technical challenge, you’ll remember that the icing in that recipe is laid on pretty thick–I thought a drizzle was plenty, especially when combined with the sweetness of the frangipane.

Now that I’m on the other side of my own Bakewell Tart ‘challenge’, I can say that I see what all the fuss is about and why it’s a staple over there across the pond. They’re delicious, and well worth the try. So as they say on the show: “On your mark, get set, bake.”

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Bakewell Tart

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

For Pâte Sablée

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup powdered/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, or emulsion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cups all purpose flour

For Filling

  • ¾ cup raspberry preserves
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, or emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1¼ cups almond fl our
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds

For Almond Glaze

  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or more as needed

Directions

For Pâte Sablée

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt, and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add egg yolk, and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add flour in two additions, beating just until combined after each addition.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead 3 to 4 times. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

For Filling & Assembly

Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C).

On a lightly floured surface, roll Pâte Sablée into an 11-inch circle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch fluted round removable bottom tart pan, gently pressing into bottom and up sides. Trim excess dough.

Freeze until hard, about 10 minutes. Prick bottom of dough with a fork. Top with a piece of parchment paper, letting ends extend over edges of pan. Add pie weights.

Bake until edges look dry, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and weights. Bake until crust is dry, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Spread preserves into prepared Pâte Sablée. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined.

Spread filling onto preserves, and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake until golden and set, 45 to 50 minutes. While tart is baking, combine ingredients for glaze together in a small bowl with a fork.

Let finished tart cool in pan for 15 minutes.

Remove from pan, and drizzle with Almond Glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #450, hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Lemon Raspberry Cookie Cake

The heat where I live has been pretty intense these past few weeks. It keeps my tastebuds in a summer mood, and with that summer mood comes a craving for citrus, fresh fruit, and/or both.

So far as I’m concerned, lemon is good at any time of year, but there’s just something about the summer and heat that makes it taste even better. Same thing with raspberries. Whenever and however you put them together, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a perfect summer-y bite.

I’ve said it on here before, but one of the most important things in a good dessert for me is texture. I’m typically not a fan of ones that are completely ‘smooth’ or creamy, even when it comes to ice cream. I want to be able to have some use for my teeth.

I’ve made a lot of cakes, but they’re not typically my favorite dessert, mainly because most of the time, cake is a ‘one-note’ dessert in terms of texture. When it’s made right, it’s supposed to be light and soft and smooth. There are only a couple of exceptions to that rule; the cookie cake is one of them.

I first started making cookie cakes several years ago and fell in love with them mainly because they’re everything I like in a dessert, especially when it comes to the texture. While on the one hand, it’s a ‘cake’ it’s also a very loose cookie dough so the finished texture comes out ultra dense, rich and chewy– just the way I happen to like it.

The base of this recipe is an ultra lemon cookie dough batter. And when I say ultra, I do mean ultra; lemon juice, lemon extract and the zest of two full lemons are in this thing. I promise, you will taste the lemon. Added to that are fresh raspberries that I layered throughout the cake. As they baked, they burst and bled out, rather beautifully I think.

I ate this with a huge scoop of whipped cream on top, and it made for several bites of pure summery bliss. Enjoy.

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Lemon Raspberry Cookie Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Lady Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or emulsion
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 oz fresh raspberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9-10 inch deep dish pie dish and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest and stir together with a fork. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat butter and sugar with a mixer at high speed until creamy. Add eggs, beating until well combined. Stir in lemon juice and extracts.

Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture in 2 batches, stirring just until combined.

Use a spatula, to spread exactly half of the batter into the bottom of the pie dish. Sprinkle exactly half of the berries on top, lightly pressing them into the batter so that they are partially submerged. Spread the other half of the batter on top, and sprinkle/press the rest of the berries on top.

Bake until light golden brown and almost set in the center, approximately 50 to 65 minutes. (The middle should be puffed up and slightly firm to the touch.) Cover loosely with foil you’ve sprayed with cooking spray to prevent excess browning if need be.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #445.

Strawberry Cookie Tart

There are some desserts that for me, are like some people in my life; they’ll just always be special. The moment of realization with people can come in an interesting conversation we’re having or a fun experience we’re having. With dessert, it’s usually in that first bite. But regardless of which one, I have the same thought: “Yeah. This one is a keeper.”

It’s one of the best feelings ever, and as such, I try to re-experience it as often as I can. This blog makes that relatively easy for me to do with food, which is what we’re doing here today.

For the 12 Days of Christmas 2020, I shared a recipe for a cranberry cookie tart. I raved about it back then as one of the best desserts I’d ever made, and that is still very much true. It’s become a staple holiday dessert for us, and probably always will be.

The only downside is that cranberries are a seasonal ingredient that are mostly only sold for about 2 months during the latter part of the year in the winter. And that’s all well and good, but…what am I supposed to do during the summer?

The answer/solution I came to was making a couple of simple ‘seasonal’ ingredient adjustments so that my new favorite winter-y holiday dessert could become a favorite summertime one.

Whereas cranberries are pretty easy to get during the wintertime, strawberries are just as easy to get during summer, so I decided to swap one out for the other. The filling is the only thing I changed from the original recipe so that instead of cranberries and cranberry sauce, the tart is filled with fresh, chopped strawberries and strawberry preserves. I also threw in some lemon zest to give it an added fresh flavor.

Much like the cranberry tart, the strawberry one was delicious. Which now means I’ve got a ‘keeper’ on my hands for both times of year.

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Strawberry Cookie Tart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of strawberry preserves
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F/160C. Grease a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan* and place this on a baking tray.

Using a food processor or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and brown sugar vigorously until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. It’s an important step to beat the butter and sugar well together when making shortbread as this ensures the shortbread is light, crisp and will hold together.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until blended (forming large clumps). Turn onto a floured surface and using floured hands, press two-thirds of the mixture evenly into the prepared pan (including the sides).

Spread with the strawberry preserves evenly over the dough, leaving a 1⁄4-inch border and then scatter with the chopped strawberries and the lemon zest.

Crumble the remaining dough into large crumbs and scatter evenly over the filling, covering most of the surface.Bake the tart for 40 – 45 minutes, until lightly browned.

Leave to cool completely in the pan.

*If you do not have a tart pan, I do think that this would also work in a 9-inch round cake pan, you just won’t be able to lift the whole tart out of it. It’ll still taste great though.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #439.

Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

More than a few of the recipes on this blog came about from me buying a kitchen gadget. It’s a minor obsession of mine. Sometimes this obsession can get pricey, but most times not so much (at least that’s how I always justify it to myself.)

These are one of the most recents buys I’ve made. I wanted it to see how they would work for molding slice & bake cookie dough.

Slice and Bake cookies are one of my go-tos for quick and easy batch desserts. They’re also versatile enough recipe to where there are a lot of different possibilities for ways to flavor/enhance them.

If I had any one complaint about Slice & Bakes as a recipe, it’s the shaping step. After mixing the cookie dough you shape it into a log and refrigerate it, after which you can ‘slice & bake’ as many cookies as you want. But as the dough log rests in the fridge, it typically rests on a flat surface, which flattens it out on the bottom and makes it harder to maintain that perfect cyndrilical shape. There’s no effect on the taste whatsoever, it’s just an aesthetic thing.

It’s probably the food blogger in me, but I like a nice presentation when it comes to baking especially, so I was interested in getting the molds not just for the sake of maintaining a consistent shape in cookie, but also being able to make square cookies that reminded me of the ones that come in the blue tins.

For my first go round with the molds, I kept things simple. Almond cookies are some of my favorite, so I decided to go with those. I did grind my almonds up fresh in my Ninja, with the skins on, as I think it adds more flavor. Using almond meal as opposed to almond flour also gives it a more robust texture.

The cookies themselves are buttery, crisp and the ground almonds and almond extract gives them that bakery-style flavor that I think pairs perfect with coffee or tea. They’d also make amazing Christmas cookie gifts. And because they’re slice and bake you don’t even have to bake them all at once. Regardless of whether you choose to get the mold or not, it’s a really good cookie.

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Slice & Bake Almond Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of almond flour or meal
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, almond flour/meal and salt. Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl use a handheld or standing mixer with paddle attachment to cream the butter and white sugar together until creamy. Add the extracts and mix until just combined.

Fold the flour in in 2 batches, mixing just until combined. Scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula and mold it into 2 long, rectangular logs .

Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and shape into a square shape. (I used these molds, but using a bench scraper or the inside of a 13 x 9 baking dish works as well). If using the molds, press the plastic wrapped log into the molds, then refrigerate both overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Remove the logs from the molds and unwrap. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, slice cookies about 1/4 inch thick (or to your desired preference). Place about 1 inch apart on prepared pans and sprinkle tops with sugar. (Depending on how thick you cut them, this makes quite a few cookies; you’ll probably have to do this in a few batches)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

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 at Fiesta Friday #438, co-hosted by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons.