Christmas Themed Sugar Cookies

It’s Christmas Eve and I am happy to say that all of my Christmas baking is officially done. For my final cookie post before the holiday – check out my Rainbow Cookies and Gingerbread Men from earlier in the week – I am going completely traditional with sugar cookies decorated to reflect the holiday!

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After sifting together cake flour (yes, you read that correctly, cake flour for cookies), baking powder and salt in a large bowl…

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I then mixed together butter and sugar in a separate bowl and then added in an egg and vanilla extract and continued mixing until all of the ingredients were incorporated.

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Next I added in the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions.

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Once the dough came together I divided it in half and wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it until it was firm – the recipe stated at least an hour but I left it in the fridge overnight and just let it sit out for a few minutes before rolling it out.

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Whereas the recipe said to roll the dough to about a 1/8-inch thick I found it to be thin to work with and the few cookies that I did manage to cut out at that thinness ended up over-browning when I baked them so I went with the standard 1/4-inch thick.

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I decorated a few of the cut-outs with sanding sugar prior to refrigerating them for 30 minutes before baking them in a 350 F preheated oven.

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After letting the cookies cool it was time to spruce them up with royal icing, sanding sugar and sprinkles.

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These snowflakes were by far my favorite and I must say that the cake flour produced a sugar cookie that was much more delicate than and not as crunchy as your typical sugar cookie. I definitely think this will become my go-to sugar cookie recipe from now on.

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Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Sugar Cookies

Makes 24 to 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of parchment paper or into a medium bowl; set aside. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture in 2 batches until just incorporated. Divide between 2 pieces of plastic wrap; shape into disks. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.)

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough on a floured surface, dusting with flour as needed, until about 1/8 inch thick*. Cut out shapes with 2-to-4-inch cookie cutters; arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (If the dough becomes too soft as you work, return to the refrigerator until firm.) Gather the scraps and refrigerate until firm; reroll once to cut out more cookies. Chill the cutouts 30 minutes.

3. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are slightly puffed and just golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely before icing.

*I rolled out my cookies 1/4 inch thick.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th on Friday and that the rest of your holiday weekend was good. As for me, the 4th was a bit of a washout due to rain but the rest of the weekend was beautiful which meant I was able to do some yard work. The rain wasn’t all that bad though, it gave me the perfect excuse to stay in and bake some patriotic themed cupcakes. I settled on making Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. I should note that the recipe for the Lemon Buttermilk was originally for a loaf cake, but, I decided to turn it into cupcakes and add some frosting.  
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I began by whisking together the dry ingredients -flour, baking powder and salt – in one bowl and the wet ingredients – oil, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest and juice – in another.
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After whisking those ingredients together by hand I opted to use my hand mixer to whisk all of the ingredients together.
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I then used an ice cream scoop – I find it’s always the perfect size for scooping cupcake batter – to fill patriotic themed cupcake liners.
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I then baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for 20 minutes – rotating the tins halfway through. After letting the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan I removed them and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
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I then whipped up a batch of Cream Cheese Frosting and used a large open star tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
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And since these were patriotic themed cupcakes I added some red and blue with stars and stripes sprinkles, blueberries and strawberries and blueberries and raspberries.
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Final verdict… Lemon & Cream Cheese are a winning combination!
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Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes – adapted from here

Makes 14 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, lemon zest and juice. Add to the dry ingredients.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through.

5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins on a wire rack for a few minutes and then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack.

6. Frost and enjoy!

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups Confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer

2. With the mixer on low speed add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth and creamy

3. Beat in the vanilla extract

Happy National Doughnut Day!

It’s the first Friday of June, also known as National Doughnut Day! It began back in 1938 when The Salvation Army wanted to recognize the men and women who served doughnuts to soldiers in World War I. For a little more history on the day check out the following link. So, if you are in the mood for a free doughnut today head on over to your local Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, as for me, I decided to bake up a batch. While I did enjoy the Pumpkin Doughnuts and Cinnamon Sugar Apple Doughnuts I baked up last year soon after I got my doughnut pan I decided that today I would bake my favorite doughnut… A Chocolate Frosted Doughnut. A basic one, but always a good one! I found a great recipe on the daily web magazine The Kitchn that could easily be halved (6 vs. 12), which was the exact amount I was looking to make.
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I began by mixing active dry yeast with warm water and setting it aside. While the directions didn’t state it, I also added a little sugar as well, per the directions on the yeast packaging. I made the mistake of not adding sugar the first time I worked with yeast – for cinnamon rolls – and needless to say they didn’t come out as well as I was hoping they would.
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Next I sifted together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt and set that aside as well.
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And then I whisked together an egg, vanilla yogurt (I used Greek yogurt), melted butter, vanilla paste (I actually had this in my spice collection after picking up a bottle of it from my local Home Goods. Pure Vanilla Extract is good, but the paste is excellent!), and the yeast mixture.
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Once that was well combined I whisked in the sifted flour mixture.
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Now it was time to pipe the batter into my greased doughnut pan.
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Following that I baked the doughnuts in a preheated 350 F oven for about 15 minutes. After letting them cool in the pan for 5 minutes I transferred them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
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Once they were completely cooled I made the chocolate glaze and got the sprinkles ready.
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I then dipped the doughnuts in the glaze and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles.
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Makes 12 Doughnuts (I halved the recipe and it more than enough for 6 doughnuts)
Ingredients:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup vanilla yogurt, whole or low fat
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Directions:
For the doughnuts, preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two (6-count) doughnut pans with a flour-based baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy. Arrange a wire cooling rack over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, melted butter, vanilla paste, and yeast mixture until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag (or zip top bag, snipping off one corner for piping) and pipe into the prepared pan, filling each well a little over half full.
Bake the doughnuts until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the doughnuts in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer the doughnuts from the pan to the wire rack.
 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 to 4 teaspoons milk
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth.

Easter Eggs

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. Ideally I would have liked to get this post up yesterday, but time got away from me. Since it is Easter Monday  though, I’m not all that late.

I had decided a while back that I wanted to make decorated Easter cookies for the holiday (the decision was easily made after I got this egg cookie cutter from my local craft store.)

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As opposed to Valentine’s Day when I used a package mix to make my decorated cookies, this time I was determined to make them from scratch. (While I do enjoy making things from scratch, rolled out cookies are among my least favorite things to make since I inevitably roll them out too thin or too thick which can lead to the baking time to be off which can then lead to a cookie that is inedible. Maybe it’s time to invest in some rolling pin rings.)

I opted to use the Roll-Out Cookie recipe on the back of the cookie cutter packaging since it didn’t require the dough to be refrigerated prior to rolling (I’m all about saving time whenever possible.)

To begin I mixed the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl.

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In the bowl of my stand mixer I beat together butter and sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in vanilla and almond extracts and an egg.

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I then incorporated the flour mixture into the butter mixture one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.

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It wasn’t long before the dough came together, which I then divided into two balls in preparation for rolling.

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Once I rolled out my first ball and cut out the cookies I placed them on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkled them with Easter themed sprinkles. After baking for about ten minutes in a 350 F preheated oven they were done.

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I baked my second batch without sprinkles since I was planning on decorating them with royal icing.

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Once the cookies cooled completely I whipped up a small batch of royal icing.

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And after some dyeing, dotting and sprinkling my cookies were done.

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Along with Easter Egg Cookies I decided to make some actual Easter eggs. I haven’t dyed eggs in quite some time, but after seeing the directions for marbled eggs in a few different magazines this past month I decided I had to try it.

And this is what I ended up with. I really liked how the inside of the shell looked more than anything.

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And if you’re curious about Easter Eggs and some fun facts about them check out this article that was in the USA Weekend newspaper magazine this past weekend. Here are a few of my favorites…

-Before those little dissolvable capsules, egg dyes were made from a variety of materials, including onion peels, tree bark, flower petals, and vegetable and fruit juices.

-The PAAS Dye Co. launched its popular product in the 1880s in Newark, N.J. The first packets contained five colors for 5 cents. The company now claims to sell more than 10 million kits annually (no longer just dyes, but also paints, stickers, glitter and more) and says that consumers use them to decorate 180 million eggs.

-Many Easter eggs aren’t actually eggs but are formed from chocolate. In Scotland, a popular treat sold in fish-and-chips shops is deep-fried chocolate eggs.

-“Easter eggs” are found in numerous videogames and movies. That’s a term for an inside joke or hidden message planted by the creator. The term was coined at Atari after a programmer put his name in a hidden room in the game Adventure, released in 1979.

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Roll-Out Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoons almond extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 balls.

On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet 8-11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

I have baked numerous types of cookies in my baking adventures that I have loved, but, by far one of my favorites is a Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie that is the perfect combination of chewiness and chocolate without being overly sweet thanks to the addition of malted milk powder. So, when I was flipping through some cookbooks for baking inspirations and I came across a recipe for a Chocolate Malted Cupcake I knew I had to try it!

To begin I whisked together my dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, light brown sugar, baking soda and salt) in one bowl and malted milk powder and milk in another bowl.

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Once that was done I combined both of these mixtures along with vegetable oil in the bowl of my stand mixer and mixed it until it was combined.

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To finish the batter I beat in three eggs, sour cream and vanilla.

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I then divided the batter into my prepared muffin tins which I lined with these cupcake liners that I thought were a perfect for these cupcakes. The red and white is reminiscent of old school soda shops where malted beverages were a staple. I actually got these cupcake liners the day after Valentine’s Day at my local Michael’s for less than a $1. You have to love post-Holiday sales!

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After baking for about twenty minutes in a pre-heated 350 F oven my first batch of Chocolate Malted Cupcakes were done!

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The recipe was right on point and I ended up with twenty-eight delicious cupcakes!

After the cupcakes had cooled I whipped up a batch of Fluffy Vanilla Frosting using three simple ingredients: unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. I think this may become my new go-to vanilla frosting!

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As opposed to piping my favorite 1M Swirl on these cupcakes, I frosted them using an offset spatula and then decorating them with chocolate sprinkles.

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Overall they were a hit and just the right amount of sweetness!

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 28 Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 1/2 tsps. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 1/4 cups malted milk powder

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture, and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat until just combined.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes About 4 Cups

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp.)

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Valentine’s Day Treats

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many have coined this day a Hallmark Holiday, for me, I personally believe that we shouldn’t have to designate a specific calendar day to show the one’s we love how much we love and appreciate them (If you’re curious here’s a little history on the origins of the day.) We should take a lesson from my friend’s four-year old daughter who will ask me to call her mom while I am baby-sitting her just so she can tell her that she loves her. I will say though that Valentine’s Day does bring about some delicious treats available in stores. I highly recommend the Heart Shaped Brownie Batter Donut from Dunkin’ Donuts… It’s delicious! Something else that is available in stores… an array of baking items so you can bake up your own delicious treats. I definitely couldn’t resist quite a few of those…

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While I would have loved to bake up a batch of sugar cookies from scratch I had to settle on using a bag mix since I was short on time and couldn’t afford to wait the hour or so for my dough to be refrigerated.

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After following the mixing directions on the package for cutout cookies I rolled out the dough and used my heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies and then popped them in a 350 F preheated oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for six minutes. I got a jump start on decorating a few of them by sprinkling sprinkles on them prior to baking. I then let them cool completely before finishing my decorating.

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While the cookies cooled I made some cupcakes using Pillsbury’s Valentine’s Day Funfetti Cake Mix. How can you resist the Pillsbury Dough Boy on a Valentine’s Day themed cake mix box!?!? Once they cooled I frosted them using store bought vanilla frosting. I was planning on whipping up a batch of vanilla frosting from scratch, but, after shoveling snow for the umpteenth time this year I just wasn’t in the mood.

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I tinted half of the frosting pink and then sprinkled some Valentine’s Day sprinkles on them.

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And finally something I did make from scratch… Royal Icing to decorate the cookies.

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I used a squeeze bottle to decorate the cookies with icing and then once again used sprinkles to finish decorating them.

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And finally my Valentine’s Day treats were done and ready to be shared…

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