Original publication unknown

Crescent Cookies

My family has been baking the Czech Rohlíčky, or Crescent Cookie, every Christmas and holiday since I can remember. This ground nut cookie is a staple in many regions. Europe and even Mexico have their own versions: the Italian Wedding Cookie, the Mexican Wedding Cookie, the Russian Tea Cake, or the Linzer Cookies.. They use anywhere from a 2:1 to 1:1 ratio of flour to nuts, which results in a very fragile crumbly cookie. They can be thinly rolled out and cut like the Linzer, or simply rolled into a ball and baked like the Italian Wedding Cookie. If you have never sampled any of these versions, the consistency is similar to the Scottish Shortbread, but not as buttery.

One thing most of these recipes have in common, is that they usually call for ground almonds. In the case of the Rohlíčky, many recipes call for hazelnuts too. My family has always used either ground walnuts or pecans in most of our cookie recipes. Which tree nut should you choose? The pecan and walnut have a slightly higher fat content than the almond, but the almond has a higher protein content. I think the walnut and pecan actually provide a little more flavor than the almond, but any tree nut would work since their flavor isn’t overpowering.

Plum Bitters

Also, the only flavoring usually added to any of these cookies is vanilla extract; however, my mother’s recipe also called for a tablespoon of water. While rummaging through my kitchen cabinets, I came across various bottles of bitters, which is just an alcohol base infused with botanicals or fruit. One I hadn’t used yet was Plum Bitters. I decided to substitute the water with the bitters. The flavor isn’t intense, but it does add a little hint of plum to the recipe.

Once again, I based my recipe off the typed copy from my mother’s binder. I did find another version of this recipe in The Czechoslovak Cook Book by Joza Břízová, which calls for an egg yolk to be added and much less butter. It also suggested the option of filling the ball of dough with candied fruit. I know that many Americans are not fans of candied fruit, but I think another viable option would be to chop up a dried fruit (i.e. apricots) to add a punch of flavor to this cookie.

Like the Mexican Wedding Cookie, you start with a ball of dough. As always, I like to use my handy melon baller, which scoops about 2 teaspoons of dough. This is just about the right amount you need for these cookies. I scoop them out and place them on my lined sheet all at once, before I roll each individual cookie. The method I have found works best is to first roll the scoop into a nicely formed ball, then roll the ball into a rope about the length of your little finger. If you roll it between your palms with your fingers pointing in the same direction, you will get an uneven roll, but if you have your palms perpendicular to each other the rope will be more even.

Dough before and after forming crescent

Make sure you leave enough room between each cookie on your cookie sheets, as they will puff slightly. You want to bake them in a low oven until they become slightly brown on the bottom. The confectioners sugar can be sifted over the cookies when they are warm, but I prefer to do this right before they are served. I have found that when you dust with confectioners sugar when the cookie is still warm, it will be absorbed into the cookie and you may have to apply more later.

I hope you enjoy this latest cookie recipe from my kitchen.

Rohlíčky or Crescent Cookie

  • Servings: approx. 60
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Unknown

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound butter or margarine
  • 5 tbl sugar
  • 1 tbl plum bitters
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups ground walnuts or pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your cookie sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Bring your butter to room temperature. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Blend in vanilla and plum bitters.
  4. Sift together the flour and salt, and stir into butter mixture
  5. Add nuts and mix thoroughly.
  6. Take about 2 teaspoons of dough, about the size of a small walnut, and roll between your palms to form a short rope.
  7. Place on cookie sheet and form a crescent.
  8. Bake about 20 minutes, until the bottom of the cookie is lightly browned.
  9. Cool cookies and dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

Variations

  1. You can substitute any other juice or liquor for the plum bitters, you can increase the amount of vanilla or just use water.
  2. Replace the walnuts or pecans with almonds or hazelnuts. If you have a tree nut allergy, try using sunflower seeds. You can also try pumpkin seeds (pepitas), but the color of the seed will change the color of the cookie.
  3. Add spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla or cardamom into your powdered sugar.
  4. Replace 1/4 cup of the sifted flour with sifted cocoa powder.
  5. You can easily replace the butter or margarine with plant butter to make this recipe vegan.

Original Publication unknown

Blood Orange Ricotta Cookies with Blood Orange Cointreau Glaze

I don’t know about you, but while I have been stuck at home, I have been spending much more time surfing social media. One of my fellow coworkers posted a picture of Ricotta Cookies that she baked and I realized that I had a container of ricotta cheese that I had bought to make lasagna, but never did. So in keeping with my desire not to waste any food, I searched my recipe books and binders to see if I had one and I did.

After I had seen my coworker’s cookies, I quickly looked up recipes online to see how much ricotta cheese I would need and noticed that many of the comments indicated that the cookie, while very moist, was bland. I had some lemons, but chose to use the blood oranges that I had instead to amp up the flavor of this cookie.

What is a blood orange? It is a type of orange that contains anthocyanins, according to Wikipedia. When you first buy the orange, it looks somewhat like a large mandarin orange. As it ages, both the flesh and rind of the orange develop a crimson color, as well as a raspberry-like flavor. I never knew about blood oranges until I first saw them in the opening credits of Dexter.

I have found that while the juice of the blood orange is sweet and delicious, that if you segment it and eat it as you would a regular orange, the connective tissue is a little tougher and makes the orange seem dry. I used both the zest of the orange as well as the juice in the cookie. I also used the juice of the blood orange in the glaze, which gives it a nice pink hue for Spring. You can add nonpariels for added color or just serve them glazed.

Blood Orange Ricotta Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 100
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Unknown

Ingredients

Cookie

  • 2-1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or plant butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbl blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbl blood orange zest

Glaze

  • 1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup blood orange juice
  • 1 tbl cointreau

Directions

  1. Make sure you measure the flour both before and after you sift, then whisk your dry ingredients together. Bring your butter and eggs to room temperature.
  2. Cream butter and with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Add the ricotta cheese, vanilla, and blood orange zest and juice to the butter mixture until well combined.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until blended. Chill dough for about an hour to make it easier to portion.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Line your cookie sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.
  7. Measure out approximately 2 teaspoons worth of dough onto the cookie sheet. If you have a double-sided melon baller, the small side is approx. 2 teaspoons and the large side is approx. 1-1/2 tablespoons.
  8. Bake for approximately 13 minutes, until the cookie is just turning brown on the bottom.
  9. Cool cookies completely, while you prepare the glaze.
  10. Start with one cup of the powdered sugar and add the blood orange juice and cointreau to it. Whisk together. Add in the additional powdered sugar until the glaze is smooth. If the glaze is too runny, add more powdered sugar.
  11. You can either spoon the glaze over the cookies or dip them in the glaze. Before the glaze dries, you can add the nonpariels or sprinkles of your choice.

Variations

  1. You can substitute lemon or lime or any other citrus for the orange.
  2. If you don’t have ricotta cheese, you can try substituting cream cheese, cottage cheese or marscapone. If you use cream cheese, you will want to decrease the amount of salt, because it contains more than ricotta. If you opt for cottage cheese, I would suggest blending it to decrease the size of the curd.

Original publication unknown

Gooey Mexican Chocolate Rocky Road Brownies

As I said in my earlier post, I needed to use my last three eggs before they expired. Well, the Irish Butter Cookies only used one egg, so I needed to find something else to bake. I had pecans and marshmallows left over, and while the pecans would keep for a while, the marshmallows were starting to harden up a bit. I didn’t want to make another cookie and after all the time it had taken me to roll and cut out the dough for them, I wanted something that was fairly quick.

My sister’s favorite dessert was a brownie. They weren’t necessarily my favorite, because as most of you know they can tend to be a bit dry or too dense. I would usually only eat the end pieces, because I like a bit of crunch on my brownie. My mother had two recipes for brownies typed up in her red binder, but I discovered that my Baker’s Chocolate had dried all out. If this ever happens to you, don’t worry. You can substitute three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of butter, vegetable oil or shortening for the one ounce square of Baker’s Chocolate.

So, I had already taken out my butter and eggs and brought them to room temperature while I was making the Butter Cookies. Since cocoa powder can absorb moisture and clump, I always sift it. Remember, sifting blooms dry ingredients, so you need to measure, sift, then remeasure your ingredients to avoid a dry batter.

As I was pulling out the remaining ingredients for the brownies, I realized I could spice them up a bit and added cinnamon and cayenne pepper to make them a Mexican Chocolate Brownie. Add in the pecans (or walnuts) and marshmallows and what do you have…Rocky Road.

Brownie recipes usually instruct you to use an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan, but you can use any pan you have on hand that won’t make the brownie too thin. I used a 10 x 7 x 2 inch Pyrex dish, but you could also use a round cake pan if that is all you have available.

Enjoy!

Mexican Chocolate Rocky Road Brownies

  • Servings: approx. 12 - 18
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Unknown

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tbl unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tbl shortening
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring your butter and eggs to room temperature.
  2. Cream butter and shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together. Use at least 1/4 tsp cayenne, but no more than 1 tsp. Make it as spicy as you want it.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until well blended.
  5. Mix in the chopped nuts and marshmallows. You can reserve some if you want to put on top of the batter instead.
  6. Grease your pan and pour in the batter.
  7. Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the batter
  8. Cool and cut into squares.

Variations

  1. Use a mini muffin tin for brownie bites.
  2. Substitute vanilla for the cayenne and cinnamon and peanut butter chips for the marshmallows, for a Peanut Butter Cup Brownie.

Original publication Challenge Dairy

Irish Butter cookies with sugar

With all the panic buying going on, the last time I went to the store, there were no eggs available, so I had to make sure that my last three eggs didn’t go to waste. My friends would have just told me to save them as a protein and either scramble, fry or hard boil them; however, as I’ve told you before, I cannot stand the taste or smell of eggs!

My department at work were sent home to work remotely just before St. Patrick’s Day, so I was never able to bake the treats I was going to bring in to work. I had looked through my recipes to find something Irish to bake. Irish Soda Bread had immediately come to mind, but I had just bought bread at the store the week before, so I didn’t need any more. Of course, there’s Corned Beef and Cabbage, but this isn’t an episode of Chopped! Since I had discovered my Irish heritage, I had downloaded a few Irish recipes, including this simple recipe for Irish Butter Cookies.

What are Butter Cookies? They are a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread. They have more sugar than a shortbread, so they are less crumbly and they are baked at a higher temperature. The dough is softer and more pliable than a sugar cookie dough. This means you can roll them out like a sugar cookie, pipe out the dough or simply make a drop cookie and flatten it out with the bottom of a glass. Remember if you roll out the dough, you should dip your cookie cutter in some flour so the dough doesn’t stick to it. I would have liked to use a shamrock cookie cutter, but unfortunately I don’t own one, so I used a flower to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Butter Cookie Dough with Orange Zest and Cointreau

Some butter or sugar cookies call for an icing or buttercream frosting, as this original recipe did; however, I am not a fan of this. I believe it makes the cookie way too sweet, so I opted for just a light dusting of golden caster sugar before the cookie was baked. You can also use regular granulated sugar instead. If you chose to sprinkle your cookie with sugar, I would suggest you do it before you bake the cookie. If you are rolling out your cookie, you will need to apply a light egg white wash to make the sugar adhere to the cookie. However, if you decide to do a drop cookie, you can simply roll the dough in the sugar before you press the dough down with the bottom of a glass.

And what makes this an Irish Butter Cookie? Kerrygold Irish Butter. The original recipe called for Challenge European Style Butter, but I had originally bought the butter thinking I might be making the Irish Soda Bread for the office. Kerrygold Irish Butter does qualify as a European Style Butter. It has higher butter fat content than American Style Butter and is churned longer and might have a slight sour taste due to fermentation or added cultures.

Although without the icing, some would argue that the Butter or Sugar cookie is way to bland. After a little more rummaging through my refrigerator, I zested an orange and then replaced the vanilla extract, which is called for in other recipes, with Cointreau Orange Liqueur. The combination provides a nice hint of orange in every bite.

Irish Butter Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Adapted from Challenge Dairy recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Kerrygold Irish Butter (or any other European style butter)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 tbl Cointreau
  • caster or granulated sugar for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring your butter and eggs to room temperature.
  2. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add egg, orange zest and Cointreau and beat until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until well blended.
  5. Divide your dough into quarters. You can refrigerate the portions of dough until you are ready to roll them out. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to approximately 1/8 in thickness. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush lightly with a beaten egg white and dust with caster or granulated sugar.
  6. Bake for approximately 8 minutes until lightly brown.

Variations

  1. For drop cookie option, use a melon baller to scoop the dough and roll the cookies in the caster or granulated sugar. Place balls onto parchment paper and place a piece of plastic wrap over the tray. Press down each cookie with the bottom of a glass until about 1/8 inch thick. Remove the plastic wrap and bake as directed above.
  2. Add vanilla or any other citrus zest to the batter and combine with another type of alcohol; such as lemon zest and limoncello, or lime zest and tequila.

Original publication unknown

Potato Chip Cookies

Since I was a little girl, my grandmother would always bring over cookies and pies at least twice a month when she wasn’t jet-setting around the world. While she couldn’t cook very well, she was a good baker. Czech Kolacky and Rohlicky, Plum Dumplings, Pumpkin pies and Bohemian Rye Bread were a staple in our house, until one day she brought over this curious cookie that her sister Betty made – the Potato Chip Cookie.

Before Grandma told us what they were, I thought they were just a different type of peanut butter cookie. It sort of tasted and looked like one, but had kind of a crunch to it too. How could potato chips keep their crunch in a cookie dough? These little one-bite wonders were amazing and “no one could eat just one,” and soon became part of our regular Christmas cookie menu. So, my first Christmas in Los Angeles, I decided to make as many of the cookies on my mothers list as possible, but ran into an issue when it came to these little gems – you can’t find Jays Potato Chips on the West Coast!

Jays Potato Chips

For those of you not from the Midwest, Jays Potato Chips was a Chicago company established in 1927 that also sold popcorn and pretzels. The chips were sold in a box which contained two twin packs, and the recipe called for one of the packs. Unfortunately, we never bothered to measure how much was in a pack.

So I bought a couple of Big Grab bags of Lay’s Potato Chips and mixed the ingredients together until it came time to add the potato chips. I smashed one Big Grab bag and added it to the batter, checking to see if the consistency was the same as with one twin pack, and it was. I also found that if you take a Ziploc sandwich bag and just fill it to the top until you can just seal it, that is also the correct amount of potato chips. You can use any method you want to crush the chips, rolling pin or by hand, but just remember to let out the air from the bag first; otherwise, the bag will explode all over your kitchen.

Country Crock Plant Butter

The original recipe calls for margarine, but I usually bake with butter. Since butter is firmer than margarine, you do have to let the butter come to room temperature before you mix the batter. This time, however, I decided to bake with Country Crock Plant Butter, because one of my coworkers is vegan. Surprisingly, it does have the same consistency as butter, so if you choose to use plant butter, you should also let it sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before creaming it with the sugar. This recipe calls for a whole pound of butter, so once you make the dough, you may want to divide it into smaller batches and keep it in the refrigerator to keep the butter from melting.

Grandma’s Recipe Card

The recipe also calls for chopped walnuts. Adding chopped nuts will make the dough a little bit more chunky. I found that I prefer to do a rough grind on the nuts instead. I usually use walnuts, but any nut will do. I usually just use whatever nuts I have on hand. This time I used pecans, but you could also use hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts.

As I have spoken in my previous posts, I use a melon baller when making cookies and this does help you get through the dough faster, but you will get a slightly larger two-bite cookie than the original recipe produced. As you can see, it just says to roll the dough into a small ball and doesn’t indicate how much dough. By trial and error, I came to the conclusion that if you use 1/2 teaspoon of dough, the recipe will produce the expected 225 one-bite cookies.

Potato Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 105-225 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Unknown

Ingredients

  • 1 pound butter or margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 pack crushed potato chips, (Big Grab of Lays Potato Chips)
  • 3/4 cup ground walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream sugar with butter or margarine until fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla and mix.
  4. Gradually add the flour and mix.
  5. Add the ground nuts and crushed potato chips and mix thoroughly.
  6. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  7. Form small balls and place about an inch apart.
  8. Press balls with a fork, making a crosshatch as you do when making peanut butter cookies. (Remember to have a bowl of water standing by to dip your fork into, so the dough doesn’t stick to the fork.)
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until you see the dough just starting to brown. You don’t want the top of the cookie to brown.

Variations

  1. Try using pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds instead of walnuts.
  2. Try substituting peanut butter for 1/4 of the butter and ground peanuts for the ground walnuts.

Original publication unknown

Canape Pancakes with butter and syrup

I have to laugh every time I watch a television show, which depicts the mother making a hot breakfast for their children every morning before driving them to school. I don’t know about you, but the only time I had anything other than cereal for breakfast was on Sunday mornings.

Every Sunday it was the same. My sister would eat some sort of eggs, either fried or scrambled, with bacon and toast. I have never liked eggs. In fact my mother even tried dumping in an entire bottle of A1 Steak Sauce into a scrambled egg, figuring it would hide the flavor. To this day, I still don’t eat eggs. This Sunday breakfast was the only time my mother ever cooked something specifically for me, rather than making me eat what everyone else did. It was Canape Pancakes.

Canape Pancakes unlike regular pancakes has no baking powder. They have a very close consistency, so they don’t absorb the syrup and get soggy and fall apart. You can cook these in a non-stick griddle, but I prefer to oil the pan with Crisco shortening, so the edges get a little crisp.

I usually make these once a month, but only half a recipe, which is more than enough for one person.

Canape Pancakes

  • Servings: 12-14 for a full recipe, 6-7 for half recipe
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Unknown

Ingredients

Full recipe:
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
Half recipe:
  • 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz milk

Directions

  1. Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the egg and the milk and whisk together until foamy.
  2. Add the sifted flour to the egg mixture and whisk together until smooth.
  3. Heat the griddle over medium heat on the stove top and melt a little Crisco shortening.
  4. Once you see a little shimmer in the shortening, ladle in the batter. I use a sauce ladle to keep the size consistent, but you could also use an ice cream scoop.
  5. When you see that the center is still a little wet, flip the pancake. It will only require another minute or two once it’s flipped.
  6. Stack the pancakes on a plate, adding a small pat of butter in between. This will allow the heat of the pancakes to melt the butter.
  7. Add syrup and serve.

Variations

  1. Instead of serving with butter and syrup, you can serve them with powdered sugar and lemon.
  2. Add vanilla, lemon zest, or orange zest to the batter.

Originally published in Saveur Magazine

Harvey Wallbanger Cupcakes

I was looking for a new recipe to bring in to work for the holidays, so I thumbed through my binder to find a recipe I hadn’t tried yet and also for something I could make with what I had on hand. This was the perfect choice. I used to subscribe to Saveur Magazine and this one seemed to be something which could be made fairly quickly.

While I’m sure you could make this cake completely from scratch, this recipe does use prepackaged yellow cake mix and instant vanilla pudding mix. My preference is to use Duncan Hines cake mix. I have always felt that it produces a much moister cake than any of the other mixes commercially available.

Cupcakes right out of the oven

Since I was bringing this into work, I decided to try making cupcakes rather than a bundt cake. Cupcakes are always easier, because they are finger food. You don’t have to supply forks and plates and the clean-up is easier in the kitchen too. If you ever decide to make cupcakes rather than a cake from any recipe, be sure to test one before proceeding to make the entire batch. This way you can determine the proper cooking time and what the consistency will be of the finished product in a smaller package.

I filled the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. When they come out of the oven, there will be a slight rise, but as they cool a slight depression will form. This will act as a natural well to hold the glaze.

One thing I have learned is that when a recipe calls for sifted flour or confectioners sugar, it is important to measure both before and after sifting. What measures as 2 cups prior to sifting will actually measure as more than 2 cups after. Sifting actually blooms the ingredient, so if you don’t measure afterwards, the batter can either be too dry, or the glaze or frosting can be too sweet.

Even though the recipe contains pudding, which you would think would make the cake more dense, actually produces a very light and fluffy cake. This sweet treat is perfect for the Holidays. You get a nice delicate and delicious bite without the heaviness of a lot of desserts.

Lillian Bogas's Harvey Wallbanger Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-12, or 24 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Saveur Magazine

Ingredients

For the Cake:
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (about 4 1/2 cups mix)
  • 1 3.4 oz packet instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vodka

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the bundt cake, grease 10 cup pan with the butter and dust with flour, shaking out excess. If you prefer to make cupcakes, place cupcake liners in the cupcake tin. You will need about 24.
  3. Combine the cake ingredients and mix well. You can either use an electric mixer, but a whisk will do.
  4. Pour batter into the bundt pan or cupcake tin and bake until golden and a toothpick or skewer comes out clean.
  5. Bake time for the bundt cake is approximately 45-50 minutes, while cupcakes will be done in 18-22 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the bundt cake on a serving platter or remove the cupcakes from the baking tin to allow for further cooling.
  7. For the glaze, combine the sifted confectioners sugar with the liqueurs and orange juice. Whisk well.
  8. Drizzle well over the still warm cake or cupcakes and transfer to a cake plate for serving.

Variations

  1. The Galliano and vodka would also go well with a lemon or orange cake mix.
  2. If you aren’t a fan of Galliano, try another combination with Vodka, such as Ginger Liqueur and pair it with a spice cake mix.

From Betty Crocker.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

This is a favorite Christmas cookie. I started making it about eight years ago when a friend said that she loved the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kisses. I search for a recipe and found this one on the Betty Crocker website. How can you get better than Peanut Butter and Chocolate? Even though my friend has moved back to the East Coast, I send her a care package every Christmas.

The only tweaking I have done on this recipe is the use of Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Kisses. I just prefer the flavor and like the added crunch of the bits of peanut butter.

Hershey Kiss starts to melt when added to the warm cookie

The key to this recipe is to make sure you add the Hershey Kiss to the cookie right after it comes out of the oven. You want warmth of the cookie to start to melt the Kiss. You will be able to see that the Kisses become very shiny as the warms up. You can serve them immediately, just make sure you don’t stack them; otherwise, your cookies will stick together and the Kiss will become smashed.

Classic Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

  • Servings: 36
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Betty Crocker

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • additional granulated sugar
  • 36 Hershey’s Kisses

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup each of granulated sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter and the egg with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. Gradually add to the peanut butter mixture and mix until dough forms.
  5. Form 1 inch balls and roll in the additional granulated sugar. I use a melon baller to achieve uniform size.
  6. Place one a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Immediately press 1 Hershey Kiss into the center of each cookie and remove to cooling rack.

Variations

  1. You can use either crunchy or creamy peanut butter, depending on if you want a little added crunch to you cookie.
  2. For those who are allergic to peanuts, try using almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter.
  3. The original recipe calls for milk chocolate Kisses, but try using any of the other Hershey Kiss flavors.

Based on Apricot Pecan Thyme Crisps by Judy Barbe on livebest.info.

Pumpkin and Date Thyme Crackers

For a long time, I have been complaining about store-bought crackers and chips. You buy an 11 ounce box of crackers, but when you open it, it’s only half filled, and they can cost anywhere from $2.50 to $5.00. So I went in search of a cracker recipe to see if I could save some money.

I located a recipe on livebest.info for Apricot Pecan Thyme Crisps. The recipe seemed straight-forward. This cracker is basically a bread biscotti. You make bread and then after baking it once, you slice it and bake it again. Voila, you have crackers!

After making this recipe several times, I decided to change it up a bit. The recipe includes a variety of nuts and dried apricots. You can use whatever combination of nuts and dried fruit that suits your fancy. I bought this Pumpkin Bread mix from Trader Joe’s and figured, why not use this as the basis of a cracker.

The key to this recipe is chilling the baked mini loaves of bread for at least 2 hours prior to slicing. I, like many people, am very impatient and want to get on with the recipe. I often can’t wait for my baking to cool down sufficiently to either frost a cake or cut a slice of pie. I use an 8-cavity non-stick mini loaf pan, which I do spray with Pam and line with strips of parchment paper to make it easier to life the loaves out of the pan. I get about 10 – 12 mini loaves of bread, which yields over 100 crackers!

Pumpkin and Date Thyme Crisps

  • Servings: 100 + crackers
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: livebest.info

Ingredients

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 8 mini loaf pans with baking spray and line with a strip of parchment paper.
  3. Combine milk and vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. In large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin bread mix and pepper. Take out about 1/4 cup of the mix and add it to a separate bowl, and add the chopped dates and nuts. Toss to coat. This prevents the fruit and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the batter.
  5. Add molasses to sour milk and mix to combine. Add the milk mixture to the dry large bowl of dry ingredients. Add the fruit and nut mixture. Mix until just combined.
  6. Add batter to loaf tray, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the loaf.
  7. Let cool to room temperature. Wrap the individual loaves in plastic wrap and put in freezer for about 2 hours. You don’t want them frozen solid, but you do want them firm enough to slice into crackers.
  8. Heat oven to 300 degrees. With a serrated knife, slice the loaves into 1/8 inch slices. If you prefer a thicker cracker, you will have to bake them slightly longer. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 30 minutes until dry. As they cool, they will crisp even more. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Variations

  1. This recipe is very molasses forward. If you are not a fan of the flavor, try substituting one of the following: 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey or maple syrup; 3/4 cup brown sugar; 3/4 cup granulates sugar plus 1/4 cup water. If you use the honey or the granulated sugar, you will need to increase any spices you use to compensate for the lost flavor.
  2. Use cranberries or any dried fruit.
  3. If you are using dried fruit, try rehydrating it slightly with rum or whisky.
  4. Use macadamia nuts or hazelnuts, or any combination of nuts you prefer.
  5. If you don’t like thyme, season with rosemary or sage.
  6. If you don’t want to bake all the crackers at once, you can freeze the loaves until needed. Just thaw the loaf long enough to be able to slice the bread easily.

Original posting unknown.

Maria’s Favorite Linzertorte

Each year, at my day job, we throw a department Thanksgiving party with all the fixings. It’s basically a huge pot luck, where the company provides the ham and the turkey. As usual, I decided to provide one of the desserts. Usually, I bring in one of my standard cookie recipes, but this year I decided to rummage through my stack of recipes that I had cut out and taped into a binder to find something new.

I knew that others were going to bring in the standard pumpkin pie, cheesecake or apple pie. I had been watching one of the numerous baking contests and realized I hadn’t made a tart since I was in high school (with my mother’s help). I knew that I had a recipe for a Linzertorte and decided that I would try my hand at that. I’m not sure which magazine I cut this one out off, but after searching for it online, I believe it is originally from the “Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe VT.” I read through the recipe and realized that it seemed fairly simple. The only problem I foresaw was the lattice work on the top of the tart.

I have never been very good at rolling out pastry. I always have problems with the dough sticking to the rolling pin or the surface on which I’m working. Adding too much flour to your dough can either make the dough too tough or crumbly. I saw a great hack on “The Great British Baking Show,” where one of the contestants used a sheet of parchment paper on top of their dough. I discovered that either parchment paper or plastic wrap would work as well. Recently, I also saw someone on “Christmas Cookie Challenge” using a Silpat (Silicone Baking Mat) instead.

Unfortunately, it was very hot in my apartment the day I was baking, so I was having problems with the lattice working breaking, because the butter was melting and sticking to everything. I decided that rather than having to roll out pastry 8 inches long, that I would just use a small snowflake cookie cutter to cut out the dough for the top decorative crust instead. Granted, it made the tart more Christmas-y than Thanksgiving-y, but I thought it worked well. I had left over dough after decorating the tart, so I just rolled them out and baked them as cookies, since the dough is very similar to that of the Linzer Cookie.

You will need two 8 inch tart pans with a removable bottom. The recipe doesn’t specify how long to bake the tart, but I baked it for approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Other recipes indicate the tart should be baked at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes.

Maria's Favorite Linzertorte

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe VT

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 rounded cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, ground
  • 1/2 cup currant jam
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Confectioner’s Sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Flour and grease two 8 inch tart pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg, walnuts, flour and spices. Mix into a dough and then roll into a ball. Divide the dough into quarters. (I suggest that if your kitchen is warm, that you set the unused dough in the refrigerator until needed.)
  4. Press a quarter of the dough into the bottom of each tart pan. Cut one of the remaining quarters of dough in half and press each half the way up the sides of the tart pan. Cut the remaining dough into 12 pieces and set aside.
  5. Mix the currant jelly and raspberry jam together. Spread half the mixture on top of the walnut crusts. Roll out the remaining dough into round strips and crisscross on top of the jam mixture – three pieces each way. Press the side crust down to connect with the strips. Sprinkle the top of your torte with almonds and bake until golden brown and the jam mixture bubbles.
  6. Cool, rmove from pans, then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Linzertorte is best served at room temperature. If you wish to prepare well in advance of serving, this torte freezes very well.
  7. Serves 8 – 10 people.

Variations

  1. Rather than using walnuts, you can use almonds, pecans or hazelnuts.
  2. Cut out the top lattice with cookie cutters, rather than rolling out a lattice.
  3. If you can’t find currant jam, grape jelly is a good substitute; however, you can use any combination of jelly/jam filling that appeals to you. Almost any berry combination will work, but I think that orange marmalade and apricot would be a good combination of sweet and tart.