Monday, December 17, 2012

Sugared Sugar Cookie Recipe

I have finally found the secret to easy Christmas Cut-Out Cookies --eliminating the frosting. *gasp* I know, I know, it's not the same, but friends if you despise the frosting process as much as I do then this method is your ticket to Christmas cookie happiness. All the deliciousness of the sugar cookie with the fuss of frosting. (Plus, frosted cookies are a pain to transfer or store without destroying your hard work.) 

Here's the deal

Step 1) Make the dough for these Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies. Please, please, please don't make any other sugar cookie than these ever again. Bridgette from Bake @ 350 is on to something with this perfect recipe. Butter, vanilla & almond extracts & sugar. What a beautifully pure sugar cookie. 

Step 2) Roll out the dough and cut into pretty Christmas shapes. (Other shapes are acceptable. Let's not lock ourselves into some Christmas mold here.) 

Step 3) Arrange cut-outs on a baking sheet. Oh, yeah, and make sure the oven is preheated to 350. I'm assuming you did that in Step 1 because you were following the recipe, right? 

Step 4) Pour 2 Tbsp of milk into a small dish. Use a pastry brush to thinly coat the top of each cookie with milk. You want them damp, not puddled. 

Step 5) Sprinkle with colored sugars until your heart is content. 

Step 6) Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Step 7) Store in an airtight container and/or EAT!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Monkey Bread Recipe (Bread Machine)

For extra-special weekend mornings or just because you're craving something warm, gooey and oh-so-sweet, you must indulge in this Monkey Bread. I had previously experienced the traditional version of Monkey Bread which included pre-made biscuit dough. That form of this sweet treat was certainly delicious, but I wanted to try my hand at the from-scratch method. I kept it slightly more simple by using a bread machine dough cycle rather than making the dough by hand. win-win, I say. :)

The lovely loaf was devoured quickly. I recommend pulling apart each piece with your fingers. None of this "fork" stuff for Monkey Bread. ;)


Monkey Bread Recipe (Bread Machine)

for the dough
1 cup water
2 Tbsp margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
3-1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt

for coating
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 egg plus 1-2 Tbsp water, beaten

for glaze
1/2 butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine first 7 ingredients in your bread machine pan and select the "dough" setting. (This should take approximately 1-1/2 hours.)

When the dough cycle is complete, roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface creating an 8x8 inch square. Use a large knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough into 64 equal pieces.

Prepare a bundt pan by coating it lightly in shortening. 

Stir together sugar & cinnamon in a cereal bowl and in a separate bowl beat together egg with water. Lightly brush the dough squares with the egg, then take one piece at a time, dip it in the egg (letting excess drain off) and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture to generous coat. Arrange in the bundt pan in even layers. 

At this point you may choose to cover and refrigerate the bread before its second rise. If you choose to refrigerate, allow 2 full hours to rise before baking (rather than just 1)

Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a small sauce pan, combine butter, brown sugar and water and bring to a light boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour over the dough. 

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Turn out onto a large platter to serve. Serve while warm. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Swedish Pepparkakor Cookie Recipe


Marrying into a Swedish family means learning their traditions and customs and tasting lots of new dishes and desserts. One of my favorite treats native to Scandinavia is this lovely crunchy ginger cookie known as pepparkakor. You may have seen boxes of Anna's brand pepparkakor in the grocery store or at a Christmas party. They're delightful! 

I decided to try my very-not-Swedish hand at baking up a batch of my very own pepparkakor. I am SO glad I did. The recipe is simple. The most challenging part is rolling out the tacky dough to 1/8 inch thick. It needs to be thin in order to create that perfect crunch. Give it a try. Everyone will be glad you did! I shared these with my friends at a women's gathering and some of the ladies commented that they couldn't stop eating them. :) 

Swedish Pepparkakor Cookie Recipe
(crunchy ginger cookies)
recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Makes 4-6 dozen cookies, depending on size 


3/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp water
1/2 cups molasses
1 whole large egg
3 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt


Cream together the butter and sugar. Dissolve baking soda in the water and stir into the creamed mixture. Add the molasses and egg.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt and then stir into the creamed ingredients until well blended. 

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. This will develop the flavors. 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Roll the dough to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use your favorite cookie cutters or the traditional round/wavy edged cutter. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet. They can be placed pretty close together as they do not spread. 

Bake for 8–10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. 



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mint Chip Chocolate Almond Biscotti Recipe


If there's one guy I trust to give me an awesome biscotti recipe it's David Lebovitz. The guy is a genius. Sure enough, this butter-less biscotti turned out beautifully even with my inclusion of mint chips rather than just chocolate.

In case you're looking at me like, "What in the world is biscotti?" then allow me to explain. Biscotti is a traditional Italian cookie, slightly sweet, dry, crunchy, and the perfect acommpaniment  to your favorite hot beverages. Dunking these little babies into a cup of hot chocolate would just be heavenly. (Excuse me while I make myself a giant mug.)

These store well for up to 2 weeks and the beauty if biscotti is that they're meant to be crunchy and dry, so they don't go stale quickly. :) Bring these to your family get-togethers this Christmas--or maybe give them as gifts along with a package of homemade hot cocoa mix--and people will love you forever.

Check out my Almond Biscotti and Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti recipes from past years.

Mint Chip Chocolate Biscotti Recipe
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

2 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond (or peppermint!) extract
1 cup almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
3/4 cups mint and/or chocolate chips

For the glaze
1 large egg
2 Tbsp coarse or crystal sugar (see Notes)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients -  flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together. Dough will be tacky and dense.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs (approximately 14 inches long and 3-4 inches wide, curving it on the long edges Dough should be about 1/2-1 inch thick). Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.

Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.

Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Serve alongside hot beverages--cocoa, tea, or coffee.

For an extra special treat, dip one end of the each cookie into melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Amish White Bread Recipe

Tall, fluffy, slightly sweet, and perfect for sandwiches--this bread is a winner. Its dough is soft and tender as you knead it, tempting you with the perfection that will be enjoyed after rising and rising and baking to beauty. Seriously, people, I'm not exaggerating. If you're scared to make bread by hand, start with this recipe (just don't scorch the yeast with too-hot water, like I did the second time making it. It just doesn't rise much. Oh, and I burnt it that time, too. But the first time, man, it was like a dream come true!)

Amish White Bread Recipe
Thanks to Britta for sharing this recipe with me

Makes TWO (2) loaves

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
2/3 cup white sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
6 cups flour 

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar with water and then add the yeast. Allow yeast mixture to get foamy. 

Mix salt and oil into yeast mixture and then mix in the flour 1 cup at a time. Knead on a lightly floured surface (or with dough hook for your stand mixer) for 10 minutes or until soft and springy. Place in a well-oiled bowl and coat dough. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 hour (dough should be doubled in size).*

Punch dough down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide in half and shape into loaves. Place in two well-greased 9x5 pans. 

Cover with a tea towel and rise another 30 minutes or until dough has risen at least 1 inch above the pans. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

*helpful tip. I place 2 cups of water in the microwave, heat for 2 or 3 minutes, until boiling. Then add the bowl of dough to the steamy environment of the microwave and let rise in there (DO NOT MICROWAVE the dough.)