Hamentashen

As promised from my last dessert post, this next post is about Hamentashen!

Sure, Purim was a week ago, but Hamentashen could really be eaten year-round. I made these little goodies for the Oscar-watching event that took place last night. They are basically little pies/turnovers that are triangular in shape. The process is quite simple, that you make the dough, let it chill, cut out circles, add filling, and place on the cookie sheet. Then the forming of triangles and egg washing the outsides. I found the recipe in what has now become one of my favorite cookbooks, The Field Guide To Cookies.

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Almond Brown Sugar Cookies

I already made these brown sugar cookies for the Hanukkah party (Dec. 2009), but I decided to make them again for two reasons:
1) I wanted something simple, and I had all of the ingredients already
2) I had almonds leftover that I wanted to use up.
These are the two main reasons I find myself in the kitchen. The only other time I am baking something, it is for a special occasion, and now, since January, the Daring Bakers’ Challenge every month.
Anyway, if you want to know more about the cookies, you can check out the original post. If you want to check out the recipe, click here. Sorry for the short and lazy post. I promise the next one will be better. I am going to be making Hamentashen, which are cookies usually served for Purim, but I am a week late. But better late than never, right? :)

Peanut Butter Cookies

I wanted to use up the peanut butter and peanuts that were leftover from the brittle, so I made peanut butter cookies with peanuts in them. They are tasty, and it was my first time I adapted a recipe on my own, so they are a little too sugary for my taste. I got the recipe from A Field Guide to Cookies, written by Anita Chu. It is a very basic peanut butter cookie recipe, but right at the top of the page it read, “do not use natural peanut butter, because it separates” so I thought, well, that’s what I’ve got, so I have to make it work. I thought that it must separate because of the fat content. So I did not use butter in the recipe. I was going to replace the butter with peanut butter, but I didn’t have enough, so I just added oil. I think they turned out okay. I will post the original recipe on here, since the recipe that I ended up with is not perfect. I still have some peanuts left, so the next post might also feature them; sorry in advance for so many peanut posts, but I think this blog needs a little more balance of flavors, since most of the recipes on here are chocolate-y.

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sugar cookies

Yesterday, I made sugar cookies for the last day of Hanukkah party I helped Benjie host. I made two different recipes, one was (I think) the recipe from the back of the Domino’s sugar bag, and is a regular sugar cookie recipe, which used only white granulated sugar. The other one I have saved from Gourmet magazine, and it is a brown sugar cookie recipe. The first one can be rolled and shaped and cut out and decorated. The other can be scooped, and is more like a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe without the chocolate chips. I decorated with sprinkles and blue icing. Many people like to use royal icing for decorating cookies, but with everything else going on for the party (we made latkes, too) I didn’t want to make royal icing. However, I will include the recipe just in case you want it for your sugar cookies. The royal icing is from A Field Guide To Cookies, which is written by another food blogger; her site is called Dessert First.

So, here are the recipes, in order they were mentioned:

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar or 1- 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

Heat oven to 375ยบ. Sift together the dry ingredients; set aside. Cream together butter and vanilla. Add either 3/4 cup sugar or 1-1/2 cups for chewy cookies. Beat in the egg. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Roll out and cut to desired shapes. You can add sprinkles right into the dough, and/or you can add sprinkles to the top of the cookies. The colder the dough, the easier it is to handle. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 1-1/2 dozen large cookies.

(Almond) Brown sugar cookies (from Gourmet magazine)

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

(1/2 cup whole blanched almonds = 2-1/2 oz)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. (Stir in almonds) Roll into logs and chill or freeze dough or scoop onto baking sheets. If you rolled the dough into logs, you will slice the dough less than 1/8 inch thick. If you scooped them, use the back of a wet spoon or wet the palm of your hand, and press down. Bake cookies 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 100 to 120 sliced cookies. I think I made about 12-18 3 inch scooped cookies.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 cups powdered sugar

food coloring

Whisk all ingredients except for the coloring in a clean bowl on high speed. They should be shiny and an opaque white. It should be a glue-like consistency. Divide into bowls and mix in the coloring as desired. Keep covered with a damp towel so it does not dry out.

So, those are the recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing for decorating. I really liked the brown sugar cookies, and I think that was everyone’s favorite as well.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! (though I am sure I’ll bake something else before New Year’s.)

baking FAIL turns into awesome ICE CREAM! (aka this is what I did today)

Since I had some left over cookie dough from the pie pops, and some time to kill today, I was wondering what I had that I could mix with it. I found butter, sugar (brown and regular, granulated), and cinnamon—all ingredients I needed for cinnamon rolls! So, I softened and rolled out the dough, and softened the butter and mixed it with the sugars and cinnamon. Spread the butter mixture on the dough, rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces, placed them in a cake pan (I didn’t use my jelly roll pan because there weren’t that many pieces, and put them in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven. (sounds good, right? and if you look at the picture, it looks like they turned out well, and people ate them so quickly that all I had time to take a picture of was the empty pan—but after reading the title of this entry, you already know this is not true!) After about 5 minutes, I started to smell the butter browning. (kind of a nutty smell) So, I checked on the rolls, and found that all of the butter had melted out of the dough. I could have been frustrated, and dumped the whole thing, but instead, I put the pan back in the oven, and finished baking the dough, about another 15 minutes. Overwhelmed by the delicious smell of butter and sugar, I quickly thought “I bet this would be good in some ice cream. Like brown butter ice cream, with little cinnamon cookies sprinkled in.” So, I ran out, and got some Bryer’s  vanilla ice cream (now with 30% more REAL vanilla beans!) and put the softened ice cream in a bowl, and dumped in my buttery, sugary, cinnamony dough pieces, and used a rubber spatula to mix them together. Dipped a spoon in, tasted, and LIKED it!

Now, I don’t have any fancy equipment, such as a food processor, or ice cream maker (but they are on my gift wish list—and my birthday IS coming SOON…) but these items would be useful for making the dough pieces smaller, and I would have liked to make my own ice cream, because I did go to pastry school, and I know how to make it, but especially because I am not the biggest Breyer’s fan. (also realized I don’t have a rolling pin-I just used my hands to press out the dough-no big deal, since it was a small amount.) Anyway, the end result is still good, and because I am such a huge fan of chocolate, I added some chocolate syrup, but the extra flavor was not needed. (she writes, as she dips her spoon back in the bowl for some more ice cream…) Lesson learned: what might seem like a complete baking FAIL may turn out to be something GREAT.

While I don’t have a picture of the failed cinnamon rolls, I do have some pictures of the ice cream, and I am willing to share with you the recipe for the ice cream, and real cinnamon roll recipes, in case you want to make those instead of the failures-turned-good rolls.
First, the fail-rolls:
If your dough has been in the refrigerator or freezer (as in you didn’t just make it), then you need to soften it. I did this by putting it in the microwave. Easy and quick. Then, like I said, I rolled it out, spread on the butter mixture, etc.
I used part of the recipe for the Mama’s mini-cinis (below) to figure out the right butter-sugar-cinnamon ratio. I used 3 tablespoons of butter, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a dash of ground cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp if you are really into measuring what I like to call “the small stuff”—spices, vanilla, etc. that don’t make much of a difference in a recipe, unless you put in TOO much.) After spreading the butter mixture on the dough, I rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces and placed them in the pan. 375 degrees. 15-20 minutes. I don’t know exactly why, perhaps I was looking to soak up all of the butter that melted out, but I flipped over the baked dough. I used maybe a quart of ice cream. All I know for sure is that the label says 1.5 quarts, and there is some left, about enough for a good-sized bowl full. You’ll know it’s enough because You won’t see any cookie pieces sticking out, it will just look like lumpy soft serve.
So, it was really easy to fix this baking fail. Just add ice cream!
Now, some of you might want the satisfaction of cinnamon rolls that never fail, but are really easy and quick to make, so I introduce to you Mama’s mini-cinis. This is not a recipe from my mother, but someone else’s, who decided to put this recipe up on the interweb.
Mama’s mini-cinis:
Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls (I guess Pillsbury makes these)

6 TBS butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans (optional)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls, and separate each portion along center perforation to form 4 rectangles; press diagonal perforations to seal.
Stir together butter, sugars, pecans, and cinnamon. Spread over one side of each rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion, starting at long end. Gently cut each log into 6 (1″ thick) slices, using a serrated knife. Place rolls 1/4″ apart into 2 8″ cake pans. (can also use a jelly roll pan, but you want something with edges-do not use a cookie sheet.) bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. cool 5-10 minutes. makes 2 dozen.

Stir together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients, drizzle over warm rolls. (of course, you could eat these with ice cream, too!)

note: to make slicing easier, place logs in freezer for about 10 minutes.