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.

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.

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.

Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

I almost always mark the arrival of summer by when I can start baking with stone fruit. I’ve said multiple times before that the taste of peaches always reminds me of summer, and although I love nectarines and red plums, peaches will always be my first choice to eat or bake. A little over a week ago, my grocery store finally started stocking peaches; so you guys all know what had to happen.

I don’t think summer baking needs to be super complicated. In the first place, it’s hot, so when/if you use it, you don’t really want the oven to be on any longer than necessary. In the second place, the fruit’s delicious enough to where it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment/fancy stuff done to it. Just keep things simple.

This is definitely one of those recipes that colors safely within the Keep it Simple lines. The ingredients are minimal, there’s very little embellishment given to them, and it comes together relatively quickly as well.

It starts out with a quick vanilla cinnamon crust that gets pressed down into the tart pan and pre-baked ahead of time, which prevents the bottom from becoming soggy from all of the lovely fruit juices. While the crust bakes, you can put together the other two components: the fruit filling, and the streusel topping.

As I say in the recipe itself, one of the best things about this dessert is its flexibility; meaning, the fruit itself can be swapped out for substitutions of whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer. Peaches are my first choice, but any other stone fruit will work as well. Similarly, if you’re not a fan of blueberries or don’t have any on hand, raspberries or blackberries or strawberries will work just as well.

The star of the streusel topping for me are the almonds. They add both flavor and texture that plays really well against the flavors and texture of the fruit.

This is a perfect dessert for a summer cookout. I wasn’t at one when I made it, but in case you’re reading this and need a dessert/to make and take along with you to one, look no further: this is the one you want.

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Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

For Tart/Crust

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries*
  • 2 cups fresh sliced peaches*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottomm cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract just until blended and dough clumps together. (If it’s still too dry and you need to add in a tablespoon or so of water, that’s fine.)

Use your hands to press the dough into tart pan, making sure it’s evenly spread/layered to the edges.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine blueberries, peaches, honey and extracts; toss to coat.

For streusel topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds.
Spoon fruit mixture into crust; Sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Note: the peaches can be swapped out for any other stone fruit (nectarines, plums, even apricots) and the blueberries can be swapped out for any other berry.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #436.

Coffee Cookies

Although I’ve kicked the habit a few times in the past, I’m at a point in my life where coffee is an absolute necessity.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my morning coffee ritual is sacred to me. I legit get pissed when something gets in between me and that cup of Joe–not to mention a killer headache.

In the past, I’ve taken my coffee obsession into the kitchen and experimented with it as a baking ingredient, to really great results. After seeing that coffee could make for a really delicious cake and pan of blondies, I think it was rather inevitable that we’d eventually end up here.

A butter cookie is a great blank canvas recipe that allows for experimentation with flavors. When it’s a cookie press butter cookies it’s even better just because there’s so little labor involved in making them. After the dough is mixed, it’s literally as easy as pressing them out through the press onto a pan and baking them off within minutes. Because I was new to this, (and because I had always wanted to try this particular stencil on my cookie press), I took this route for my coffee cookies.

As you can see, this is a very simple, straightforward recipe to follow. The dough holds up very well to baking and still maintaining its shape/design. They’re not too sweet, which makes them ideal as snack alongside, what else? A cup of coffee.

One thing I will say is very important in making these, is making sure that the coffee you use to bake with is one that you would want to drink all on its own. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook/bake with it is a pretty good rule of thumb to follow in the kitchen in general, actually….but don’t ask me how I know.

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Coffee Cookies

Recipe Adapted from You Can Bake it Too

Ingredients

  • 250 grams butter, softened
  • ⅔ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite flavor of coffee*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar, until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.

With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Place dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are set and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely.

*Make sure the coffee you use is coffee you would want to drink. I first tried this with regular generic brand instant coffee, and the results weren’t what I wanted them to be. The cookie is going to taste like the coffee, so make sure the coffee tastes good to you.

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 #432.

Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

I’m dedicating today’s post to all the mothers in my life, in appreciation for all the work that they do. I truly believe that the mothering I’ve received (from my mom, as well as from many mother-figures) is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am who I am because of them.

I hope all of you who do celebrate this holiday can somehow do so with the mothers and mother figures in your life.

For all who do not celebrate it, I hope you’ll at least stick around a few minutes longer for the food.

I knew leading up to it that I wanted to make something special for today, something that put me in the mind of springtime, as Mother’s Day always does. When I think of Spring, I automatically think of citrus, and since lemon is a favorite flavor of several mothers in my life, that’s the direction I decided to go in here.

This cake is going into the You Can’t Mess This Up category, seeing as it’s a one-bowl recipe that requires zero creaming or heavy machinery outside of a spoon, a bowl and your own two hands. With lemon juice, lemon zest AND lemon extract, it’s just about as lemon-y as can be, but I also really appreciate the inclusion of two other ingredients that really make it something special: cornmeal and rosemary.

You might think that cornmeal would make a cake crumb too coarse and unappetizing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this one. It’s plenty moist, but the cornmeal gives the cake’s texture a unique ‘body’ and flavor that I think really works with the lemon. The herb is a no brainer; you can’t go wrong with lemon and rosemary.

I’ll be honest, I was just as excited to make this curd as I was to bake the cake; the cake may have been an excuse FOR me to make the curd, actually. The curd is sweet from the strawberries, and yet the lemon gives it that sharp, fresh acidity that hits that area in the back of your tongue just right; you know the one I’m talking about.

The idea of making/having a dessert that was essentially, strawberry lemonade ‘flavored’ was the impetus behind this whole thing, and I have to say I was SO pleased with the results. I think once you try it, you will be too.

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Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Recipe Adapted from Our State and Blossom to Stem

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2½ cups whole buttermilk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped

For Curd

  • 1 1/4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, fully dissolved in a few tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and sliced into 6 roughly even slices

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, buttermilk, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and rosemary. Stir just to moisten.

Spit the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cornmeal cake starts to brown and show cracks. (Cakes are done at an inner temp of 190°. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For Curd

Place the strawberries in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer the strawberries until they have some give when prodded with a silicone spatula. They don’t need to be very cooked berries, but you don’t want frozen centers either. It shouldn’t take any longer than about 5 minutes.


Add the strawberries to a blender. Then add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and blend until thoroughly pureed. Then crack each egg into the blender and blend until just incorporated (just a quick pulse is all you need for these).
Place the mixture back in the saucepan, add the cornstarch water.

Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a heat safe spatula, until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir gently. The mixture will be fairly runny, but don’t worry, it will thicken up in the refrigerator.

Pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl (ideally one with a pouring spout). Transfer to jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #431.