Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘holiday baking’

I attended my first holiday cookie exchange last week and the stakes were high considering our group was made up of Charlotte-area food and healthy living bloggers. I knew that I was going to bring my tried and true Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti but I also wanted to bring something a little more Christmas-esque. After a bit of research, I decided that these Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies would be perfect.

These cookies feature melted high-quality chocolate topped with crushed peppermints and a drizzle of white chocolate over a shortbread base. Although these cookies require multiple steps, they were fairly simple. I struggled most with the shortbread cookie dough. It stuck to my fingers as I tried to press it into the pan. The key to avoiding this was keeping my fingers wet with water. I was concerned that the shortbread wouldn’t cook properly but it turned out just right.

The cookies were a big hit at the party and the presentation was beautiful for the holidays. This recipe will definitely be a repeat for many holiday seasons to come. I thinke these cookies would be perfect in holiday gift bags too!

One Year Ago: Chili Lime Tilapia
Two Years Ago: Open-Faced Steak Sandwiches with Horseradish Sauce

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped red-and-white striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with a long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both short sides of pan.
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

Bake cookie base until light golden brown, slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on wire rack and immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, spread chocolate over top of cookie in a thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.

Stir white chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from water and use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Grab the paper overhang and lift from pan. Transfer to work surface and using a large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

Yield: about 36 pieces

Read Full Post »

Let’s get the important facts out of the way. This coffee cake has three sticks of butter in the cake and another half stick in the topping. If you find this shocking you may want to leave now! ;)

That said, this is the perfect coffee cake for the holidays. I made this last Thanksgiving for breakfast (you just have to go all out on Thanksgiving!) and my family loved it. I am a big fan of fresh cranberries in baked goods and this cake had just the right amount layered throughout. The streusel topping was a nice finish and the toasted pecans added so much.

This Cranberry Coffee Cake would be a lovely treat anytime during the holiday season – take it to work, bring it to a friend or serve it for houseguests. I guarantee it will be a hit…just dont’ tell anyone about the three and a half sticks of butter.

One Year Ago: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home)

Ingredients:

FOR THE STREUSEL
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper so it hangs over edges to create handles and spray again with cooking spray.

FOR THE STREUSEL
Melt butter and stir in flour, pecans, dried cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Set streusel aside.

FOR THE CAKE
Pulse fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar and orange zest in food processor and set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs and egg yolk and set aside. Using hand mixer, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl. Add flour mixture and egg mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and then top with remaining batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries and top cake with streusel.

Bake 55 to 70 minutes or until streusel is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

Read Full Post »

First, my apologies for my recent lack of posts. I was busy running the Marine Corps Marathon! Check out my race recap on my healthy living blog. Now that marathon training is over, you can expect more regular posts. I am looking forward to spending lots of time in the kitchen this winter.

Now, on to tasty treats! I don’t bake biscotti often but when I do it’s because I’m sending a package with baked goods. Biscotti holds up extremely well when shipped so I usually include it in my Operation Baking Gals packages and when I send treats to my grandmother. Biscotti is one of her favorites.

Biscotti can seem a little intimidating or time consuming because there are multiple steps and you have to bake it twice but it really is a simple process. If you’ve resisted trying to make biscotti at home, give it a try!

I made this Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti a few months ago and was extremely impressed. It’s definitely my favorite biscotti recipe that I’ve ever made. I shipped some of these to my grandmother but saved quite a few for myself. I baked them in the middle of the summer but I think the flavor combination would be perfect for the holidays.

One Year Ago: Feta Potato Salad

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Bon Appetit, Dec. 1999)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional – I just used a nonstick baking sheet).

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest on medium-high speed until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and then stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a spatula.

Divide the dough in half.  Working with one portion of dough, shape into a 12″ x 3″ rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough so that the rectangles are parallel on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 30 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on – you will need to bake the biscotti again) and let cool for 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the rectangles to a work surface and remove the parchment paper from the pan. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut into half-inch slices on the diagonal. Place slices cut side up on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for another 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Biscotti keeps for about seven days and freezes well.

Yield: about 3 dozen

Read Full Post »

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 33

Greetings from Mema’s house! We arrived last night around 9 and were starving. Lucky for us, Mema had made cabbage rolls “deconstructed,” rice and green beans. So good and comforting – totally hit the spot. Finished dinner off with some ooey gooey bars (which I have had TOO many of while we’ve been here) and then fell into bed stuffed and exhausted.

This morning we enjoyed some of this Pear Cranberry Cake for breakfast along with a  fresh orange/grapefruit mixture. After breakfast, I headed upstairs to do a Dave Farmar power yoga podcast. I set up a space heater and felt right at home with my yoga practice! After yoga I was ready for lunch. I whipped up a potato/veggie/turkey kilebasa soup that Mema wanted to try while she made some pimento cheese. The soup was perfect for the rainy, cool day and Mema’s pimento cheese is always a hit! Of course I had to finish it off with another ooey gooey bar.

After lunch I decided it would be a good idea to demonstrate some yoga poses to Mema and practice tripod headstands. Yeah, maybe not the best idea after my big lunch. :oops:

After a lazy afternoon of getting Mema’s Christmas Nook set up and playing Scrabble, Brandon and I picked up a Mellow Mushroom pizza for dinner. Mellow Mushroom was our favorite pizza in college but they don’t have one in Charlotte. It was a yummy treat. They have the BEST dough!

Mema had a piece of the Pear Cranberry Cake for dessert. Overall I was pleased with it but I definitely thought it could have used more cranberries. The cranberry to pear ratio didn’t seem quite right. Also, the original recipe calls for a glaze but since we were traveling with the cake, I left it off. Good thing I did because Mema says she much prefers cakes without glazes. I thought the pears were a nice change of pace from your traditional apple cake.

We’re heading home tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a nice run in and attack some leftovers from the weekend before we leave!

Pear Cranberry Cake
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2009)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 Bosc pears (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen)

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 (3-inch-long) cinnamon sticks

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a bundt or angel food cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium high speed until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and mix in pears and cranberries. Once combined, slowly mix in flour mixture until all flour has been incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Cool in pan 30 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon sticks and a pinch of salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Cool glaze 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks, then pour glaze over cake, letting some drip down sides.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Read Full Post »

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 24

This biscotti was the second item in my Operation Baking Gals holiday package. I blogged about Operation Baking Gals and the Pecan Sables I made in my last post. I thought that biscotti would be the perfect thing to make since it’s pretty sturdy and has a longer shelf life than a drop cookie. I decided on the Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti after seeing it in The Gourmet Cookbook. I looked the recipe up online and saw that it was originally printed in 1994 and had received around 250 positive reviews. That sealed the deal on making this recipe.

Despite the double baking, biscotti is pretty simple to make. I love the thick dough and the process of the initial bake and then slicing and baking again. It’s fun to see the actual biscotti take shape!

I didn’t sample the biscotti but Brandon and my grandmother did (I sent her a package of extras). I know I’ve mentioned this before but super chocolaty desserts just aren’t my thing.  They both ate it for breakfast and said it was great – the chocolate flavor is definitely the star here. This would also be a nice snack or dessert anytime of the day!

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, originally printed in Gourmet December 1994)
Printable Recipe: Double Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I have subbed white chocolate chips for walnuts)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs on the prepared baking sheet. Each log should be about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake 35 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, leaving oven on.

On a cutting board, cut logs diagonally into 3/4-inch slices to form biscotti. Arrange cut sides down on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

Yield: About 30 biscotti

Read Full Post »

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 23

I made these cookies as part of my holiday package for Operation Baking Gals. This is an organization that I’ve been participating in since the last holiday season. Check out what I baked for the other rounds here and here. Rather than me try to explain the organization, I’ll just give you a blurb from their Web site.

“Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers from around the country who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic military men and women who are currently deployed in a war zone. Our goal is to show our support and send a little bit of home to remind them that we appreciate all that they do for our freedom.”

Basically, the way is works is that someone (usually a blogger) forms a team to host a soldier. Then they recruit people to join their team and bake. I’m so excited to report that there were 47 teams for this round of Operation Baking Gals. That’s seriously amazing! I joined Team Beantown Baker – hosted by fellow blogger, Jen. Check her awesome blog out here.

We baked for Rebecca. She and her husband Brian are stationed in Iraq. She still has about a year left in her 18 month deployment. Rebecca and Brian met in basic training and were married last Valentine’s Day. Our team baked for Rebecca and another team baked for Brian! I hope they’re enjoying all their treats :)

Rebecca and Brian

I decided to go with sturdier cookies for this round. I browsed through The Gourmet Cookbook and looked for recipes that said the cookies would keep for 5 days plus. Pecan Sables sounded nice and holiday-ish and I also picked Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that recipe!

The Pecan Sables were crisp and had a lovely balance between salty and sweet. The ground pecans in the cookie batter provided a nice nutty flavor. These are simple and delicious.

I tried a new packing method for this round. I wrapped the cookies in sets of two in cling wrap, then placed them in sandwich bags and then layered the sandwich bags in plastic containers. I have high hopes that they will arrive in tact and fresh tasting!

I was dreading the trip to the post office today to send off my package. I was shocked to discover that the post office was rocking – they had a system down and were fully staffed. It was a great experience. Once I got through the hustle of getting in and packing up the cookies in the APO flat rate box, I found myself waiting in line fighting back tears. It was such a juxtaposition that I was standing in the post office in the holiday hustle and bustle while Rebecca is serving our country and spending her holidays in Iraq.

I will be hosting an Operation Baking Gals team in 2010. One our friends is being called back into active duty to go to Afghanistan. I encourage you to participate with me. I will share the details when I have them. I will also be helping fellow blogger Tracy with a round in 2010. Her brother is currently serving in Afghanistan as well.

And now for the recipe…

Pecan Sables
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet November 2002)
Printable Recipe: Pecan Sables

Ingredients:

3/4 cup pecans (3 ounces), toasted and cooled, plus about 32 pecan halves (3 ounces)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, separated
Special equipment: a 2-inch round cookie cutter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

In a food processor, pulse toasted pecans with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar until finely ground. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together butter, remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar and vanilla on high speed until fluffy and lightened in color. This should take about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat well to incorporate. Slowly add flour and pecan mixture on low speed and mix until just combined, about 1 minutes. Dough should be crumbly but hold together when squeezed.

Halve dough and roll out half between 2 sheets of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick, about a 9-inch round. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Arrange 2 inches apart on baking sheets, reserving scraps. Roll out and cut remaining dough in same manner. Gather scraps, then re-roll and cut again.

Beat egg white until frothy and brush tops of cookies lightly. Place a pecan half on top of each round and brush pecan lightly with egg white.

Bake cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes, until tops are lightly golden. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: about 32 cookies

Read Full Post »

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 12

I came across this recipe while flipping through the Breakfast/Brunch section of The Gourmet Cookbook. I thought it would be perfect to have on hand during the holidays, as a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. Brandon and I decided that this bread is definitely less coffee cake and more pound cake. The flavor of the cake itself was extremely reminiscent of pound cake. The fresh cranberry ripple added a nice touch of fruit flavor. This would be perfect to have around the house for guests to snack on or as part of a holiday breakfast or brunch. I sliced and wrapped the bread in individual slices and put them in the freezer for a quick (and indulgent) snack on the go.

Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe: Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Optional: confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Place cranberries and 1/2 cup of sugar in food processor and pulse until cranberries are finely chopped and sugar is incorporated, careful not to puree. Place in a sieve and let drain while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, cream together butter and remaining 1 1/3 cup sugar for about 3 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in three parts, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in bottom of prepared loaf pan. Spoon 1/2 of the cranberries over the batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges (see picture below). Top with another 1/3 of batter and remaining cranberries and finally, top with last 1/3 of batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 426 other followers