Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my opinion you can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes. You need your basic one and then you need those “special” ones that have some fun ingredients that really make them stand out. I came across the recipe for these Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine. Not only do they have cookie butter in the dough, but they also have sprinkles. I made them twice around the holidays using red, green and white sprinkles and just recently again for a friend and her family using rainbow sprinkles. Oh, and in case you are wondering, cookie butter is similar in consistency to peanut butter but is made with speculoos cookie crumbs, a fat, flour and sugar and it’s quite tasty.

To make the dough I whisked together my dry ingredients in one bowl and my wet ones in another. After combining them, I folded in the chocolate chips and sprinkles. The dough was quite soft so I refrigerated it for about 2 hours so it could firm up. Now, if you are thinking of freezing the dough to make it later, you could skip refrigerating it and scoop it out and place it on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and freeze until hard and then place the dough in resealable bags in the freezer until you are ready to bake it. You will just need to add a minute or two to the baking time.

Once the dough was firm I scooped and dropped it onto my prepared baking sheets and pressed some additional sprinkles into the dough before baking them. I believe you can never have too many sprinkles. Whenever I get vanilla soft serve in a cup I ask for sprinkles in the cup before the ice cream is added and then more sprinkles on top. Yum!

After removing the cookies from the oven, I let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The rainbow sprinkles gave the cookies a nice fun look. With Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter just around the corner you could really customize these for each of those holidays or any other occasion.

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup smooth cookie butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 tablespoons sprinkles (or jimmies, not nonpareils), plus more for topping

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter, cookie butter and both sugars with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and sprinkles until combined and evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until the dough is slightly firm, but still easily scoopable.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a standard cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Press additional sprinkles onto the dough.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are set around the edges, puffed, but still soft in the middle. Let cool on the sheets for 3 to 5 minutes until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Recipe slightly modified from Food Network.

Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Some pairings just taste good together – like peanut butter and chocolate, peanut butter and banana and banana and chocolate – so I figured that three would taste just as good (or better) together. And that’s how I came up with this Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf.

Although, I was a little discouraged when I tasted the first loaf I made. It was a bit dense, and the banana flavor was overpowering. With my second loaf, I reduced the amount of flour in the batter and increased the amount of peanut butter. The loaf then ended up being super moist with an equal balance of peanut butter and banana flavor. Now some people who tried it tasted the banana more or the peanut butter more. I think that might be due to preference of one over the other. I was able to taste both.

Now, I would like to think this loaf is somewhat healthy since the bananas are a good source of potassium and the peanut butter protein, but I am sure some would beg to differ since there is sugar and chocolate chips in the loaf as well. But a little sweetness isn’t a bad thing sometimes. If you’re really trying to stick to any health-related New Year’s Resolutions though, you could omit the chocolate chips and use maple syrup in lieu of the sugar. In doing so though you will have to add a little extra flour to the batter to account for the extra liquid.

Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray 9 x 5 loaf pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until just combined. Add the vanilla extract. Stir in the mashed bananas and peanut butter until just combined.

With the mixer on low add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf ban and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula.

Cookie Palooza: Blueberry Crumb Cookies

I’ve saved my favorite cookie for last… A Blueberry Crumb Cookie. I got the idea for this cookie while baking one of my favorite summer desserts, a Blueberry Crumb Cake. Granted you can make it anytime of the year, but it tastes best when the blueberries are at their sweetest. Initially I was thinking of using fresh blueberries in the cookie, but for a few reasons I didn’t think it was the right move. I was concerned that some of the blueberries would be sour (not a good thing for a cookie), inevitably different sizes (you kind of want uniformity in a cookie) and that they might turn the cookies blue during baking. Since cookie dough is a lot thicker than cake batter, I thought that there was good chance of the blueberries being slightly decimated while folding them in. Thankfully I was able to find dried wild blueberries that eliminated all those concerns I had from using fresh ones.

For these cookies I made two mixtures… The cookie dough and the crumb topping.

Once both were ready, I rolled scoops of the dough in the crumb topping and then placed it on my baking sheets. And in case you are wondering, no, the crumb topping won’t burn and yes it will stick to the cookie even after baking.

And yes, the cookies will spread a bit while baking, but I don’t suggest refrigerating the cookie dough prior to scooping and rolling them in the crumb topping. You want the cookie dough to be slightly sticky so the crumb topping will adhere to it. And there’s no harm in a larger cookie. They don’t flatten and are slightly thick so it’s all good!

And I must say that while these cookies are delish the day they come out of the oven, the blueberry flavor gets stronger each day after so you may want to make these a day or two ahead of time and keep them stored in an airtight container prior to serving, sharing or giving. Because of this these cookies are the perfect cookie to mail to someone. They stay moist and the flavor only gets better.

I hope you have enjoyed this year’s Cookie Palooza and hopefully one, two or maybe all of these cookies will earn a spot on your cookie trays this holiday season!

Happy Holidays (and Happy Baking!)

Blueberry Crumb Cookies

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
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Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sour cream

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried blueberries*

For the Crumb Topping:

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

*I used dried wild blueberries from Trader Joe’s

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

For the cookies: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat together the butter and both sugars with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until just combined. Add in the lemon juice and sour cream and continue beating until well combined.

With the mixer on low add in the flour mixture. And then fold in the blueberries.

For the Crumb Topping: In a medium bowl whisk together both sugars, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. You may need to use your hands to really get the mixture combined well and to form the crumbs.

To make rolling the dough in the crumb topping easier (and less messy), first scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, then roll in the crumb topping and then return to the baking sheets. Place the dough 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are set and beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn Spatula.

Cookie Palooza: Cranberry Pecan Cookies

While peppermint gets all the glory during this time of the year there are other flavors and ingredients that are reminiscent of the season. Cranberries for one. While the sweetened dried ones and the canned jellied version can be found in your supermarket year-round, it’s this time of the year when those fresh tart berries pop up in your grocery section. And while most nuts are popular around this time due to gift baskets, those roasted chestnuts and so forth it’s pecans that really make the rounds thanks to Pecan Pie.  So, I decided to combine the two – cranberries and pecans – for today’s Cookie Palooza cookie with a Cranberry Pecan Cookie that also has some chocolate in it.

These cookies are pretty straightforward to make. Start off by creaming together the butter and sugars, add the eggs and then the vanilla extract. Whisk the dry ingredients separately and then add it to the butter mixture and finally stir in the add-ins; the dried cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips. If you like your cookies to be a little nuttier feel free to add in more pecans. And one thing I have started doing is refrigerating my cookie dough before scooping and baking. I didn’t want to struggle to scoop my dough, so I refrigerated it for only 30 minutes. Enough to get it chilled, but still soft enough to easily scoop with a cookie scoop.

These cookies are perfectly chocolaty, just the right amount of crunch thanks to the pecans and have a little tangy sweetness to them thanks to the cranberries. The perfection addition to any cookie platter this holiday season!

Cranberry Pecan Cookies

  • Servings: 36 Cookies
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Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and both sugars with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and then the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Add the chocolate chips, pecans and cranberries and beat until combined.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cookies are set.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn Spatula

Baked Apples

I recently got a good amount of apples from my yearly apple picking trip and this year the apples I picked were the right amount of sweetness and crispness. To make sure they don’t go to waste, one can only eat so many apples before they start to go bad, I invariably make a few baked goodies with them. Usually an apple crisp of some sort, this year I decided to make Baked Apples. A simple dessert with a lot of flavor.

The most difficult part of making these baked apples is coring the apples. To do so I used an apple corer to go partway down the apple, turned it a few times and then removed it without the core. Next, I used a paring knife and a small spoon to remove the core and to widen the holes of the apples. You want to leave about a 1/2-inch of the bottom of the apple intact.

Next, I combined brown sugar, spices and chopped walnuts with softened butter and divided the mixture among the apples which I placed in a glass baking dish. And finally, before placing the apples in the oven I filled the bottom of the dish with a cup of boiling water. This helps to keep the apples moist while baking.

And after baking for about 40 minutes in the oven I had delicious baked apples and wonderful aroma swirling around my house. These are delish on their own but even better with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

One more thing to note, the best apples to use for baking are those that are firm; Granny Smith, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, etc. Since I picked quite a few different types of apples I can’t be all that sure which I used to make these baked apples. If you are concerned that the apples you are using may be too soft just keep an eye on them while they are in the oven. They may be ready in less time.

Baked Apples

Ingredients:

4 medium to large apples

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Use a sharp knife or apple corer to cut out the core of the apples leaving about a 1/2-inch of the bottom of the apple intact. Scoop out the insides of the apples to make the holes wide enough to place the butter mixture inside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and chopped walnuts (is using). Add in the softened butter and mash everything together with a fork or use your hands to mix it together until it’s well combined.

Place the apples in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Divide the butter mixture among the apples and then carefully pour the hot water into the bottom of the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are cooked through and soft but not mushy.

Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before enjoying.

Any leftover apples can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in the microwave.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Upside Down Spice Cake

I’ve been willing Fall to get here for the past few weeks. I am sure I have mentioned it before, it’s my favorite season. Cooler weather, the leaves changing, baking without overheating my house, the list goes on and on. There are a few flavors synonymous with this time of year, mainly pumpkin and apples. And while I normally like to welcome Fall with a new pumpkin recipe, I decided to go with the apples this year for a Caramel Apple Bourbon Upside Down Spice Cake. A bit of a mouthful!

A little backstory on this cake. I got the idea from watching a Fall themed movie on Hallmark Channel back in the Spring. I wrote the idea on a post-it and finally revisited it a few weeks ago. And of course, there were a few fails before I finally ended up with a cake that looked and tasted delicious. My first cake collapsed in the middle. My cake tester led me astray! The cake was slightly undercooked in the middle and there was no saving it. The fail though led me to change the flavor of the cake so it was kind of a good thing. Initially I doctored a French vanilla cake mix and decided the flavor just wasn’t right, so I switched to a spice cake instead. That definitely screams Fall more so than French Vanilla. So, I bought a spice cake Mix and made a few tweaks to it. I also decided to bake the cake in a tube pan to ensure it would bake completely without drying out. Well, it still wasn’t quite right. I used heavy cream when I made my bourbon caramel sauce and I just didn’t like the way it looked after flipping the cake. And while the cake tasted good, I just wasn’t getting enough spice from it.

Thankfully my third attempt was a success! First, I decided to omit the heavy cream from my caramel sauce. Second, I went with a yellow cake mix and added in cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves (those yummy warm spices of the season) to really get a strong spice flavor. And third, after I poured the caramel and arranged the apples in the pan, I placed the pan in the refrigerator while I made the batter for the cake. This allowed the apples to set in the caramel so that they wouldn’t move when I poured the batter into the pan. This actually happened with my second attempt at this cake. I had arranged my apples in a nice design and they moved all around once I poured the batter in. I didn’t take any chances with my third attempt though. I spooned the batter into the pan just to be safe.

Just look at how the apples looked before I added the batter. I definitely wanted that look on top of my cake once it was done.

And thankfully since I made those tweaks my cake looked amazing once I flipped it out of the pan. YAY!!!

And even better, the taste and texture of the cake was spot on.

Happy Fall Y’all!

Bourbon Caramel Apple Upside Down Spice Cake

Ingredients:

For the Bourbon Caramel Apple:

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup bourbon

2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch)

For the Spice Cake:

1 15.25 box of yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup buttermilk*, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Make your own buttermilk by adding 4 teaspoons of vinegar to a measuring cup and then adding enough whole milk to make 3/4 cup. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature, or until the milk becomes thick and appears curdled.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a tube pan with baking spray and set aside. You could also use a Bundt pan.

For the Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar and butter and melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is melted and combined remove from the heat and add the bourbon. Return to the heat for about a minute and stir to combine. Let cool slightly.

Pour the caramel sauce into the prepared pan and arrange the apple slices in the sauce making sure to overlap them.

While you make the cake batter refrigerate the pan with the apples and caramel sauce so the sauce can set. This will help the apples stay in place when you add the batter.

For the Spice Cake:

In a medium bowl whisk together the yellow cake mix with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla extract until combined. Using a fine mesh sieve (or a sifter) sift the cake mix with the spices over the buttermilk mixture and then beat with the hand mixer on medium speed until just combined.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spoon the batter over the apples. Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles and then bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then invert onto a cake platter or other rimmed dish. Let the cake to cool to room temperature before slicing and enjoying. It’s important to let the cake cool before slicing so the apples can set on the cake. If you slice it too soon the apples will slide off.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula

Strawberry Tiramisu

It’s the dog days of summer which usually means you will do anything to avoid turning on your oven. Thankfully there are many delicious recipes out there that can prevent you from doing just that and today I am sharing one, a Strawberry Tiramisu. This spin on tiramisu is perfect for the summer with the abundance of perfectly ripened strawberries available this time of year.

To begin, you will make the strawberry sauce. In a large bowl combine sliced strawberries with orange liqueur, balsamic vinegar, salt and sugar. After letting it sit for about 15 minutes puree half of it along with seedless strawberry jam in a food processor until smooth and then return the mixture to the strawberries and stir together. It may seem like the mixture is a tad watery, but it will be absorbed by the ladyfingers. No need to fear, your dessert will not be a runny mess when sliced.

Next you will make the mascarpone – whipped cream mixture. Beat heavy cream with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Next, fold in mascarpone cheese & orange zest until the whipped cream and mascarpone cheese are well incorporated and no streaks of either remain.

Now it’s time to assemble. Begin by spreading some of the strawberry mixture in the bottom of your dish. Then add a layer of ladyfingers on top and then spread half of the mascarpone cheese mixture over them. Repeat the layers ending with the remaining half of the mascarpone cheese mixture. Decorate the top with sliced strawberries and then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before slicing and serving.

This is a light and refreshing dessert that isn’t overly sweet… Perfect for these warmer days!

Strawberry Tiramisu

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons orange liqueur*

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 cups sliced strawberries, divided**

1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 8oz. container mascarpone cheese

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 7oz. package ladyfingers

*I used Cointreau

**About 1.5 lbs

Directions:

In a large bowl stir together 3 cups of the sliced strawberries, the liqueur, balsamic vinegar, salt and granulated sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring a few times. Transfer half of the mixture to a food processor (or blender) along with the strawberry jam and blend until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture back into the bowl with the remaining marinated strawberries and stir together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl beat the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract with a hand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and orange zest until both are incorporated well and no streaks of either remain.

To assemble: Spread 3/4 cup of the of the strawberry mixture in the bottom of an 8×8 square baking dish. Top with a single layer of ladyfingers. Spread half of the mascarpone cheese mixture over the ladyfingers. Top the ladyfingers with the remaining strawberry mixture and then top with another layer of ladyfingers. And finally, spread the remaining mascarpone cheese mixture over the ladyfingers. Top with the remaining cup of sliced strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight before slicing and serving.

Recipe modified from Food and Wine

No-Knead Olive Bread

I love bread recipes that don’t require too much work. And if you agree with me, then No-Knead Bread recipes are perfect for you as well. Instead of having to knead the dough to form the gluten strands that give the bread its texture, you allow the dough to rest for 12-18 hours. And for someone who is never quite sure if they have kneaded their dough too long or too short this is the perfect method. Today I am sharing with you a No-Knead Olive Bread. Don’t like olives, read on to get ideas on other No-Knead Breads you can try instead.

To start, in a large bowl I mixed all the ingredients – flour, sea salt, yeast, oregano, garlic powder, chopped olives and water – together using a wooded spoon and then shaped the dough into a ball before covering it with a piece of plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

I let the dough rest on my counter for about 18 hours, I did peak at it a few times during those hours to make sure it was rising. Hence using a piece of plastic wrap and then aluminum foil on top. And I happy to say that it did rise considerably, although it didn’t have many air bubbles.

After shaping it again into a ball and letting it rest for an additional 30 minutes I baked it in my Dutch oven. And after letting it cool I had a delicious bread to slice into.

What’s great about this recipe is that it can easily be switched up. The base of it is the flour, sea salt & water. And from there you could add in anything to satisfy your taste buds. Think a Cranberry Walnut Bread, a Jalapeno Cheddar version, or maybe a Sun-Dried Tomato & Pesto one… The possibilities are endless.  

No-Knead Olive Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup chopped olives*

1 1/2 cups warm water (95 F)

*I used 1/2 cup black olives and 1/2 cup pimento stuffed Manzanilla olives

Directions:

In a large bowl stir together the flour, sea salt, yeast, oregano, garlic powder and chopped olives. Add in the warm water and stir. The dough will be sticky. Shape into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 12-18 hours. The dough will double in size and be covered in air bubbles.

Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 F.

Lightly dust your work space with flour and turn out the dough. Using lightly floured hands shape the dough into a ball and then transfer to a large piece of parchment paper*. You want your piece of parchment paper to be large enough to fit in your Dutch oven**.  Score an “X” into the top of the dough with a sharp knife and then cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap for 30 minutes. During these 30 minutes, place your Dutch oven in the preheated oven.

After the 30 minutes carefully remove your pot from the oven. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of your dough and place the dough, along with the parchment paper, into your Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the bread is golden brown on top. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the bread, along with the parchment paper, to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Make sure to check your parchment paper to see what the highest and safest temperature it can be used at.

**If you don’t have a Dutch oven you could also use a heavy-duty pot.

Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Spice Market Carrot Cake

I’ve been using the same recipe for carrot cake for years. It’s a basic recipe with the only add-in being walnuts. No pineapple, coconut and/or raisins that you find in some recipes, but it’s delicious and moist nonetheless. I did try a different recipe a year or two ago and it just wasn’t that good. One of the reasons it never made it on here. I recently came across a recipe though that was completely different from any one I had seen before, a Spice Market Carrot Cake, that I instantly knew I wanted to try. I decided to make it for Easter this year. Which led me to wonder why is carrot cake so popular for Easter? Does it have anything to do with rabbits and their affinity to carrots? While I couldn’t find a definitive answer, I did learn this tidbit…  Carrot cake became popular in the 1970’s during the dieting craze. People apparently thought that by using carrots in a cake it would make the dessert seem healthier. I can get behind that. It’s like the theory that chocolate is a vegetable (some say fruit) since it’s a product of the cacao bean.

So, what makes the Spice Market Carrot Cake so special? It has a Moroccan-inspired flair thanks to the addition of ras el hanout – a Moroccan spice blend – and dried fruit (for the cake I made I went with apricots, but, you could use pitted dates instead).  Thankfully I didn’t need to go in search of ras el hanout and was able to make the blend myself using allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric and nutmeg. And to top the cake off, a twist on the traditional cream cheese frosting that I personally think is the best frosting for carrot cake, a Ginger-Orange Cream Cheese Frosting that includes ground ginger and the zest and juice of an orange.

This cake was a hit! All the flavors worked well together, and while I normally love nuts in my desserts, especially walnuts, I didn’t miss them one bit in this cake!

Spice Market Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon ras el hanout*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

3 cups (1 lb.) finely shredded carrots

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup honey

1 cup chopped dried apricots

For the Frosting:

1 orange – remove 2 teaspoons of zest and squeeze for 2 tablespoons of juice

1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

*To make the ras el hanout stir together 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon & turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and allspice.  

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 3 8-inch round baking pans with baking spray.

To make the cake: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, ras el hanout, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl stir together the eggs, carrots, oil and honey.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined and then stir in the chopped apricots. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and then bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

I like to wrap my cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before frosting, but, you can frost them once they are completely cooled.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the orange juice and ground ginger and continue beating until both are incorporate. Switch the speed to low and gradually add in 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Continue beating until well incorporated. Gradually add in an additional 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is spreadable. Stir in zest.

Frost and stack the cakes and then decorate as desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Cookie Palooza: Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Welcome to day 2 of Cookie Palooza 2021. Today I am bringing you a twist on a holiday favorite. While Snickerdoodles are great any time of the year they are especially great around the holidays. It could be because they are a nice complement to a hot cup of cocoa or because they can easily be transformed into a holiday cookie by using colored sanding sugar in lieu of white sugar to be rolled in. Either way, they are always a welcomed addition to any cookie platter. Today though, we are making them into another holiday favorite… biscotti.

I started by making and refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes.

While the dough was chilling I prepped an extra-large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. I opted to use one baking sheet to ensure that the biscotti would cook evenly.

Once the dough was chilled I divided it in half and shaped both pieces into a 10×4-inch rectangle. The dough was quite sticky so I wet my hands with water beforehand. I would suggest shaping the dough right on the parchment paper. You may have trouble transferring it from your counter to the baking sheet otherwise. Next, I generously covered both loaves with a cinnamon-sugar mixture and gently pressed it into the dough.

After baking in a 350 F oven for 25 minutes I removed it and using the parchment paper I transferred it to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. While the loaves cooled I lined my baking sheet with a fresh piece of parchment paper. I must say, the top of the loaves reminded me of what snickerdoodles look like after they are baked. That cracked look with the cinnamon-sugar coating.

After letting the loaves cool for 10 minutes I used a serrated knife to slice them into 3/4-inch pieces. I then placed the biscotti, cut side down, back on my prepared baking sheet. I baked them for 10 minutes, flipped them, and then baked them for an additional 10 minutes. I then let the biscotti cool completely on the pans before enjoying.

I’ll admit that some of my pieces were slightly bigger than 3/4 of an inch. They were closer to an inch. Oops! Needless to say though, they were delish. They definitely tasted like your traditional Snickerdoodle.

These would make the ideal food gift for anyone who enjoys a sweet treat with their warm beverage or anyone who loves a good snickerdoodle!

One thing I should note, the original recipe called for dipping the finished biscotti in white chocolate. I opted to omit that part since a) Snickerdoodles aren’t normally dipped in chocolate and b) I like to dip my biscotti in tea or hot cocoa and I felt that the white chocolate would just get in the way of that.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sugar, divided

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup rum*

3 large eggs, at room temperature

*could use brandy or bourbon instead

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, melted butter and rum. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until no streaks of the flour mixture remain.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 1 extra-large baking sheet or 2 medium baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half and using moistened hands shape each half on the prepared baking sheets into a 10×4 – inch rectangle.

In a small bowl stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle generously over the both doughs. Gently pressing it in.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until pale golden.

Remove from the oven and using the parchment paper transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Leave the oven on and line your baking sheet(s) with fresh parchment paper.

Using a serrated knife, cut the biscotti loaves crosswise into 3/4 – inch slices. Place the slices cut side down on the prepared baking sheet(s).

Bake for 10 minutes, and then flip the biscotti and bake for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet(s).

Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Baked From Scratch

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