Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

I love when something happens that’s unexpected but really awesome.

The weekend I made today’s recipe, I had several surprises happen that were really unexpected, but still great. I was in a great mood, I had more time to experiment in the kitchen than I normally do, and so I decided on a random whim to try out something new.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I am a staunch browned butter advocate. Regardless of the food, it will improve literally anything that you’re cooking, whether it’s sweet or savory.

Slice and bake cookies are another of those baking recipes that I put in my “You Can’t Mess this Up” category. The dough is very quick and forgiving in putting it together, and after you’ve let it rest in the fridge, all that’s left to do is literally slice, throw the cookies on a sheet and bake them up.

Best of all, it’s also a recipe where you don’t have to bake the batch all at once if you prefer not to. You can leave the log in the fridge or freezer, slice off as many cookies as you want (or don’t want), and save the rest for later.

Having said that, I will throw out a disclaimer in that, you’re going to want to make the whole batch of these because they’re just that good and if you have other people living with you in your house, they’re going to gobble them up and you won’t have enough ready-made for yourself to enjoy.

I can predict this, because it’s pretty much what happened to me.

If I had to describe what they taste like, I’d say they are the best pecan sandie you’ve ever had and didn’t know that you needed in your life. The cookie is delicious enough by itself; it’s crisp and full of nutty, pecan flavor. The filling is what sends them over the top: it’s rich, and full of that delicious, golden flavor that can only come from browned butter.

These disappeared in our house quick. Try ’em out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (yolks only)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Half & Half, cream, or milk

Directions

For Cookies:

Combine 1 cup butter and brown sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour, pecans and salt; beat at low speed until dough forms a ball.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into 10-inch-long log (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Wrap each log tightly in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut each log into 1/8-inch slices with sharp knife; place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

For Filling: Melt 1/4 cup butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until butter just starts to brown. (Butter will bubble and foam. Watch closely.) Immediately remove from heat. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar,1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough half & half for desired spreading consistency.Spread 1 level teaspoon filling on bottom-side of 1 cookie; top with second cookie, bottom-side down. Squeeze together gently. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #369.

Brookies (It’s a Brownie and a Chocolate Chip Cookie)

Y’all. I have an announcement to make.

I’ve made a love connection.

No. Not *that* kind of a love connection. But it’s just as good. Maybe even better.

I’m in a phase right now where what I want most from my desserts is texture. Thick, chewy, fudgy texture. As a result, (and if you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll have no doubt noticed this) I’ve been churning out a lot of thick cookies, brownies, blondies and whatnot from my kitchen because everything I make on the blog, we actually eat.

(Throwing away food is a no from me; but also, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, so we don’t go anywhere where I can give it away either)

This is another one of those recipes where I’d heard of it before, but I have no idea what took me so long to finally getting around to trying it out. It combines two of my favorite desserts–the brownie and the chocolate chip cookie into one truly perfect bite: the Brookie.

So how is it done? Pretty easily enough you may be surprised to find out. You make the recipes for the two desserts separately; first a cookie dough, then a brownie batter. The brownie batter is spread in the bottom of the pan and dolloped with cookie dough.

And then…a true love connection is made.

You’d think that the chocolate chip cookie layer would be overpowered by the  brownie layer, but it isn’t. It forms a crackly, brown sugar-y crust that evens out the richness of the brownie beneath perfectly. And don’t even get me started about what it tasted like with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Sinful I tell you.

You all absolutely have to try this. It’s become one of our new favorite desserts, and I guarantee that it’ll become one of yours too.

There’s a certain holiday coming up that celebrates love connections, and all I can say is that I think this a perfect dessert to make for one.

Brookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

For Cookie Dough Layer

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

For Brownie Layer

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Directions

For Cookie Dough:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter; line with parchment, leaving a slight overhang on long sides. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter with both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in egg. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate. Set aside

For Brownie Batter

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in granulated sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt. Fold in flour until combined.

Pour brownie batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Crumble cookie dough evenly over batter.

Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake until just set, 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center (avoiding chocolate chunks) comes out with moist crumbs, 27 to 30 minutes more.

Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift brookies from pan using parchment; cut into squares.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #36.

Coffee Blondies

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. And by love-hate I mean, I love drinking the stuff, but I also hate that I’m semi-addicted to it.

I go through these periods (I’ve gone as long as a few years at a time) where I can completely kick the habit and not even miss it. But then, out of nowhere the craving for it will settle in and suddenly I’ve got to have it and I fall off the wagon and go back to my dependency on it like nothing ever happened. It’s odd.

I’m regrettably back in my dependency stage at the moment. Every night before bed I ensure that I place the grounds and the water in my coffee maker and set the timer to make sure it’s ready for me in the morning. First thing in the morning after I wake up and brush my teeth, I go into the kitchen, pour out two in two mugs, then put them both in the fridge to chill for about an hour. I add a coffee ice cube to the mug (yes, I keep coffee ice cubes in my freezer) a little bit of milk, then a splash of vanilla syrup, and bam. That’s how I take it. Every day.

There’s usually at least a little bit of coffee left in the pot at the end of the day, and I try not to end up throwing it out–especially if it’s good coffee. As I said, my most common use for the ‘leftover’ coffee is to freeze it into ice cubes. The other is to try and bake something with it.

Coffee is an ingredient that can really enhance the flavor of chocolate, which is why sometimes you’ll see it included in brownie or chocolate cake recipes. But for coffee fanatics like me, sometimes you want a dessert that makes it the central flavor. I’ve experimented with coffee in desserts before on the blog, including this pound cake (one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted for what it’s worth), as well as with cookies and scones. Today, I’m trying something new.

I’m in a phase where I really want texture from my desserts. I like chewy richness, like the kind you can only get in a pie, or brownies, or thick cookies…or blondies.

The blondie itself is like a really rich, chewy cookie. Take a look at that shiny, crackly crust, would you? The nuts add another textural element to that chewiness. Best of all, because it’s a blondie and not a brownie, the coffee flavor stands out on its own. These are everything that my tastebuds want. They come together in minutes and bake in less than an hour, so it’s also a pretty fool-proof recipe too. Even if you don’t like coffee, I think you’d still like these.

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Coffee Blondies

Recipe Adapted from Canadian Living

Ingredients

1½ cups (213 g) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
1½ cups (297 g) packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature
1 egg
1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (86 g) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
¾ cup (128 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder with a fork and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into squares.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #364, hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

As the saying goes, you learn something new every day; hopefully, the something new that you learn is useful and pleasant. Today’s recipe came as a result of me recently learning something new that was useful, pleasant, and delicious. It’s always nice when that happens.

It wasn’t until the month of November in the year 2020 that I learned about a nifty little invention called cookie brittle for the first time. Maybe some of you will be learning about it for the first time in reading this blog post. To you, I say: welcome. Your lives will never be the same.

Cookie brittle is a cookie dough made without any leavening agents (no egg, no baking powder, no baking soda). Ingredient wise, it resembles shortbread. But the method in making it departs from shortbread in that no air whatsoever is whipped into it. Instead, the butter is melted, combined with sugar, then spread thin into a sheet pan. With no air or leavening, the baked dough creates a very close textured crumb that after it cools becomes extremely, well…brittle.

I have a very special relationship to chocolate chip cookies. I have a go-to recipe that I very seldom deviate from, as I believe it’s as close to perfection as one can get. But in this instance I was just too curious not to give this cookie brittle thing a try. Boy. I learned something that day, that’s for sure. Texturally speaking, cookie brittle goes far beyond the texture of crispy chocolate chip cookies like Chips Ahoy or Tate’s Bake Shop. It’s called brittle for a reason; if I had to describe it, I would say that it’s like…a chocolate chip cookie crunchy toffee. Chocolate chip cookie candy. Now, doesn’t that sound absolutely delicious?

The recipe is actually very easy to follow, you just have to make sure that you follow it to a T. The dough has to be cool before you mix in the chocolate and nuts, and you have to be careful not to leave it in the oven too long. Because it’s baked directly in an ungreased pan, it can go from perfectly golden brown to burned in seconds. Don’t ask me how I found out both of those tips, just follow them.

Did I mention that this also makes great gifts? Cause it does. That’s if you’re still feeling in the giving Christmas spirit after trying this for yourself. You may not be. It’s that good.  

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Day 5: Spicy Gingerbread Sticks

Day 6: Reindeer Munch

Day 7: Jell-O Butter Cookies

Day 8: Gingerbread Blondies

Day 9: Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

Recipe Courtesy of Cookies & Cups

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan on medium heat combine the butter and sugar, stirring constantly. Once butter is melted, cook for one more minute and remove it immediately from the heat, being careful not to bring the mixture to a boil. Alternatively place butter and sugar in a large heat-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 90-120 seconds until the butter is melted and sugar has dissolved slightly.

Whisk mixture until it is combined.Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes (this part is VERY important, it needs to be cool before you continue) and then whisk mixture again for 1 minute.

Whisk in the vanilla and the salt. Stir in the flour until the dough forms and then stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Press the dough onto the ungreased pan spreading it out all the way to the edges, you want the brittle to be thin.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating the pan every 7-8 minutes until it’s lightly golden and firm to the touch in the center.

Let the brittle cool in the pan for 3 minutes and then line a counter or second baking sheet with parchment paper and invert the first pan onto the second, and allow it to cool completely.

Break the brittle into pieces and enjoy!

 

Cranberry Cookie Tart

Have you ever cooked or baked something that made you ask yourself: “Where has this been all my life, and why am I just now discovering it?”

It’s a really great feeling.

I experienced it when I made today’s recipe.

Seriously, one of the best cooking decisions I ever made was begin making my own cranberry sauce from scratch. I don’t know how people can eat the canned gelatine stuff. Real cranberry sauce not only has better texture, making it from scratch allows you to give it so much more and better flavor. Canned cranberry sauce just tastes like jellied Ocean Spray. Which…is pretty much all it is.

I say all of that because a significant part of what makes today’s recipe so delicious is the cranberry sauce filling, and I don’t want people who aren’t used to making it to be scared off by it as an ingredient. It’s worth it, y’all. It really is. Should you accept the challenge, and you want to ensure you’re making a tart that tasted just like ours did, or you just need an easy and delicious recipe for cranberry sauce, there’s one here, and here on the blog for your convenience, though I always just make the Cranberry Clementine sauce as a rule now; it’s that delicious, trust me.

Would you believe it’s a cinch to make? Yes, even though it’s a tart. And once your cranberry sauce is made, the whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes. The base is a brown sugar shortbread that bakes up super light and crisp. This isn’t the Great British Bakeoff, so you don’t have to be too concerned about overworking your dough. 3/4 of it gets pressed into the pan, then the rest of it gets dropped on top of the cranberry sauce in chunks that form little pockets of cookie, rather than dropping it on in one large sheet.

Be prepared, y’all: they smells that are going to be coming out of your kitchen while this thing is baking are going to be enough to make you start salivating for it before it’s even done. I wish there was a Bath and Bodyworks candle for this scent; it would sell out, I guarantee you of that.

As I said earlier, from the very first bite of this that I took, I was asking myself how I went so long without discovering this thing. It’s so delicious, y’all. The crust is warm, buttery and crisp and its sweetness gets balanced PERFECTLY with the tartness of the cranberries. Because the filling is both cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries, there’s an textural element to it that has a nice balance of being both smooth, and somewhat chunky.

We loved this SO much, it was gone in a single weekend. So I did what any of us would do; I made another one. I’ll be having a very generous slice of it for my dessert tonight. Don’t be jealous; just make one for yourself.

Be sure to keep following along for more recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas!

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Cranberry Cookie Tart

Recipe Adapted from Erren’s Kitchen

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 cranberry sauce or good quality cranberry preserves (if you need a cranberry sauce recipe, this is the one I always use. This one will work too.)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cranberries Note: if using frozen cranberries, defrost before using and strain the juices.

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 cranberry sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a 1⁄4-inch border and then scatter with the cranberries.

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 roudn cake pan, you just won’t be able to lift the whole tart out of it. It’ll still taste great though.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #358, co-hosted this week by Eff@Food Daydreaming.

Lemon Bars

Whenever I think of the best summer desserts, lemon bars are right up there at the top of the contenders.

From the ingredients, to the method to the flavors, they’re so simple, clean and fresh. I’m kinda disappointed in myself that I haven’t gotten around to including them on the blog yet. But, better late than never.

I’ve seen lemon bar mixes in the store, but honestly you guys, making it from scratch isn’t that much more work. It really isn’t. In fact, I’m so confident that everyone can pull this off that I’m putting today’s recipe in the “You Can’t Mess this Up, No Seriously” Category.

There’s very little fuss to them at all. The crust is a basic shortbread that gets pre-baked for about half an hour until golden brown. I added the zest of a lemon to the dough just to give it extra lemon flavor.

Lemon curd is typically made over the stove and requires a little bit of extra TLC to ensure that it comes out perfectly smooth and set. I think what I love the most about this recipe is that you don’t have to give the curd that extra TLC. The oven does all the work for you on the second bake.

The shortbread crust of these bars makes for a delicious, lemon scented cookie all on its own. The crisp texture and golden brown flavor pairs great with the smooth, sharp flavor of the lemon curd on top. I didn’t see the need to add the traditional powdered sugar you often see on top of lemon bars. Trust me: these babies don’t need it.

So do me a solid, and don’t bother buying a lemon bars mix with preservatives in it that you can’t even pronounce. Make them yourself, from scratch. I repeat: these are simple. You can’t mess them up. Try them and see.

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Lemon Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar, plus more if desired
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • the zest of 2 lemons, divided
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup flour

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.

In a medium size bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour with the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, pinch of salt and the zest of 1 lemon. Stir together with a fork.

Use your fingers (or even better, a box grater) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork or your hands until it begins to form large and slightly sticky clumps. If it’s still too dry to hold together, you can add some water or milk (only 1 tablespoon at a time) just until it does.

Spread your fingers or a spatula with cooking spray and press these clumps into the bottom of the pan, forming as level a layer of the dough as you can.. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs with the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, the zest of the second lemon, and the lemon juice. Whisk thoroughly until the egg yolks have broken up. Add in the flour, whisking again until all of the clumps are smoothed out.

Pour on top of the cookie crust. Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until the lemon curd is set.

Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar if desired before cutting into bars.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #283, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

It’s been a while since I last have, so in today’s post I’m back to sing all of Browned Butter’s praises. It’s worthy of plenty.

Butter itself consists of fat, water and milk proteins. When you cook it long enough in the bottom of a heavy pan, all of the water gets cooked out of the butter and the remaining solids (the milk proteins) become browned. When they brown, it takes on a warm golden color and a warm, golden brown, almost nutty flavor.

That flavor is all of the things. It does the most godly (or ungodly, however you want to think of it) things to the tastebuds, and never fails to enhance pretty much anything you want to add it to, whether sweet or savory. From my very first go at Browned Butter I was hooked and as a result, have trying to build up the Browned Butter Collection on here.

So far, I’ve made it to Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, a Browned Butter Spice Cake, and Browned Butter Banana Bread. All were a huge success, and I highly recommend you check them out before coming back here to check out today’s recipe, which I think makes a quick, easy, and perfect addition to the club.

The process of making browned butter goes pretty quick. I’ve made this recipe twice already and what I typically will do is make myself a batch of it right before bed, pop it in the fridge overnight, then take it back out the next day when I’m ready to bake. Let it come to the room temperature that regular butter should be at for creaming, and from there things couldn’t be easier. The main tip to remember with spritz cookies is to get your baking sheets as freezing cold as possible–it will make the dough come out of the cookie press so much easier and neater.

Although I used a cookie press to make these, a cookie press certainly isn’t a necessity. So, I’ve also included alternate instructions in the recipe just in case you’d like to make them into simple circle cookies. I promise it will not affect the taste. They’re light, crisp, and full of that sweet nutty buttery flavor. It was hard for me to stop at just one and share with anyone else; I think it’ll be pretty difficult for you too.

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Browned Butter Spritz Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Let it cook and watch it closely until 3-5 minutes until the butter begins to foam, forms a golden brown color and browned bits form on the bottom. (It will have a sweet, nutty smell). Immediately remove it from the heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to a plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly. Let the browned butter come to room temperature, until it is softened.

Place the browned butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with the paddle until light and creamy. Add the flour in 1 cup increments, just until combined.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

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

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Alternately, for those without a cookie press: Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with tines of fork. 8-11 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Allow to sit on baking sheet for about 60 seconds before removing to a wire rack to cool completely)

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

Linking to Fiesta Friday #274, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Iced Orange Cream Scones

Watching Downton Abbey always makes me have this random and somewhat impractical wish to drop everything, go off the grid and open a tea room somewhere.

I didn’t use to like it at all, but I’ve gotten into drinking a lot more tea over the past few years. I’m partial to spicy ones, both for flavor and because they really help cure some of my digestive woes.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of running a tea room would be the menu planning. Tea rooms menus feature all kind of dainty and delicious looking treats. I have yet to tackle making cucumber or watercress sandwiches. I still haven’t checked off the Victoria Sandwich Cake from my Baking Bucket List (soon come though). There is one staple from the tea menu that I’ve made my share of: the almighty scone.

I’ve been trying to bring my scone making technique up to par with my biscuit making one, especially as the method for making them is so similar. I have a whole post dedicated to laying out the steps for what I consider to be the best biscuits I’ve ever made. I intend to do one for scones too, but in the meanwhile I wanted to share a recipe I tested along the way to getting to Scone Nirvana.

It starts with one very crucial ingredient: heavy cream. Heavy cream not only helps with the crumb of the scone, the added fat in it helps with a higher rise. I also let the scone dough rest in the fridge overnight. It gave the gluten time to rest and firm up so that when I cut them out, the edges weren’t as easily compressed as they could be if they were still soft. They baked up so beautifully that I seriously considered leaving them plain, but I decided to go along with my original idea of trying out how they would hold up to a thin layer of icing. The answer, again, was beautifully.

If my whimsical tea room idea were a reality, this would without question be going onto the menu. Although they’re technically scones, the crumb is so delicate and fluffy that they honestly reminded me of a dense cake. The icing process does admittedly require some time and attention, but it’s worth it. They’re divine, with or without a cup of tea on the side.

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Iced Orange Cream Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons butter) frozen
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

For Icing

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons of water, enough to make a thin glaze
  • orange zest, for garnish, optional

Directions

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and stir together with a fork. Beat the eggs together with the vanilla in a small bowl with a fork and set aside.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir in the orange zest.

Make a well in the center. Pour in the beaten egg-vanilla mixture. Pour in the heavy cream. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional heavy cream until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper 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 scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the scone dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each. Cut the squares into triangles. (You can also leave some as squares if you want to keep them a little bigger; the sizes here are up to you).

Remove the cut scones to a baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. When they’re cool, if you wish, you can cut each scone in half once again to make even tinier scones. Or, you can leave them as is.

For the icing: stir together the powdered sugar and enough of the water to make a glaze that is not so watery that it’s runny, but not too thick so that it won’t run down the sides of the scones.

Line another baking sheet with foil and a wire rack and set next to your bowl of icing.

Place a scone upside down into the bowl of icing. Gently lift it out, right side up and balance it on a spatula (the kind you’d use to flip pancakes) As the icing starts to run down the sides, use a fork to help spread it around evenly. Place the iced scone on the wire rack and sprinkle with orange zest.

Repeat process with the rest of the scones. Allow to sit for at least one hour, until the icing has hardened.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #265, co-hosted this week by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

 

Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cinnamon Stamped Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or at least for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

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

Freeze cut out cookie dough for 10-20 minutes

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

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

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

Banana Cream Cake

So, guess what?

In last week’s post I said that rather than wait for the autumn weather to kick in before I started posting ‘autumn recipes’ and comfort food, I would just start baking & posting autumn recipes and let the weather catch up to me later.

This week, the temperature dropped around 10-15 degrees in our area.

Iiiiiiiii would like to think I had a thing or two to do with it.

(Probably not, it’s likely due to some natural–or rather unnatural, because, global warming–causes but I’m claiming the credit for it anyway.)

The weather is cooling down because it’s trying to align with my autumn baking. What can I say except, you’re welcome?

This week’s recipe happened because of a tale as old as time.

Girl goes to store. Girl buys green bananas, thinking she has plenty of time to eat them. One days passes. Bananas are still green. Two days pass. Bananas are just barely starting to yellow. Three days pass.

Bananas are ripe. Too ripe to eat. Girl is now stuck with four overripe bananas.

I guess ‘stuck’ is a little harsh. Bakers know that overripe bananas are really a blessing in disguise–they give you an excuse to put a healthy fruit into a not-as-healthy baked treat. Oftentimes, that treat is banana bread. Banana bread is great and easy, as are banana muffins. This time around though, I decided to try to go with something a bit different than what I was used to. It’s not too much more difficult than the bread or muffins, but I’ll tell you what: it IS a good deal greater.

One of the reasons that I love using bananas in cake is that they lend themselves really really well to cake batter. Why? Because the fat and moisture content in them helps keep the finished cake INCREDIBLY moist. So long as you’re using overly ripe bananas, it’s going to be quite difficult to overbake/dry that sucka out. This is a perfectly delicious banana cake all on its own. It’s then made even more delicious by a ribbon of vanilla cream cheese filling that gets poured on top of half the batter, then the other half of the batter is poured on top of that. The smells alone as it bakes are glorious. As for the taste…you can probably guess.

What can I say except…you’re welcome?

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Banana Cream Cake

Recipe Adapted from NordicWare

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripened banana
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, to thin

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt or tube pan and set aside. In a measuring cup or small bowl, pour the milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice together and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and salt. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed bananas, stirring just until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat dry ingredients and milk mixture alternately into batter. (Start and end with the flour mixture) Beat for 1 minute. Remove batter to a bowl.

Beat the cream cheese in the standing mixer bowl until it’s smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring just until combined.

Pour half the batter into the tube pan. Use a teaspoon to spoon the cream cheese filling evenly around the center of the cake batter. Carefully spoon remaining cake batter over filling, covering completely.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and springs back lightly when touched. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.

For the icing, combine the powdered sugar with enough milk until it forms a smooth but still somewhat thick icing. Use a fork to drizzle over the cake. Allow to sit for about 30 minutes, until hardened.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #247, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.