Saturday, December 31, 2011

New York Black and White Cookies

This is my last blog post of 2011! It's amazing how quickly time goes by. I remember starting this blog in 2009, not knowing that it would bring me such joy and friendships. One of the best parts about blogging is the sense of community: Women (and some men) connecting over a love of food and creating in the kitchen. 2011 held some important life events. I bought a condo, turned over a new leaf in my outlook on food/nutrition and best of all, I fell in love.

I'm happy that these cookies are my last post of the year as they symbolize one of my best memories of 2011: My trip to New York. When I think back on that vacation in September, I remember feeling happy, carefree and loved. These cookies are New York Deli classics and have been featured on episodes of Sex and the City and Seinfeld. They are larger than most cookies but they are light rather than dense. They are sometimes called "Halfmoons" or "Amerikaner Cookies" and were said to once have been made out of leftover cake batter.

Makes 12 | Gourmet, February 2002

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

For icings
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1. Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

2. Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

3. Make icings while cookies chill: Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

4. Ice cookies: Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half.

Friday, December 30, 2011

S'mores Brownies

These brownies are the perfect embodiment of s'mores. A graham cracker crumb base is covered with a layer of brownie batter followed by another layer of graham crumbs then baked. Mini marshmallows get sprinkled on top and broiled then the whole thing gets sprinkled with a covering of chocolate chips. They look fantastic and taste even better. They are chewy, crispy and gooey all at the same time.

My words of advice are to be really watchful during the marshmallow broiling stage. They go from toasty brown to charred black in seconds!

S'mores Brownies
8" Pan | adapted from Marcy Goldman

Bottom Layer:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp butter, melted
Brownie Layer:
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt

Top Layer:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 - 2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8" square pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang with which to lift the brownies.

2. For the bottom layer, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the brownie layer.

3. Brownie layer: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, flour and salt. Spread the mixture over the bottom layer in the pan.

4. For the top layer, toss the cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the brownie batter. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until just set. Remove the pan from the oven and preheat the broiler.

5. For the final topping, sprinkle the marshmallows on top of the baked brownies. Place under the broiler for 20-60 seconds, or until the marshmallows start to brown. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate bars. Let cool fully before cutting into bars.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Copycat Almond Roca

It was Christmas Eve and my boyfriend and I we were in Fred Meyer picking up some stuff to make dinner when we decided to make some Almond Roca. He usually makes it with his mom, so he called her up and got the super easy recipe, picked up the ingredients and off we went. Note: This is his first time cooking for me and it was delicious!

I have made toffee before and have vivid memories of it sticking to the pan. I was very skeptical when he said we don't have to grease the pan, but he was right! The almonds are used to line the pan and the toffee gets poured over top of the almonds. When it comes time to break into pieces and serve, it peels right off the pan.

Copycat Almond Roca
Makes 24 - 1" Pieces

1 cup butter
1 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 cup sliced almonds
1 – 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almonds out in an even layer in a rimmed baking sheet. You do not need to grease the pan. The almonds should cover the pan fully. Toast in preheated oven until golden brown. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly.

2. Over Medium heat, melt butter in a large pot. Add water and sugar to pot and cook until the mixture becomes the color of a brown paper bag (approximately 290 degrees). Stir constantly with a wooden spoon (mixture will rise and bubble). Remove from heat and pour evenly over toasted almonds. You will not be able to cover all the almonds but that’s OK as the uncovered almonds will be crumbled on top of the chocolate layer later.

3. Let the toffee set for just a few minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and let them melt from the heat of the toffee. Once softened, use a rubber spatula to spread out the melted chocolate chips to form an even layer on top of the toffee.

4. Around the edges of the toffee there will be almonds that are not covered in toffee. Take these and crumble them on top of the chocolate while it is still warm. Set aside and allow candy to cool completely and chocolate to harden before breaking apart and serving.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesdays with Dorie comes to an end

I just had to share this link to an article in the Washington Post featuring the Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) group that I have been a part of since I first started blogging two years ago. It is sad to close the chapter and say goodbye to what has been a wonderful baking experience through the book "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan. Read the article here: TWD Comes to an End - Washington Post, December 26, 2011.

Fortunately, in February 2012 there will be a new group starting into another book, "Baking with Julia", written by Dorie. To join the group and for more info, visit Tuesdays with Dorie.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I hope everyone had a great Christmas filled with sugar and delicious baking. I am pretty sure everyone has either made these or eaten these cookies at some point in their lives. Easy, pretty and always welcome at any gathering. If you happen to be someone who has not tried one, NOW IS THE TIME! Especially since holiday chocolates are now 50% off everywhere. Buy yourself a bag of Reese's mini PB cups and get to baking! I have a hard time resisting post-holiday chocolate sales, so while my boyfriend was at work I spent the day at the mall.

Depending on how peanut-buttery I want them, I use either peanut butter cookie dough, shortbread cookie dough or sugar cookie dough. The recipe below is for PB dough. Now I'm going to decide what to make us for dinner. Yum!!!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Makes 40

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
40 mini chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, salt and baking soda.

2.Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

3.Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

BEST EVER Gingerbread Cookies

This is really and truly the best gingerbread cookie recipe you will find. You simply MUST try it. Go. Now. Bake gingerbread! I have used it for over 10 years and it is a no-fail every time. It gets rave reviews and my best friend asks me to make her a batch every year. If you are making a house with the dough, I recommend tripling the recipe so you have enough.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, which is a huge time saver over the holidays. It rolls out with ease and with minimal flouring of surfaces needed. The cookies are sturdy enough to use for a gingerbread house but delicious enough that you want to eat them. Unlike those cardboard-tasting gingerbread house kits - these cookies fill your home with the spicy aroma of Christmas. What I like best about these cookies is that they are on the soft side. With cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, they are bursting with flavor.

Gingerbread houses are such a fun family activity for all ages. We usually do our house on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Morning itself. I let Zach decorate the whole back wall of the house without any assistance and I must say, it turned out great!!! He says that the chocolate balls on the top of the house are supposed to be "reindeer poop". Merry Christmas everyone and have a great holiday season with your loved ones.

Best Ever Gingerbread Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Copycat Blueberry Nutrigrain Bars

I am a lover of blueberries when when they are sandwiched between delicious buttery base and sweet crumbly topping like in this bar. Funny how I prefer banana bread to fresh bananas and that I love blueberries in pies and pastries but not so much when they are freshly picked.

These bars taste like the Nutrigrain Bars you can get from the grocery store. They freeze well and are perfect for breakfasts, afternoon snacks or even dessert when served with ice cream! I imagine you could use jam or other fruits for fillings and make your own clone of a Nutrigrain Bar in your favorite flavor.

Copycat Blueberry Nutrigrain Bars
9 x 13" pan

1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries and zest (if using). Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Butterscotch Blondies with Peanut Pretzel Caramel

There are two camps of people: vanilla people and chocolate people. I am most definitely a vanilla person. I prefer white chocolate over dark, angel food over devil's food cake, vanilla bean ice cream over double fudge and of course BLONDIES over brownies.

I made these blondies for an office cookie exchange. I can't say enough how wonderful cookie exchanges are. You get a whole array of cookies for the effort of making only one. Plus, you get to sample your friends' favorites and find new favorites of your own. Thanks to all the ladies I exchanged cookies with this year!

This recipe came from the December 2011 issue of Bon Appétit. It has a nice salty-sweet flavor from the pretzels contrasted against the homemade caramel. The blondie beneath the topping is chewy and filled with brown sugary goodness. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a jelly roll pan below to make 72 - 1" x 2" bars.

Butterscotch Blondies with Peanut Pretzel Caramel
9 x 13 pan | Bon Appétit, Dec/11

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teapsoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut-pretzel caramel
4 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed

1. Blondie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1" overhang on long sides of pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.

2. Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3. Peanut-pretzel caramel: Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Stir in peanuts and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Chill for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cocoa-Nana Swirled Bread

For this week's TWD rewind, I made this bread because I had two overripe bananas in my freezer waiting to be turned into something delicious. (However, next time I will use 3 bananas or add some milk or yogurt because it wasn't quite as moist as I like it).

I chose to do a marbled version of this chocolate banana bread because it's prettier and because I was skeptical of the cocoa-banana combo. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. It tasted wonderful. The cocoa part isn't overpowering and it actually complements the banana part wonderfully. Because I made quite a few adaptations to the recipe, I have included it below with my changes. The original is on page 46 of Dorie's book: Baking.

Coco-Nana Swirled Bread
1 loaf | Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

2 1/2 cups flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine 2 cups flour, salt, baking soda and powder.
2. Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, mixing well after each then add bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined.
3. Scoop 1/2 the batter into a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to one bowl of batter. Add 1/2 cup of flour to the other bowl and mix each by hand just to incorporate. Do not over mix.
4. Scoop batter into greased 9x5 inch pan, alternating spoons of white and chocolate batter. Run a thin knife through the batter in the pan a few times to marble. Bake for 60-75 minutes rotating halfway through (you may need to cover with foil if browning too quickly).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oreo Truffle Bites

We have just over 2 weeks to go until Christmas! This weekend coming up is the last shopping weekend. I am starting to panic about all the stuff I still have to do. I have not baked a single Christmas cookie this year, nor have we done a gingerbread house. I feel guilty about slacking - never before have I left it to this late - but somehow this year feels busier than before.

It's a good thing these adorable Oreo bites are so simple and non-time-consuming. I love how cute they are too. I made them with my 4-year old. He had a blast crushing the cookies with a rolling pin in a Zip-lock bag. You can create a million different varieties by using different cookies instead of Oreos. I also like Nutter Butters! For a more festive touch of color you could use colored melting wafers for dipping instead of chocolate.

Oreo Truffle Bites
Makes approximately 42

1 (16 ounce) pkg Oreo Cookies
1 (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
8 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
8 oz white chocolate or white almond bark, melted
Sprinkles, Nuts, Etc. (for decorating)

1. Remove 9 of the cookies from the package. You will not need these. Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs (in food processor or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin). Place crumbs in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1" in diameter.

2. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. Do some in white and some in the dark chocolate. Decorate as you wish, with sprinkles or roll in chopped nuts or drizzled with the opposite chocolate color. Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.

3. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store covered in refrigerator.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Junior's Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake

This tall cake cannot be described any other way besides "statuesque". It stands a stunning 5" high - crowned with rosettes of piped whipped cream. It consists of a strawberry cheesecake layer sandwiched between two fluffy sponge cakes. It is not too sweet and very impressive in both appearance and taste.

I made this cake for Thanksgiving, since we are not big fans of pumpkin pie. It was so refreshing and light that it didn't weigh us down even after a huge meal! My sister's boyfriend doesn't usually like cheesecake but he went back for seconds of this one. I can't say enough to recommend this recipe.

Don't be deterred by the seemingly long and labor intensive recipe. While it does have a lot of steps, they are all easy. Essentially you are making 2 sponge cakes, 1 cheesecake and whipping some cream and slicing strawberries then assembling. It can be broken up over a few days. I made the cheesecake first (this can be made ahead and frozen) then the sponge cake. I whipped the cream just before assembling it on the same day it was served. Below is a picture of the first layer of cake, cream and strawberries, before the cheesecake layer gets put on.

The recipe comes from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook. It is one of their "Too Tall" recipes - aptly named as these are indeed skyscraping cakes!

Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake
tall 9" cake | Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook

Cheesecake layer:
10 oz (1 cup) frozen whole strawberries, thawed and drained well
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
2/3 cup heavy or whipping cream

For the sponge cake (2 layers):
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 extra large eggs, separated and at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp pure lemon extract
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp cream of tartar

to assemble and frost:
2 quarts fresh strawberries
1 tbsp unflavored granulated gelatin
3 tbsp cold water
1 quart heavy or whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of one 9-inch springform pan and two 9 inch round layer cake pans. Wrap the outside of the springform (but not the cake pans) with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides. Very important: line the bottom of all three pans with parchment or waxed paper (do not let the paper come up the sides).

2. Pulse the thawed strawberries in your food processor until smooth (you need 3/4 cup of puree). Stir in the 1 tsp of cornstarch and set aside. It will thicken slightly as it stands.

3. Put one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Beat in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the cream just until it’s completely blended. Be careful not to overmix! Fold in the strawberry puree.

4. Gently spoon the batter into the springform, then place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake the cake until the edges are light golden brown and the top is set, about 1 ¼ hours. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool in the pan for 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, about 4 hours. Then freeze overnight until ready to assemble the cake.

5. While the cheesecake is cooling, make the sponge cake layers. Check that the oven is preheated to 350 degrees and that the water bath has been removed. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. While the mixer is still running, slowly add 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue beating until thick, light yellow ribbons form in the bowl, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no white flecks are visible. Blend in the melted butter.

6. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean medium size bowl and, using clean, dry beaters, beat the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then add the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks-they’ll disappear during baking. Divide the batter evenly between the two layer cake pans and bake until golden (not wet or sticky) and the center springs back when lightly pressed, about 12 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack and gently peel off the paper liners. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or until ready to assemble the cake.

7. on the day you plan to assemble the cake, hull 1 quart of the strawberries, then cut them into 1/2 inch pieces (you need 2 cups). Reserve the remaining berries for decorating the cake.

8. Make the frosting. Place the gelatin in a heatproof measuring cup, stir in the cold water, and let stand until it swells and thickens. Cook in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds or over a pan of simmering water for about 1 minute, until clear and completely melted. In a medium size bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until it thickens and soft peaks just begin to form. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and beat just until the cream stands up in peaks (don’t overmix or the cream will curdle). Beat in the vanilla. Add the melted gelatin all at once and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate the cream for at least 30 minutes (preferably no longer than 1 hour) in two bowls: 2 cups in a small bowl for piping decorations on the top of the cake and the remainder in a second larger bowl for frosting the cake. Meanwhile, remove the frozen strawberry cheesecake from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

9. Place one layer of the sponge cake, top side down, on a cake plate. Spread evenly with a thin layer of whipped cream frosting from the large bowl and half of the strawberry pieces. Release and remove the ring of the springform, then remove the frozen cheesecake from the bottom of the pan. Peel away the paper liner and place top side down on top of the frosted bottom layer. Press the cheesecake down gently, just enough so the two layers stick together but not enough for the filling to come out the sides. Top the cheesecake layer with some more whipped cream from the large bowl, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining strawberry pieces. Top with the second cake layer of sponge cake, top side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the whipped cream in the large bowl.

10. To decorate, hull the remaining quart of berries and halve them, from top to tip. Place a ring of berries around the bottom edge of the cake, tip ends up. Using 5 or 6 berry halves, make a star in the center of the cake, pointing the tips of the berries away from the center. Fit a pastry bag with a medium closed star tip or medium open star tip and fill the cream from the small bowl. Pipe shells or rosettes around the top edge of the cake and make a large rosette on top of the strawberry pieces.

11. Refrigerate the cake until serving time (it takes at least 2 hours to allow the cheesecake to thaw enough to slice easily. Use a sharp straight edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover and leftover cake and refrigerate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TWD: Sour Cream Pumpkin Tartlets

TWD this week is brought to us by Judy of Judy’s Gross Eats, who chose Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie/Tarts. For a higher pastry to filling ratio, I made them into tartlets using mini muffin tins. The recipe is found on page 324 of Dorie's book or on Judy's blog under today's date.

I thought they were the perfect choice and I would make them any time of the year - not just at thanksgiving! I'm not usually a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but with this much flaky pastry surrounding it I thought they were delicious.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Best Ever Rugelach

I shopped for 24 hours straight this Black Friday. From 10PM Thursday on! My feet are killing me and I slept in til noon today, but it was without a doubt worth it. An LED TV, camera, Soda Stream soda-maker and much much more. I am glad we brought these cookies to munch on through the day, because ya know, there just isn't time to sit down and eat. You might miss the deals!

These classic little crescent shaped cookies are so versatile and fun to make. You can fill them with whatever you like, so feel free to make up your own fillings and find your own favorite. My 4 year old helped me sprinkle on fillings and roll them up. His favorites were the jam-filled ones - no nuts.

Of all the rugelach I've tried, this one is definitely one of the best. It produces a tender, flaky pastry that is incredibly easy to work with and freezes well. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Marcy Goldman of I have both of her books, A Passion for Baking and The New Best of and have bookmarked many of the pages with my favorite recipes. I believe she is Canadian!

Baked rugelach are best kept between layers of wax paper and loosely covered with aluminum foil (the object is to keep the pastries dry; do not store under a cake dome or closed container). The rich dough freezes well for up to 4 months. Freeze unbaked rugelach on a baking sheet until they are firm, then transfer to heavy-duty resealable plastic food storage freezer bags. There is no need to defrost before baking.

Best Ever Rugelach
Makes 48 | "A Passion for Baking"

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sour cream
4 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface

1 1/3 cups raspberry jam
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups finely chopped nuts (optional)

1. For the dough: Combine the melted butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, sour cream and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until a ball forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll in a bit of additional flour, as necessary, to make a soft but manageable dough. Divide into 4 portions, press each into a flattened disk and wrap in wax paper. Place them in a large resealable plastic food storage bag; seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Filling: Roll out each portion of dough into a 12" circle on a well-floured work surface. Smear on the jam, covering the surface of the dough, and then evenly sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts, if using. Use a pastry or pizza wheel to cut the dough into 12 wedges. Roll up each wedge snugly and place on the lined baking sheet.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastries are nicely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

I'm so excited! Tomorrow I'm heading down South for my first US Thanksgiving with my boyfriend's family. Then right after dinner I will start chugging coffee in preparation for the all-night Black Friday shopping extravaganza!

This recipe was made using some cherries I had frozen from the summer. However, I bet it would be great with cranberries as a tribute to the fall harvest. I never have a problem with using frozen berries instead of fresh. Sometimes, especially with blueberries, I prefer the frozen ones because they don't squish and bleed when you are mixing them into the batter.

I love the rustic look of upside-down cakes and the thrill that you get when you flip it onto a serving dish. Will it stick? Will the fruit have baked evenly? Will it be pretty? I'm pretty happy with how this cake turned out - especially served with fresh whipped cream.

Cherry Upside-Down Cake
8" Cake | adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 lbs sweet cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup almond paste (not marzipan), crumbled
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degreest F. Butter an 8-by-3-inch round cake pan, and line bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 2 tablespoons butter with ¼ cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Arrange apricot halves, cut sides down, in pan. Fit cherries into any gaps between apricots. Pack down the fruit slightly with your hands; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat remaining6 tablespoons butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add almond paste and ¾ cup sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg yolks, and beat until well combined. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined, and set aside.In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Fold a third of egg-white mixture into the batter with a spatula. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

3. Spread batter over fruit, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 60-70 mins. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Run a knife or small offset spatula around the edges to loosen, and invert cake onto a serving plate to cool completely. Cake can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

I apologize for the strange looking colors in these photos. They were taken with my boyfriend's camera and I'm not used to the settings and color balance. I'm so glad that Black Friday is coming up in a couple of days. I always take that Friday off (I took it off way back in January in anticipation of this event). Sometimes I think it's more about the chase than the actual sales. Do I really need that $3 toaster? Probably not, but it is sure a lot of fun, not to mention an adrenaline rush, battling it out on the Target salesfloor.

If you are going to stand in shopping line-ups I recommend bringing one of these muffins with you. These muffins are made from a cinnamon coffee cake recipe with a bunch of chocolate chips thrown into the batter then baked in muffin tins. The hint of cinnamon plays well with the chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins
Makes 12 | adapted from NY Times

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups sour cream

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins.

2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla, beating well. Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add chocolate chips to flour mixture. Add the flour mixture alternately with sour cream.

3. Scoop into prepared muffin tins. Combine sugar, cinnamon and nuts and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cherry Cheese Pie

Cherry Cheese Pie
9" Pie | adapted from Eagle Brand

I have a soft spot for brand name recipes like those from Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Campbell's and Eagle Brand that are intended to get you to use more of their products. They are usually convenient, use common pantry ingredients and are fast and easy to prepare.

This dessert starts out with either a graham cracker crust or a baked pie crust. The filling is no-bake. The recipe comes from Eagle Brand and uses sweetened condensed milk of course. They describe this pie as: "Introduced in the 1950's as "Cherry-O Cheese Pie, this unbelievably easy and creamy refrigerator pie can be dressed up for company, or brought to the table for an after dinner treat." 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 9" baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling, chilled

1. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla.

2. Put a thin layer of cherry filling into the crust, then pour all the cheesecake filling over the cherries into the crust. Chill 4 hours or until set. Top with cherry pie filling [or fresh fruit] before serving. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TWD: Bittersweet Brownies

This Dorie recipe was chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious Blog. We enjoyed them - good texture, good rich flavor. Sometimes all the fancy treats in the world just can't beat a good brownie.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apple Cranberry Muffins

I haven't been posting much lately because my camera was stolen from my car last week. It is not so much the camera that I am sad about losing but rather the memory card with all my halloween photos and a whole bunch of baking photos. As my boyfriend said, "If you are going to steal a camera, at least leave the memory card!" So true... *sigh*... all those lost memories.

At least I had this photo downloaded to my computer before the camera got stolen. This is a great, easy recipe that features the delicious flavors of fall. Recipe is a "back of the box" recipe from Robinhood Flour. It has 2 of my favorite fall ingredients: apples and cranberries. Both bring just the right amount of tartness to these light and delightful muffins. I made them without the crumble topping and they were great. I can only imagine how much better the muffin tops would have been WITH the topping.

Apple Cranberry Muffins
makes 12 | adapted from Robinhood Flour

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
3 tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter, melted

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled apples, diced
1/4 cup cranberries - fresh or dried

1. Combine all topping ingredients. Mix well. (Optional. I omitted the topping to save some fat and calories. They were great even without the topping!)

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line or grease muffin tins.

3. Combine flour, brown sugar and baking soda in large bowl. Combine egg, yogurt and oil in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients stirring just until moistened. Stir in apples and cranberries. Fill muffin cups with batter. Sprinkle with topping.

4. Bake for approx 25 minutes, or until tops are firm to touch.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

The recipe for this cake comes from the RSVP section (copycat restaurant recipes) of Bon Appétit Magazine. It has an appealing crunch from the cornmeal.

It isn't the prettiest cake, but for what it lacks in looks it makes up in taste. Because of how moist it is, it keeps well without drying out and is wonderful heated and served with ice cream on top.

Blueberry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
10" Round | Bon Appetit

3/4 cup butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2-3 cups blueberries
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and center a rack in the oven.

2. Stir 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, brown sugar, and vinegar together in a 10” ovenproof skillet with 2” tall sides. Mix over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved, around 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to high, toss in the berries, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

3. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) butter in an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, beat until combined. Add half the flour mixture, then half the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining milk, beating until just combined after each addition.

4. In a clean, dry bowl with clean, dry beaters (or a whisk) beat egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar until the whites are stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the cornmeal batter, then fold the remaining whites with a rubber spatula in 3 additions. Spread the batter over the cherries in the skillet, covering them completely.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet for 5 minutes, then run the spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Set a large plate over the skillet and firmly flip the two together. Leave the upside-down skillet on top of the plate for 5 minutes so that the cake and cherries completely separate from the pan. Lift off the skillet and let the cake cool for 45 minutes before cutting.

Blueberry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
10" Cake | Bon Appetit

3/4 cup butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2-3 cups blueberries
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and center a rack in the oven.

2. Stir 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, brown sugar, and vinegar together in a 10” ovenproof skillet with 2” tall sides. Mix over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved, around 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to high, toss in the berries, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

3. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) butter in an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, beat until combined. Add half the flour mixture, then half the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining milk, beating until just combined after each addition.

4. In a clean, dry bowl with clean, dry beaters (or a whisk) beat egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar until the whites are stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the cornmeal batter, then fold the remaining whites with a rubber spatula in 3 additions. Spread the batter over the cherries in the skillet, covering them completely.

5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet for 5 minutes, then run the spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Set a large plate over the skillet and firmly flip the two together. Leave the upside-down skillet on top of the plate for 5 minutes so that the cake and cherries completely separate from the pan. Lift off the skillet and let the cake cool for 45 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Savory Breakfast Scones

It's hard to belive it is November already. For me, it really starts to feel like the holidays the day right after Halloween. From there on out it's full steam ahead to Christmas!

Here's a great breakfast/brunch or anytime scone to get you going through the cold weather. These scones are filled with bacon, cheddar and green onions. A great addition to serve with soup and round out a meal. Tender and flaky on the inside, they don't even need butter. I like mine hot but not too crispy, so if there are leftovers, I microwave one for 20 seconds and it's just perfect.

Savory Breakfast Scones
Makes 10 | adapted from 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter, very cold
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into 1" pieces
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (heavy cream can be used for half of the buttermilk)
1 large egg + 2 tsp water (for egg wash)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl on low speed. With mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour - butter bits about the size of small peas. Add grated cheese and mix just until blended.

3. Add green onions, bacon and 3/4 cup of the buttermilk to flour and cheese mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until all ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry to hold together, use remaining buttermilk, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough can be formed into a ball. Stir as lightly and as little as possible for a lighter-textured scone. Remove dough from bowl and place it on a lightly floured flat surface. Pat dough into a ball. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten dough into a circle about 8" wide x 1/2" inch thick. Cut dough into 10 equal wedges.

4. Whisk egg and water to combine. Brush each wedge with egg wash. Place scones on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spiced Applesauce Cake (Low Fat)

Happy Halloween! I'm quite disappointed that I didn't get around to doing ANY "Halloween Baking" this year... not even a batch of classic witch's finger shortbread cookies. I guess this just means that I have an excuse to do lots more baking AFTER Halloween. I like to chop up the mini chocolate bars and throw them into cookie batter instead of using chocolate chips.

In anticipation for all the UNhealthy baking I will be doing after halloween, this week I made a healthy, fall-inspired quickbread. This fragrant, spicy, wholesome loaf is a warm welcome to the rainy, cold fall weather. With only 2 tablespoons of butter, this is one of the healthier things you could bake this season. Of course, it is not as buttery as a full-fat cake, so don't bake this loaf expecting that kind of a texture. That being said, it is totally, without a doubt worth making and it definitely does not skimp on flavor. So moist and so snackable. Don't pass this recipe up!

For a touch more sweetness and indulgence, try adding a brown sugar streusel on top or serve with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Spiced Applesauce Loaf (Low Fat)
1 loaf | adapted from

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 small apple, diced
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add to applesauce mixture; mix well. Stir in the walnuts and diced apples and raisins (if using).

2. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

White Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake

I made this cheesecake for my mother's birthday. It was inspired by some marbled white chocolate covered espresso beans from Everett, WA. Courtesy of my thoughtful boyfriend. He lives across the border and I only get to see him on weekends. Anyone who knows me knows how much I like sugar and how much I adore grocery shopping in the States. I'm in awe of the variety and pricing of everything compared to Canada. So, when my sweetie visits me in Canada he always brings me something sweet and this past weekend it was these chocolate espresso beans.

This cake has melted white chocolate mixed right into the filling and a swirl of espresso to accent both taste and appearance. It's not to sweet and the chopped nuts suspended throughout provide a nice textural contrast to the creamy cheesecake.

White Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake
9" cake | adapted from George Greary

1 1/4 cups vanilla/graham cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 tbsp cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press into a greased 9" spring form pan.

2. Beat together cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, salt and sugar until very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Pour in melted chocolate and continue beating. Fold in chopped nuts with a rubber spatula.

3. Pour filling over prepared crust, reserving 1 cup of the mixture. In a small bowl dissolve the instant coffee granules in the 1 tbsp cream. Add this coffee mixture to the reserved filling mixture and stir to combine. Drop by the tablespoonfuls over filling in the spring form pan. Marble gently with a knife.

4. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking until top is light brown and centre has a slight jiggle. 45-55 mins. Cool in pan on wire rack for at least 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maple Pecan Pound Cake

Despite its name "pound cake", this loaf is not heavy in the least. It cuts cleanly into beautiful, mouth-watering slices.

This is the perfect embodiment of fall flavors. The batter is infused with pure maple syrup and the flavors are heightened with maple extract both in the batter and in the glaze. Do not skip the glaze – it takes the cake from being great to AMAZING. It is the kind of glaze with an ever so faint crust on top that yields easily and melts on your tongue like the maple cream filling you find in some filled chocolates. Toasting the nuts is also an invaluable step to maximize flavor.

I bring baking to work at least once a week and I had several co-workers comment that this was one of their favorites. Another hit from "Cake Keeper Cakes" by Lauren Chattman. This is one gem of a book and this is one hell of a cake.

Maple Pecan Pound Cake
1 loaf | Cake Keeper Cakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp maple extact
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
14 tbsps (1 3/4 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 tbsps pure maple syrup
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps heavy cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsps fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp maple extract

1. Cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan and dust with flour.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the eggs, maple extract and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and lightly beat.

3. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl; cream with an electric mixer on med-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes; stir in the maple syrup until smooth. Decrease mixer speed to med-low; pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream; mix until incorporated.

4. Decrease mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture, 1/2 at a time; after the last addition, mix for 30 seconds. Stir in pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely.

6. Glaze: combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl; whisk until smooth. Move the whisk back and forth across the cake, drizzling it over the top and letting it drip down the sides. Let stand until the glaze sets, about 1 hour. Store at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TWD: Caramel Apple Cake for Fall

I am ashamed to admit that I have never tasted a fig in my entire life. This statement still holds true today. I used apples in mine as I am sure a lot of other TWD-ers did as well.

One day I will get around to baking with this with figs, but for now this was a delicious alternative.

Today's recipe was chosen by Alvarosa of Cookie Rookie. The recipe will be found in Dorie's book "Baking" or on today's date on Ursula's blog.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Parmesan Pesto Rolls

You know the huge $7.99 jar of pesto they sell at Costco, the one by the fresh pasta, right beside the produce freezer fridge, well I always buy that jar and end up throwing out half of it because it goes bad before I can use it all up. Well, these rolls are an answer to that problem or to any leftover pesto conundrum. On a side note, does anyone else put on their winter coat before stepping into that produce fridge? I mentally prepare myself, listing the things I need to run (literally, run) and grab from there because it is so cold.

These soft, light, faintly sweet rolls are the perfect vehicle for all that lovely savory pesto filling. It is just a little something different - a little twist on a standard dinner roll. They are so tasty on their own and make a great lunchbox alternative to pizza pretzels.

You could also serve these instead of garlic bread with your next pasta meal.

Parmesan Pesto Rolls
12 rolls | adapted from

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg (room temperature), slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups bread flour (more if needed)
2 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast (1 sachet)
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Place water, milk, egg, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour on top of all the liquid mixture sprinkling yeast on top. Using the dough hook, knead until dough is smooth and elastic adding additional flour as needed just so the dough pulls away from the edges. The less flour you use the better for softer rolls. Remember, you can always knead in extra flour later if needed after the first rise.

2. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour in a warm area.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread surface evenly with pesto and sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Roll dough into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal slices and place them in a greased muffin tin, cut side up. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from muffin cups and serve warm.