A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

So I may have gotten carried away with the pictures.
But these cookies are so good. Buttery shortbread cookie dough, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, rolled up, and then sliced into cookies. Delicious, easy and super photogenic. 
The original recipe calls for a cream cheese glaze but I skipped that step. I don't think they need it - and I like to keep it simple. Plus, if I covered them in glaze, it would hide their pretty cinnamon sugar swirl. But if you like the sounds of a cream cheese glaze, knock your socks off. Only, I wouldn't put the glaze on until just before you serve them. I think it might make them soggy if stored with the glaze already on. But that's just my opinion. 
P.S. - I think they'd also be dynamite with a nutella filling. I'd try it myself but my little cookie eater has a nut allergy. Let me know if you go that route though - I'll live vicariously through you.

Recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cookies
(Source: adapted from Recipe Girl)
Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 cup granulated white sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream the butter and sugar with the salt and vanilla. Slowly add the flour and mix until completely combined. Roll the dough into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Whisk the egg white with the water until bubbly. Brush generously onto the rectangle of dough (you won't use it all). In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture onto the dough. Roll the dough from the long end into a tight log. Wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate until hard. (At least an hour). Once hard, remove the log from the fridge and cut into cookies. 
Place cut cookies onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 8 to 12 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to wire rack.
Yields: 24 cookies

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Bread

For a girl who isn't crazy about pumpkin, I've sure been baking with it a lot lately. I found this recipe over at Fake Ginger, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn't the pumpkin part of this loaf that got me interested, it was the cinnamon chips. The cinnamon chips are not easy to find - so I apologize in advance if you live around me. I bought mine while on summer holidays in San Diego - I'd seen them used in a handful of recipes and could never find them at home. So when I stumbled upon them while grocery shopping on our holidays, I grabbed a couple bags and brought them home with me. Then I promptly forgot what the heck I'd bought them for in the first place. 
So when I found this recipe, I was pretty excited to finally try them out. The cinnamon chips don't hold their shape quite as well as chocolate chips do when you bake with them. They kinda melt into the batter a bit, aside from the lone chip that remains intact in the photo below, but I liked that about them. They're delicious and they definitely make this loaf a lot more interesting. I suppose you could substitute chocolate chips  - or just bake without any chips at all (but then you might want to increase the cinnamon or add some other spices). What I do know for sure is that I'll be very sad when I've used up the last of these chips.
Recipe for Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Bread
(Source: adapted from Fake Ginger)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, mix until incorporated. Stir in the cinnamon chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I love Cookies by George. Love. So when I saw the post for these cookies and they were compared to Cookies by George, I knew they were worth a try.
I always press my cookies down slightly before baking, to ensure they flatten out and aren't those big mounds more akin to a meatball than a cookie. However, for this recipe, I decided not to. I wanted to test them out, see if I could get that nice thick cookie like the ones at the mall - and I'm so glad I didn't. These came out perfect! They baked into a perfect cookie, thick, but not too thick, soft in the center, chewy around the edges. Cookie perfection. I think for this recipe, it's definitely important to use room temperature butter. Sometimes you can get away with using butter that's slightly softened, but not quite room temperature. Don't try that here. Unless you like meatball-esque cookies. Plan ahead, take your butter out the night before. That's what I did - and it was definitely worth the wait.
Also, I would highly recommend using chocolate chunks here instead of chocolate chips. Something about the combination of larger chunks of chocolate mixed in with the smaller chocolate flecks makes these absolutely delicious.
Recipe for Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(Recipe Source: Dinner with Julie)

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Dump the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt into the butter mixture and mix on lowest speed until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until incorporated. Drop dough by the spoonful onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 24 - 30 cookies

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Loaf

Having posted two pumpkin recipes this week, now is as good a time as any to tell you that I don't really like pumpkin. I always found that food blog surfing this time of year was a bit annoying because all I'd see was baked goods with pumpkin. No thank you.
However, I made an effort this year to overcome this aversion to pumpkin, and while I'm definitely making significant progress, I'm in no way prepared to indulge in a piece of pumpkin pie. I prefer pumpkin dishes that mask the pumpkin flavor, or just use enough to keep it's presence subtle.
What has any of this got to do with Sweet Potato Loaf? Well, I got excited when I found this recipe and couldn't wait to try it only to find out it tastes just like pumpkin loaf. In fact, I forgot that it wasn't pumpkin. But its redeeming qualities are that it doubles well, freezes well and bakes up perfectly into a very moist loaf. My kids really loved it too, and since 90% of my baking is for them, that makes this recipe a hit. I totally recommend doubling it - which is how I've written the recipe. I mean if you're going to the trouble of cooking and mashing the sweet potato, you may as well get two loaves, right?
Worried about what you're going to do with all this Sweet Potato Loaf? I always slice the whole thing, wrap each slice individually in saran wrap and then put the slices in a large ziploc bag in the freezer. Then you can pull out a slice as you need it, never worrying about it going stale. (A frozen slice can be defrosted in 12 seconds in the microwave.) And you feel like a super-mom when your kids always have homemade baked goods for school. 
Recipe for Sweet Potato Loaf
(adapted from Taste of Home | Fall Baking | 2011)
2 cups of mashed sweet potato (about 3 medium sized 'orange-flesh' sweet potatoes, also known as yams)
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9x5 inch loaf pans generously with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed sweet potato, oil and water, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the sweet potato mixture and stir until just moistened. 
Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing loaves from their pans onto wire rack, allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

When I first saw these on Abby's blog, I immediately knew that I would have to try them. My kids love dinner rolls, and the idea of hiding a little nutrition in what would otherwise be just a plain white roll was too good to pass up. Since making them, I've seen a few of the other bloggers post about them - all with the same great result. These went over really well with everyone, including the non-pumpkin lovers. 
The pumpkin is barely noticeable in these rolls, aside from the orange hue they tint the rolls with.  The dough is super easy to work with and the finished bun is soft, moist and tender. They're perfect. 
I finished mine with a sprinkling of coarse salt after the egg wash, which I would definitely recommend. The original recipe calls for traditional yeast, but I used instant and I didn't modify the amount, mainly because it didn't occur to me that I should. This didn't affect them at all, so you could use either type of yeast here. They also freeze well, and despite their irregular shapes from tying the dough into knots, they make for a good sandwich. Give these buns a try - they're delicious!
Recipe for Pumpkin Knot Yeast Rolls
(adapted from Food.com)
1/2 ounce instant or traditional yeast (2 x .25 oz packages)
1 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F.)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filing)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
51/2 to 6 cups flour, divided
Egg wash
1 Tbsp. cold water
1 egg
In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. With the paddle attachment and on low speed, add the butter sugar, pumpkin, 2 eggs, salt and 3 cups of the flour and mix until incorporated. Slowly begin adding the remaining flour about 1/2 cup at a time, switching to your dough hook when the dough becomes to come together. Kneed the dough in the mixer until it becomes a smooth and elastic, this should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the dough into a large greased bowl turning once to grease the top of the dough. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, cut in half, and place one half on a lightly floured surface. Cut the first half into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 10" rope, tie into a knot and tuck the ends underneath. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches space between each knot. Repeat with second half of dough. Cover and allow to rise again for about 30 minutes.
For the egg wash, whisk together the egg and Tbsp. of water. Once the knots have finished rising, brush them generously with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F.  for 15 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Place on wire racks to cool slightly. Serve.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Modern Bakers: Apple Tarte Tatin

I'm not sure why I picked this particular recipe for the Modern Baker challenge when making caramel has proven to be nothing but trouble and epic failures in the past. This recipe was no exception.
Three attempts were made. Three. The first two were abysmal failures. Burnt sugar is not fun to clean up. Those were on the same day - and then I threw in the towel and vowed to try it again on another day when I was not completely overwhelmed with feelings of frustration.
My third attempt was relatively more successful, although in my anticipation of burning the sugar, I pulled it off the heat a few seconds too early, never achieving the deep golden hue that I was going for. I knew that the sugar would continue to cook after being pulled from the heat, and then again in the oven, but even still, it never reached the desired level of 'done-ness'. I went ahead with the recipe regardless. By this point, it was more important to me to complete the task than to 'ace' it.
I made the full recipe for the homemade puff pastry, giving me 4 portions of the dough to experiment with. I have to say that, although I was not exactly enamored with this dessert, I was definitely pleased with the puff pastry. I had always heard that it was difficult to make and the the extra effort was not worth the difference in taste when compared to store-bought. This was not my experience. The puff pastry was very easy to throw together using the food processor, and the resulting pastry had a much more definitive buttery taste than the store-bought variety.
So, was this a success? To be perfectly honest, I haven't a clue. I've never tried it before so I had nothing to compare it to. I did feel like it was missing something -  I couldn't help but miss the cinnamon flavor that often accompanies apple desserts. Having said that though, it was pretty good. I wasn't exactly thrilled with the appearance of the final dessert. I wondered whether my pastry hadn't 'puffed' as much as it should have - but it certainly did so when I'd used other portions of the same batch for appetizers.
At the end of the day, I probably won't attempt this one again. I've had much better success with the other recipes in the book and when it comes to apples, I'd take a pie or crumble over this tart any day. The puff pasty, on the other hand, was definitely worth the effort. I don't imagine buying frozen puff pastry again, unless I'm pressed for time.
You can check out the other Modern Baker's creations in this chapter here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Risotto

My fellow Modern Baker, Phyl, who happens to be the founder/organizer of the Modern Baker group, decided to do a Pumpkin Round-up over at his blog Of Cabbages and King Cakes. I volunteered to make a Pumpkin Risotto, and as has become the case with me on many occasions lately, I left it until the eleventh hour to whip it up. We had an unusually chaotic couple of weeks, making it impossible to experiment in the kitchen until tonight.
I've never actually had Pumpkin Risotto but I've heard about it on several occasions and figured it would be relatively easy to incorporate some pumpkin puree into my basic go-to risotto recipe. I also decided to add some fresh nutmeg and finish it with a dash of truffle oil, but if you don't have truffle oil, it's definitely not necessary. (Although it really added a great element of flavour!)
When I did my 'research', via google, for recipes, I couldn't find one that used canned pumpkin. I did have some leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge though, and was eager to use it up. I was a little skeptical about taking this shortcut, but, given my time constraints, there was simply no way I could roast fresh pumpkin and make a puree so it was going to have to do.
I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing this risotto turned out. The pumpkin, while noticeable, was pleasantly subtle but it added a gorgeous hue of orange. I loved how the nutmeg complemented this dish. Even my husband, who is not a fan of risotto, really liked this. This is a wonderful fall side dish, when you want to try something new.
So, without further ado, here's the recipe.
Pumpkin Risotto
(Source: A Tease-spoon of Sugar creation)
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup of white wine
4 cups of warmed chicken stock
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly grated pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1 tsp. truffle oil (optional)
2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts for garnish (optional)
Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in large skillet. Add onion and sautee until soft. Add arborio rice and allow to absorb some of the butter (about 1 to 2 minutes). Add wine and cook until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the warmed chicken stock. (I simply pour all the stock into a large pyrex measuring cup and heat it in the microwave, and add it by using a soup ladle.) Allow to cook slowly, and continue to add more stock 1/2 cup at a time, as it is absorbed by the rice. Once you have about 1 cup of stock remaining, add the pumpkin, salt and parmesan cheese. Mix until incorporated on the heat. Add the remaining stock, and seasonings, along with the truffle oil (if using). Cook until the rice has the right consistency (should spread on your plate like thick lava); and until the rice is tender to your liking. 
Ladle onto your plates and finish with the pine nuts and a final sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
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