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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hello, my lovely readers! I would just like to say thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you have a safe New Year celebration! More confections to come!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread Men and Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

I wanted to squeeze in a couple of cookies before Christmas, so I wanted to make a classic gingerbread cookie and Paula Deen's Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies!

First off, I must say that this year has flown by! I can't believe it's Christmas Eve and there is a week left in 2011! Where has the time gone!? Hopefully next year won't fly by so quickly...

So this holiday season, I have decided not to do gifts in order to get my bills paid. As Mrs. Lovett said: "Times is hard." So instead of making meat pies out of alley cats, I'm making cookies!

For the Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies, I used Paula Deen's recipe. This was quick and easy since the base was chocolate cake mix.
  • 1 8-oz brick cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 18-oz box moist chocolate cake mix
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1) Cream the butter and the cream cheese until smooth.
2) Beat in the egg, then the vanilla, then the cake mix.
3) Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours so the dough is easy to roll.
4) Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350. Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls.
Then roll the balls into some powdered sugar...
And place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
5) Bake for 12 minutes and dust with additional sugar after completely cooled, if you want.
And these little guys will be eaten up in no time! They have a brownie- cakey- cookie- type of quality, and they are so good! Using exact tablespoons, I got about 4 dozen instead of the 2 dozen the recipe said it would make! :)
Chocolatey goodness!
Next up is a classic gingerbread cookie recipe. Instead of a teaspoon of lemon zest, I put in about a teaspoon and a half of orange zest (I think orange tastes much better with ginger).
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves (I substituted nutmeg)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (or orange)
1) In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together until blended.
2) In a mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until blended.
3) Add molasses, vanilla, and zest. Mix well.
4) Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth
5) Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic. Then let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
6) Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
7) Place one portion of the dough on a floured surface and roll out to 1/4" thick.
*The dough will look dry, but keep working at it, and it will come together!*
Cut cookies into whatever shapes you choose.
8) Space cookies 1 1/2" apart  and bake for 7-10 minutes.
I had some royal icing left over from the gingerbread house party, so I mixed that up and added some color. That was not a good time to find out I was out of red! Grrr! Green and blue worked fine, though! I had some basic gingerbread men...
Then some clothed ones...
Then some stars...
And some decorated circle shapes...
And I got a little snacky, so I got creative...
Following the recipe, I got a little under 4 dozen with this recipe as well! Nice! The cookies were a bit soft because I baked them for exactly 7 minutes. If you want crispier cookies, roll them thinner or bake them a bit longer.
These cookies are going to go in cute little Christmas Chinese food boxes for gift-giving!
I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season! Be safe, and have fun!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gingerbread Party!

Last night, my Betrothed and I had a few guests over for a Gingerbread and Apple Cider Shindig. This was a ZS gathering, so do not be alarmed by the ZS names mentioned later. We simmered a huge pot of apple cider mixed with spiced rum, and I had some egg nog with Bacardi (delish!) The gingerbread creations varied greatly, and now I have a delicious-smelling little town on my table!
I made a traditional little house...
Gayne had a train kit...
Voltage made a mini village...
...and Firebird added a little shack to it.
I think the most epic gingerbread construction was Guardian's castle. He employed the help of graham crackers as well. Ahhhh...
This party was a first, and I think it was a success! I'm thinking Second Annual Gingerbread and Cider Shindig next year! It was nice to see some faces I hadn't seen in a while. My Betrothed had just returned home for winter break, so it was definitely nice to see him again, too! Now what to do with that leftover egg nog... Expect to see some delicious baked goods soon!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Almond-Caramel Cake Bombs!

Hello, all! As the holidays are quickly approaching, I am working on some delicious holiday-inspired treats to share with you! But first, I have to tell you about these delicious cake bombs I made a little bit ago. They're compact desserts for a party, so they would definitely work for any Christmahannukwanzakuh or New Year parties you may have coming up.

I love, love, love the combination of almond cake and caramel icing, so I started with a box of white cake mix and almond extract. I baked it in a 9 x 13 pan and let it cool completely before breaking it up into tiny crumbs.
Then I added 1 whole 16oz can of Duncan Hines Caramel frosting.
Then I got in there with my hands and mixed it all up until it had a doughy consistency. I rolled out balls that measured about 3 tablespoons each (I didn't measure them out). This method produced 33 bombs. After all of the rolled balls were placed on cookie sheets, I chilled them in the refrigerator for an hour. I melted 16 oz of semi-sweet baking chocolate and coated the cake bombs using two forks.

Back on the baking sheets they go and back into the fridge to chill for at least twenty minutes.
A drizzle of a little white chocolate (optional!) and voila!
They were a hit at the party! However, the next time I make them, I'll use a small ice cream scoop to make smaller and more consistent cake bombs.

And why are they called Cake Bombs? Because it's something different from balls, pops, truffles, and bon-bons... And they're the bomb! Right? Right???

Don't hate...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yeast - free Cinnamon Rolls

This week, my Betrothed briefly graced me with his presence. He has been studying hard for exams at law school, and it was nice he took a break between exams to drive back and pay me a visit. We usually have our brunch on Sundays, but since he wasn't here this past weekend, we made up for it on Wednesday morning. At first I wanted to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but the pumpkin I had left over was a lot older than I thought (ew). So regular cinnamon rolls it was! But then after looking through different recipes, I saw that the preparation and bake time added up to about 3 hours... Hmmm...

Luckily, I found a quicker, yeast-free recipe here! The site I found also included a recipe with yeast, depending on how much time you have. Apparently these recipes are a combination of the best of several different other recipes, so I had some faith in this endeavor (since I've never made cinnamon rolls before!)

For the rolls:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus some extra for the counter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
  • 3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1) Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a wire cooling rack and a 9" round pan with vegetable spray.
2) Make the filling, and mix all the ingredients together until it looks like wet sand.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

4) Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon until absorbed (about 30 seconds). The dough will look shaggy.
5) Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead until smooth (about 1 minute).
6) Press the dough into a 9x12- inch rectangle and brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Then press the filling onto the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.

7) Loosen the dough from the counter using a scraper or metal spatula and roll the dough tightly, starting on the long side. Pinch the seam together.
8) Slice the roll into 8 even pieces and place in the greased pan and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Then bake for 20-25 minutes. Edges will be deliciously golden brown.

Turn the rolls over onto the greased cooling rack then turn them back over to cool for 10 minutes before frosting.
Oh yes!
For the cream cheese frosting, I whipped up the same recipe I've been using as of late, but the site had a similar recipe:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk
The frosting went very well with the rolls! So delicious! The rolls were pretty dense, but I was a fan of it. (I want to try the yeast recipe as well, though!)
Definitely not a low-fat recipe!
And, of course, Roger loved them.
 He's a great help in the kitchen. I wish him the best of luck on his exams! :)
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