Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mocha Crackle Cookies


Hello again! These cookies were exchanged at my work's cookie exchange event last Thursday. I really liked how they kept their shape very well (a nice dome look) after baking, and the "crackles" came out nicely too. The chocolate flavor depth was enhanced by the coffee granules, I thought, but you could omit the granules if you don't like/can't have the caffeine flavor (which is not overpowering at all). 
Hope you enjoy them too!
Mocha Crackle Cookies

Ingredients:
·         ½ cup butter
·         5 oz unsweetened chocolate
·         1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
·         4 eggs, room temperature
·         1/8 tsp salt
·         1 cup sugar
·         1 cup packed brown sugar
·         2 cups + 3 Tbsp AP flour
·         2 tsp baking powder
·         ~1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, for coating

Directions:
1.    In a microwave or saucepan, heat butter, chocolate, and coffee until chocolate is melted; cool slightly.
2.    In mixing bowl, combine eggs and salt. Add sugars. Stir in chocolate mixture; mix well. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to egg mixture to form a soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
3.    Roll dough into ¾ inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar; place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.


Recipe originally from Taste of Home - Mocha Crackle Cookies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rudolph Treats


If you are looking for kid-friendly Christmas treats/projects, look no further! This is an easy and fast treat that you can even put together with your little ones, with no baking required! I made this for the kids to go along with the Candy Cane Cookies I posted about earlier this week, and everyone loved them! And like I said, with no baking and just some assembly required, it comes together very easily.
The original recipe called for black decorating gel, but since I had made a batch of chocolate frosting for my Coffee Bonbons, then I just used it to make the pupils in the marshmallow eyes and glue the marshmallows and M&M noses in place.
Oh, here is an idea too: if you want to display these reindeer together, you can make 7 of them with brown noses and one with a red one! :) And if you really wanted to use a different candy bar, I'm sure you could do that too, just as long as they can hold the pretzels well. 
Rudolph Treats

Ingredients:
·         12 miniature pretzels, halved
·         12 fun-size Almond Joy candy bars
·         12 miniature marshmallows, halved
·         Chocolate frosting or black decorating gel
·         12 red M&M’s miniature baking bits

Directions:
1.    Insert an end from 2 pretzel halves into each candy bar to form antlers. Apply a small amount of chocolate frosting or decorating gel on cut side of marshmallow and gently press it to onto each candy bar for each eye. Dot top of marshmallow with frosting or gel.
2.    For nose, attach an M&M to the top of each candy with frosting or gel. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Original recipe from Taste of Home - Rudolph Treats
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coffee Bonbons


Cookie, cookie, cookie!!! Man, these cookies are by far my favorite so far... if you like coffee, you just MUST try these! When you take a bite of these cookies, they just crumble and melt in your mouth, and the icing gives it a nice sweet touch. The coffee flavor comes from instant coffee granules! These cookies were so simple to make, and are definitely making it to the Christmas table!
About the frosting, I piped it on to make it pretty for the Christmas gathering we were bringing them to, but you can certainly spread it on the cookie too.
Coffee Bonbons

Ingredients:
Cookie base
·         1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
·         ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
·         ½ tsp vanilla extract
·         1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
·         1 ¾ cups AP flour
Chocolate Glaze
·         1 Tbsp butter
·         ½ oz unsweetened chocolate
·         1 cup confectioners’ sugar
·         2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream

Directions:
1.    In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Combine coffee and flour; stir into creamed mixture and mix well. Chill for about 30 minutes.
2.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into ¾ inch balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
3.    Meanwhile, for glaze, melt butter and chocolate together. Add confectioners’ sugar and milk (or heavy cream) in 2 increments to chocolate mixture, mixing well until smooth. Frost cookies while still warm.
 Original recipe from Taste of Home - Coffee Bonbons
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Creme de Menthe Truffles


Hello again! Here is a treat for the grown-ups ;) If you like the combination of chocolate and mint, you may like this treat. I must warn you though: the truffle filling is pretty sweet (for my taste, although my husband didn't think so), so this would go really nicely with a hot cup of coffee or tea on the side. 
I also sprinkled some colored sugar on top of each truffle while the chocolate was still soft for decoration, which the original recipe didn't call for. It added a small cuteness factor to the truffle. And who doesn't eat with their eyes, right? ;)
Crème de Menthe Truffles

Ingredients:
·         ½ cup butter, melted
·         1 cup finely chopped pecans
·         ¼ cup crème de menthe liquor
·         4 cups confectioner’s sugar
·         2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips, to melt
·         2 tsp shortening
·         Green colored sugar, for decorating (optional)

Directions:
1.    In a large bowl, combine the butter, pecans, and crème de menthe. Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or until easy to handle.
2.    With hands lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, shape mixture into one-inch balls. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
3.    In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth (~1-2 minutes on high, in ~40 second increments). Dip balls in chocolate mixture; let excess drip off. Return to waxed paper; sprinkle decorative green sugar on top of each truffle while chocolate is still soft (optional). Chill until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Candy Cane Cookies


Hello again! I had a really productive Saturday in baking lots of yummy cookies. Friends from church got together for an early Christmas party, and so I asked to bring the dessert! It was my way to try out some of the recipes I've been itching to get to. 
Here is one treat I made for the little (and some big ones too) kids. Since you can use store-bought sugar cookie dough, this comes together super easy! My cookies did not come out as pretty as the picture from the original recipe though... So thinking back, what I will do next time is once I've got the cookies shaped, I'm going to freeze them for another 15 minutes before baking them. That should let them hold their cane shape better without becoming so flat. I'll adjust the directions once I figure out the "secret" :)
Candy Cane Cookies
Makes ~2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
·         ½ tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened
·         2 Tbsp AP flour
·         ½ tsp peppermint extract
·         ½ tsp red food coloring

Directions:
1.    In a large mixing bowl, beat the cookie dough, flour, and peppermint extract until smooth. Divide dough in half; mix food coloring into one portion.
2.    Shape 1 tsp of white dough into a six-inch rope. Shape 1 tsp of red dough into a six-inch rope. Place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist.
3.    Place on an ungreased baking sheet; curve top of cookie to form handle of cane. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
4.    Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before carefully removing to wire racks.

Original recipe from Taste of Home - Candy Cane Cookies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Snowballs


Heeeeeeeello again! Here is the latest cookie from my cookie challenge: Chocolate Snowballs. It was a pretty simple recipe to make, with just a little planning ahead needed since the dough needs to be made the night before. My husband got to try these cookies and he loved them! These cookies are very chocolate-y and go so well with a nice glass of milk. :) These may be great cookies to leave for Santa, if your family leaves any left that is!
Chocolate Snowballs
Makes ~ 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
·         ¾ cup butter, softened at room temperature
·         ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
·         1 egg
·         ¼ cup milk
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         2 cups AP flour
·         ½ cup baking cocoa
·         1 tsp baking powder
·         ½ tsp salt
·         ¼ tsp baking soda
·         Confectioner’s sugar, for coating

Directions:
1.    In a medium bowl, sift and combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
2.    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add the flour/chocolate mixture to the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3.    When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into one inch balls; place them two inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the tops are crackled. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
4.    In a shallow bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar (about 1 cup total, variable). Roll the cookies in the sugar to coat well.

Original recipe from Taste of Home - Chocolate Snowballs
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Swedish Butter Cookies


Hi! Another day, another cookie recipe :) Today's cookie recipe was chosen for this cookie challenge just because of how pretty they look. I know, I know, not nice to judge a book by its cover right? Well, but in this case, the looks of this cookie was just the beginning! The pecans that cover the cookie just make it so nice and crunchy, but the inside of the cookie just melts in your mouth! So overall the cookie was great, and I had a little fun with the maraschino cherry colors, and made both green and red cookies.
The cookies are a little time consuming to make, but I think they were worth it in the end! Go try these cookies now!
Swedish Butter Cookies
Makes ~3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
·         2 cups AP flour
·         ½ tsp baking powder
·         ½ cup finely chopped pecans
·         1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
·         ½ cup sugar
·         1 egg, separated
·         1 Tbsp heavy cream (or half-and-half)
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         Additional chopped pecans (~1-1/2 cups), for coating
·         Halved red maraschino cherries or red jelly of your choice

Directions:
1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift and combine flour, baking powder, and chopped pecans in a medium bowl; set aside.
2.    In a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in the bowl and mix until well incorporated. Roll dough into ½ ~ ¾ inch balls.
3.    In a small shallow bowl, beat egg whites. Dip balls in egg white, then them roll in additional pecans. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
4.    Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each ball. Top each ball with a cherry half or fill with jelly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Original recipe from Taste of Home - Swedish Butter Cookies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thumbprint Cookies


Hello everyone; hope you had a wonderful weekend! I've been busy trying out more cookie recipes this weekend, and will be posting the other ones soon. 
Today's cookie is actually one of my favorite holiday cookies! The cookie itself is simple and yet totally melts in your mouth! And if you can make the cookies differently every time depending on the fruit flavor of jam/jelly you choose. I made these with strawberry, but I also got some apricot that I will be making very soon.
One note about the indentation that you need to make on the cookie: I don't have a wooden spoon that has a rounded handle (all mine are flat handles), so I decided to use the bottom of my 1/2 tsp measuring spoon. It worked well to make the indentation, but as the cookies baked, the indentation went away!! So make sure to really make a deep indentation on your cookies to make sure they hold their shape better. Next time I'm going to try that and hope that the indentations stay...
Thumbprint Cookies
Makes ~ 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
·         12 Tbsp butter (1/ ½ stick), softened
·         1 cup sugar
·         2 eggs
·         4 Tbsp canola oil
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         1 tsp butter flavoring
·         3 cups AP flour
·         ½ cup cornstarch
·         2 tsp baking powder
·         ½ tsp salt
·         Assorted jams

Directions:
1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, oil, vanilla, and butter flavoring. Sift and combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
2.    Roll into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each.
3.    Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Fill each cookie with ~1/4 tsp jam; cool. 

Recipe originally from Taste of Home - Thumbprint Cookies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate Mocha Cake Roll


Howdy! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. We sure did here; although we have been trying to finish leftovers by getting a little creative with the remaining dishes (there is only so much you can do with leftover turkey, or stuffing, or gravy!). But hey, I cannot complain about extra good food.
Anyways, this weekend was my daughter’s babysitter’s birthday, and I wanted to make her something special. I got the idea to make her a cake roll. To add on to the challenge, I’ve never made cake rolls! Sounds easy, but the whole idea of making a very thin cake that you then have to roll WITHOUT breaking was truthfully a little daunting… But oh well, I thought “let’s give it a whirl!” So a whirl I gave (grammar???), and it turned out great (it rhymed!)
The cake turned out wonderfully light and fluffy, and separated from the baking sheet well. I did put lots of powdered sugar on the towel so that the cake did not stick to the towel, even after it cooled down. The filling is very simple to make, but has a great mocha flavor that adds an extra layer of flavor to the cake, complementing the chocolate cake very nicely.
The original recipe does have another step to make this cake roll into an actual Yule log, which I plan on making for Christmas this year (now that I am a little more confident about cake rolls). So for any of you interested in making the frosting, I have included the recipe below. If you do that final step, let me know how it turns out! I’ll add my comments next time I make this J
Happy birthday Karen!
Chocolate Mocha Cake Roll

Ingredients
CAKE:
5 eggs, separated
½ + ½ cup sugar, divided
½ cup cake flour
¼ cup baking cocoa
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
Confectioner’s sugar, for spreading on towel

MOCHA CREAM FILLING:
1 cup whipping cream
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules

Directions
1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper.
2.    Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3.    In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add ½ cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add flour mixture to egg yolk mixture until blended.
4.    In the separate bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
5.    Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-13 minutes or until cake springs back (do not over-bake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.
6.    For the filling, in a separate mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.

Optional step:

MOCHA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark.

Original recipe for Chocolate Yule Log froTaste of Home

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Tassies


Hello all! The next chosen cookie challenge recipe is Chocolate Pecan Tassies. When I first saw this recipe on the Taste of Home magazine, I immediately added Hershey Kisses to my grocery list so I had them on hand when able to make these cookies. Well, today was the day!
On a separate note though, the Hershey Kisses that I got were the regular sized ones, although the recipe calls for miniature ones (I couldn’t find them in the grocery stores I searched…). Now that I’ve made these cookies, I would say that having the miniature Kisses would be better, just so that you can have more of the filling and pecan toppings. And I think it would look prettier too…
But overall the whole cookie is very yummy. Oh, and another thing I’m going to try next time too is to make this cookie inside aluminum mini cupcake liners instead than in the pan directly so it’s easier and perhaps prettier on presentation.
Chocolate Pecan Tassies
Makes ~2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
COOKIE:
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup AP flour

FILLING:
1 egg
1 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 packed brown sugar
Dash of salt (~1/8 tsp)
4-5 dozen miniature milk chocolate Kisses
4 Tbsp chopped pecans

Directions:
1.    In a small bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
2.    In a small bowl, whisk the egg, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt until smooth; set aside. Shape dough into at least 24 one-inch balls; press onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups.
3.    Place a chocolate Kiss in each cup. Fill each with 1 tsp brown sugar mixture; sprinkle with ½ tsp pecans.
4.    Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-24 minutes or until set. Lightly press a second chocolate Kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Original recipe from Taste of Home - Chocolate Pecan Tassies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cherry Crumb Pie - Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Yesterday (turkey day, aka get your whole house ready for guests-day), I got the chance to bake to my heart’s content! J Well, since we only have one oven at home, and I knew that the turkey would monopolize that one oven today, I had to do all my dessert baking the day before. Oh darn, twist my arm!
Now as I mentioned before in my pie crust entry, my husband is very particular about his pies. He knows which pies he likes and how he likes them. So this year he made his normal requests of pumpkin and chocolate pecan pies (recipe to follow soon!), but since I had made an apple crumb pie earlier in the fall, he started to crave a CHERRY crumb pie. Oh my! I have never ever made a cherry pie, so I was nervous… but hey, I took on the challenge!
So to figure out what recipe to follow for this cherry pie… the crumb topping was already decided since he wanted the same as the apple crumb pie, but the FILLING! And to top it off, we could not find the tart cherries frozen (let alone fresh) in any of our local grocery stores, so we had to go with canned cherries. Well, I found this recipe in All Recipes.com and seemed like something I could do, so I went for it. My husband got to do a little taste-testing of the filling and it got two thumbs up! He was definitely speechless while savoring the filling.
So hopefully you will get to enjoy this recipe too. And no matter what you are doing, where you are, I wish from the bottom of my heart that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I have many things to be thankful for this year: my wonderful husband and daughter, the new baby on the way, my parents and sisters, and all my family and friends all over the world… the list goes on and on. Thank you for being part of my life, and I hope you have a great day!
Cherry Crumb Pie

Ingredients:
·         1 whole pie crust (try this recipe)
For the filling:
·         2 cans (14.5oz each) water-packed red, tart, pitted cherries, drained and 1 cup of juice reserved
·         1 cup sugar
·         ¼ cup corn starch
·         Pinch of salt
·         ½ tsp almond extract
For the crumb topping:
·         ½ cup flour
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         ½ cup quick oats
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces (~1/2 Tbsp each piece)

Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2.       For the filling: in a medium saucepan, cook 1 cup of cherry juice, sugar, corn starch, and a pinch of salt over medium-low heat; stir with a rubber spatula until a very thick paste forms. Remove from heat and let paste cool down some, then add drained cherries into saucepan and stir well. Add almond extract; stir to combine.
3.       Prepare pie crust as directed. Spread cherry filling into pie crust.
4.       For the crumb topping: mix together the flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt. Sprinkle flour mix over cherry filling and pie. Evenly place butter pieces over pie crust.
5.       Bake pie in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Original recipe for the pie filling from All Recipes.com

Original recipe for the crumb topping from Pioneer Woman Cooks

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potato Spice Cookies


Hello everyone! The next cookie recipe for my cookie challenge is a sweet potato spice cookie. Sweet potato in cookies, say what??? That is actually what I thought at first... it did not seem very appealing to me. But, the idea stayed in the back of my head and kept creeping up the more I thought about it. So, I guess it crept up enough huh? :) This cookie just seemed to fit the Thanksgiving spirit of the week, so here it is!
Now, I modified the order of how the ingredients are added to the batch because I FORGOT to add the oats... sigh... I realized that after the cookies were already baking. The cookies still came out okay, but I can see how the oats would really have added to the texture. So next time I won't forget that important ingredient :)
Another thing, I did remove the butterscotch chips (1 cup) that the original recipe called for since I'm not a huge fan of butterscotch chips, but feel free to add it into the recipe. Another idea I had was to instead add 1 cup of white chocolate chips. Maybe next time!
Hope you are having a wonderful turkey day, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Spice Cookies


Ingredients:
-3/4 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 cup finely shredded uncooked sweet potato
-3 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
-2 cups AP flour
-1-1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1 cup coconut flakes
-1 cup chopped pecans


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, sweet potato, and orange juice concentrate. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut flakes and chopped pecans.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 13-15 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Recipe originally from Taste of Home - Sweet Potato Spice Cookies
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here.