Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chocolate Butter Spritz Cookies

I made these for Valentine's Day to bring to work. Because I was using a smaller cookie size with the press, it made a ton of cookies. However, people seemed to really like them. I wouldn't advise making them too big as the taste works best when kept small. I think they'd make a great cookie to have with coffee, tea or hot chocolate on a cold day.

Chocolate Butter Spritz Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 Tbsp Kaluha
1/2 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour

1- Preheat oven to 375.
2- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter then add confectioners sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until combined. Beat in the egg yolk, milk, Kaluha, brandy and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with a mixer. Stir in any remaining with a spoon.
3- If making drop cookies, place rounded teaspooonfuls onto baking sheets. If making pressed cookies, pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the desired plate. Press the cookies out onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1" apart.
4- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are firm but not brown.

Mocha Shortbread Attempt One

I was not really pleased with how these turned out. There were mixed feeling from my guinea pigs. No one disliked them, per se, but there was a pretty large range of whether people tasted the coffee flavor or no. I have some serious ideas on how to adjust the recipe. I will update with that when I give it a trial run.

So here they are as I made them:

Mocha Shortbread Attempt One

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp unsweeted cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder

1- Preheat oven to 325.
2- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Sift together the flour, cocoa and espresso powder. Mix into the butter mixture in batches until a soft dough forms.
3- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.
4- Pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the desired plate. Press the cookies out onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet about 1" apart.
5- Bake 10-15 minutes until the edges are firm and cookies are very slightly browned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

King Cake

For years I have wanted to make a King Cake for Mardi Gras, but I always seemed to remember the plan when it was too late to go through the whole process of letting it rise and whatnot. This year I managed to plan enough ahead to make one. Now, I decided to go slightly nontraditional with the recipe, but still included a small plastic baby (of course warning everyone not to choke). According to the new tradition, the person who gets the baby has to host the next Mardi Gras party or provide the next year's King Cake.

King Cake

1 plastic baby trinket
Green, purple and yellow colored sugars

For the bread:

1 envelope active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp orange rind (I used dried, but you could use fresh if you wanted.)
1 tsp lemon peel (Again, I used dried.)
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces

1- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and set aside until frothy.
2- Combine the salt, sugar, milk, orange rind and lemon peel in a mixing bowl (if you plan to use a dough hook, you can put this in the bowl for your mixer). Mix in the yeast mixture.
3- Sift together the cinnamon and flour.
4- With mixer on low speed, add the eggs to the liquid ingredient mixture. Then gradually add the flour mixture until incorporated. Knead for ten minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough is formed. Add the butter pieces in small amounts, but quickly so they do not melt.
5- Turn the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour.
6- When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch down and put in the fridge overnight.
7- Preheat the oven to 350.
8- Roll dough out to a 6x18 rectangle. Spread the filling out in the middle over the whole length leaving a 1" margin around the edges. Place the baby in the filling. Fold the length of the dough over the filling and roll up tightly with the seam side down. Put one end inside the other to seal the dough in a wreath shape. Place the cake on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
9- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
10- When the cake cools, spread the glaze over evenly and decorate with colored sugars.

For the filling:

1 cup pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted (I think I would use pecan pieces next time.)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 pinch of salt
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1- Combine all of the ingredients together.

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon

1- Combine the sugar and bourbon.
2- Add enough milk to make the glaze fluid enough to spread thinly.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Almond Cherry Coffeecake

I had some dried cherries leftover from the Cherry Cream Cheese Braid that I wanted to use up and get out of my cupboard. So I turned to the internet and found a dried cherry cake recipe that I changed up to make my own. I took it to work and everyone liked it, but the almond rather overpowered the cherry. I have listed the recipe as I made it with my suggestions for the next time around.

Almond Cherry Coffeecake

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries (I would increase this to a cup.)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. almond extract (I would eliminate this.)
1/2 tsp. Kirsch (I would up this to 1 tsp. You could use cherry extract if you don't want to spend the money on Kirsch.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
6 oz. light black cherry yogurt (I would use 8 oz. of black cherry.)
2 oz. light vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1- Combine cherries, hot water, almond extract and Kirsch in a bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain cherries and pat dry. Set aside.
2- In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking powder and white sugar. Add yogurt, eggs and oil. Stir well. Fold in cherries. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9" round cake pan.
3- Combine brown sugar, almonds, 1/8 cup flour in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter until well mixed. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. (You will have a lot of topping. If you felt like doing the ratio math to lessen it a bit, you probably could.)
4- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.