Friday, December 19, 2014

Gingerbread, part 1: Gingerbread Kiss Cookies

This month I'm hosting What's Baking, and from among my 3 choices, my fellow bloggers choose gingerbread to be our theme! (which is what I hoped they'd choose). Our little gingerbread man had a birthday this month, and his gingerbread party will be in a few weeks, so I'm hoping I'll find some good gingerbready treats to make for the party.

I really wanted to bake gingerbread springerle, recipe from the most recent King Arthur Flour catalogue, but I need to borrow my mom's springerle pin and she's misplaced it. I haven't given up hope, but I've come up with other options for my own post.

The first one is gingerbread kiss cookies- inspired by the classic peanut butter kiss cookie, only gingerbread instead of peanut butter. These were quite good. We all know the method (I admit, I didn't know you were supposed to add the chocolate after baking until 2007, and could never understand why my chocolate kisses always got weird and crumbly), we all know the look. I will say, however, that because we're so used to the peanut butter version, it's sometimes a surprise to take a bite and not have peanut butter flavor. I also really liked how they weren't super sweet. One could roll these in sugar before baking and it still wouldn't be overly sweet. And it's always nice to have something that's not sugar overload at the cookie swap.

Little gingerbread man tried these as his very first cookie, and REALLY liked it. He finally got the "more" sign after trying it, so eager was he to have another bite.

I can't speak to how long they'll last in tupperware, I think after 3 days we'd eaten them all. I need to make more.

Also, the original recipe calls for hugs, not kisses. I had kisses, but I think hugs would be better- I prefer white chocolate with gingerbread over milk chocolate.

Gingerbread Kiss Cookies
recipe from McCormick Spices

3/4 cups butter (1.5 sticks), room temperature
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1t vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2t ginger
1t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1t baking soda
1/4t salt
60 (approx) Hershey's Kisses

Cream the butter and brown sugar, beat til light. Beat in molasses, egg and vanilla, and beat til fluffy (2-3 minutes). Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt, and fold into the butter mixture. Roll 1T balls and place on a cookie sheet (roll in some sugar first, if desired).

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies have just barely started to brown. Meanwhile, unwrap the kisses. Remove cookies from oven and immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oops! Cookies

You guys. I screwed up this recipe. BUT! It turned out better than the original. Yes!!

My son is eating egg yolks for breakfast. He loooooves egg yolks. Babies aren't supposed to have egg whites until 12 months, so I separate his eggs and have all these whites. I figured I'll make coconut macaroons or something, but then I realized I have very little unsweetened coconut, and there's really only one store around here that sells it, and I had *just* been there the day before and had forgotten to get some. Oops! So I had to hunt for another recipe.

A couple Christmases ago I made a chocolate cookie using only egg whites, very meringuey and tasty. I don't know where the recipe is, I don't think I blogged about it (but also, it was too much of an effort to search for it). I consulted the Google and it was helpful. So I set out, but baking these cookies was a race against time because there was a babyman who was starting to get hungry. Rush rush rush, I'm almost done with the batter. The recipe noted: "the dough will be very stiff". I wish I'd taken a picture, because my dough was runny like cake batter. Possibly runnier. What did I do?!?

"1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided"

Oh, I missed that "divided" part. 1/2 cup was supposed to be left alone, to just fold in and make these chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

I pondered. These definitely weren't going to be rolled in balls and dipped in sugar. But oh wait, this recipe is very similar to my new favorite brownie recipe. Hmmmmmmmm. So I added some flour, got them to a more-or-less cookie dough consistency, and popped 'em in the oven.

Cue angel singing: delicious!! Best mistake I've ever made in the kitchen.

Oops! cookies, or Brownie Cookies

1.5 cups chocolate chips
3 egg whites
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1T cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate (microwave or stove top), set aside.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks in your mixer, then add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat til it's marshmallow fluff consistency (not quite hard peak- medium peak? Nice and glossy). Whisk together the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, flour, cornstarch and salt, and fold into the whites mixture. Fold in the chocolate.

Drop tablespoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes at 400F. They're delicious if still a little soft in the middle, nice and fudgy like brownies! I'm adding chopped walnuts or maybe sliced almonds next time.

Enjoy! And you're welcome.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What's Baking? August: Heritage Dish

This month's What's Baking? theme was chosen by Ali of Sparks from the Kitchen. Go check out the other goodies!

I admit, this one's a stretch for a heritage dish. I don't have much heritage in my cookbook. I have a lot of my great-grandmother's recipes (and many of her sisters'), but they're not like a special lasagna or a delicious baklava: they're things like vanilla cake, baked beans, banana bread. We're from Connecticut, way way back, we cook pretty standard New England fare.

So, let's go with that! I browsed my family recipe book and chose Aunt Blanche's banana bread, giving it my own personal spin (shh, don't tell my mom!). Plus I had a ton of bananas past their prime.

Banana Walnut Ginger Muffins
(don't tell my mom because she haaaaaaates nuts)

3 bananas (the spottier, the better!)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2T chopped crystallized ginger
1t vanilla
1.5 cup flour
1t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
1.5 cups walnuts, roughly chopped (or other nuts you prefer, or skip altogether if you're like my mom and despise nuts)

Mash up the bananas, or if you're using a stand mixer, just put the bananas in and turn it on (peeled, of course). Mix in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla, and finally the ginger. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and fold that in. Fold in the melted butter, then the walnuts. Bake at 325F for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Not only are these tasty (walnuts!) but they're very quick and easy. I baked these while my 8 month old was being a fussy-pants, which I think is a good way to gauge easiness.

ps. I actually doubled the batch and took out some of the batter before adding the walnuts to give my mom.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's Baking?: Summer Produce

What's baking in my kitchen? Muffins that I baked in August and immediately froze (instead of making and freezing meals before baby arrived, I made baked goods. It was too confusing to decide on meals to make!

In the 6 months since I became a mother, I have actually baked a bit. I've made several batches of lactation cookies, many batches of the best brownies ever (which I'll share here, I promise), sugar cut-out cookies (a multi-night endeavor), chocolate chip cookies, and even gingerbread blondies (twice!), another recipe I need to share. But that's it. Forget baking on a schedule! I went to a pot-luck last week and I had to go to Big Y to buy two pounds of edamame salad. ME! I bought something for a pot-luck. It's so out of character.

But I've been sorry to miss out on the What's Baking? themes. Twice I did bake something within the theme, but I just didn't manage to blog about it before the deadline. So now that dear FC is 6 months old and eating his own food (steamed, not baked), it's a bit easier to share the baby duties with my husband.

The June theme is summer produce, chosen by Yudith at Blissfully Delicious. Normally I'd bake with freshly picked strawberries- not this year! I fortunately froze several pounds of freshly picked strawberries last year, so I had some all ready in the freezer.

And serendipitously, Joy the Baker has partnered with King Arthur Flour and together they've introduced a baking bootcamp on instagram. Everyone makes the same recipe and posts photos on instagram with #bakingbootcamp and will be entered to win a year's supply of King Arthur flour! (that's like 120lbs, right?) The baking bootcamp recipe is triple berry braided bread. Which includes strawberries.

Hooray, 2 birds, one stone! Perfect for this new mom.

I haven't baked anything with yeast since.... October, maybe? Whereas I used to bake bread nearly every week. This was pretty exciting. As yeast breads go, this recipe is rather straightforward, but the assembly is interesting. Mine was not perfect, but it was delicious and I plan to try again. Also, another participant instagrammed her 2nd attempt, which was a parmesan rosemary version- I definitely need to try that version!

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
by Joy the Baker

For the bread:
2.25t active dry yeast
1T sugar
3/4 warm milk (around 100-105oC)
1 egg yolk
2T unsalted butter, melted
2.25 cups King Arthur Flour AP flour
1/2t salt

Whisk together the milk, sugar and yeast, and set aside for 5-10 minutes, til it gets frothy. Stir in the egg yolk and melted butter, then place the flour and salt in the bowl of your mixer and add the yeast mixture. Stir/knead. [Joy suggests kneading by hand for 10 minutes, but I had a crying baby so I just let the mixer take care of it] Place in a greased bowl, covered, and let rise for 1-1.5hrs, til it's doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the filling:
1/4 cup (half stick) of butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3T cinnamon
2cups of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries would be nice)

NOTE: don't use frozen strawberries, use fresh. They are very wet and your bread will be in a puddle and very difficult to shape. Or, if you must use frozen strawberries, have a full roll of paper towel on hand. I blame the frozen strawberries for my less-than-perfect bread!

To make the filling, mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Prep the berries (wash, hull, whatever they need), set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To assemble the bread: this is the tricky part!

Knead the dough on a floured board a couple times. Roll out to a 12x18in rectangle,

then spread the butter/cinnamon/sugar filling in an even layer over the top, leaving an inch-thick bare spot along one long edge. Sprinkle/evenly place the berries over the filling.

 Then start to roll up the dough, ending at the filling-less edge.

 Now you have a snake of dough. Cut this snake in half, leaving one end with a couple inches uncut so the two halves are still connected at that end.
 Flip the halves so the cut sides are up. This is where wet, defrosted strawberries cause a problem: my dough would not stick together and kept flopping open.
 Now, cross the halves over each other in a helix- again, this can be tricky and the dough may threaten to fall apart and all the berries will spill out. Just shove them back in at random.

 Then roll the helix into a circle and place into either a greased iron skillet or a greased springform pan. Brush with an egg wash made of one beaten egg, and sprinkle with powdered sugar (which I neglected to do).

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes and go clean up the defrosted strawberry puddle.


 I love springform pans.

The bread isn't very sweet, so it takes well to the cinnamon sugar filling. I ended up sprinkling powdered sugar over slices as I ate them. The dough is a good bread dough, the filling is classic cinnamon sugar, and it's a nice way to use up berries if you need something to do with them. This recipe would work well for a variety of fillings (like the IGer with her parm-rosemary version). It was fun to attempt a fancier bread shape than I've ever done before, and while it didn't work great and was a little stressful (don't use frozen strawberries!!), I want to make another and try again. Also, it didn't take all that long to make!

If you have kids, I don't recommend making this when your husband's at work. Wait til Saturday when you have someone else in the house!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Beef Stew

wamozart12 had a baby! The wamozart12 family has relied on the kindness of other people to stay fed for the past 4 weeks. wamozart12 enjoys speaking in the 3rd person.

Last night I made dinner for the first time since FC was born. I started the dinner, then FC needed to eat, so Clint finished the dinner, and we cheated and had Pillsbury Grands biscuits instead of homemade biscuits (but boy are those Grands tasty!)

Beef Stew, adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe

2lbs stew beef
1T olive oil
1T butter
2 onions, chopped into medium-sized pieces
2 cloves garlic (which I skipped, no garlic here)
1t Penzey's northwoods seasoning (supposed to be paprika, we're all out)
1t sugar
1t salt
2T Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle stout (or other dark beer)
2oz tomato paste
4 cups water (beef broth is ideal, I had none)
2 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into chunks (we left it unpeeled)
mushrooms (we didn't add, but I wish we'd had some to add)

heat up the butter and oil in a large pot or dutch oven, then add the beef and brown a few minutes. Remove the beef and set aside, and saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes, until translucent. Add the spice mix, sugar, salt, Worcestershire and tomato paste and saute for a minute, then add the beef, stout and water (or broth). Bring to a boil and reduce to very low to simmer for 2-2.5hours. Add more broth/water periodically if the liquid boils off too much.

Then add all the veggies and cook for 30-45 min more.

Optional: if you'd like it thicker, place 2-3 ladlefulls of the stew liquid in a small boil and add 2-3T flour. Whisk thoroughly and then add this paste back to the stew, stir and cook for about 15 minutes more. (you can also add the flour directly to the stew pot, but then you're more likely to get lumps.)

Serve with the store-bought biscuits or some crusty bread, or if you don't have a newborn in the living room, get ambitious and make your own biscuits!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's Baking? November: Cranberries

Long time, no blog!

Here's why:
These pictures are from the day before yesterday. My official due date is a week from today, but my OB thinks I probably won't last that long. So we'll see! I'd love to have Thanksgiving and *then* go into labor, but it's not like I have a lot of say in the matter!

So I'm very pleased to have been able to bake something for this month's bake-along, especially since the theme was cranberries, and I love cranberries! 

This month is hosted by Joanna of the Kosher Kitchen so go check out the other cranberry recipes!

I wanted to make something to enjoy for Thanksgiving. I usually make an apple cranberry and ginger pie, but I wanted to try something new. I thought a quick bread would be appropriate, and I narrowed it down to a few choices and let my husband make the final decision. I think he made an excellent choice!
Cranberry Cornbread
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1/2 an orange
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2t salt
1 and 1/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
4t baking powder
1 cup cranberries

Whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, juice, zest, eggs, oil), sugars and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Gently fold in the wet ingredients until just combined, and then fold in the cranberries.

Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes in a loaf pan, let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan, and completely before slicing.

It's incredibly easy, it took me longer to wash the 2 bowls and 1 spatula I'd used than it did to mix the batter. I love recipes like that, especially around the holidays! We're big fans of cornbread, and this has a really nice, quick bread-like texture that isn't overly dry or crumbly, and it's just sweet enough to balance out the tart cranberries. I omitted the orange zest because I needed to save my single orange for the turkey brine, and I think it would have been better with the zest, so I've included it in the recipe above.

After I made the bread and tried the first slice, I had to continue on this cranberry kick... so I started some cranberry sauce. It smells so amazing that it's really hard not to eat the entire batch right now!

12oz cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2T orange juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4t cloves
1 apple, peeled and diced

Mix everything in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Baking? July: Bake Your Favorite Cocktail

This month's theme was chosen by Angela of The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen, and she suggested baking something inspired by a favorite cocktail. This is perfect for me! It's obvious I haven't been cooking much, and the reason will be clear soon, but to go along with that, I haven't been drinking much, either. Having an excuse to revive a favorite cocktail by baking it is absolutely perfect timing!

Of course, I have many favorite cocktails. I work at a winery, so obviously I love wine, and I would love a glass of wine right now (but alas). I have a small number of favorite cocktails, simply because I prefer wine. But my favorites list include Dark n' Stormies, St Germaine cocktails (champagne and St Germaine, the simple version) and Vermontucky Lemonade. But what to bake? Fortunately, M posted a recipe on facebook for absinthe cookies- essentially those delicious Italian anise biscuit-cookies with anise glaze, only using an absinthe glaze. Ooh! I could work with that!

Surprisingly, I'm not a huge absinthe fan. I love licorice, but I like it sweetened, and the only time I've ever had absinthe, the cocktail was definitely NOT sweetened whatsoever. I also don't think absinthe is the right alcohol for me to have right now, even in a miniscule amount.

So I took this recipe and modified it to use St Germaine. And I love. My husband says he's pretty "meh" about St Germaine, but I did notice all but one of the 8 cookies we had left after taking some to my parents were gone by the time I got home from work yesterday. "Meh" indeed. I need to bake another batch asap!
St Germaine Cookies
inspired by Absinthe Cookies from A Fine Kettle of Fish

Cookie dough
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted, softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1T St Germaine (or vanilla, or anise, or another tasty alcohol)
3T milk
1/4t vinegar
2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1T baking powder
pinch of salt

Glaze (note: I didn't have quite enough glaze for each cookie- this is fine if you can't wait long enough to sample before the cookies cool enough to glaze)
1-1.5cup powdered sugar
1T butter
1.5T St Germaine (or other tasty alcohol, or 1t vanilla, anise, almond, etc)
1T milk (possibly up to 2T)

To make the dough:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, and the St Germaine, vinegar and milk together in yet another separate bowl (and let that sit for a few minutes). Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat til just barely combined. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake in the 350F oven for 12-14 minutes (original recipe said 10-12), til the edges are just barely starting to brown. Let cool.

To make the glaze:
Melt the butter and whisk in the St Germaine and 1T. Whisk in the powdered sugar (start with 1 cup) and add either more sugar or more milk to get the desired consistency- somewhat thick, like honey consistency. Thinner is fine, but it'll run off the cookies more. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies, however much or little you like (I did not have quite enough glaze for the entire batch) Let the glaze harden overnight or for a few hours, either uncovered or very loosely covered.

(I found these got a little sticky in tupperware on a humid July day, and the glaze never really hardened. This leads to sticky fingers, but that's the only bad thing)

YUM. The cookies have a very slight St Germaine taste to them (I wish I could have tried the dough)
but after frosting it's a serious St Germaine flavor. If you want to avoid alcohol, include the St Germaine in the cookies (it's a small amount anyway, and much would bake off) and use lemon juice or vanilla to flavor the glaze.

They're also quick and easy. I can't comment on how long they'll keep, since we ate them all in less than 3 days. ;)