January 2, 2019

These simple breadsticks come together in a matter of minutes, thanks to puff pastry. They are best the first day, as leftovers become much crumblier. We made these, from Food Network Magazine, for a neighborhood gathering and would definitely repeat them.

Everything Cheese Straws
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg
1 tsp. water
2 Tbsp. everything bagel seasoning (find recipe here)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll each sheet of puff pastry to an 11-inch square on a lightly floured surface. Beat egg with water, and brush onto each puff pastry. Sprinkle each sheet with half the bagel seasoning and cheese. Press gently to adhere, and then cut each sheet into 1/2-inch wide strips. Twist the ends of each strip in opposite directions to curl it.

Place strips on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes approximately 30 breadsticks.

December 12, 2018

Sweet and Salty Cake

This recipe from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen is also something that's been bookmarked for several years that I finally made for a work gathering. Unfortunately, I wasn't there for the cutting of the cake, so I have no idea how this actually tastes or the feedback from anyone who ate it. Perhaps when I pick up the containers tomorrow, I'll get a hint. The cakes seemed moist, and all the components seemed like they'd be a winner.

Sweet and Salty Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup boiling water
2 cups salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup finely ground pretzels
Peanut Butter Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
Peanut butter cups
Reeses Pieces
Pretzel rods

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch pans.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until fully combined. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then slowly stir in the the boiling water. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cakes are set.

Remove cakes from oven, and let cool 10 minutes before turning out. Remove from pans, and cool completely.

For the frosting, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and cocoa until combined. Add cream and vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Remove 2/3 of the frosting, and set aside. Add pretzel crumbs to the remaining 1/3. Beat until combined.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer down. Spread pretzel frosting on top of that layer, and top with the second cake layer. Frost with the remaining chocolate frosting that did not have pretzel added. Chill at least one hour.

While cake is chilling, make the peanut butter sauce. Combine all ingredients over medium-low heat, and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Pour over chilled cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Garnish as desired with pretzels and candy. Serves about 20.

Lofthouse-Style Cookies

Know those brightly frosted plump sugar cookies they sell in every grocery store? The ones that are decorated for every season and taste like nothing but delicious frosting really? I found a copycat recipe on Sprinkle Bakes that has been bookmarked for probably a couple years. I finally made them this week to take in for a meeting at work where I volunteered to bring dessert.

They turned out quite festive and are close in texture and overall flavor. I liked the recommended technique of piping on the buttercream and then smoothing it with a knife to keep it piled high and most reminiscent of the Lofthouse cookies. If you like Lofthouse cookies, chances are you'll enjoy these.

Lofthouse-Style Cookies
1 cup sugar
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Red gel food color
Green gel food color
12 Tbs. butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbsp. milk or heavy cream

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix well. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Divide the dough in half. Color half with green and half with red. (Mixing with the mixer is the easiest way to do this because the dough is so sticky.) Place each color dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Remove one color dough from the refrigerator. Lightly dust your hands with flour, and divide dough into 12 pieces using a knife. Shape each into a ball, and place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Gently flatten the dough with your palms. Continue using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking without coating the dough.

Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until they are puffed and fragrant. Cookies should be soft but set. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter well. Add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Beat in the vanilla, and add milk or cream as needed to get a smooth, fluffy frosting.

Pipe the frosting equally onto the cookies, and smooth with a knife or spread frosting onto cookies with a knife. Sprinkle with sprinkles, and gently press into the frosting if needed. Makes 24 cookies.

November 20, 2018

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I don't often bake bundt cakes, but I did get a nice pan finally in the past couple years, which was perfect for making this cake from I am Baker. I had forgotten about this blog and was pleasantly surprised to find it again. This chocolate bundt cake captured my attention, particularly with the Russian piping tips.

So, not that I really needed them, but I tossed a pack of Russian piping tips into my Amazon cart and baked the cake. Here's the recipe, as I tweaked it.

Chocolate Bundt Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup hot water
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. chocolate extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired. pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chai Cupcakes

This recipe from Sprinkle Bakes caught my eye and was reproduced rather quickly in my kitchen, using a bake sale at my son's school as an excuse. These are full of chai flavor, which if you're not familiar, is a really nice combination of what you'd think of with fall spices. Both the cupcakes and the buttercream carry the flavors for a simple, flavorful cupcake.

Here is the recipe with my slight adaptation of subbing milk for buttermilk. Note: I doubled the recipe for cupcakes and had enough frosting without doubling the frosting recipe.

Chai Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cadamom
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup milk
Vanilla Chai Buttercream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vailla
Milk or cream
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cloves
Pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 to 14 liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Whisk together until the spices are well dispersed.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter on medium speed. Add the egg, and mix until incorporated. Mix in vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating, to the creamed mixture, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide mixture evenly among cupcake liners. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the frosting, beat together butter and powdered sugar until combined. Add the extract and milk until the desired texture is achieved. Add the spices, and mix on high until fluffy. Frost, ideally with a piping bag. Makes 12 to 14 cupcakes.