Happy New Year!

Wishing all my dear friends and faithful followers a happy and healthy New Year!


Lemon Bread

This is one of those breads you just can't resist slicing into for your afternoon tea. Light, lemony perfection all wrapped up in one loaf. The glaze is a final touch and nothing more is needed. Another plus: I make this in small loaves, wrap them up and take them as gifts for holidays, hostesses or under-the-weather friends. It always brings raves. 

Lemon Bread

From An Italian In My Kitchen

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (zest from 1 lemon)
4½ teaspoons lemon juice (I used 1 medium lemon)
2¼ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup butter softened
3 eggs
¾ cup milk 


Preheat oven to 350° and butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with dry bread crumbs and knock out the excess.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and 1¼ cups sugar, add the softened butter and with a pastry blender blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the lemon peel.
In a small bowl beat the eggs lightly with a fork add milk and mix until combined, then pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until flour is moistened.
Add the batter to your loaf pan and bake for 1 - 1¼ hours (or until tooth pick comes out clean). Cool then move to a wire rack.

For the glaze:
In a small pan add 4½ teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar, over medium heat stirring constantly bring to a boil until thickened. With a pastry brush, brush syrup over the top of the bread. 


Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake

Well, this Christmas cake was a surprise! I really don't care for prunes and am not a great chocolate fan. With that in mind, no doubt you wonder why I even made it....but I read so many rave reviews and it looks so luscious in her Christmas Cookbook that I decided this year I'd try it.
Let me begin by saying you don't taste the prunes at all and the cocoa is only a smokey thought in the background. It's a moist, dark and utterly divine cake for the holidays. And easy? Absolutely. The batter is actually made all in one pan and takes no time at all to throw together. It bakes for about an hour and 45 minutes, but while it's baking, all you need to do is breathe in the lovely fragrance of the cake. Trust me on this one, it will be a hit. Try to find some pretty gold stars to scatter around on the top. I just had gold glitter and balls. Silver might be pretty too.

Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake
From her book Nigella's Christmas

2 cups roughly chopped prunes
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/3 cups currants
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 cup dark muscovado sugar (or use brown sugar)
3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup coffee liqueur
juice and zest of two oranges

1 teaspoon allspice (or pumpkin spice)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For garnishing: chocolate covered espresso beans, edible gold balls, stars and glitter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray an 8 inch springform pan and then line the bottom with parchment. Cut a parchment collar a couple inches higher than the pan and wrap that around the inside, rather like a souffle collar.
In a large pan, combine the first 10 ingredients and place on the stove. Stir while the butter is melting and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Add the eggs, flours, baking powder and soda. Pour into the springform pan and bake for one hour and 45 minutes. It should be a little shiny on top, barely done in the center. Cool on a rack...it will take a while. You can wrap it in parchment and store it in an air tight container at this point or decorate and serve it.


Italian Almond Sbrisolona

At Christmastime in most Italian homes you will find Sbrisolona on the table, which traditionally brings good luck to the family.

"Sbrisolona comes from the Mantova dialect and means ‘sbriciolare’ ‘to crumble’, because of the very crumbly consistency of the cake. This recipe originated around 1600 in the grand Gonzaga court of the Duchy of Mantova, and soon became popular throughout the more modest houses of the Po Valley. It is said that walnuts, which are more typical of our area, were originally used instead of almonds. But walnuts were meant to be the ‘fruits of the witches’, while almonds have luckier significance, meaning ‘light’ and ‘rebirth’. Hence the change of ingredient!"

It really looks like a giant cookie and is quite crisp...you certainly can't slice or cut it. Best to place it in the center of your table and give it a tap with a light hammer or heavy knife handle. (Someone suggested using your fist! Effective, but messy.)
Not too sweet, a little salty, brittle and very nutty. Served with coffee or a dessert wine, it's lovely. Get your kids or grandkids involved in the creation of this charming Italian tradition...it's so easy to make. And don't forget to give everyone a spoon so they can scoop up all the crumbs....the best part.
I used Gayle's recipe which she adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin.

From :pastry studio

3/4 cup natural almonds (4 ounces) (I used a scant cup)
1 large egg yolk
1 T finely grated orange zest (I used 1 large orange)

1/4 t pure almond extract

1/4 t pure vanilla extract

1 C + 2 T flour

6 T cornmeal
1/2 t salt
3 1/2 oz (7 T) cold butter cut into 1/2” pieces
1/3 C granulated sugar
3 T brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8” springform pan. 

Toast the almonds for about 10 minutes until golden. Coarsely chop into bite-sized pieces. 
Combine the egg yolk, orange zest and the extracts. 
Separately, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers (which is what I did) until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 
Stir in both sugars and the chopped toasted almonds. 
Pour the egg yolk mixture on top and work it in gently with your hands. The dough should be very crumbly and look like streusel.

Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and loosely press the crumbs mostly around the edges and just very lightly across the top; the surface should be uneven and dimpled. 

Bake for about 40 minutes or until it is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before unmolding. Place on a platter, break however you choose and enjoy!


Eggnog Cheesecake Tart

Here are the famous Elizabeth's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars from Martha Stewart Living magazine. (But I made them in tart form.) Been wanting to make these for ages as I am an eggnog fan. Unfortunately, I never make eggnog anymore and even when I made the effort, I was always the only one drinking it. Looks pretty, but no takers in my family.
Then I tried a friend's recipe for Harvard Milk Punch. Well. A close second to eggnog, much simpler to make and after the first time, I made it every year as there were three of us who imbibed. (If you're the hostess and serve milk punch, watch yourself or you'll never get dinner on the table! It may look innocuous, but oh no! Voice of experience speaking here.) I posted that delectable milk punch recipe HERE.

Back to eggnog. I'm hoping the family will like this tart/bar more than they do regular eggnog. I gave it a test run and decided to make it a dressier dessert by baking it in my 9 inch springform pan rather than a square pan. I think a wedge of this looks prettier plated for Christmas dinner than a bar. It will all depend on how you're going to serve it. If you use a springform pan, keep in mind it bakes in a bain marie...you'll need to seal the entire outside of the pan with foil. Please note the recipe below is the original, made in a square pan.

I thought this lovely Christmas dessert was delicious; keeping my fingers crossed for the family reviews.

Elizabeth's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
From Martha Stewart Living, December 2009

Vegetable oil cooking spray, for pan
12 graham crackers, finely ground (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup eggnog
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. I used a 9" springform pan, sprayed it and then lined the outside with foil. 
Stir together graham crackers, 3 tablespoons sugar, and the melted butter. Press into bottom of pan. Bake until crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt; beat until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Set pan in a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of baking pan. Bake until just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove baking pan from water bath, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. (And yes, it needs the overnight.)
Cut into 1 1/2-by-3-inch bars. Lightly dust tops of bars with freshly grated nutmeg just before serving.

Bars can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.


Rosemary and Cheese Dinner Rolls

Everyone loves dinner rolls with holiday meals...my mother always made them and when I was in charge of the big family dinners, I always made them too. Usually I made cloverleaf rolls because they freeze a dream and I made them ahead.

I ran across this recipe a few months ago and while they appear to have been made for an Easter dinner, I thought they'd be perfect with either a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Who wouldn't love a roll with some cheese built right in and topped with rosemary, Kosher salt and fresh black pepper? These are totally amazing; you can easily taste (and see) the manchego cheese throughout and I clipped some fresh rosemary right out of the pots on my front porch for the topping. When done, I stuck them in the freezer, but later thawed and warmed one to double check that they held up perfectly. They did.

Notes: I used the quick rising yeast, so began making them in the morning and baked them at lunchtime. The directions below are from the original recipe, using active dry yeast and the dough is refrigerated overnight, then shaped the next day. It all depends on which yeast you prefer to use.

Rosemary and Cheese Dinner Rolls

By Gerry Speirs at Foodness Gracious

2 envelopes of Red Star Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoons sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 pound all purpose flour (4 cups)
½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups grated manchego (or cheddar)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Cornmeal for the baking tray (I used parchment paper)


Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water (meaning 125 degrees) until it has dissolved.
In a large bowl add 3 cups of the flour and salt; make a well in the center.
Add the yeast mixture to the center and mix with a wooden spoon until it makes a soft dough. (I found I didn't need the full 4 cups of flour, so if your dough is too wet, add until the mixture comes together and forms a soft ball. Flours are different as are locations...I live in South Florida so it may be somewhat different for those who live in cooler climes.)

Knead on a floured board for 4 or 5 minutes and then shape into a round ball. (I used the dough hook on my mixer.) Grease a bowl with olive oil, dump in the dough, slide it around and then turn it upside down so both sides are slightly greased.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight. (I didn't do this step because I used the quick rising yeast. I just covered the bowl with a tea towel and let it rise for an hour or so...then continued on to the next step.)

Take the bowl from the fridge the next day and place on floured board. Roll it flat until it's about an inch thick. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and begin to knead and fold again. Once the cheese is incorporated, cut it in half and roll out to a rectangle. Cut the dough in strips (you should get about 8 with each half) and roll each strip into a rope shape about 6 inches long. Tie a knot and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with both halves of dough.

With a pastry brush, glaze each roll and then sprinkle with a mixture of chopped fresh rosemary, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about another 45 minutes or so.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden. Mine took a tad less than 20 minutes. All ovens are different.
Makes about 16.


Lori's Slice and Bake Chocolate Swirls

As I mentioned in a previous post, my daughter is my official chocolate recipe taster. When she was home last August, I made two Christmas cookie recipes for her to try. I wanted to post both in time for the holidays: the Maxines and Lori's.
They're somewhat similar in ingredients, but they ended up looking entirely different and the flavor wasn't the same either. Trying to get Tracy to decide which she liked better wasn't easy. These particular swirls are softer to eat and I think perhaps were her favorite, although it was a close call on my part to guess and she still won't choose. She loved them both, but for different reasons.
I had frozen both batches, she finished Lori's first (that should tell you something) and then began on Maida Heatter's famous Maxines. She took what was left of those home with her. The almonds in the latter recipe were what changed the look and flavor.
Hope you get a chance to try both....
Lori from The Recipe Girl says her family has been making this cookie for over 40 years and personally I think this recipe will be more popular with your kids (not quite as sophisticated as the Maxines), but both will be  killer cookies for your holiday cookie tray. No way can I decide...I leave it up to you!

Lori's Bake and Slice Chocolate Swirls
From The Recipe Girl

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon shortening (like Crisco)
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups all-purpose flour, measured then sifted
3/4 cup walnuts or almonds, chopped (optional, I didn't use)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a microwave, melt chocolate in 15 minute increments until most of the chips are melted, then stir until it's all melted together. Add the condensed milk and shortening. Stir and set aside to cool.In your electric mixer bowl, cream together butter, salt, vanilla and sugar. Blend in flour and mix well. Add a few drops of milk to help the batter hold together. The dough will come together but will not be sticky.
Divide dough into thirds. Roll out each on floured surface to a 10x6-inch rectangle. Spread each with chocolate filling; sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Roll up, starting with the 10-inch side. (See Lori's notes below. I rolled out on wax paper for less mess and ease of making the rolls.) This next part is tricky: transfer the roll to an ungreased cookie sheet. (I used parchment paper.) You can see I didn't divide my dough evenly! Bake 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown. 

Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool and wrap in saran wrap.

To serve, cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick. These can be frozen in the whole rolls, then defrosted and sliced later. I sliced and then froze, worked fine.

Lori's Tips:
When finished mixing the dough, if it appears too dry- try placing it inside a large zip baggie and kneading it together to get it nice and held together and ready to roll out.
For a floured surface, try using a flour sack dish towel. This will make it easier to roll as you can lift up the towel and easily help guide the rolling.

For the Christmas holidays, Lori always mixes some red/green sprinkles with the powdered sugar.


Alice Medrich's Seed Cookies

These anise-flavored gems will be an unusual addition to your cookie tray this season. I've made and posted another cookie along this line, but think these are even better. Love them with a cup of tea. 

Alice Medrich's Seed Cookies
From Chewy, Gooey, Crispy Crunchy Cookies by Alice Medrich

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons flaxseeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/4 cup Demerara sugar (or any coarse raw sugar)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons bourbon

Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
Mix the seeds and Demerara sugar together and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, but not fluffy. Add the egg and bourbon and then the flour mixture. I did this by hand. Do not over mix.

You can make round cookies or square. 
For round, take a big spoonful of dough and roll it into a ball. Roll it in the seed mixture, place on the parchment and flatten slightly.
To make square cookies:
On a floured board, roll out the dough to an 8 inch square. Sprinkle half the seed mixture on top and press into the dough with a rolling pin. Turn the dough over and repeat on the other side. Cut the dough into whatever size you like. I cut into 8 strips each way, making 64 square cookies. 

For both cookies: place on parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until edges are brown. Reverse the pans in the oven and also reverse racks for even cooking. Cool. These will store airtight for 2 weeks.


Susan's Brussels Sprouts Souffle

Are you like me...always on the lookout for new side dishes for the holidays? My family has their favorites and I'm always happy to make those dishes for them, but I really do like to introduce one new veggie dish each year. Their favorite sprout recipe to date is one I first made many years ago and posted it in 2008 HERE. My family still requests it. But when I saw Susan's recipe for the sprout souffle, I just knew I'd have to make it for the holidays this year. I gave it a test run and my guests loved it. I have no doubt this will soon replace my family's old favorite.

Susan's Brussels Sprouts Souffle
From Savoring Time in the Kitchen

¼ cup butter 
¼ cup all-purpose flour 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 cup milk 
4 egg yolks 
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese 
1 10-oz package frozen Brussels sprouts, cooked, drained, and finely chopped (about 2 cups) May use fresh, cooked Brussels Sprouts, of course - do not overcook (I used fresh)
4 egg whites 

Preheat oven to 350F
In a very large  sauce pan melt butter until bubbly and then blend in the flour and salt until well combined. Add the milk all at once and cook quickly till mixture thickens, stirring constantly. 

Beat egg yolks till thick and lemon-colored. Blend some of the hot butter mixture into egg yolks to temper them; return the yolk mixture to the pot and stir rapidly to that the eggs do not curdle. Stir in cheese and finely chopped sprouts. Set pan aside. 

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and carefully fold into hot mixture. Make certain they are mixed, but do not over-fold.

Turn the mixture into an ungreased 2-quart soufflé dish. 

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-60 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Susan's notes: May be made the day before and refrigerated after cooling. Allow to come to room temperature and reheat in a 350 oven, covered with aluminum foil until heated through - about 20 minutes.


Maida Heatter's Maxines

Some people think this is the best Christmas cookie ever. That's really saying something, even considering it's a Maida Heatter recipe...she's the queen cookie baker in my book, or books, as I have all of hers.  I think the best thing about her cookbooks are her instructions. Very detailed, which might put people off, but it's worth reading every word. The veriest novice cook can't mess up a Maida Heatter recipe.
I tried this recipe for the first time when my daughter was home last summer. She loves chocolate and I knew would give me a constructive opinion, chocolate-wise. (She gave it a win.) It's a refrigerator cookie, which you all know I love, and has a dark chocolate center studded with almonds, surrounded by a lovely brown sugary cookie batter. And guess what's mixed in with the chocolate? Condensed milk. Honestly, how can this cookie miss?

Cooks note: I froze my first batch after baking them and my daughter ate them out of the freezer with just a little thawing. I promise, they will disappear from your cookie tray.

Maida Heatter's Maxines
From Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies

Chocolate Log Mixture
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)
1 tablespoon crisco
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely cut (each in 4 or 5 pieces)

Brown Sugar Dough
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg yolk

For the log:
Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a medium-sized double boiler over hot water on medium heat, cover, and cook until partially melted. (I did this in the microwave at first for 30 seconds and then in 15 second increments...don't wait until they are all melted...take out of microwave and stir.)  Remove from heat.  If using milk chocolate (I used semi sweet morsels), the mixture will be very stiff.  Don't worry, but work quickly no matter which chocolate you use.  Stir in the condensed milk and the vanilla, then the almonds. The mixture will become somewhat stiff.

Tear off a piece of wax paper about 15 inches long.  Place the dough by large spoonfuls the long way down the middle of the paper, forming a heavy strip about 10 inches long.  Fold the sides of the paper up against the chocolate mixture.  With your hands, press against the paper and shape the mixture into an even round or square roll 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Squeeze while you wrap to get all the air out. Wrap in the wax paper.  Slide a cookie sheet under the paper and transfer to the freezer or refrigerator until firm.

For the cookie:  
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  In the small bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter.  Add the vanilla and sugar and beat well.  Beat in the egg yolk, and then, gradually, begin adding the sifted dry ingredients.  Add until the batter begins to be crumbly.  Beat only until thoroughly mixed, but not dry. It will look crumbly, remove dough form the mixer and press it together with our hands and it will form into a ball.

Place dough on a piece of wax paper a little more than 12 inches long.  With your hands, shape it into a flattened oblong.  Cover with another long piece of wax paper.  Roll a rolling pin over the top piece of paper to form the dough into an oblong 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.  While rolling, occasionally remove and then replace top wax paper; then invert and do the same with bottom wax paper, in order to keep both pieces of paper smooth and unwrinkled.

Remove the top piece of wax paper.  Unwrap the chocolate roll and center it on the brown sugar dough.  Using the wax paper, lift one long side of the brown sugar dough and press it firmly against the chocolate.  Then lift the other side so that the sides of dough overlap slightly.  If the dough does not fit perfectly, the excess may be cut off and pressed into place where needed.

Enclose the roll in the wax paper, then run your hands firmly over the roll to remove any air trapped between the dough and chocolate mixture.

Rechill the dough only until it is firm enough to slice.  If the dough is frozen firm, it will crack when sliced.
Preheat the oven to 375°.

Unwrap the roll of dough and place it on a cutting board.  With a sharp knife, cut slices 1/2 inch thick — no thinner!  Place the slices flat, 1 inch apart, on parchment paper. Bake about 12 minutes, until cookies are lightly colored.  Reverse sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking to insure even browning.

Let the cookies stand on sheets for a minute or so until firm enough to transfer, then with a wide metal spatula transfer to racks to cool.


Café Johnsonia's Herbed Gruyere Thumbprints

As far as I'm concerned, these are the find of the season. Totally awesome and your guests will gobble them down in no time at all. Doubt you could ever make too many! But the best part? You make them anytime up to six weeks in advance, freeze them, and pop them in the oven at the last minute so your guests will have hot, crunchy, cheesy little bites of heaven. 

Café Johnsonia's Herbed Gruyere Thumbprints
From Cafe Johnsonia

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
½ tsp. coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs—thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley
36 ½” cubes Gruyere (8 oz.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Get everything ready to go. Prepare your cookie sheets (you'll need two) and a silpat works best. Chop your herbs and grate your cheese.

Bring butter and salt and 1 cup water to a boil in large saucepan. Add flour. Stir vigorously until incorporated. Cook about 2  minutes or until mixture pulls away from sides and a thin film forms on bottom of pan. Remove from heat, let cool 2 minutes.
Place dough in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon to incorporate each egg before adding the next, about 2 minutes. This takes some elbow grease, but it eventually comes together. Stir in pepper, herbs, and finely shredded cheese.

This is what I did: I sifted a very light coating of flour on the silpat. Then took one of my round cookie cutters (I used the 2 inch one...your choice) and marked rounds on the baking mat. So I then had a nice pattern to follow when piping. I piped 1 ½” wide rosettes 1” apart. After all the dough has been piped onto the baking mat, make a deep indentation in center with dampened thumb. (Use a small bowl of cold water to wet your thumb) Bake until crisp and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Cut your gruyere into small cubes.
Press a cheese cube into each indentation.
Place on a clean baking sheet. Freeze uncovered until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container. Freeze up to 6 weeks.

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place thumbprints on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted—10 to 14 minutes.

Here's a nice kicker: if you're not 100% on board with making pâte à choux or using a pastry bag, go HERE for step by step photos and instructions.


Cranberry Pie

It's a toss up whether you'll consider this a cake or a pie, but it's called pie in Sara Chase's cookbook, no doubt because it's made in a pie pan. You don't even need a mixer to make it, it's all done by hand and in short order, too. My daughter thought it was scone-like in texture. I think you'll find it somewhat like an upside down cake, but while there seems to be plenty of sugar in it, the cranberries are the balance and it isn't too sweet. It actually does need the ice cream addition.

Sara Leah Chase's Cranberry Pie

From her cookbook, Cold Weather Cooking

12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 10 inch pie plate.
Place cranberries in the pie plate along with the brown sugar, zest, cinnamon and walnuts. Toss so it is evenly mixed.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, beat in the butter, sugar, vanilla and sour cream until blended. Gradually stir in the flour and mix until smooth. Pour evenly over the cranberries.
Bake until the fruit is bubbly and it is browned on top, about 55 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of ice cream.


Black Velvet Whoopie Pies

These Halloween colored whoopie pies are a combination of recipes. The basic recipe and idea was from Amanda at I Am Baker. The additions I made to Amanda's recipe came from Hedy Goldsmith, a multiple James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category. She has a fabulous and fun cookbook called Baking Out Loud. In this cookbook, Hedy makes Mochaccino Whoopie Pies, so I snitched an idea from her recipe and added espresso powder and cinnamon to Amanda's fun recipe for Halloween. 
Now I'm going to have to go back and make Hedy's recipe!

Halloween Black Velvet Whoopie Pies
From I Am Baker and Baking Out Loud

1 package (15 1/4 to 18 1/4 ounces) German chocolate cake mix with pudding 
1/2 cup water 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
3 tablespoons black food color 
3 eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Filling: 
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened 
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow cream 
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon red food color 
1/2 teaspoon yellow food color

For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cake mix, water, cocoa powder, oil, food color, eggs, vanilla. espresso powder and cinnamon in your electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. 
Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter, 2 inches apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. (Cookies will spread so don't crowd.) 
Bake 8 minutes or until cookies are puffed and spring back when touched, turning baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. 

For the orange filling:
Beat all ingredients with your electric mixer until light and fluffy.
To assemble:

Place 1 tablespoon filling on flat side of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.


Pumpkin Shortbread

Here's a shortbread for autumn you're going to love with your cup of tea or coffee; these are great little dunkers. (Milk would work too.) Not too sweet, but with lovely pumpkin flavor and and nicely crisp. Your family might like them sweeter, so before you cut, glaze the whole thing with confectioners sugar mixed with milk (or eggnog!), or serve them with ice cream. I like them simple and elegant with just a sprinkling of confectioners sugar.
Spicy fragrance from your oven and an uncomplicated recipe for a perfect fall treat: a pumpkin spiced shortbread cookie. Win-win.

Pumpkin Shortbread
From Libby's

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (use 1/2 cup for a softer shortbread)
2 teaspoons sparkling or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300° F. Spray bottom of 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. (I used a square tart pan)

Combine flour, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter and powdered sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Spread dough into prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake for 80 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool for about 10 minutes; remove side from pan. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Use a serrated knife to cut into wedges. (Or squares)


Gingerbread Bars

This time of year, we all love anything with spices. And the fragrance that permeates the house when something with spices is baking. These bars are lovely and dense, with a nice mixture of the spices we all know and love, but with the added surprise of some fresh ginger and fresh orange zest for an even more delectable bar. You're going to love these. And the cream cheese frosting adds the perfect final touch. Gayle's recipes never miss.

Gingerbread Bars
From :pastry studio

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves           
1/8 teaspoon black pepper                                   
4 oz butter (8 tablespoons) at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup  granulated sugar                                             
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
zest of 1/2 orange

For the frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9” x 9” square baking pan.  Line the bottom with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  In another bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until blended.  Mix in the molasses, grated ginger and orange zest. Add the flour gradually beating just until blended. You'll find the batter is quite thick, so use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 - 24 minutes,
Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Lift the pastry out of the pan, peel the parchment and cool.

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the vanilla and blend. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Frost the cooled bars. 

Store these bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  Bring to room temperature to serve. 


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