Twix Cookies

 I found the basic recipe off of Pinterest and thought I would give it a try. I think the shortbread cookie was a nice touch – I modified the recipe a tiny bit for my purposes. Also, the original calls for a biscuit cookie-cutter, but I used smaller rounds so people could enjoy a bite-sized treat. Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

Recipe Ease: simple, but has several steps

You will need:

  • One bag Kraft caramels
  • One bag milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs evaporated milk
  • One cup confectionar sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Step one:

Preheat oven to 350°.Cream butter and sugar. Add in salt, vanilla, and the flour. Blend until combined well.

Step two: Roll out dough with a rolling pen and some flour. Cut with a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter. Assemble cookies onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before the next step. I put my cookies in the freezer to hasten the process.

Step three: Melt caramel in the microwave. If necessary, add the  evaporated  milk to the caramel for smoother spreading. Spread the Caramel onto the cooled cookies. Again, allow to cool off before the next step.

Step four: Melt the milk chocolate in 30 second increments in the microwave. Spread the chocolate onto the caramel layer. Enjoy!

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Apple Cider Donuts

These were inspired by a recent trip to Carter Mountain Apple Orchard with the family where we fell in love with their apple cider donuts. I found an excellent recipe here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/07/apple-cider-donuts/ and tried it out. Soooo Delicious. We chose to make donut holes instead of donuts.

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 1 and 1/4 cups  apple cider
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature1
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup  packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • orange slices* optional
  • cinnamon sticks* optional

Topping

  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 60g) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

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  1. Simmer apple cider over low-medium heat in a small saucepan on the stove for 15-20 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, spices, and/or orange slices for flavor if desired. In this step you are reducing the apple cider for a stronger flavor. You will need 1/2 cup from this reduced cider. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a mini muffin pan or donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix together with a whisk. Be very gentle as overmixing will develop the gluten and result in a tough textured donut. Whisk until all ingredients are *just combined.* Some small lumps may remain, but not many. IMG_0892  IMG_0893
  5. Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. You’ll only need a couple teaspoons of batter for each. Or, if making donuts, follow my instructions in the post above about filling the donut pan. Bake the donut holes for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The donuts will take the same amount of time. IMG_0894
  6. Make the topping by mixing the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the top of the donut holes or donuts lightly into the melted butter. Then dunk them all the way into the cinnamon sugar, using your hands to mix it around so the entire donut hole (or donut) is coated generously. Repeat with all the donuts. You may need more cinnamon-sugar. Donuts taste best on the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. IMG_0897   IMG_0895
  7. Make ahead tip: Prepared donuts freeze well up to 2-3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave if desired.

Spooky sticks


This is a really fun and easy treat to make with children.

You will need:

  • Pretzel rods
  • Sprinkles (Halloween themed)
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • White or orange candy melts (from Michael’s or Walmart)

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Steps:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper
  2. Melt the candy coating in 30 second increments in the microwave or use a double broiler. I used a Pyrex measuring cup to make dipping the rods easier
  3. Dip at both ends of a pretzel rod in the candy coating in place on wax paper.
  4. Sprinkle the pretzels. When done place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes to harden the coating.
  5. Enjoy:)
  6.   

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


Recipe source: allrecipes.com

Yield: 12-16 muffins

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes.

Enjoy:)

Thin Mint Cupcakes

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My daughter wanted to enter a baking contest so we decided to embrace the Girl Scout cookie season. We tweaked a standard mint cupcake recipe – source (www.yourcupofcake.com), and added Thin Mints to the mix.

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

The Verdict? These were absolutely delicious. They were time consuming, but so worth it!

What you need:

 
1 cup sour cream
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
¼ cup water
½ cup buttermilk
Devil’s Food Cake Mix
Chocolate Mint Filling:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
Mint Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food coloring
Thin Mint Cookies – one box (break cookies in half)
Step one:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
Step two:
2. Using a whisk, mix sour cream, oil and vanilla extract together. Add eggs one at a time, stirring well in between each addition.
3. Alternate adding the cake mix and liquids (buttermilk and water), starting and ending with the cake mix.
4. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until and inserted knife come out clean.
Step three
1. Chocolate Mint Filling: Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream together in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat. Stir in peppermint extract and powdered sugar.
2. When cupcake come out of the oven, use a squeeze bottle to fill the cupcake with the filling, or use the filling as a ganache and dip the tops of the cakes into it.
3. Mint Buttercream: Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream and peppermint extract and beat well. Add green food coloring and stir well
4. Pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes and top with a broken thin mint cookie.
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The finished product
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Classic NY Cheesecake with Cranberry cointreau sauce

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This recipe is a hybrid/tweak from several sources. This cheesecake is very rich and excellent as a stand-alone. It also makes an excellent base for toppings if you choose to remove the citrus notes.

Classic New York Cheesecake: (supposedly the original recipe from Lindy’s)

  • 5 packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 and 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs grated orange peel *optional
  • 1 tbs grated lemon peel *optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk

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Step one: (crust)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease springform pan, with shortening. Remove pan. Mix all ingredients with a fork until the dough forms. Gather it up into three balls. Press one ball into the the bottom of the pan. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown.

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Assemble the sides of the pan and secure. Press remaining dough 2 inches up the side of the pan.

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It doesn’t seem like it, but the dough will press up nicely and fill the pan.

Step two: (cake)

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Beat cream cheese, flour, orange peel, lemon peel and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

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Beat in eggs, egg yolks and whipping cream on low speed until well-blended. Pour into crust.

Step three: Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees. Bake one hour and 15 minutes longer. Do not insert a knife to test – this will cause cracks. The center may not seem done, but will set eventually. Turn off the oven, but leave the cheesecake in there for 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for another 30 minutes.

Step four: Don’t release the pan, but run a spatula along the side to loosen the crust. Chill for at least three hours in the refrigerator, uncovered; preferably, overnight.

Serving suggestionsIf you don’t want to top it with fruit, Beat 3/4 cup of heavy cream until it is stiff. Top with slivered almonds.

Cranberry-cointreau sauce (source finecooking.com)

  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 12-oz. package fresh cranberries, rinsed, dried, and picked over
  • 2 Tbs. Cointreau or Grand Marnier (I have used Grand Marnier in the past because I can more easily find the travel sizes at our liquor store

Note I have used Grand Marnier in the past because I can more easily find the travel sizes at our liquor store, and it is cheaper. Both have the smoky orange tones you are looking for.

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In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, honey, and 3/4 cup water to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

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Double, double, toil and trouble

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cranberries.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until the foam has turned fuchsia and many of the berries have popped, about 5 min.

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Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Cointreau. Pour into a heatproof bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours, but preferably overnight. The sauce can be made two days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Cream cheese frosting

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Recipe source: Betty Crocker cookbook circa 1950’s

This is a classic frosting I use for a variety of things – sugar cookies, cupcakes or cake. It is very easy to add some variety to the frosting recipe, so it easy to use as a base for your creativity.

You need:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened at room temp.
  • 1 tbs of whole milk, or more as needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

Step one: blend cream cheese, milk, vanilla and salt.

Step two: gradually add in confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth. Add more milk to get the desired consistency.

Ideas –

  • Peppermint – add crushed peppermint to the frosting and use them on candy cane sugar cookies.FullSizeRender(57)
  • Mocha – Blend in 1 tbs of instant powdered coffee to the frosting or add a little actual coffee in place of the extra milk.