Thursday, October 22, 2015

Black & Orange Cookies

These cookies have donned their costumes early; usually black & white, I made a switch and made an orange & black that makes them perfect for Halloween.  A favorite in the New York area, these cookies have a soft cake-like texture with fondant like icing.  I love eating one half at a time...don't you?

Black & Orange Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Fondant Icing:
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
3 T light corn syrup
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6-7 T cold water

Orange food coloring + 1/4 tsp. orange extract (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sift the dry ingredients and set aside.  Add the vanilla extract to the milk.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy--about 2 minutes.  Beat in the whole eggs and yolks, one at a time, then increase the speed to high and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk/vanilla, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Increase the speed to high and beat for 15 seconds to combine and lightened the batter.

Use a #20 scoop to measure out the batter onto the parchment-lined pans, leaving about 2 inches between for spreading.
Bake in the preheated oven for 13 to 15 minutes.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.  The bottoms should be a golden brown.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, mix up the icing using the stand mixer and the whisk attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar with the corn syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice on low speed.  Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is running.  The icing should be smooth and spreadable.  Transfer a little more than half the icing to a medium bowl and add the orange food coloring and extract, if using.  Add the cocoa to the icing in the mixing bowl and beat on low to combine, adding cold water as needed to make it smooth and spreadable.

I spread the chocolate icing on half of the cookie and allowed it to set slightly.
Then, I did the orange icing.

This fondant-like icing will set up hard in about 30 minutes allowing for them to be stored without fear of sticking together.  However, these were set to go to our Vet's office because our three little kittens had their year check up and immunizations.  It's nice to bring gifts don't you think? Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Shenandoah Apple Pie Cake

I spent the weekend with my Sis at her lovely home that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains; cherished times antiquing, walking an arts & craft show, and apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard.
View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from my Sister's back deck!
The view from Carter Mountain Orchard

Jonagold's were there for the picking!
I came home with bags of apples, that I've already turned into sauce to prepare apple butter today, but I saved out a couple to make a quick cake for my hubby last night.  The weather was perfect even though the leaves aren't quite as brilliant, but it's still a little early.
 Apple trees are deciduous and although there are several regions in our country where apple production is large, this fruit originates in Central Asia, where they have been grown for thousands of years.  Reverend William Braxton brought them to Boston in the 17th century and when we lived in Sudbury, we would pick apples in Bolton...known as the apple capital of Massachusetts.  It's become a ritual in our family; our daughter Erin took her family this past weekend to an orchard.  It's a great adventure and some even have corn mazes, which are really fun.

Apple Pie Cake
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice*
1/8 tsp. ground Cardamon
2 cups chopped apples
1/2 cup toasted pecans

*Or mix 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ground cloves, 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. ginger.
 Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Butter a pie dish and set aside.  
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.   Add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just to combine.  Don't worry the batter is stiff.  Add the apples and pecans and mix again.  Spread batter into the prepared pie dish.  Smooth top and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
You could glaze this cake, but it was delicious with just a dusting of confectioners' sugar (icing sugar).  Enjoy! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies and October's Give-Away Apron

Today is a sad day for me; it's Kelly's birthday and she would have been 43 years old.  In case you're new to the blog, our daughter was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2009 and passed away on May 14, 2010 (another very hard day for me.)

However, I do have great memories and one of them we shared is our love of these Giant Gingerbread cookies.  In fact, I think Kelly was known more for my recipe than I was!  She was always baking them for friends' birthdays and special occasions.  It's no wonder she loved these spice cookies--she always asked for Pumpkin Pie for her birthday too.

Kelly's Giant Gingerbread Cookies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 3/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup candied ginger chips

Sparkling Sugar to roll the cookies in

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then add the sugars.  Cream until fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the molasses and egg and beat on low to combine, scraping down the sides again.

Add the dry ingredients and ginger chips and mix on low speed until just combined.  Remove from the stand and bring the dough together with the rubber spatula.

Use a #20 scoop to measure out the cookies and roll in the sparkling sugar.  Place on the parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
The cookies spread slightly, so give them room on the baking sheet.  The tops should be cracked and dry.  Transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

This month's apron, with orange and green colors, would have pleased Kelly.  She said to me, after her diagnosis and everyone sent her pink presents, "Mom, I really do hate the color of Pink!"  So, we have orange roses!
If you'd like to win this apron, just comment on any of the posts this month and it could be yours.  Thank you all for being my support system over these last five years;  it's meant a lot to be able to share my thoughts,  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Celebrate Pizza Month & September's Give-Away Apron Winner...

Who knew that there is a whole month devoted to Pizza?  Well, October is and how great for us who are lovers of this flat bread!

Modern day Pizza comes from Naples, Italy in the 18th or early 19th century.  Typically, it is a flat bread with a tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings.  Pizza Margherita is considered the first pizza to come from Naples created to honor a visit from Queen Margherita.  I decided on a breakfast pizza, topped with scrambled eggs, veggie sausage, and of course, two kinds of cheese.

Breakfast Pizza
2 cups Perfect Pizza Blend Flour (or Bread Flour)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Pizza Dough Flavor
2 tsp. Pizza Seasoning
 1 pkg (approx 1T) dry active yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
1 tsp. granulated sugar
2 T olive oil
Additional water

First, in a 1 cup glass measure, measure the yeast and mix into the very warm water.  Add the sugar and stir.  Let sit 7 to 10 minutes until foamy.  This is called proofing.

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, measure the dry ingredients and mix on low speed.  Add the proofed yeast and olive oil and turn mixer on Speed 2.  Start adding more water, just until the dough comes together and the sides are "clean."  Continue to run the mixture for another 5 minutes to knead.  Turn the dough out onto a dough board and knead until smooth.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise to almost double the size...approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour depending how warm your kitchen is.

When dough has almost doubled, divide it into 3 or 4 pieces (depends on the size of your pizza. Preheat oven to 450F-degrees.  Place a baking stone in the oven or you could use a baking sheet. 

Roll out the dough to approximately 12 inches.  It's easy to have a baking peel handy, if you're baking on a stone; lightly covered with finely ground corn meal.  Brush the pizza with additional olive oil and place in the oven on the baking stone. Bake approximately 8 minutes, then remove and add some grated Fontina and Cheddar Cheese, scrambled eggs, and veggie sausage.  Return to the oven and bake another 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and serve hot! Enjoy!

Now, the winner of September's apron is Carol.  Please email your address so I can send the apron to you:-D

One last thing...a little tip.  Next time you're baking muffins, change up the pan.  Here I used a mini angel food muffin pan.  Not my original idea; I had similar muffins at Bruegger Bagels.  I think they were trying to make a muffin with similarities to bagels!