Posts Tagged ‘sweets’

Box Brownies from scratch

October 26, 2016

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Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love brownies. If I go to a frozen yogurt sundae bar, a brownie is my first choice in my cup. I have written before about how much I love boxed brownies. For someone who bakes most things from scratch that may be odd. But I grew up on brownies from scratch so a box mix at a party was my favorite treat. Though I do love my mom’s brownies, the texture and stickiness of box brownies is my favorite. I have an awesome college friend who shares my love of brownies, my brownie husband recipe is one of her favorites.

I googled homemade brownies that taste like a box mix and found an amazing recipe. I would say I have made it a dozen times since I found it last year. It is perfect for any occasion and people can’t believe they are from scratch. I recently made them and used the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa instead of regular cocoa and it made them even more decadent. So if you are a closet Betty Crocker box brownie junkie like me, you need to try these! They are super easy and only have a few ingredients instead of ones you can’t pronounce, which is something I always look for when recreating stuff at home.

Quick and Easy Brownies {Like a Box Mix!}

Yield: 12-16 brownies

Ingredients

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 square baking pan, or line it with parchment paper.
2. Mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Add eggs and mix until well combined.
4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
5. Slowly add to the egg mixture until well combined.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Recipe modified from AllRecipes.com

 

Coffee Cake Adventures

June 22, 2016

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First off I would like to apologize to my readers, we bought a home, moved to a new town, I started a new job and my husband deployed in the last few months so I have been so busy I have not had time to post. That does not mean of course that I did not have time to bake. I always have time to bake. I even baked just this morning, it is part of my weekly routine. Lately I have made lots of favorites from my blog, wacky cake, sour cream coffee cake, black moons, blueberry buckle, and more. Those are staples that are always crowd pleasers. I have also been enjoying a new brownie recipe I found that tastes like box mix, that is going to be my next post, along with my Kentucky Butter Cake I have been making a lot. I am getting back on track for regular posting, I promise! Since I love coffee cake in any language I was excited to recently try a new recipe. I subscribed to King Arthur Flour’s email newsletters and often yummy recipes catch my eye. I highly recommend you sign up if you are a baker.

This recipe for Norwegian Sour Cream Cake looked right up my alley. I made it for a church potluck and have to say it was a big hit. At first people were going for a dry brick like corn bread concoction till the word got out about my tasty cake. If you love pound cakes and bundt cakes you have to try this easy recipe. It was a light, moist cake with just the right sweetness and a great vanilla flavor. I had made a berry compote I use often for my cheesecakes from Martha Stewart to top it but I left it at home by mistake. I definitely think that would be a perfect topping, or even just sliced strawberries and cream. The texture of the cake would be perfect for strawberry shortcake and delicious for tea time. You can travel to Norway right in your own kitchen with this tasty new recipe!

NORWEGIAN SOUR CREAM CAKE

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, salted or unsalted
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla, to taste
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a full-size (10″) tube pan, bundt-style pan, or angel food pan.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
Stir in the salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
Add the flour alternately with the sour cream, starting with the flour. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time, the sour cream 1/2 cup at a time. Mix at medium speed between additions, until ingredients are thoroughly combined. The finished batter will be quite stiff.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it with your wet fingers or a spatula.
Bake the cake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and gently loosen its edges.
After 15 minutes, carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Store the cooled cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap securely and freeze.
Yield: 1 cake, about 20 servings.

New York Crumb Cake

December 24, 2014

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I have tried many coffee cake recipes and have yet to find one I did not like. But my most favorite type of coffee cake is a crumb cake. There are a few regular recipes I use but my mom always makes the NY crumb cake version and had given me the recipe. I did not try it until recently and I am glad I did. It was super easy to make and it was the best coffeecake I have made in a while. I should have know it was good because my mom gave it a 6 star rating. It tasted exactly like an Entenmann’s crumb cake, minus the ingredients you can’t pronounce. So if you need something sweet to start your holiday breakfast off right, try this easy treat and you won’t disappoint!

New York Crumb Cake

Makes 1 9×13 inch cake

Cake Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of canola oil, plus more to brush the pan

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, plus more for pan

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup of milk

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Topping:

1 cup of light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

+confectioners sugar for dusting after baking, a must!

1. Place rack in center of oven and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush a 9×13 inch pan with canola oil, dust with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. I think the canola oil is what makes the texture of this cake so soft and light like the store version, all of my coffee cake recipes usually call for butter. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, it will be pretty thin and look like this:

 

batter

 

 

In a medium bowl combine topping ingredients: flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture and toss with rubber spatula until large crumbs form like this:
crumble

 

Sprinkle crumbs over batter so it looks like this, the white stuff is flour, not confectionary sugar (save that for after baking), I just had some flour in the bottom of my bowl.

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Transfer pan to oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and continue baking until cake tester comes out clean, about 10 more minutes. Transfer pan to wire baking rack to cool. Dust cake with confectioners sugar using a metal strainer for a pretty effect. Cut into three inch squares and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Enjoy!!!

 

Santa wants cheesecake instead of cookies this year

December 13, 2014
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I recently had a potluck at work and decided to look for a festive recipe to share. I love making cheesecake and it is always a crowd pleaser. I had seen some fun holiday recipe ideas on real simple and decided to go for these Santa Cheesecake bites (click through the pics to see these). It was easy to make and they came out very cute. If I made them again I would probably cut the squares bigger and follow the steps for the whipped cream piping, as I didn’t have much time so I used a can of whipped cream (gasp!). The cheesecake was surprisingly light due to the addition of the white chocolate I think. I don’t even like white chocolate but these turned out great. Everyone was very happy with the results. Check out the link for some other cute holiday desserts, I think we will make the pretzel Santa hats for Santa this year.
Santa Hat Cheesecake Bites – from realsimple.com
Yield: 25
Ingredients
  • 18 Oreos finely crushed to about 1 3/4 cups*
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted and divided
  • 2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 25 fairly small, fresh strawberries (or more if cutting more squares)
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with two large sheets of tinfoil (one going horizontally and one over the top of the other vertically. Make sure your sheets are long enough that you’ll have an overhang of foil over the edges of the pan. Also, be sure to mold it well to the pan). Brush foil with 1/2 tbsp melted butter. In a mixing bowl, using a fork blend together crushed Oreos and 2 Tbsp melted butter until mixture is well combined and evenly moistened. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish (the bottom of a flat measuring cup or glass works well for pressing crust), set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed, blend together cream cheese and granulated sugar until mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and mix until well blended. In a separate microwave safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips with 1/3 cup heavy cream on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Pour melted white chocolate mixture into cream cheese mixture and blend on low speed until combined. Tap bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles then pour mixture over prepared crust in baking dish.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes then turn oven off and without opening oven door allow cheesecake to rest in warm oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or refrigerate for 6 hours.
  • Once cheesecake is fully chilled and set, remove from freezer or refrigerator and lift cheesecake out of pan using the foil overhang. Cut cheesecake into squares (I’d recommend cutting them just a bit larger the the width of your strawberries. Also it’s nice to keep some clean paper towels close by to clean your knife while cutting squares).
  • In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on high speed, whip remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add powdered sugar and mix until stiff peaks form.
  • To assemble: cut a flat top off of each strawberry and lay flat side down over top of cheesecake. Fill a pastry bag (or Ziploc bag and cut a small tip of corner) with sweetened whipped cream and pipe around strawberry then finish with a small amount over the top of the “hat”. Serve immediately (for do ahead- you can make cheesecake the day before then assemble within an hour of serving the following day). Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • *Don’t use Doublestuff Oreos. I processed the Oreos in a food processor but if you don’t have one you can place them in a large Ziploc bag, seal bag and finely crush with a rolling pin .

More Mug Cake Madness

August 3, 2014

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I was having a sweet craving the other night and my hubby has been on a super healthy eating streak so I have stopped baking. Since I have made mug cakes before I figured that would fulfill my craving without busting my gut. I found a recipe that included Nutella, which is usually a staple in my pantry, but I shockingly had none in the house. Honestly the cake was so moist and delicious it did not need the Nutella (yes you are reading that correctly, direct from this Nutella addict’s thoughts). So if you need a quick fix for a sweet treat and don’t want to share or have a whole sheet of cake leftover to taunt you, check out this decadent dessert:

Super Moist Chocolate Mug cake

1/4 c flour

2 Tb cocoa (I used new hershey’s dark cocoa, mmmm)

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 Tb sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 C & 1 Tb milk

2 Tb vegetable oil

Mix together dry ingredients, add wet ones and mix till no lumps. Nuke for 70-80 seconds depending on microwave watts. I used a small mixing bowl that is microwave safe because you would need a super large mug to make it. So I guess that makes it a bowl cake, lol. The recipe also said you can insert a spoon of Nutella in the middle and swirl it in upon serving but it did not need that. That would have made it too sweet. It was a bit gooey in center but that made it sort of like a molten lava cake, so I did not cook it any longer. You will not believe how moist and delicious this cake is in mere seconds in your microwave. It hit the spot!

“Get in my belly” strawberry shortcake cake

June 21, 2014

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My new favorite cooking go to buddy is the Pioneer Woman. Maybe you have seen her show on Food Network or read her blog, but if not, check her out. She speaks to me in my language – cooking ridiculously delicious things from scratch. I have made a few of her recipes on here, most recently I made her fajita recipe again that I posted here. I offered to make a cake for someone’s birthday and I went to her amazing blog and just simply searched “cake.” I like doing this as the variety of options that come up are endless, from angel food cake, to decadent chocolate peanut butter to fruity summer treats. I suggest you check out her blog, not only does she post amazing food photography and step by step photos, but she has new take on old favorites, great holiday recipes,  and a recipe for pretty much anything.

So on a recent search I was curious about her strawberry shortcake cake recipe that popped up. I love strawberry shortcake and have tried many versions. This one was not a typical biscuit or sponge cake with strawberry topping and whipped cream recipe. It was the ingredients you would expect to find in this dessert but with a twist – cake and cream cheese frosting. Let me put it out there that I LOVE cream cheese frosting. I don’t know if it is because it is sort of like a quick cheesecake flavored treat or if it is because it is rich and creamy and great to top anything from cinnamon rolls to brownies to carrot cake. Anyhow a strawberry shortcake with cream cheese frosting sounded intriguing. So I decided to give it a go.

The cake in this “shortcake” is like one I never tasted. It is like a sponge cake but not as soft and it has amazing flavor and texture. In the last few years I became a strawberry shortcake biscuit recipe fan, and had gone away from the cake version. Anyhow, this cake was amazing, it was the perfect vessel for the strawberries and cream cheese.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is ONE OF THE BEST CAKES I HAVE EVER TASTED. Something about the cake and the way you smash up the strawberries and then layer them with cream cheese frosting over the strawberries and then over the entire cake, makes it just sing in your mouth. Plus this cream cheese frosting is richer and more tasty than any I have made before and will be my new go to version for other recipes. This shortcake cake is one that you’ll be salivating over for years to come.

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split the cake when cool

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smash up your fresh berries

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make the cream cheese frosting of my dreams

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it may look plan but inside this cake is magic!

Next time I will top it with more berries for pretty decorations.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 3 whole Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Icing

  • 1/2 pound (80z) Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound Strawberries

Preparation Instructions

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway. (I used a spring foam 9 inch cheesecake pan which shortened my baking time a bit)

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.

Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom (from the pioneer woman, not me, haha). Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.

Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

 

Snickerdoodles are nothing to snicker at

April 13, 2014

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I have many go to cookie recipes I stick to but every now and then I try something new. Recently I saw a recipe for Snickerdoodles on my King Arthur bread flour bag. Yes folks, I typed that right, bread flour?! I have never thought of making cookies with bread flour but I was intrigued. In my baking endeavors I have found changing up the flour, using cake flour for example, can yield totally different results. This recipe was simple and I had everything in my cabinet and it was from one of my favorite recipe sites, so it was a go. I don’t think I have ever made snickerdoodles and honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of the grocery store version. These cookies came out delish, they were buttery, soft and moist and I could pronounce all the ingredients – bonus! So if you want to whip up an easy tasty treat that is sure to please your peeps, check this out:

Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • *If you use unsalted butter, increase the salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

coating

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste

directions

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2) Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.

3) Add the egg, beating until smooth.

4) Beat in the vanilla, salt, and baking powder.

5) Add the flour, mixing until totally incorporated.

6) To make the coating: Shake together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized zip-top plastic bag.

7) Drop 1″ balls of dough into the bag; a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll/toss the cookies in the cinnamon-sugar until they’re completely coated.

8) Space the cookies at least 1 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a flat-bottom glass to flatten them to about 3/8″ thick; they’ll be about 1 1/2″ in diameter.

9) Bake the cookies for 8 minutes (for soft cookies) to 10 minutes (for crunchier cookies). Remove them from the oven, and cool them on the pan until they’re firm enough to transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cinnamon Bun Sundays

February 16, 2014

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My readers have seen my many posts on Sunday morning treats before. I recently saw a new recipe I just had to try. It was from a show that always has great recipes, the Chew. Also, these cinnamon rolls are from one of my favorite chefs, Mario Batali. Upon reading the ingredients I was a bit puzzled. The dough had white wine in it, hmm that sounds strange, I thought. I have never used wine in any doughs before, I wondered if it would come together. I have also never had a Mario Batali recipe that turned out bad so I figured what the heck. I had a nice bottle of chardonnay in fridge I use for cooking. The water and sugar amounts in the recipe were less than usual dough so I could see how the wine replaces those measurements.

dough
I have to tell you, when me and my gorgeous Italian sous chef mixed it together it smelled a bit funky. But after we added the flour and got the dough to come together it was the perfect texture and the smell of the wine and the yeast went away. After letting the dough rise, I knew this was going to be great, as the dough was so soft and fluffy. It was really easy to make it the recipe had one of my favorite criteria – I had all of the ingredients in the house (even before grocery day, and my cabinets were pretty bare).

filler

The only thing I tweaked was using my mom’s confectionary sugar glaze, instead of Mario’s version. So if you want to whip up some fresh cinnamon rolls for a sweet Sunday treat, these rolls are a great new version to try.

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup Light Red or White Wine
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast; 1/4 ounce envelope
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour; plus more for dusting

For Assembling the Rolls

  • 1/2 stick Melted Butter; plus more to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Salt

Glaze

  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 Lemons; zested
  •  To Make the Dough: Combine the Wine, Water and Yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the Honey, Salt and the Olive Oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the Flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the Flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
    Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
  • For Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a small cake pan and set aside.
    On a clean floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. When the dough is an 1/8 inch thick, pour the Melted Butter generously on top, spreading evenly. Evenly sprinkle the Sugar and Cinnamon over the Melted Butter.

    Carefully roll the dough, working away from you. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into even slices, about one to two inches thick. Arrange the slices in the cake pan to fill pan as much as possible, with the edges of the rolls in contact with each other. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

  • To Make the Glaze: While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing by placing Powdered Sugar in a bowl. Pour the warm water into the Sugar and whisk until smooth. Adjust the Sugar and Water until desired consistency has been reached. Add zest and stir to combine. Drizzle glaze over rolls to serve.

*Cooks note: My mom’s glaze is confectionary sugar, vanilla extract, milk and butter. I eyeball it but I would say it is: 2 Cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs milk and 1 Tbs butter, can add more milk as needed to thin out frosting. I use this anytime I need a glaze.

Making whoopee under the moon

February 8, 2014

moon

Eastern versus western is always an ongoing battle in our world. Whether it is BBQ or burger places, each coast always thinks theirs is the best. I have been lucky enough to live on both coasts which has given me the chance to sample many culinary delights. I am a yankee by birth and proud of it. On the east coast my favorite sweet treat is called a black moon or a moon pie. After living out west for the last few years I have found they are called whoopee pies out here. I always get a strange look when I say I am bringing a black moon to a party in CA. But I know if I was home in New Hampshah and said I had whoopee pies for dessert, I might get a funny look.

However you like to say it, moon pies are a real treat. The moist chocolate cake made into a sandwich with fluff (another thing west coast people usually do not know about) frosting to glue it together; can you think of a better marriage? When I have seen these heavenly little pies at bakeries, they are upwards of $5! You can make them very cheaply and then you don’t have to eat just one. Another fun thing is to make mini “slider” versions or just go for it and make a few large ones, with the same batch of batter and frosting.  This is my mom’s recipe (thanks Mahgee), not sure where she got it, but this is the only time my friends and family get excited for me to break out my moons.

Black Moons (aka whoopie pies, aka moon pies, aka heaven)

Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

2 cups of all purpose flour (king arthur’s is best)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder

1 cup of milk

1. Beat crisco, egg, sugar and vanilla.

2. Mix dry ingredients and then add to wet alternatively with milk.

3. Drop from cookie or muffin scoop (depending on size you want, can use a spoon) onto ungreased baking pan, can make  around 24 halves

4. Bake at 425 degrees for 9-10 mins, check oven temp and watch those suckers, they burn fast. Mine were done in 8! A few got a bit dark on the underside edge, I used a zester to remove the darker spots, a very handy tool to keep you from throwing away stuff that baked a bit too long in spots.

Cream Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup confectionary sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of marshmallow fluff

Dilute with tiny bit of milk

1. mix crisco, confectionary sugar, vanilla, and fluff in stand mixer. Dilute with teaspoon or more of milk if needed, to get to nice thick spreadable frosting consistency.

Frost one half of moon and stick second half on top. Dust with confectionary sugar from sifter to make a pretty treat.

Makes around 1 dozen whoopie pies, depending on size. I know I am all about natural and I rarely use crisco in my recipes, but I have tried this recipe with butter and it is not the same, so it is ok to break out the crisco once and a while.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

December 29, 2013

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There are many beautiful colors in the rainbow, but my favorite are red, white and green – the color of the Italian flag. I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time but did not have the specific ingredient (marzipan) or the time, as it takes a lot of steps. I went to the base commissary recently and saw they had marzipan on clearance and took it as a sign. Marzipan is an almond paste that is used in many dolce Italian treats. In Sicily they used it to make these gorgeous replicas of fruit that were hand painted and delicious. I knew of Marzipan before I lived in Sicily because my mom always sought out the marzipan chocolate in her belgian chocolate assortments, so I grew to love the flavor at a young age. My mom can be frugal at times but won’t blink when it comes to spending more on some great chocolate. But I digress…

Since I had the marzipan in my pantry I decided to go for it. This year I was also making my mom’s black and white cookies for Santa, they are such a yummy confection. The recipe I was using was by an Italian chef I really admire, Lidia Bastianich. She has some amazing recipes on her site and a popular PBS show called Lidia’s Italy. I would have to say it was not a hard recipe to complete but it did take a lot of steps and over a couple of days to complete. I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fabulous Italian sous chef, Gianna. The end result was a Italian rainbow bar of decadence and scrumptiousness. Even my husband who is not a huge fan of marzipan or almond extracts, loved the cookies. The only thing we modified was to use strawberry jam instead of apricot to appease the little people in my house. I think this was a good marriage – think chocolate covered strawberries – so that flavor married well with the chocolate and almond. Also I used three 9×12 rimmed cookie sheets and barely had enough batter to fill those, so you might not need the bigger pans in the recipe. If you want to make some special treats for a holiday or event, let yourself be inspired by the Italian flag in this recipe.

Lidia’s Italian Rainbow Cookies:

Ingredients:

8 ounces almond paste
1 cup sugar
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
Two 15-ounce jars smooth (not chunky) apricot jam
1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans (I used 9×12 ones) , and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until well mixed. Plop in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter is smooth. Sprinkle in salt, and mix. Sift in flour, and mix until just combined.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until foamy. While whisking, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain, without any coloring. Add red food coloring to one bowl, stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cakes cool completely on wire racks, then remove from pans.

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Trim each of the layers to even out the thickness of the cakes. Put the green cake layer back, cut side up, into one of the lined pans. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all of the way to the edges. Place the plain layer of cake on top of the jam. Spread the remaining jar of jam almost all the way to the edges of the plain layer. Place the red layer on top of the ham, cut side up. Wrap the entire cake in plastic, and top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Unwrap the cake, and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour and spread the chocolate over the top the cake, using a spatula to guide the chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. If the kitchen is cool, let the chocolate harden that way; if it is warm, clear a space in the refrigerator to place the cake and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate is about halfway set, gently rake the topping with the tines of a fork or a dough scraper with dentals, starting from the end of the chocolate covering all the way to the other end, slightly undulating the lines as you move along. Repeat until all of the chocolate has indented stripes. Let the chocolate set completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut the set and decorated layers into three dozen rectangles, using the outer sides to form perfectly cut rectangles.