Food Friday – February 2018 Bakealong Challenge: Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries

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from Tracey G.

I’m on my own this week as my partner Kris had a crazy week – between work and travel on Thursday, and this would have put her on overload, so I had no issues going solo this go around! As we all know with the way life seems to go, I may be needing the help one week! LOL! 

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries

It’s Bakealong Week! Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t get to do last month’s Bakealong offering, so I was happy to get to do this month’s! This is a recipe that I actually spotted last fall in the Holiday Baking articles on the King Arthur Flour website, it sounded fairly easy and yummy to me – that right there made me really glad to have an excuse now to make it! And it worked out perfectly to be my Valentine’s Day treat for my boys – although Harry loves raspberries, he doesn’t love their seeds – this meant more cake for me! Ha! I now introduce the Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries Bakealong.

Anyway, while this is one of the yummier things I’ve eaten, it is a bit step-filled. To be honest, if I had to do it all in one day, I may not have enjoyed the process as much. As it was, I’d read that all the parts can be made up to 3 days in advance – keep the cake tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature, the mousse filling and frosting are kept in the refrigerator. This turned out to be the way to go for me – I made all the parts in one day, and then assembled it the next day. By doing that, I think I saved myself a lot of hassle, and by that I mean no pressure in hurrying along, I could take my time assembling it and that helped it to be more fun AND turn out much neater!

And it really was fun to put together and see this lovely creation take form that I’d made in my own kitchen! Nothing is complicated about any of the steps and stages, just there are a few of them – but don’t let it be daunting and put you off of it. I recommend if you’re going to make it, plan ahead so you can make and bake on one day, and assemble on another. It makes a lovely presentation, I still look at it in wonder!

The first step is to make the cake layers. Here you have options on what way to go achieve the four layers. I happened to have enough cake pans to make 4 layers vs. using  2 pans and then making those two into four layers via splitting them. I’m not very good at doing that, my layers are never straight so I went with the easy route – making four from the get-go. They do give you amounts for how much batter should be in each cake pan no matter how you choose to do it.

After your cake layers are made, you make the mousse filling. The mousse filling includes cream cheese, which surprised me, but works well. There are a couple optional ingredients as well – one is KAF’s Instant ClearJel. I happened to have it, so I used it, it helps to stabilize the filling. The other optional ingredient is mini chocolate chips – I didn’t have any on hand, so I skipped that addition.

Once you have the cake layers made and cooled and the mousse filling made, it’s time to assemble the cake. It takes about 1.5 – 2 pints of raspberries for the filling and garnishing should you so choose. Wash, dry and halve some raspberries. It’s recommended to halve them lengthwise – you get more coverage out of them that way. It’s now time to assemble: start with one layer of cake, spread about 1 cup of the mousse filling over that, and then top that with halved raspberries. Repeat with more cake, filling and berries. Pop into the refrigerator to firm up so it’s easier to frost.

The frosting is a basic buttercream and really easy, plus it’s not too sweet. I really enjoyed it as you don’t put a thick layer of frosting on the cake at all. It’s rather thin, and that works wonderfully. They do direct you to do a crumb coat, meaning a super thin layer of frosting sealing the cake layers after it’s been assembled. Then it goes in the refrigerator for a bit of time to set up, then you put the final coat of frosting on. Garnish as desired.

And then, you’re done. It’s time to eat – and I am thoroughly in love with this cake! It may take some time, but the end result does not disappoint. I do not feel like my time and energy were spent in vain at all – I think I could sit and eat the whole thing, by myself!

Again, it’s a bit of work, step-wise. But each step is easy, and I am glad I spread it over a couple days. Made it much more enjoyable and relaxed when it came time to put it together. Otherwise, if I’d had to make it all in one day, I think by the end of everything I’d be anxious to just get it done and not care too much about what the end result looked like. This is the cake/dessert if you want to look like a rockstar – it’s beautiful once it’s all together, tall and impressive looking and doesn’t need a lot of frill to make it look lovely. Some extra frosting piped on or around and a handful of raspberries work well for some lovely garnish. Even if it was ugly it would still taste wonderful!

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Food Friday – Brownies!

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from Kris B.

Zucchini Brownies

Friday mornings at my house are the best.  My daughter is off.  I don’t have to be at school.  And, Mr. Retired is always home.  This is the one day a week that we can all sit at the table together, drink coffee and eat breakfast, and discuss the goings-on in the world.  At our house, we still get an actual newspaper that we enjoy reading with our morning coffee.  It often provides fodder for our Friday morning family conversation.

Today there was a story about a Girl Scout in San Diego, California who set up her cookie selling operation outside a marijuana dispensary.  She sold 300 boxes of cookies in six hours.  In response to hearing about this girl’s successful entrepreneurial  endeavor, my twenty-eight year-old daughter said, “If the Girl Scouts really want to increase their cookie revenue, they should start selling edibles.”

This same (adult) child of mine then asked me what I was making for this week’s blog recipe.  I told her that I was making Zucchini Brownies.  She said to me, “I don’t know why people ruin baked goods by putting stuff in them that doesn’t belong.”

Clearly we have an issue at our house in getting from point A to point B. 🙂

Last week I mentioned that we all can use more fruits and veggies in our diets.  When I saw King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Zucchini Brownies, I thought why not.  Let’s give this a try.  

Unlike most zucchini bread recipes, which use grated zucchini, this Zucchini Brownie recipe uses pureed zucchini.  In fact, the batter is made entirely in a food processor.  First, the zucchini is pureed with melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Then, the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt – are processed in. Once all of the ingredients are fully incorporated, chocolate chips are added to the batter and pulsed a few times, just enough to break them up a little.

The brownies are baked at 350 degrees in a 9×9 pan for 25-30 minutes.  I did check my brownies at the 25 minute mark; it took the full thirty minutes for the center to get completely done.  Once out of the oven, the brownies cool completely before then being frosted.

The frosting for the Zucchini Brownies is a simple mixture of chocolate chips and milk or cream that are melted together in the microwave.  The recipe makes enough frosting for a thin layer that does not overpower the brownies themselves.  After frosting the brownies, they are placed in the refrigerator for an hour to allow the frosting to set.

So, the taste…

The truth is that on its own zucchini has little taste.  When eaten as a side vegetable, it picks up the flavor of the spices and other food with which it is combined.  In this case, chocolate is definitely the over-arching flavor, but my daughter and I both agree that there is sort of an “earthy” after-taste to the brownies.  It’s not bad.  I have to wonder, though,  if I would notice it if I didn’t know that the brownies contain zucchini.

This brings me back to my daughter’s question of why add ingredients that don’t really belong.

I love brownies and I also love zucchini.  And though the two work OK together in this recipe, I have to be honest here and say that I would rather eat my zucchini with dinner and have a “regular” brownie for dessert.  If you have to sneak vegetables into someone’s diet, this recipe is an excellent way to do it.  And, it does make for a moist and chewy brownie.  But if, like me, you enjoy both zucchini and chocolate each in their own right, I’d skip this combination.  Enjoy them as the chocolate and zucchini separately.

It all comes down to “Why?”

King Arthur Flour’s Zucchini Brownies

from Tracey G.

Cinnamon-Spiced Chocolate Brownies

This week being my dreaded root canal appointment week, I wanted an easy-to-do and easy-to-eat option, as the reason for my needing the root canal, is a broken tooth that’s temporarily filled and therefore, my food choices are limited, ugh. I didn’t want to make something I couldn’t eat (i.e. crunchy, sticky, chewy etc), so, Brownies jumped right out at me – easy and easy to eat!

I found this recipe for the Cinnamon-Spiced Chocolate Brownies at the King Arthur Flour website, and I knew I had to try them. My usually brownie recipe includes cinnamon, so I wanted to see if this was better (or worse I suppose).

This recipe was easy to put together and involved ingredients I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • unsalted butter, melted
  • sugar
  • All-Purpose Baking Cocoa, or Dutch-process cocoa
  • salt
  • baking powder
  • espresso powder, optional
  • ground cinnamon
  • Mexican vanilla extract, or your favorite vanilla extract
  • cinnamon oil, optional
  • eggs
  • Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • semisweet chocolate chips

To start, you melt butter in a saucepan, add your sugar and stir until heated through. At this point, you add your cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and espresso powder (which is optional). Then add your vanilla. It also calls for a bit of cinnamon oil, but that, like the espresso, is optional. I didn’t have that on hand, so I didn’t use it.

Once you have that put together, you whisk in 4 eggs. Then stir in flour and lastly, fold in your chocolate chips. Spread in your prepared 9×13-in. pan, and bake for 34-36 minutes.

I think mine went the full 36 minutes and were just right, for once. Usually I have a tendency to over-bake my brownies for some reason, so I pleased with myself that I didn’t do that with these. Once they cool completely, you can cut them up and enjoy!

I love cinnamon hint, but Jeremy thought it was too strong for his tastes. So, maybe next time I’ll back it down to the amount I use in my old Brownie recipe and see how that goes, or no cinnamon at all. But I do know that this recipe is replacing my old one – it seemed to come together much easier, and involved things I always have on hand, which is definitely a plus!!

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Food Friday – Cake Confessions

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from Kris B.

We all need a little more fruit in our diets, right?  What better way to get it than on top of a delicious piece of Velvet Pound Cake?

If you’ve followed us here for long, you know that I am a simple, no-frills kind of person.  In my strange little head, pound cake represents my personality perfectly.  It’s simple, non-assuming, and it doesn’t mind sharing its space with a few fruits! 🙂

And pound cake is easy to make!

The pound cake dates back to the 1700’s.  It gets its name from the fact that the original recipe used only a pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs.  If you are curious, a large egg (no shell) weighs between 1.75 and 2 ounces.  So, pound cakes used eight or nine eggs.  Since their inception hundreds of years ago, the pound cake has experienced many variations.  This week’s recipe from King Arthur Flour is one of them.

King Arthur Flour’s Velvet Pound Cake uses 1 3/4 cups (7.245 ounces) of flour and 1 1/2 cups (10.65 ounces) of sugar.  It’s 1 and 3/4 sticks of butter is slightly less than a half pound and its five eggs are approximately 8.75 ounces.  These proportions are a slightly skewed “half-pound” cake.  To these basic ingredients, The Velvet Pound Cake recipe adds cream cheese, vanilla and almond extracts, salt, and baking powder are also added.

The butter and cream cheese are whipped together until they are light and fluffy.  The dry ingredients are then added, followed by one egg at a time.  The final batter should be light.

The batter is spooned into a 5×9 loaf pan and baked at 325 degrees for 90 minutes.  The last 30 minutes, the loaf is tented to avoid over-browning the top.  The cake then cools for five minutes in the pan before being turned out on a baking rack to finish cooling.

That’s it!

Pound cake can be served with fruit and whipped cream, ice cream, or eaten plain or toasted.  It’s versatile and just pretty darn good no matter how you eat it!

I know that some of you read our blog for the recipes, some read for the photography, and several of you, like us, enjoy the intersection of the two.  Under the guise of full disclosure, I share the following with you. 🙂

Somehow, in the first step of this recipe that called for the butter and cream cheese to be whipped together, I apparently didn’t get mine fully integrated.  Because the texture of both butter and cream cheese are similar, I didn’t notice it at the time.  Looking back, I probably should have let the cream cheese soften a little more before I tried to use it.  This isn’t really an issue in the taste of the pound cake, but it made the texture look a little weird, kind of blotchy.  So the eating of it was no problem, but taking a “pretty” photo was going to be tricky.

As you can see in the above photo, I photographed the cake slightly overexposed and a bit soft in the focus.  Because I can admit all of my shortfalls to Tracey, I sent her the photo and admitted to my hack job in the photography.

Her response was, “Oh, that’s pretty!  I like how the light/focus go along with the name “velvet”

Me: “Ha!  I didn’t even thick about that.  I just thought about how to hide the cake’s blotchy texture.”

Tracey: “LOL! The softness just goes perfectly with the velvet – first thing I thought and noticed.”

Me: “When you have luck, sh*t for brains will do!”

Tracey: “Oh! I’m right there with ya Sister!!!  Story of my 2018, I think!”

Me: Here’s another confession about my photo: I wasn’t paying attention and the tag from the tea towel was hanging out.  So, I had to use a 4×5 crop to get rid of it.

Tracey: “LMAO! I didn’t even notice it.  Good work!”

Me: “Sometimes I feel like such a hack photographer and baker.  I’m surprised you don’t fire me! 🙂

Tracey: “Well, that’s because we are two peas in a pod!!!  We’re real.  The average chicks in the kitchen!

Yep!  That’s what we are…two average chicks in the kitchen with cameras to document all of our fun…and a few failures!

Thanks for following along!

from Tracey G.

Bumpy Cake

I had never had a Sander’s Bumpy Cake until I married Jeremy and quickly found out it was a Gehring Family tradition to have one around for the Holidays. I fell in love with this confection! I even shared it with my partner in crime, Kris, by sending one to her and Weber (our Tech Guy) for Christmas last year. I think it’s fun to share things like that, either traditions or regional favorites and so forth when I can. This cake was created by the Sander’s Chocolate Company out of Detroit. It’s a devil’s food cake with strips of buttercream evenly spaced on the top, then the whole gets a poured coating of a fudge frosting over all. It was created in the early 1900’s and was originally called Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake, but so many people would ask for the “cake with bumps”  that they changed the name to Bumpy Cake.

In this past year’s holiday Sift Magazine from King Arthur Flour – they highlighted a few regional/state favorites, along with recipes to make a home-version of each, and Sander’s Bumpy Cake was one them! (it’s also a blog post too! Entitled “Regional Desserts”) I was so excited! I purchased everything I needed, as I was going to make one for the holidays, but that just didn’t quite pan out last year. So, when I saw that “cake” had come up in our recipe category rotation for this week – I knew immediately what I was going to make!!! Bumpy Cake!!!

I have to be honest here, it was not without its trials. But that’s not to say it was hard – by no means was it, it was VERY easy. There are a few steps, and one of those steps gave me a bit of a hassle, lol.

The cake part went together so easily, I almost thought I did something wrong, lol. I did purchase the Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder they offer on the KAF website, as I needed a Dutch-process version anyway as I didn’t have any and I wanted to try this with the ingredients it called for. I fully believe this helped me make the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made from scratch, but who knows, lol, it could just be the recipe in general that helped me to achieve that! The only ingredients it called for that I don’t normally have on hand were the Dutch-process cocoa and buttermilk. It’s baked in a 9×13-in baking pan, then popped into the freezer for at least 30 min.

The next step was to make the buttercream, a fairly straightforward combination of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, bit of milk and a pinch of salt. This you pipe on the cake in 1/2-in wide strips spaced about 1-in apart. Back into the freezer for a bit to get ready for the warm fudge frosting that gets poured on top.

Now the part that gave me a bit of a hassle. And in all honesty, it was totally operator error on my part that messed it up. I ended up having to make 2 batches as the first one I ended up making too thick by cooking too long I believe, the results of such I will explain after the basic instructions on how to make it.

You’re to combine your first few ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat: these include – buttermilk, dark corn syrup, butter, salt and Dutch-process cocoa powder. You’re to bring this to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until the bubble breaking the surface make a snapping sound as they pop. Then, you turn the heat to low and whisk in your sifted powdered sugar (do sift it, it makes a difference as I found out. In my haste to whip up a second batch, I skipped that step and it took a long time to smooth it out!). Turn off the heat and add your vanilla. Then you let cool to still just-warm and pour over your cake! Yay! Easy!

Well, no, not for me since I believe with my first batch I let it take WAY too long to come to a boil and by doing so, it ended up reducing and thickening to the point, that, when it was of temperature to pour over cake, it was too thick and made a proper mess out of my cake. To try to fix this mess, I made another batch. This time around, I brought it to a boil quickly, whisked in my powdered sugar. Removed from the heat and added my vanilla and it was perfect. The right consistency and everything. But, by trying to fix the original mess, it added too much fudge frosting, and kind of overpowered everything else, lol. Oh well. Next time I make it (there will be a next time for sure!), I know now what to do and more importantly what NOT to do!!

Hopefully my adventure with this cake will help you avoid the mistakes I made, lol. It is really easy, even thought it sounds “steppy”,  they aren’t difficult steps at all! It’s delicious and if I’d done the fudge part right the first time, it’s crazy-close to the original! I couldn’t be happier to have this added to my cake recipes!!!

And, if you want to try the real-deal, they do ship them, just check out the Sander’s Candy website! And by the way, their Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels (both the milk chocolate and dark chocolate) are my all-time favorite out of the candy items!

Have your cake AND eat it too!!! 😉

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Mix It Up Friday: Loafing Around

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from Tracey G.

 

Essential Goodness Ancient Grain + Cranberry Super Slice Bread

I love quick breads – usually I make them as muffins as they are easier to tote around, but I decided to go loaf-style with this Essential Goodness Ancient Grain + Cranberry Super Slice Bread from King Arthur Flour. I went loaf-style just for something different, and I’m glad I did because a change is kind of fun, even when it’s something as small as that.

This mix is a good-for-you kind of food. It boasts 26g of whole grain, and 4g protein – without the additions you can add if you so choose to boost it. The box offers a few different suggestions on what you can add. From Greek yogurt, nuts, protein powder to bananas. The Essential Goodness Ancient Grain + Cranberry Super Slice Bread Product Page also offers some other alternatives for reducing fat, making it dairy free etc, not to mention the other ways to use the mix or shape it differently.

Simple Ingredients and Customizable

The ingredients you provide are as simple as you want them to be:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

But as stated earlier, the box offers some alternatives and additions. I opted to use the addition of Greek yogurt to boost the protein in my version. That made my actual ingredient contribution:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I am watching cholesterol so I skipped the butter in light of all the eggs)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Greek yogurt.

No Fancy Mixing

You simply dump it all together in a bowl, mix it up and pour it into a greased loaf pan, or 12 muffin cups. The loaf bakes for 45-55 minutes, and mine fell in the middle of that spectrum at 50. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then finish out of the pan on the rack until completely cool.

The End Result

I was eager to try this, with all the different grains, seeds and cranberries I had a feeling it would be something I’d really enjoy, and I was right! It’s yummy, not too sweet with a hint of cinnamon, the dried cranberries are add a sweetness (and a bit of tartness) and the seeds are a fun crunch. I have enjoyed eating it immensely!! This would make a great breakfast – either at home or on the go, or a quick pick-me-up snack in the afternoon to keep you going.

Once again, another outstanding mix that totally tastes homemade!

 

from Kris B.

Chocolate Babka Mix

The whole month of January has been mixed up for us!  For me, having the flu the week before my spring semester started has had me behind in everything all month.  As we try to get our feet back under us, mix-it-up week is just what the doctor ordered.

I decided to give the Chocolate Babka Mix from King Arthur Flour a try.

Because the Chocolate Babka is yeast bread, it takes longer than you might expect when you think a mix from a box.  To make the dough, the included mix and yeast packet are combined with 4 TBS of butter and a cup of lukewarm water.  I mixed and kneaded mine by hand.  The instructions say that extra water can be added 1 tsp at a time if necessary.  I found the dough to be quite sticky.  I definitely needed no extra liquid.  Once mixed and kneaded, the dough rises until doubled.  This took about 90 minutes.

As the dough is nearing the end of this first rise, the chocolate filling is mixed.  The filling consists of a packet of chocolate that is included in the mix and 2 TBS of melted butter.  When mixed, the consistency of the filling mixture is like that of wet sand.

On a well-floured board, the dough is rolled into an 8×20 rectangle.  The chocolate mixture is spread evenly over the dough.  The dough is then rolled on the short side into a long.  Once rolled, using a sharp knife, the dough is cut in half along the seam.  With the cut sides up, the two pieces are twisted together.  My dough tried to fall apart once it was cut.  I worked quickly to twist the two pieces before it had a chance to completely flatten itself out.  The twisted loaf is then placed in a greased 8 1/2 4 1/2″ loaf pan for its second rise.  The dough should rise to just above the pan.  My second rise also took about 90 minutes.

The load is then baked for 30-35 minutes.  I baked it the full 35 minutes.

And there you have it!  A delicious, somewhat decadent, Chocolate Babka!

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Food Friday – Or Rather In Lieu Of Food Friday: Here’s a Kitten!

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Due to circumstances beyond our control, this week’s Food Friday post just couldn’t happen. But we didn’t want to totally leave you in the lurch, so here’s a kitten! This would be Willow Bee to be exact. I was given the what-for from Harry regarding the spelling of said kitten’s name, and I was apparently wrong. (But in my defense, I was under the spelling influence of the character Mr. Willoughby from the 3rd Outlander novel entitled “Voyager” by Diana Gabaldon) So, I thought I’d share a cute little photo I snapped over the New Year’s Eve weekend. She’s doing well, off the antibiotics and her little eyes are cleared up. Now we are just trying to fatten her up!

Thank you all for reading and we hate to have these kinds of things happen, but as you all know, life can throw some crazy curve balls!

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Food Friday – All That They Are Crackered Up To Be

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from Kris B.

Happy New Year everyone!  We hope that you enjoyed your holiday time, got some rest, and are ready to face 2018.  We are off to a slow start here at Sifted Together.  Tracey is taking some time off this week to be with her family.  We are both firm believers in no matter what other obligations you may have, the first is always to your family.  So, it’s only one recipe this week.

I still have no desire to make or eat anything sweet.  Somehow I definitely overindulged in the sweets over the holidays.  What does it say that the other day I was craving Cheetos and Cheez-its crackers.  Just to state the obvious…I’m not tired of less than healthy eating; I’m just tired of sweet less than healthy eating.  In an effort to satisfy my cravings, I decided to try to make a homemade version of Cheez-Its.  I’m not sure that Cheetos are even a real food, so trying to make them seemed out of the question.  But, if any of you have done it, please let me know!

I never bought the Cheez-Its, so I didn’t have an ingredient list to work from so I went to the King Arthur Flour website and did a search for crackers.  The Crunchy Parmesan Crackers looked fairly close to Cheez-Its, so I settled on them.  And, because they require only basic ingredients, I already had everything that I needed on hand.

The ingredients are white whole wheat flour, butter, parmesan cheese, milk, salt, and pepper.  As an option, you can top the crackers with herbs before baking.

To make the dough, the dry ingredients, including the cheese, are whisked together in the mixer bowl.  The butter is then added.  At this stage the dough is coarse crumbles.  Milk is then added slowly to bring the dough together.  The dough is then divided into three equals parts.  Each part is rolled into a 1/8 inch thick 10 inch by 10 inch square. It is then cut into 100 one inch squares.

The instructions say to transfer the rolled dough to a sheet of parchment paper before cutting.  Once the crackers are cut, the  parchment paper is lifted onto a baking sheet.  The recipe says that the crackers should not be separated.  My first thought was that this is to keep them from spreading.  They don’t spread at all.  I did separate one of my three portions of dough when I baked them.  I preferred this batch because it allowed all four sides of the crackers to crisp.The other thing that I noticed about the recipe is that, at least for my oven, the directed 15 minute baking time is too long.  Mine were ready to come out of the oven having turned golden brown at about 13 1/2 minutes.  Please not that my oven often requires longer cooking times on most recipes.  The upshot here is that pay close attention to your first pan of crackers while they are in the oven.  Watch carefully for their edges to turn a nice golden color.  Remove them at this point regardless of the elapsed cooking time.

I topped one pan of crackers with just salt and pepper; to the others, I also sprinkled a little more parmesan cheese on the top.  They were delicious both ways!

The Crunchy Parmesan Crackers did satisfy for my craving for Cheez-Its!

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Happy (Almost) New Year!

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I suppose it is not the best thing for two people who write a blog about baking to say that we are all baked out, but we promised you honesty.  We are all baked out!  The thought of making one more thing this week had the potential of making us crazier than we already are.  I think there is at least one more degree beyond our normal crazy!  So, you guys are on your own for recipes this week. 🙂

And, Unless you guys are going to take up a collection and buy us both, and maybe our families as well, new jeans because we have baked and taste tested our way out of the old ones, we need a break from eating baked goods as well.  Don’t worry though, we will be back next week with more deliciousness to share with you.  We are not crazy enough, or disciplined enough, to stay away from baked good for too long.

As a new year begins, we wish you an abundance of hope, peace and love in 2018.  And we give thanks that each of you has been a part of our 2017.

Be safe and be happy!

XOXO

Kris nd Tracey

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Food Friday – Cookies: Traditional and Traditional With A Twist!

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from Kris B.

Sometimes when it comes to cookies you just have to go with the old tried and true.  This week it is Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies from me.  This particular recipe was King Arthur Flour’s 2015 Recipe of the Year.  There is nothing fancy, nothing unique, nothing special about these cookies.  They are just delicious.  How can you go wrong with oatmeal and chocolate chips?

We were having some work done at our house this week and I wanted to make something to take out to the crew.  Making the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies seemed like a good choice for them.

The only “time sensitive” thing about making these cookies is allowing time for the eggs and the butter to come to room temperature.  Ither than that, it’s about not making them too far ahead of their intended event because they seem to disappear quickly>  Lol!  Aside from that, the process is your standard cookie-making routine.  Cream the butter and sugars.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Stir in the chips.  And voila!  Cookie dough!

I did make one slight alteration to the recipe.  It calls for 3 cups of chocolate chips.  I used only two, which is what comes in a standard bag of chocolate chips.  If you are a huge fan of chocolate chips, by all means use three cups, but for my liking, two was plenty.  Many of those who left comments on the King Arthur website about this recipe mentioned reducing the amount of chips used.

Another oddity in this recipe is that it says that it makes 20-100 cookies.  That is a huge variation!  I used what I call a standard cookie scoop, one that makes an approximately 2 1/2 cookie, the size where a dozen cookies fit perfectly on the cookie sheet.  I ended up with 40 cookies.  I’m not sure how you would get 100 cookies from this recipe. And if you only get twenty cookies, they are going to be Texas-sized!

If you need a last-minute easy batch of cookies, these will fit the bill.

Thank you to all of you who take the time to read our posts and share your thoughts and experiences in the kitchen.  We appreciate each of you and thank you for your support.

We wish you and those you love a joy-filled holiday season.

 

from Tracey G.

I have been making a version of Wedding Cookies probably since I was  teenager. I remember eating Archway-brand Wedding Cookies out of the package and falling in love with them. Then I remember the search to find a recipe I actually liked for them, and once I did I’ve made them ever since. No variations.

Then, I saw this recipe for Lemon Snowball Cookies from King Arthur Flour, actually last year. I was in search of some new Holiday cookies to make for gift-giving and my mom-in-law loves lemon (just like myself and my mom did too!), so these seemed a natural choice – my favorite style and favorite flavor! A variation on my Wedding Cookie!

It did require one specialty item from King Arthur Flour though – Lemon Juice Powder. So, I bought it. You get a pretty good sized container of it too. I also discovered it really comes in handy when you don’t have any fresh lemons for juice on hand as well – it’s saved a recipe more than once for me, lol. It also lists Lemon Oil as a first choice ingredient or you can use the second choice of lemon zest. I happened to have the lemon oil, so I used it, which is another handy little item that I’m glad I purchased from KAF, and a little goes a long way! I love it when I open that bottle and get a whiff of that wonderful lemon smell!

So, anyway, these are built the same way as the Wedding Cookies, but they’re lemon flavored – and the powdered sugar they’re rolled in is flavored with the Lemon Juice Powder, and THAT’s what really sets them off and makes them sing!

The cookie ingredients consist of: flour, butter, powdered sugar and bit of salt. The coating is powdered sugar and Lemon Juice Powder. You form the dough into 1-inch balls and bake about 12-15 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, you have to let them sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes as they are very fragile, before you roll them in the powdered sugar. I cooled them on a rack, then after they were cooled, they get rolled one more time in the powdered sugar. I should also add here that I did add a bit of yellow food coloring and some yellow cake sparkles to the powdered sugar they’re rolled in – it was purely for the fact I am making a traditional Wedding Cookie this year, so this helps tell them apart! 😀

The final step is – EAT! And they are yummy, if you like lemon, you’ll love these. As I said, I made them last year for Holiday goodies, and I was asked for the recipe for them at one point. They’re easy – and at this time of year, that’s a major consideration of mine when I’m planning out the baking schedule and plan.

The only problem I’ve found with these, is that the powdered sugar is a dead-giveaway that you’ve been snitching cookies if you’re not careful! 😉 So, be careful!

Happy Holidays!!!!!!!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Friday – Pretty (Easy) Holiday Cookies

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from Kris B.

I’m beginning to think that Santa has a pretty good deal getting all those cookies while he is out delivering  toys all night!  I am loving trying new cookie recipes this month, though I do wonder, if Santa delivers to the houses with the biggest chimneys last.  I know after three weeks of baking and eating cookies taste-testing cookie recipes, some of the smaller chimneys might prove problematic for me right now!

First of all, here are a few important things that I need to tell you about this week’s recipe:

  • Brown butter is the best secret ingredient in baked goods.
  • People who make stamped cookies are people who like pretty cookies but are terrible at piping and working with flow icing.

The above are the reasons that I was drawn to trying King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Brown Butter Stamp Cookies this week.

Making this recipe does require a little bit of forethought.  You must make the brown butter and let it chill for two hours before making the cookie dough.  And, the recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, an ingredient that proved difficult to find locally and I didn’t allow myself enough time to order it directly from King Arthur Flour.   Though I try to make a recipe exactly as written the first time I make it, that was not possible this time.  Rather than the directed mixture of the whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour, I used all-purpose for the total flour amount.  I suspect that this made for a more dense cookie.  Whatever the impact, the cookies are delicious as I made them.  I am going to order the whole wheat pastry flour and try this recipe again.  It’s a learning experience! 🙂

Once the brown butter is made, the cookie dough goes together like any other cookie dough.  The flour(s), salt, and baking soda are whisked together and set aside.  In a mixer bowl, the butter is creamed.  Then the sugars, egg and flavoring (either Vanilla-butternut flavor or vanilla extract).  The flour mixture is then added and mixed until it is fully incorporated.  The dough is then divided in half, flattened into two disks, and chilled for at least an hour.

To make the cookies, working with one disk at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured board.  The instructions say to roll to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.  I had more success with the thicker dough.  It was easier to handle and held the stamped image better after baking.  Once rolled, use a round 2 3/4″ cutter to make the individual cookies.  Transfer them to a parchment lined baking pan.  The King Arthur Cookie Stamps fit perfectly on the cookies.  Dip them in flour, shaking off the excess.  Center the stamp on the cookie and press down firmly and evenly.  Carefully lift the stamp from the cookie.  I first tried to use the King Arthur Flour Starry Night Cookie Stamps, but that was not very successful.  Their designs are not as deep as the patterned Cookie Stamps so as the cookies baked, the imprint disappeared with even the minimal rise of these cookies.  My lack of success with these particular stamps may also be because I rolled my dough to thinly with the first few cookies that I made.  Since I have to make these cookies again so that I can try them with the whole wheat pastry flour, I may also try the Starry Night Stamps again.  They will make beautiful Christmas eve cookies.

The cookies bake for 14-16 minutes, until they are lightly browned.  Once cooled, they are brushed with a simple glaze consisting of confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla, and a reserved TBS of the browned butter.  This is brushed onto the cookies and allowed to set.  I think that my glaze may have been a tad too thick – something else to keep in mind next time.

Despite all of the things that I am hoping to do differently/better the next time I make them, these cookies are a big hit at my house.  The recipe makes two dozen almost 3″ in diameter cookies.  These cookies are an excellent addition to your holiday cookie gift boxes or as a  of your family’s celebration.

From Tracey G.

I’m in total agreement with Kris as I too am loving this month of cookies!! They’re not only tasty little bites of goodness, but they can be fun and easy to make!

I found this recipe for Nutmeg Bites From King Arthur Flour, right off the bat when looking for an easy, get-it-done-for-the-holidays kind of treat. One that would be good to serve guests, put on your cookie tray for a swap or party, or to give as a gift.

If you love nutmeg and/or egg nog as I do, you’ll love these cookies! The very simple dough consists of: butter, sugar, flour, an egg and vanilla – and of course, nutmeg. The ingredients for the dough are unceremoniously all added to the bowl and mixed up. It’s a rather dry dough that might seem like it won’t come together, but it does. And if yours just isn’t behaving, you can add a little milk to help it become cohesive.

The dough is dropped by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie/baking sheet and baked for 10-12 minutes at 350 F. They do say a heaping teaspoon-sized cookie scoop works well here, but my scoop is about a tablespoon, and made my cookies a wee bit larger, lol, which of course altered my bake time and do forth. But that doesn’t affect the yummy taste at all, just more to enjoy!

So, as if they aren’t tasty enough, you now top them with a buttercream that you make from powdered sugar, butter and rum. You add enough rum to make a smooth and spreadable frosting. I didn’t want to use alcohol, so I went with the suggestion they give, to use a bit of cream (or I’m sure milk would work too!) and rum flavoring, so that’s what I did. I then sprinkled more nutmeg on top as garnish and as an extra bit of nutmeg oomph, lol. 🙂 You can either spread frosting on as they direct or my way – and pipe it on. For me, piping it on is faster than spreading frosting on for me, so that’s the way I chose to go. 😉

I absolutely fell in love with these cookies and they are another recipe to add to my book, as they’re as easy as can be and taste wonderful as well.

Happy Holidays!!!

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Food Friday – Cookie Craze Continues…

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from Tracey G

I guess sometimes the easier something seems like it’s going to be as in – “Oh this is going to be easy!”, that right there should be an alarm bell to me personally. Don’t get me wrong, my 2nd cookie offering for December IS easy, it was the baking I had a spot of trouble with. King Arthur Flour’s Shortbread, is delicious AND easy. Best part is it’s made with things I always have on hand, always! They also featured this recipe in one of their Flourish blog posts! It’s entitled “A Solstice Celebration: Shortbread”

Not only did I choose it for ease of preparation, but as a nod to my current obsession with all things Outlander, lol. Shortbread, notoriously associated with Scotland, is a traditional treat this time of year. It’s one made to mark the Winter Solstice, New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) and New Year’s Day. So, simple, tasty and a traditional-type baked good – everything a girl could dream of!

It’s quite possibly one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. In fact, I kept going back over the recipe to make sure I wasn’t missing something, or skipping a step somewhere. But nope, I was on track and correct. The ingredients are: flour, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice. Their recipe uses a combo of vanilla and almond – I just chose to use vanilla. But you can flavor anyway you like!

After getting it all mixed up, you press into the bottoms of 2, 9-inch cake/round pans. I only have 8-inch pans, so that’s what I went with.

Now, my difficulty in this recipe came from that, lol. Mine took a bit longer to bake to get the right doneness. Unfortunately, I had pulled them out a wee bit too early, turned them out of the pan (they looked done!) and proceeded to cut one of the rounds into the prescribed wedges. It wasn’t done. It was a bit too soft and under-baked. Luckily, I was able to flip the uncut one BACK into the pan, and pop back into the oven, and the one I’d cut, I pieced back into its pan, and popped it back in the oven as well. Fortunately none of this harmed the final product! The only issue I had, was that I broke a couple wedges as they were super bendy still while warm. Which, speaking of pliability, that’s why you’re to cut them into wedges when they come out of their pans – you get nice clean cuts while they’re still warm, so they are pretty little wedges.

These poor things didn’t stand a chance around here. I think Jeremy had one pan completely gone the first day – they are so good!! And as suggested, you can top them as well with whatever you desire – jam, sweet sauces etc, if you so choose. I know that here, they will be eaten plain, and quickly!!!

from Kris B.

I am loving our month of cookie recipes!  When it comes to sweet treats, I think that cookies are my all-time favorite…probably because they are the perfect complement to a nice hot cup of coffee or tea.  And as I get older, I seem to be moving away from a love of all things chocolate, to a preference for spiced flavors.  This is why I was drawn to King Arthur’s recipe for Chai-Glazed Almond Cookies.

The dough for these cookies consists of all-purpose flour, almond flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, butter, and chai spice.  You can use a store-bought chai spice or make your own, which is what I did.  The spices include cinnamon, ginger allspice, cardamon, and black pepper.  To make the cookies, all of the ingredients except the two flours are mixed together first.  Then the almond flour followed by the all-purpose flour are added and mixed until incorporated.  The dough comes together quite easily in a stand mixer.

The cookies are then shaped using a tablespoon scoop and placed on a parchment lined or lightly greased cookie sheet.  They bake for 13-16 minutes, until they are golden brown.  The cookies then cool on a rack.

Once completely cooled, the cookies are ready to be glazed.  The glaze consists of confectioners sugar, salt, butter, vanilla extract, a little milk, and more chai spice.  It can either be drizzled or piped onto the cookies.

The Chai-Glazed Almond Cookies are delicious.  They definitely do no disappoint in the taste department.  I do have to say, however, they are not the prettiest of the holiday cookie choices because the glaze is brown due to the added spices.  They fall into that category of the dreaded “brown food” that Tracey and I so often joke about.  I’m not sure there is anything to be done about that with these.  So, when you get ready to serve them, find your prettiest holiday plate on which to serve them! 🙂  And remember, never judge a book by its cover or a cookie by its color. Lol!

Another thing about these cookies…if you share them at a gathering, you may want to place a note with them indicating that they contain nut flour.  Allergies and food sensitivities these days are a big issue.  Since the cookies themselves don’t contain nuts, they may be seen as safe by someone who normally avoids nuts.

All that said, if you are a spiced cookie lover or a chai spice fan in general, these Chai-Glazed Almond Cookies are a light and tasty treat  Try them!

 

 

 

 

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