Roasted Tomato Salsa

Much like sour cream from last week, raw tomatoes are another one of those ingredients that I don’t care to eat on their own, but I’m very appreciative of what they can do as a recipe ingredient.

Salsa is one of those recipes. I don’t mind a verde, but a red salsa will always be my preference, and the flavor of the actual tomato plays a huge part in that.

I’m a huge advocate for roasting things. It concentrates and enhances ingredients’ natural flavor, and that’s especially true for tomatoes. I can’t think of a better (or an easier) way to showcase the flavor of when they’re roasted than in a fresh salsa.

This salsa broils tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro until they’re roasted/charred. They’re then blitzed together in a blender and seasoned, minimally.

And that’s literally it. Definitely one for the “You Can’t Mess This Up, No Seriously” category.

I will say that texture is also important here; I can’t stand runny tomato juice salsa. It’s gotta be chunky for me all the way. So I was very intentional in my blending to actually only press the Pulse button a handful of times so as to not have ‘soup’ instead of salsa. But if that’s your preference, feel free to blitz it for as long as you like until it’s as thin as you like.

This salsa made me scold myself for not having made myself some before up until now. It tasted so fresh and bright. The flavors of each of the broiled/roasted ingredients really shined through here, and my only regret about it i that I hadn’t made a double batch.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 10 Roma Tomatoes, halved
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow sweet onion, quartered and separated.
  • 8 oz fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions


Preheat stove broiler on High. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Arrange tomatoes and garlic cloves on one sheet pan and the other for the onions, cut side up for the tomatoes and onions. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes and the onions with salt and pepper.

Broil on the rack of the nearest to the broiler grill. After about 7-10 minutes, check on the garlic cloves; if they are browned and the skins have begun to open, remove them from the oven and their skins, and set aside.

Broil the tomatoes about 5-10 minutes more, until they have begun to char and blister on the tops. Remove from oven, and broil the onions until they’re softened and beginning to char at the tips, 5-7 minutes.

Spread the cilantro out on one of the sheet pans; broil for about 35 seconds to 1 minute; don’t walk away from it. Once cooled, tear the softened cilantro into pieces.

Once the tomatoes and onions are cooled, place them and the garlic into a a blender. Pulse a few times until it forms a chunky paste; I only needed to pulse about 5-6 times to my desired consistency.

Pour the salsa into a bowl, season with the lime juice, cumin, smoked paprika and salt and pepper. Taste & adjust for seasoning, then stir in the wilted cilantro.

Chill in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #415

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

By itself, I think that sour cream tastes awful.

I mean, it is really, really bad. It’s both a texture and a flavor thing for me. I know a lot of people like adding it to tacos and goulash and whatnot, but the mere thought of eating sour cream raw triggers my gag reflex every time.

However.

As terrible as I think it is as condiment by itself, in my experience, I have found that it is a stellar ingredient to bake with.

What it lacks in texture or taste by itself, it more than makes up for when it’s time to improve the texture of baked goods; practically any baked goods, really. For instance, I never go without sour cream when making biscuits if I can help it. It’s become one of my secret baking weapons.

I use it with biscuits and scones all the time and now, it turns out that I can now add it to the yeast bread repertoire.

I’ve made bubble bread a couple times before on the blog. It makes for an eye-catching presentation, it’s pretty simple to shape/assemble, and it’s a good tear-and-share loaf– if you’re inclined to share, anyway.

There are very few things that garlic, herbs and butter can’t make taste good, and bread is certainly no exception. I don’t know which I was a bigger fan of; the texture of the bread itself thanks to the sour cream and the bread flour, or the buttery herby garlicky flavor that’s in every bite.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to pick and neither do you should you decide to give this a try.

Just enjoy it.

Herbed Sour Cream Pull Apart Loaf

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 3¼ cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together 1½ cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt by hand.

In a medium saucepan, heat sour cream, butter, and ¼ cup (60 grams) water over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Sprinkle the active yeast on top, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed and frothy.

With mixer on medium speed, pour warm sour cream mixture into flour mixture, beating until combined and cooled slightly, about 1 minute. Add egg, and beat at medium speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 1¾ cups flour, beating until well combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl, about 1 minute.


Lightly spray a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt.


Divide dough into 36 pieces. With lightly floured hands, working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out), roll each piece into a smooth ball. Dip each ball into melted butter mixture, and place in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Pour any remaining melted butter mixture over dough in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sprinkle risen dough with flaked salt.


Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and garnish with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, if desired.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #414.

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Happy New Year, everyone. We made it to 2022.

Whereas 2020 seemed to drag on forever, I feel like 2021 flew by. I have no idea where all that time went to, but here we are. I hope that all of you had a great finish to the holiday season and are having a great start to the new year.

Last year, I kicked off 2021 on the blog with a biscuits recipe, and as it would turn out, that’s how we’re bringing in 2022 as well. That’s pretty on brand for me.

Maybe I’ll even just go ahead and make it a running tradition from here on out.

Recently, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to bake with sourdough. It’s been on my baking Bucket List for I don’t know how long, and I’m somewhat ashamed of myself that I’m just now getting around to it, as sourdough is one of my favorite ways to enjoy carbs.

It’s definitely something that takes time and practice. I’d heard before going into this that a sourdough starter is somewhat like a baker’s ‘pet,’ and I’m finding out that that’s true.

You have to keep it stored in a specific container, at a specific temperature and give it specific amounts of ‘food’ at specific times in order to help it grow healthy. It’s a very involved process. This is my first pet ever, so I’m choosing to take all this very seriously, to the point where I even named my starter. It’s a He and his name is Donatello (No, not after the sculptor. After the turtle.)

Me and Donatello are still figuring out this whole sourdough business, but until we do, in the meanwhile, I’ve had quite a lot of discard on my hands at the end of every day. See, a starter is just composed of flour and water and ferment that gets produced from that flour and water paste. Every time you ‘feed’ a starter, you have to take out the majority of the starter and, well…’discard’ of it. But if you’re like me and throwing away food or even baking ingredients is difficult for you, then today’s recipe is a really perfect one.

Rather than just pouring off the discard into a trash can, you can actually store leftover discard in the refrigerator for a select period of time for occasions such as these and add it to Blank Canvas recipes to give them added ‘sourdough’ flavor. As my favorite Blank Canvas recipe is the Biscuit, I knew I had to try this.

The process for sourdough discard biscuits really isn’t that different from my process of making any other. The only difference here is that rather than sour cream or buttermilk, you rely entirely on the sourdough discard for the ‘wet’ ingredient that holds the dough together.

We really liked these. The sourdough flavor itself will probably depend upon on how long you’ve been keeping the discard in the fridge, but paired with the dried herbs, it’s a really great biscuit.

Wish me and Donatello luck on our sourdough adventures!

Sourdough Discard Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Artisan

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of your choice of dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, basil or a combination of these)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 3-4 cups sourdough starter*

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and dried herbs. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork to coat with flour after each addition of about 1/3 to 1/2 stick. This will prevent butter from clumping. Mixture should look like floury pieces of butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the sourdough starter. (Note: The amount you add here is going to vary according to the time of year and your location. You may need to use all of it, you may not. Start with 1/2 cup and stir the dough together with the fork, just until it begins to come together in large clumps. Add more flour if you need to, just enough to make it hold together.)

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops of the biscuits with cooking spray, or brush with melted butter and place in oven.

Once you’ve placed the biscuits into the oven, lower the temperature to 425F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for additional 8-10 minutes, or until the tops and the bottoms of the biscuits are golden brown. (You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.)

Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before serving.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #413

Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I think there are some recipe classics that just shouldn’t be messed with, sometimes I get an idea in my head for a new addition or flair to give a classic, and I just can’t get it out of my head until I at least give it a shot.

Today’s recipe was one of those times.

I’ve long been of the opinion that the chocolate chip recipe that I use is as close to perfect as can be. I’ve been using it for years and there’s only been one other time I made a modification to it.

However, while I was brainstorming for recipes to include on this year’s 12 Days of Christmas, this idea popped into my head and my curiosity kept eating away at me until I decided to finally give it a try.

What I’ve learned is that so long as you don’t change the basic chemistry of a baking recipe, you can feel free to add some variation to it and see what happens. That’s basically what I did here; taking my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and adding some winter spices to the dry ingredients.

I really really liked what the spice mixture did for this recipe. I was concerned that the cloves and pepper in particular would be a little bit too strong, but they’re really not. The first taste that you get is of the chocolate, but then as it lingers, the flavor of the spices begin to settle in on the tongue. It’s very pleasant, and what I think turned out to be a successful holiday adaptation of a classic.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land o’ Lakes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, plus more if desired

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in bowl; set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Using a 1/4 cup measuyre, scoop out portions of dough and roll into balls. Place the balls in a resealable plastic container and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place the dough balls 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Press additional chocolate chips into the tops of cookies, if desired. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

In the Top 5 rankings of my favorite pies, The Pecan has been the undefeated champion for years now. It just ticks all the boxes for me: sweetness, butter and texture in abundance. Not only that, when it comes to labor, pecan is one of the easiest to make.

Something I’ve started to do lately is experiment with see how well my favorite pies translate into different iterations, like tarts or bars. I had great results with Day 2’s Sweet Potato Bars, and today’s recipe on Day 9 is yet another experiment I did with successful results. Not only that, it features one of my favorite ingredients to bake with: browned butter.

Browned butter is one of those ingredients that in my opinion serves to elevate already delicious foods to heights you may not have thought them even capable of. I have yet to try it in anything, sweet or savory food alike when I haven’t been completely satisfied with the addition of browned butter. I’m pleased to report that the pecan pie is no exception.

I like to think of this as pecan pie for a crowd in that it serves more people than the standard 9 inch pie, and the browned butter gives it an added flair that you usually try to whip out when/if you’re trying to show off a bit for guests. It would be a perfect dessert for Christmas dinner. Just a suggestion.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Recipe Adapted from the Daily Meal

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted

Directions

For Crust: Coat a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan with nonstick spray (round or rectangular); set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat on medium-high speed until lightened and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Add the flour and pulse the mixer on and off until it begins to combine, and then run the mixer on medium-low speed just until the dough begins to form. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and use the wrap to help press the dough into a flat disk shape. Wrap the dough thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and fit into the pan, pressing into corners and trimming the top flush with fluted edges. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. (At this point, you can double-wrap the tart shell very well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking, or freeze for up to 1 week.)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake directly on the oven rack for 8 to 12 minutes or just until it feels dry to the touch and is beginning to color around the edges. Check about halfway through baking; if the crust is puffing up, gently press back down with the back of a fork. Cool the tart pan set on a rack while you make filling.

For Filling: Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter browns, but do not let it burn.*

(To Brown Butter: 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. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Remove browned butter from the heat and whisk in the sugar and golden syrup or corn syrup. Allow to cool slightly (you maybe transfer this to a mixing bowl if you like to hasten the cooling). Once it is barely warm, whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the bourbon, if using, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Scrape into the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. The filling will be slightly puffed and set around the edges. The middle might still look a bit soft; that’s okay. It firms up tremendously upon cooling. Cool the pan on a rack. The tart is ready to serve or may be loosely covered with foil and stored at room temperature overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #411, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cranberry Custard Pie

Every single year, I always so look forward to ‘cranberry season.’

Cranberry Season is that period of roughly the last 2 months of the year where you can find cranberries in most grocery stores, in abundance. I always make a big batch of cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I also always try to find new ways to bake with cranberries for the holidays, just because I think it’s a perfect holiday/festive-y food.

I’ll be honest, I’m starting to have to get more and more thoughtful towards the new cranberry recipes that I try out just because by now, I’ve baked with them in a lot of different ways. (A simple glance at the blog’s Recipe Index can tell you that.)

But I’m pleased to say that today’s recipe was a complete and total first for me. I’d never made cranberry pie before, or even a custard pie at all.

This was probably the best (and not to mention the easiest) introduction I could’ve had to both.

This isn’t one of those custards you have to stand over the stove stirring and stirring. All there is to do is throw together a pie crust, pour the cranberries into the pie dish, then pour the custard on top. As the pie bakes, the cranberries burst open.

Custard is great with just about anything, but when it’s paired with cranberries, I’ll tell you: it is something really special. The orange flavored custard is a perfect balance to the tart bitterness of the cranberries. Although this was originally an experimental bake, it’s a dessert that I could easily see myself making as a new yearly tradition.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Cranberry Custard Pie

Recipe Adapted from Kardea Brown

Ingredients

For Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the dough
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • Pinch of sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • About 1/4 cup cold water

For Filling

  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 3 1/2-4 cups of preferably fresh cranberries*, but if frozen they need to be completely thawed (from 12 oz. bag)

Directions

For crust: in a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. If you have one, use a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. (If you don’t, then just dice the butter into cubes and use a fork to cut it into the dry ingredients). Add a few tablespoons of water at a time and stir with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a round and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a deep dish pie pish.

Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a large round, about 12 inches. Transfer to the pie dish, fold over the sides and use a fork to press a design into the edges.

For the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until uniform in color and no egg white is visible. Whisk in the sugar mixture until smooth. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and orange zest and whisk to combine. Add the cranberries to the bottom of the pie crust and pour the custard over the top.

Bake until the custard is set with a slight wobble in the center, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely.

*I didn’t need to use the full 4 cups of cranberries, this really depends on the deepness of your pie dish.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #411, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Gingerbread Biscotti

It’s no doubt the caffeine lover in me, but I’m a sucker for baked goods I can enjoy with my coffee.

There’s just something about the bitter taste of the coffee that makes the sweetness of the baked good that much more delicious.

With the frequency with which I bake for this blog, I’m always looking for variety and new things to try out. As such, I have noticed that there are certain recipes that have what I’ve come to view as a ‘repeat factor’; meaning, they have a certain likelihood of whether or not I’m going to be baking them again.

Some recipes ‘score’ higher than others, but I will say that recipes I enjoy eating alongside coffee or tea have definitely secured higher scores in their Repeat Factor. For that reason alone, biscotti has a leg up in the rankings.

Beside that, it’s easy to make, it stores/ships with no fuss, and because it’s biscotti there’s not the same worry about the cookies ‘staying fresh.’

I’ve been meaning to make gingerbread flavored biscotti for years, but for whatever reason, I didn’t get along to it until now. Boy, was that a mistake.

But regardless, I can now report back that it’s delicious, and that I’ve been enjoying these immensely alongside my morning (and afternoon) coffee. Biscotti also makes for a perfect selection for cookie boxes/gifts for all the aforementioned reasons. Plus, doesn’t it just look so festive?

We’re halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas; check out the already posted recipes below in case you haven’t already!

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

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

Gingerbread Biscotti

Recipe Adapted from Land o’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Biscotti:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mild molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk or water
  • Holiday nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, ginger, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Add molasses; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 12-inch log on lightly floured surface. Place logs 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Flatten logs slightly. Spray tops of logs with cooking spray, then sprinkle coarse sugar on top.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned and tops are slightly cracked. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Carefully place logs onto cutting surface. Cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices with serrated knife (a bread knife works perfectly for this). Place, cut-side down, onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.

Return to oven. Bake 9 minutes; turn slices. Continue baking 5-7 minutes or until cookies are dry and crisp. Cool completely.

Combine icing ingredients together with a fork until it is at desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti, then sprinkle the nonpareils on top. Allow to sit until icing it set, about 30 minutes. Store biscotti in a sealed container or plastic bag.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Sometimes I wish I was more ‘scientifically’ minded, so that I could be more into the ‘technical’ aspect of baking. At its core, baking of any kind is just a science experiment. Certain ingredients put together in a certain way have a certain reaction, and that reaction is the ‘product.’

I’ve been doing this long enough to where I know or have a rough idea what kinds of reactions certain ingredients and certain methods have, but I’m not at the point where I I understand the full science behind it.

For instance, a lot of practice and trial/error has given me a very good grasp on what ingredients and methods work for baking (American-style) biscuits. I know what they do, but the scientific ‘how’ of the ingredients/methods? Eh.

Cookies are another recipe that I really wish I understood the science behind more. I know how to make them, but there are times when I think if I understood the ‘whys’ of making them, I could be better at it. Today’s recipe was one of those times.

They weren’t quite what I expected when I set out to make them, but I still really like how they turned out. I thought they would be more along the lines of a smallish, puffy cookie and in reality, they were indeed chewy, but they spread quite a bit and were flatter than I imagined. Now either that happened because I was doing something wrong, or because I needed to have a firmer grasp on how my ingredients were going to react

Or, y’know… both.

But regardless, I still liked these enough to leave them on the list for the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s the flavor for me; the brown sugar and molasses gives them great, rich flavor up the wazoo. If you like the large, bakery style cookies that have crisp edges and a chewy center, these are definitely for you. They also keep and ship very well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to google/hunt down a ‘science behind cookies’ article.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookies

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and the molasses and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Place the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Form the cookies into 1 1/2-ounce balls (2 tablespoons). Roll each ball in the sugar and place cookie dough balls in a resealable plastic container lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three sheet pans with parchment paper. (If you don’t have 3 baking sheets, you can reuse the parchment and baking sheets, just let the sheets cool off between each round.)

Place 8 cookies on each sheet pan. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the sides are set and the bottoms are light golden brown, 10 to 11 minutes.

Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan, then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack.

(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.)

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

If I were facing down a platter of cookies and I had a choice between a snickerdoodle and a peanut butter cookie, I honestly can’t tell you which one I would pick.

For me, the choice comes down to what flavor(s) and what textures I’m in the mood for at the moment.

A snickerdoodle is more of a chewy/cakey cookie with a warm, sugar-spice-everything nice flavor profile. The peanut butter cookie may be crisp, or chewy, but the flavor profile is pretty much…peanut butter. Which, needs no help from anything else. It’s delicious enough all by itself.

The thing is, they’re both delicious cookies…but what if you put them together?

I’m always curious about trying out ‘mishmash’ recipes that combine two classics into a hybrid one, and seeing how well it does or doesn’t work. Today’s recipe combines the snickerdoodle and the peanut butter cookie together and I have to say, I think it works.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, structurally and texturally, these do lean more on the peanut butter cookie side. The snickerdoodle element comes in towards the end, where the balls of cookie dough are rolled in cinnamon sugar to create that crackly sugar crust of goodness that are reminiscent of snickerdoodles.

These are really easy to make so far as cookies go, and they pack/ship very well. If you’re like me and you couldn’t choose between peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies on a platter either, make it easy on yourself and just try these out.

And! Be sure to stay updated with the other recipes shared thus far on this year’s 12 Days of Christmas (see below…)

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South Magazine

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter-flavored shortening
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter (use whichever you prefer; I used crunchy)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl, beat shortening, ½ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add peanut butter, beating until smooth. Add egg, beating to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture to shortening mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add cream, beating to combine.
In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in sugar mixture to coat.

Place dough balls in a plastic container lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Cover lightly and refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place cookie dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Using a fork, flatten each ball to about ½-inch thickness, making a crosshatch design.

Bake until edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(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 #410.

Sweet Potato Cookie Bars

It’s Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog–if you haven’t already, go back and check out the recipe for Day 1, where I also give a description of the series in general for those of you who may be new here.

I think that I mentioned in a post from a a couple weeks ago that I’d been doing a bit more baking with sweet potato as an ingredient as of late and as a result, I’d be posting some more sweet potato recipes here on the blog. Today’s recipe is one of the further proofs of that.

Sweet potato pie is easily in my Top 5 ranking of pies. It’s not number #1 or #2 (those spots go to Pecan and Strawberry-Rhubarb, respectively), but sweet potato is definitely up there.

One of the reasons I prefer pie to other desserts like cake is the textural element. I like contrasting textures in my food so that everything doesn’t necessarily taste ‘one note.’ And although I loveloveLOVE the flavors of sweet potato pie, I think it’s a few rankings beneath others because texturally, it can be a bit ‘one note’.

Sweet potato pie filling is ideally supposed to be very smooth, and pie crust itself is supposed to be flaky and melt in your mouth. That leaves little room for much ‘chew’ in the dessert itself, which is the only downside to sweet potato pie if I had to give one. This is one of the reasons why I’m rather geeked to be sharing today’s recipe with you all; it’s an automatic and pretty delicious ‘correction’ to what I see as the only minor ‘problem’ with sweet potato pie.

Rather than a pie crust base, this recipe has a pâte sablée cookie crust that’s pre-baked once, then twice again with the sweet potato filling on top. Apart from the fact that the cookie is delicious enough all on its own, it’s thick and chewy enough to give a fantastic textural contrast with the smooth and spiced sweet potato filling . They checked all the boxes for me and although they’re not a pie, I dooooo think they make for a solid contender against the real thing. Try em out.

Stay tuned for more recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas…

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

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

Sweet Potato Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

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

For Sweet Potato Filling

  • 2 cups warm mashed baked sweet potato (make sure it’s completely mashed/smooth, with no chunks throughout)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

For Cookie Crust:

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.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

For Sweet Potato Filling

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.
In a large bowl, whisk together warm mashed sweet potato and all remaining ingredients until well combined. Pour filling onto warm crust.
Bake until filling is set and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175°F (79°C), 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan. Trim edges, and cut into bars as desired using a hot, dry knife.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #409.