Monday, December 24, 2012

Press Cookies

I'm enjoying my time back in MA, even though I miss BP in the worst way and can't wait to get back home and see him.  Today is a day we refer to as a marathon, not a sprint in our family.  It's full of baking and eating.  Making press cookies has become a Christmas tradition.  I remember being a kid and my parents making them and we would get to decorate them.  We used to make three kinds, but have narrowed it down to just one, our favorite Christmas Tree ones.  They never last long when we make them.  Usually half a sheet of them are gone minutes after they've come out of the oven. 

Over the years, we ended up going through a lot of cookie presses - a lot.  If you've ever made press cookies then you know very well what I'm about to say.  A lot of them aren't good.  You get a couple cookies in and then the top pops off and you have cookie dough every where.  Or you get half way through the tube and then it wont squeeze out any more cookies.  Another one is dough coming out the sides of the cap every time you squeeze dough out.  I can go on and on, but you can tell we have been through a lot of them and we finally found the perfect one.  Ween had gone to a Pampered Chef party and ordered a cookie press.  Turns out, this thing is amazing!! I highly suggest you get one if you love making press cookies.  I don't get paid for recommending things/promoting things - just think it's great when I find something great and pass it on to all of you.  I mean isn't that the whole point of a blog - to find great tips and products? 

Ween was in charge of the sprinkles
The best part about press cookies - the dough can be homemade or store bought.  If using store bought, let sit out until dough is at room temperature.  Then add food coloring if desired and place in tube and away you go.  Follow the directions for the cookies you are using, but the bake time will be quick since they are small.  Usually around 6-8 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Egg Nog Ice Cream

I had left over Egg Nog in my fridge from making Egg Nog Cupcakes for my coworkers last week.  The Egg Nog needed to get used - and quick since I was heading back to MA for Christmas.  Enter the easiest, tastiest Egg Nog Ice Cream.  Izzy hasn't been used since before I moved so this was the perfect chance to bust him out.  Big Red needed a break, he's been working overtime lately getting back into the swing of baking regularly again.  So why not make some ice cream?!  Yes it's winter, but things have been so warm lately it doesn't really feel like it.  That is, until I got into MA for Christmas.  WOW!! Cold - something I'm not used to.  The warm weather in DC has been fantastic and we've been spoiled with it.  The past couple of nights I have been so cold - wishing I brought my quilt with me. 
creamy goodness

So if you have Egg Nog and you don't know what to do with it, make some Ice Cream with it.  You won't be disappointed - creamy and delicious.  You will love Egg Nog in a whole new way. 

Egg Nog Ice Cream
makes 1 quart
2 cups Egg Nog
2 cups heavy cream
1 (10 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl mix together egg nog, heavy cream, condensed milk and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until it reaches "soft serve" consistency.  Transfer ice cream to a freezable container; cover surface of ice cream with plastic wrap and seal.  Freeze 2 hours or overnight before serving.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

What an amazing weekend - seems to be a constant theme here lately, but I'm loving it.  This weekend was BP's birthday, and I wanted it to be a great one.  He deserves a great celebration - he is truly the most caring and loving man I have ever met.  I had an idea of what I wanted to get him - and of course, the cake had to be amazing.  Enter the best cake ever. For the record - I didn't make this, I ordered it from a bakery.  I didn't have enough time with work and baking for BP's friends Christmas party that we were going to, so I happily ordered away. 

Yes - the light sabers light up
BP is a lover of Star Wars, and I was more than happy to get him this cake and a couple Star Wars gift items as well.  The look on his face was priceless.  And us both being nerds, we played with the figures all weekend long - I hummed the Imperial Death March every time I made the light sabers light up.  We also went to a Christmas party and it was such a great night, lots of stories and great laughs.  And we got some great pictures of the two of us. 

Looking good :) 
After many laughs and hearing some great stories about BP, we called it a night.  BP has amazing friends, and I can't wait to get to know them more.  The weekend came to an end and I went home and got to baking.  This is a short work work week for me since I will be going back to MA for Christmas.  I haven't been back since I moved so it's a little overdue, especially since I didn't get back for Thanksgiving.  So why not bake for my coworkers one last time before the holiday?  I had Andee's Peppermint Baking Chips in my cabinet, waiting to be used.  And honestly, a sugar cookie with peppermint chips rolled up with a chocolate sugar cookie?! Sounds phenomenal!!

And yes, they are very tasty.  The best part is - you can freeze the dough once it's all rolled up.  Great for those last minute needs for a gift or unexpected visitors.  These were a huge hit with all my coworkers.  Tons of compliments on these bad boys. 

Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
makes about 3-4 dozen cookies
Sugar cookie:
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
Powdered sugar for rolling out the dough
In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a bowl of an electric mixer, place butter and sugar and beat until light in color, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and milk and beat to combine.  Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup peppermint candy - crushed candy canes, peppermint baking chips, etc
Let two halves of dough sit out for 5 minutes.  Take one dough and add chocolate and vanilla and incorporate with hands.  Wrap back up in plastic wrap.  With the other half of dough add egg yolk, peppermint extract and peppermint candy and incorporate with hands.  Wrap back up in plastic wrap and set both doughs back in the fridge for 5 minutes. 
Dust counter top with powdered sugar and roll out each half of dough to 1/4" thick.  Place peppermint dough on top of chocolate dough and press edges together.  Roll the dough into a log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in fridge for 2 hours (or freeze for up to 1 month).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Let dough sit out for a couple minutes.  Slice dough into 1/2" slices.  Place cookies 1" apart on prepared cookie sheets and bake, 12-13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to wire racks to cool completely. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peppermint Cupcakes

Last year I made Peppermint Cupcakes and wanted to make them again.  And wouldn't you know it my favorite sous chef, BP, was coming over for a full day of Christmas fun.  We went down to Annapolis and joined up with Kate and her family to watch the Christmas Boat parade - which was so much fun.  These people went to town decorating their boats in Christmas lights and themes.  My personal favorite was the boat that was decorated in a Christmas Story theme - complete with the leg lamp. 

After a long, amazingly fun day, BP and I came back to my place and relaxed a little, put Elf on and then got to making some cupcakes.  I love that he likes to bake with me.  He keeps impressing me with his kitchen skills and we have a lot of fun while we're baking away.  Then tragedy struck - I was out of cupcake liners.....that never happens. I'm not a fan of cupcake liner-less cupcakes.....not just because of the extra clean up but because the edges get crunchy.  So we sprayed the tin with cooking spray and went on with making the batter. 

separating eggs - he's got skills
Once the batter was ready, into the oven they went.  Now I love Elf, one of the best Christmas movies ever.  My sisters and I quote it all the time.  I did set my timer, but didn't check it when I should of.....and kind of overbaked the cupcakes.  Like the edges are crispy crunchy overbaked.  Fail on my part.  Mental note has been made to get more cupcake liners.  I wasn't happy but decided to frost them anyways once they were cooled. 

some of the cupcakes lost parts of their bottoms
Time to taste them - and yep - overcooked them.  They weren't fluffy and light like they should be.  Needless to say these weren't going to anyone.  Fail on this effort.  Yet I still have them, sitting on my kitchen counter, occasionally trying one to see if they get better the longer they sit in the tupperware - they don't, yet I keep trying.....they really just need to go into the trash. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fudge Drops

Months ago I made Flourless Fudge Cookies, which are amazing.  You would never know that they are gluten free. I knew they had a flour version, but just never got around to making them since Ween is gluten free.  For some reason they popped into my head, and I knew it was time to make them.  I have enthusiastic co-workers that love when I bring stuff in.  One minute they are cursing at me for bringing things in, the next they are happily eating the goodness I brought.  Well, cursing isn't really right - more like lighthearted teasing about how they don't need the treats but will eat them anyways. 

food porn

The number of cookies slowly dwindle down through the day, and at some point today 2 of my co-workers started pimping out my baking services - which was hysterical.  When the end of the day rolls around and there are only a couple cookies left it's amusing to see what happens.  People pass by the container, look at it and keep going.  Then a minute later they circle back, debating if they should take another one or not.  The best part is one of my co-workers always goes in for the kill when there are a few left.  He holds the box up, makes sure no one else wants any, and then calls dibs on what's left so he can bring them home to his family.  The same thing happens every time, no matter what I bring in. 

Fudge Drops
makes 26-30 cookies
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate 30 seconds at a time until chocolate is melted.  Mix until smooth. 
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined.  Add the melted chocolate and then stir in the remaining ingredients, mix until incorporated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, leaving 2" between each cookie.
  4. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, for 11-12 minutes, until their tops are shiny and cracked.  Don't overbake: if you do, the cookies will become crisp and not chewy.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pumpkin Balls

There is an inside joke behind this post - but I had to share it with you because what came out of it is absolutely delicious.  My love for cake balls is not a secret (I mean Oreo Balls and Cake Balls are personal favorites of mine), and the challenge was laid down to make something with pumpkin and for it to be in ball form.  Challenge accepted.  :)  Big Papi was kidding when he suggested that I make something like it, but me being me, my mind started working overtime about the things I could do. BP had thrown the gauntlet down and I was going to pick it up and run with it. 

BP and I were out Saturday night and we decided to make the balls together - he was going to be my sous chef.  I have to admit he was a damn cute one too - my favorite sous ever, and I can't wait to bake with him again.  We laughed a lot and I have to admit, he impressed me with his skills.  We tasted and adjusted the recipe as we went along (I had left my version of the recipe at home - we decided to do this on a whim). Once we were both happy with it, into the oven it went. We went to watch a movie and when the timer went off, we went upstairs to take the cake out of the oven and wow - the smell that came out of the oven was amazing.  We knew we had something tasty on our hands.  Once the cake was cooked and cooled, now came the fun part.  Time to make it into balls!

we went for large sized balls

Now, we know from past posts you can roll these into anything you want.  With these you could roll them in powdered sugar, dip them in melted chocolate, roll them in colored sugars, crushed nuts, mini chocolate chips, I could go on but I'm sure you already know there are endless options.  We opted to keep these naked - so we rolled them out and put them in the fridge to firm up. And when it came time to finally try them - phenomenal!!

Pumpkin Balls
1 box white cake mix
1 box (3.4 oz) vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 16 oz can pumpkin puree
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 can vanilla frosting
2 tsp maple syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13x9x2 pan with cooking spray and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix together until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl tear up cake into tiny pieces, add frosting, maple syrup, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Mix thoroughly until well combined.  Form into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  If you want to roll them in something/dip them in chocolate, do it after they have chilled.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whiskey Balls 2.0

Whiskey Balls - such a tasty treat.  I was really pleased with them the first time I made them.  I actually made them a couple times after the first time because people kept asking for more of them.  So it got me thinking - I love Nilla Wafers, but how much better would they be if I used a cream filled sandwich in them?  Enter my friend who is graciously being my guinea pig since she's had the original version (and loved them).  Her dream of being a taste tester has finally come true - and I'm more than happy to supply her with the goodies that I make. 

food porn!!

We arranged a delivery through her husband, which will now be our new way to get treats to each other.  I patiently waited for her husband to drive home and for her to try them.  Finally I got the text - she loved them.  Her only problem was that I didn't give her enough to eat.  They were gone too quickly - which is a problem I love hearing about.  :) 
Whiskey Balls 2.0

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups Vanilla Cream Sandwich Cookies, crushed into crumbs
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup whiskey
1/4 cup light corn syrup

In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips 30 seconds at a time until chips are mostly melted. Stir until smooth. In a large bowl combine wafer crumbs, confectioners sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Add melted chocolate, whiskey and corn syrup. Mix until well blended - dough should be firm. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Shape into small balls and roll in confectioner's sugar. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or in an airtight container.