Cardamom Print Wafers

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I’ve only done actual Christmas caroling a handful of times in my life- but I remember that I loved it. One of the times I can clearly remember is when I was still in elementary school and the children’s choir went caroling to the governor’s mansion. It was a quiet, slightly snowy night and after we sang a few songs, I can remember being invited inside to a big beautiful ‘house’ where we got served hot chocolate, cookies and candy in a ‘study’ type of room with bright golden lights. As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t mind if 1 or 2 of the people in your group are off-key and love to laugh, then caroling is a blast. Plus, people usually give you free food as a way to say ‘thank you’.

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Everyone ‘s got their own favorite Christmas carols, and I’m no exception. However, my favorites have shifted throughout the years. Now I’m willing to admit that I just can’t pick one as my favorite. I’ve got several. Okay, more than that.

The Holiday¬†Playlist on my ipod’s got over 100 songs. Yeah. I really love Christmas songs.’

When I was very young, around 5 or 6, my favorite Christmas carol was The First Noel. I loved the melody and would always hum the last part to myself, “Born is the King of Israel,” over and over again.

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Then when I was around 8 or 9, it was Silver Bells- but that was because at the time (mid 90’s), there was a commercial that would constantly come on at Christmas time with the Silver Bells melody playing in the background that I really liked. After that, I think it was Angels We Have Heard on High- although to be honest, I went YEARS without even knowing what some of the lyrics were because I was too young to understand that some of the lyrics were in Latin (“in excelsis deo IS Latin, right? Right??).

Christmastime is Here was my favorite Christmas Carol in middle school; I heard it played once on the piano at a holiday party and just fell in love with it. That one’s still remained one of my favorites over the years, and I have a few versions of it on my playlist, including the Vince Guaraldi classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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Honorable mentions should also go out to Give Love on Christmas Day, The Christmas Song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Christmas Tree, O What a Merry Christmas Day, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells.

As many of them as I like, there are also other carols that I don’t really care for: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Little Drummer Boy, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Away in a Manger. I guess I just don’t really like the ‘story’ Christmas carols all that much.

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Today’s recipe is super, super easy to put together, but still packs a great punch. These cookies are thin, slightly crisp but still somewhat chewy in the centeer. The cardamom gives it a very unique spicy bite that combined with the cinnamon really reminds me of a delicious Speculoos biscuit. Hands down, these are meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. I decided to leave them plain and just let the design from the cookie stamps speak for themselves- these are honestly good enough to stand without icing or sprinkles.

If you still need to catch up on the 12 Days of Christmas Series we’re doing, I’m still including a list of the past recipes and posts below ūüôā

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 8: Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Day 9: Biscochitos

Day 10: Cardamom Print Wafers

Cardamom Print Wafers

Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Cookies for Christmas

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp, ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

 Directions

1. Stir together flour, cardamom, cinnamon and salt.

2. In a small mixer bowl, beat til fluffy, Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

3. Stir in flour mixture till well mixed. Cover and chill about 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

4. Shape into 3/4 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten firmly with a floured cookie stamp or the bottom of a glass with a design in it.

5. Bake in a 350¬į oven about 8 minutes. Remove and cool.

Apple Cider Donuts

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Sometimes, I really miss being in the very early years of elementary school.

Morning and afternoon recess periods were awesome.

You can’t beat ‘homework’ that consisted of coloring in the lines and tracing out capital and lower case letters.

Sitting in a circle and singing with my classmates while my teacher played “The Farmer in the Dell” on the piano was cheesy, but still fun.

Yes, all of that was fine, but when I say I really miss those early years of school, I feel I should emphasize that what I really mean was that I miss the food part of it.

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I don’t know how it was for you guys, but at my elementary school, ¬†there were certain foods that we all knew we could count on seeing and eating every season. ¬†Because we all know that little kids can be placated and satisfied with treats.

Actually you can still kinda say that about me now. But I digress.

At Christmas, we were given candy canes and frosted¬†cookies. Valentines Day meant we always held class valentine and candy exchanges. Around St. Patrick’s Day we got pancakes dyed with green food coloring. And at this time of year, we knew that we were gonna go on a field trip to a real life apple orchard, and ultimately end up eating apple cider and donuts. I gotta say, of all the food ‘holidays’ we had, the Apple Cider and Donuts holiday was my favorite.

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I got it into my head a little while ago that I really wanted to make donuts from scratch. Like really, really, REALLY wanted to. I took my usual poll of the family to see what they wanted. Jas wanted a cinnamon bun-style doughnut, which resulted in these absolutely heavenly Cinnamon Roll Doughnuts. Ashley (our resident apple cider addict) wanted Apple Cider Donuts. And me- well, we’ll get to that in a later post. For now, let’s just focus on these.

I had a cut out recipe from Yankee Magazine that I really wanted to try and looked easy enough for someone like me who’s never made her own donuts from scratch before. At first after rolling and cutting out the dough, I was skeptical that I had done it wrong as the dough didn’t seem thick enough to give me the thick, fluffy cake donuts that I had originally wanted to make. However, once these babies hit the hot oil in the deep fryer, they puffed ALLLLLLL the way up. The intense apple flavor of these is really just amazing, and I do think that it was due to the concentrated flavor that came from the boiled cider, so don’t skip that step. I poured about a cup of cider into a small saucepan and let it simmer down until it had reduced to about a 1/3 cup. Not too difficult at all. I did these two ways: one half of the batch I just left plain, as that’s how Ashley likes them. The other half I dunked still warm into a cinnamon sugar mixture. The softness of the donuts combined with the subtle crunch of the sugar? Pure Heaven in my mouth, guys.

I’m taking these to this week’s Fiesta Friday #37, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by¬† Julianna @Foodie On Board and Hilda @Along The Grapevine. Cheers, guys.

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Apple Cider Donuts

Recipe Courtesy of Yankee Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1-1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup boiled apple cider
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
  • Cinnamon sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon) or confectioners’ sugar

 Directions

1. In a large bowl using a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

2. Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Mix well, and don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it’ll smooth itself out. Add flour mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened.

3. Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto one baking sheet and pat gently into 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from the freezer; use a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or two concentric biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 doughnuts with holes. (You may gather the scraps and roll again as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up.) Place cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet as you go; then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.

4. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it nearby. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370¬į (test with an instant-read thermometer). Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; then flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer.

5. Repeat with the remaining dough (if you find that it’s getting too soft as you work your way through the batches, pop it into the freezer again for 10 minutes). When doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, sprinkle all over or roll doughnuts in with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

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When was the last time you had to do something that required a whole lot of effort?

I can think of several things in my life that I’ve had to do that really forced me to go the extra mile and push myself to the limits to make sure that I got the job done.

Example? Well, let’s take the ISP (Integrated Physical Sciences) course that I took when I was still an undergrad student at Michigan State. It was a requirement for every student to take one before they could graduate. By the time my fifth year came around (‘Super Senior Year’ is what we called them), I still had to get mine out of the way. Now before you get all judgmental on me for that, just hold your horses for one collard-pickin minute and let me explain:

I had a personal goal to keep a very good GPA throughout my undergrad career. This is not easy to do when you’re trying to juggle two jobs (at one point, I had three because I was crazy). Additionally, I’d witnessed one too many other people attempt to get all of their requirements out of the way when they first got to campus freshman year,then witness their GPAs plummet at the subjects they weren’t very good at. This wasn’t going to happen to me. Nope. That’s why, by the time my first year of college came around, I had my strategy all planned out.

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Whereas most freshmen took the ¬†required classes that they thought they would struggle in the most first-I did the complete opposite. I took all the classes I knew that I would do very well in first. Turns out, this was a pretty smart idea because there’s a little secret that they neglect to tell Freshmen about concerning the GPA: it’s very VERY difficult to build back up once it goes down. You’re much better off starting off strong, then gradually allowing it to drop little by little rather than making it plummet right off rip then try to rebuild it back up. Which is exactly what I did. I waited until the last couple years of my undergrad years to take my math and sciences classes- which were still extremely challenging.

I ended up having to take one Math class 3 TIMES. (Don’t ask,it’s still too painful to talk about). My second math class is a blur to me-all I remember was that I did a lot of praying and drank more coffee than was healthy for me. And I swear that my Statistics class was specifically designed to shave off 5 years of my life.

The only reason I passed my Biology course was because I did every single extra credit assignment that my professor assigned- and I really, really REALLY didn’t like him. He was one of the most arrogant jerks I’d ever met and getting up at 8:00 am every Monday morning to listen to him lecture (literally)was just NOT ¬†fun. He was one of those teachers that liked seeing students fail his tests because it made him feel smarter. Just thinking about him now is putting me in a bad mood. ¬†I couldn’t stand him to the point where Hell would freeze over before I gave him the satisfaction of not passing his class. I definitely did.

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My Physics class was the last one that I had to take. It was a summer course, which meant it went much faster than normal classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.It was also an online class, meaning that we never even saw the professor besides the lectures videos he uploaded to  a website.Our assignments were submitted electronically and we all had to go into a lecture hall on campus to take 3 tests, and that was it. The cool thing about the tests were that the professor allowed us to have one double sided cheat sheet that we could use.

That was all I needed to hear.

Looking back, the effort I put into my cheat sheet was kinda ridiculous. I wrote as small and tiny as I possibly could to make sure I could fit every single piece of information on the paper. And just to make sure I didn’t waste time during the test looking for the colossal amounts of information i was writing down, I eveen color coded the cheat sheet according to specific topics. I wasn’t leaving ANYTHING to chance. I was GOING to pass that class.

And I did. Rather well, actually.

And my GPA when I graduated? 3.527…like a Boss.

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Like the cheat sheets from my ISP class, these sticky buns require a little bit of extra effort. But like the cheat sheets, they are also SOOOO worth the end result. My twin sister had been asking me to make them for weeks before I finally gave in and decided to give them a go. I’ve heard of this recipe because of the extreme popularity of the bakery, Flour that they originally come from that’s run by Joann Chang. People supposedly line up and wait hours for these sticky buns…and I can’t say that I blame them. The verdict from my family was unanimous; they’re fantastic. What really sets them apart from your typical sticky bun has gotta be the ‘goo’ that they’re topped with. It’s thick and gooey, but not overly sweet. The dough is what requires the extra mile, as it’s supposed to set up overnight in the fridge, but like I said, you’re not going to regret it. It’s golden, buttery and tender brioche at its best.

I’m taking these sticky buns to the Fiesta Friday #29 hosted this week by Angie@TheNoviceGardener¬†and cohosted by Jhuls and Selma. ¬†I certainly hope you’ll be there to join us at the party to get one….because these babies just aren’t gonna last that long.

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Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Recipe Courtesy of Joann Chang

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION (PAGE 1, PAGE 2, PAGE 3)

Ingredients

Goo

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks;)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brioche Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks;) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar & cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, &salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

3. Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

5. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

6. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

Brioche Dough:

8. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

9. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

10. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

11. Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.