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

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

1 cup whipping cream
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules

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:

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

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

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

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 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

·         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)

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

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

-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

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. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Bake Cookies

Hello everyone! Continuing on my cookie challenge, today I bring you No Bake Cookies. I was introduced to these marvelous things a long time ago, I think even before I got married. Back then I wasn't too confident about baking, so the thought of making cookies that didn't require baking were very appealing to me. I made these cookies and my then boyfriend (now husband) absolutely loved them! So I saved the recipe. It is such a simple cookie to make that I feel like I should make it more often... and it would be soooooooooooo hard to get rid of them... ;)
One tip though, this batch I made for a church luncheon, and so I doubled the recipe. It made 94 cookies! But, I wouldn't make more than that at once because towards the end the cookie "batter" started to harden a little bit inside the pot I mixed the ingredients in. So if you need to make more than 2 recipes of this cookie, I would recommend making it separately so you will have a fresh batch again. I have never tried to reheat the batter, so I don't know what that would do...
Hope you enjoy the cookies! :) These cookies nestled in tissue paper in a festive holiday tin would be so cute and a perfect gift for anyone special!
Chocolate Peanut-Butter No Bake Cookies
Makes ~3-4 dozen cookies (Tbsp sizes)

2 cups sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup milk
1 cup peanut butter (smooth)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil the sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the tablespoonfuls (or whatever size you desire), until cooled and hardened.

Recipe from Food Network, courtesy of Helen Ostrosky
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polka-Dot Macaroons

Hi everyone! For my first cookie challenge, I have chosen to make these Polka-Dot Macaroons. Why? Well, we were having friends over for a gathering with lots of little kids, and the fun colored M&M's just made it so cute for them! Or so I thought... it seemed to be a big hit with the "big kids" too :)
These are very simple cookies to make, just takes some muscles to mix the ingredients since the condensed milk and the coconut flakes just want to stick together rather than blend well. So roll up your sleeves and "get 'er done!" so to speak. Enjoy the cookies!
Polka-Dot Macaroons
Makes ~3-4 dozen cookies

-5 cups coconut flakes
-1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
-1/2 cup AP flour
-1.5 cups M&M's miniature baking bits

1. Preheat oven at 350F. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut flakes, condensed milk, and flour. Stir in the baking bits.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 1 in. apart (cookies don't grow during baking process) onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets and let cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe originally from Taste of Home Magazine "Fall Baking Cookbook" 2010, submitted by Janice Lass in Dorr, Michigan.
For more of my cookie challenge cookie recipes, click here. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Cookie Challenge!

The holidays are just around the corner! Are you excited for this? I sure am!!! 
Today at work I had an idea of celebrating this holiday season with a personal challenge. With the theme of "25 Days of Christmas", I want to challenge myself to try and post about 25 different holiday cookies/bars from now until the end of the year. A little ballsy, I know, but hey, why not? So, below is the list of cookies that I plan on trying, and as I blog about the different recipes, I will also link them below. If I end up changing any of the recipes, I'll let you know.

25 Days of Christmas Cookie Recipes

1. Almond Bars
2. Angel Wings
3. Berry-Cream Cookie Snaps
4. Candy Cane Cookies - completed 12-11-11
5. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
6. Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Snowballs
7. Chocolate Pecan Tassies - completed 11-27-11
8. Chocolate Snowballs - completed 12-7-11
9. Coconut Clouds
10. Coffee Bonbons - completed 12-12-11
11. Creme de Menthe Truffles - completed 12-11-11
12. Delicate Thin Mints
13. Dipped Pecan Spritz
14. Eggnog Thumbprints
15. Festive Shortbread Logs
16. Mocha Crackle Cookies - completed 12-18-11
17. No Bake Cookies - completed 11-21-11
18. Polka-dot Macaroons - completed 11-20-11
19. Rudolph Treats - completed 12-13-11
20. Rugalach
21. Shortbread Hearts
22. Swedish Butter Cookies - completed 12-5-11
23. Sweet Potato Spice Cookies - completed 11-23-11
24. Thumbprint Cookies - completed 12-4-11
25. Yuletide Cherry Cookies

And here is a cookie recipe I made and gave out to my neighbors last year: Danish Butter Cookies

Friday, November 4, 2011

Streusel Cupcakes

Happy Friday everyone! Ever go to your local coffee shop and crave one of those yummy pastries displayed? No? NO?!!! Well then, you have much stronger will power than I do... I'm one of those weak souls who drool at the sight of a fresh sweet pastry treat. Well, I'd go broke if I bought one every time the craving hit (and it hits a LOT). So, when I saw this recipe on my Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, I marked it that I definitely wanted to try! This coffee cake-like cupcake was so nice, and the milk glaze on top added a nice crusty topping along the streusel topping. 
I adapted the ingredients a bit because I ended up having a lot of left-over streusel topping and milk glaze with the original measurements. Also, I think that this recipe would make a lovely loaf too (haven't tried that yet but next time I may make just 12 cupcakes and one loaf).
Hope you enjoy this recipe, and have a fantastic weekend!
Streusel Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

2-1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups sour cream

Streusel Topping:
1-1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Make the streusel topping: whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingertips until combined but still crumbly. Refrigerate 30 minutes before using.
2. Preheat oven to 350F and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and then add the vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. On slowest speed setting, add flour mixture and sour cream; alternating the flour mixture and sour cream in batches (3 of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream). Stir until just combined. 
4. Divide batter evenly among lined tins. Sprinkle half the topping over cupcakes, gently pressing it into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with remaining topping. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Once baked, transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Milk Glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp milk

Whisk together ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

5. To finish the cupcakes, place cupcakes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet; drizzle evenly with milk glaze. Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers. 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes