Spritz Butter Cookies

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I have had difficulty with cookie press dough in the past. The consistency of this dough was absolutely perfect and easy to punch through the press. So, of course, the new problem was that half of my little Christmas tree cookies had a practically unrecognizable shape! I opted to make these little “wreaths”- and had absolutely no issues with the shape. :) This recipe was adapted from the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. According to the author, the cornstarch makes the cookies more delicate and easier to push through the cookie press.

These were my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie this year; they reminded him of “fresh” Danish butter cookies. Buttery with a hint of almond. Lovely!

  • 44 g (1/2 cup minus 1 T/1.5 oz) blanched sliced almonds
  • 257 g (9.1 oz/2 cups plus 2 T) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) cornstarch
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 150 g (5.3 oz/3/4 cup) superfine sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 T/8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • sugar sprinkles for decorating, optional
  1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (convection) for 30 minutes or longer before baking.
  2. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over browning. Cool completely.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  4. In a food processor, process the almonds until fairly fine. (They have to be able to squeeze through the cookie press!)
  5. Whisk the almonds into the flour mixture.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat for 30 seconds, or until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture and pulse in just until blended. Do not over mix.
  9. Scrape the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use the outside of the plastic wrap to knead together the dough until it is completely even and soft enough to pipe smoothly.
  10. Form sections of the dough into a log and put into the tube of a cookie press. (Cover remaining dough.)
  11. Using the press, place cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets 1-inch apart.
  12. Decorate with sugar sprinkles, if using.
  13. Bake cookies for 6 to 7 minutes (convection) or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven, or until pale gold.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Cookies can be stored airtight at room temperature for 1 month; refrigerated or frozen for 6 months.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Chewy Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

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I had pretty much finished my holiday baking but decided that a gingerbread or molasses cookie was missing from my assortment. Last year I made gingerbread cutouts- but basically was out of steam to make them this year. :/ I was searching my cookbook library and the internet for the perfect molasses drop cookie when this one magically appeared in my WordPress Reader. Yay! They looked perfect and sounded wonderful. Thanks, Suzanne! This recipe was adapted from Food 52 via A Pug in the Kitchen.

When measuring with molasses, I always coat the measuring cup with cooking spray- it glides right out like magic. :) I also grind whole cloves in a spice grinder. Whole cloves are less expensive and have a much longer shelf life. Freshly ground spices have so much more flavor too.

Yield: Makes 24 to 30 cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I grind whole cloves)
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • turbinado or granulated sugar, for rolling
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt and cloves in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar together in bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, 3 minutes.
  3. Add egg and molasses. Mix to combine well.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 F (convection). Scoop dough with a cookie scoop and roll dough into 1 1/2″ balls.
  6. Coat dough balls in turbinado or granulated sugar.
  7. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and gently flatten, just barely I use 2 fingers and lightly push on the dough.
  8. Bake in oven until set and crinkled on top, about 12 minutes. Remove and cool.

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One Year Ago:

Luscious Apple Pie

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This is a gold standard apple pie with a little bit of a twist. The apples’  juices in the filling are concentrated prior to baking and thickened apple cider is also added to the filling- both add a deeper flavor to the filling- making it luscious. I do have one regret- not doing a lattice top. I always do a lattice top on my apple pie… but I didn’t want to deviate from the Baking Bible!! Next time! I think it would have been okay. ;) This recipe is from the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Pie Crust For the Standard Double Crust 9-inch Pie:

  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 T (10.2 oz/290 g) pastry flour or bleached all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 3 g (1/2 plus teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 1.1 g (1/4 teaspoon) aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (4.5 oz/128 g) cream cheese, cold
  • 3 T (44 ml/1.5 oz/43 g) heavy cream
  • 1 T (15 ml) cider vinegar
  1. Cut the butter into small (about 1/2 inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a gallon-size reclosable freezer bag, place the flour, salt, and baking powder and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place the flour mixture in a food processor.
  4. Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds, or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the cubes is larger than the size of peas. (Toss with a fork to see the size better.)
  6. Remove the cover and add the cream and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together.
  7. Divide the dough in half (about 11 oz/312 g each). Spoon into two plastic bags. Hold either side of the bag opening and alternate using the heel of your hand and your knuckles to knead and press the mixture, from the outside of the bad, until most of the mixture holds together in one piece. Repeat for the second crust.
  8. Cut open each bag and empty the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap.
  9. Use the plastic wrap to finish kneading together the dough just until it feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  10. Flatten each dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  11. Remove the dough for the bottom crust from the refrigerator. If necessary, let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it is malleable enough to roll.
  12. Starting from the center and moving outward, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick on two overlapping pieces of plastic wrap, 12 inches in diameter, or large enough to line the bottom of the pie plate and extend slightly past the edge of the rim. (I used a tapered rolling pin to prevent the edges from becoming too thin.) Two or three times during rolling, flip the dough over and lift off of the plastic wrap to prevent it from creasing the dough.
  13. Transfer the dough to the pie plate, easing it into place. If necessary, trim the edge almost even with the edge of the plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

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For the Apple Filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds baking apples (about 6 medium/8 cups sliced/2 pounds sliced/ 907 g sliced) such as Macoun, Cortland, Jonathan, Winesap, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith (I love to use a blend of different types)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup, firmly packed (1.9 oz/54 g) light brown Muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1.8 oz/50 g) granulated sugar (can add up to an additional 1/4 cup if apples are very tart)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (can add 1/4 tsp to 3/4 tsp if using strong specialty cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml/4.3 oz/122 g) unpasteurized apple cider, unsweetened
  • 1/2 T (5 g) cornstarch (for the apple cider)
  • 2 T (1 oz/28 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp (12 g) cornstarch (for the apples)
  1.  Peel the apples and slice them in half. Use a melon baller to remove the cores and a small short knife to cut away any remaining peel. Slice the apples 1/4 inch thick. Toss them with the lemon juice.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the apple and toss to coat them with the sugar mixture. Let the apples macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together the apple cider and the 1/2 T of cornstarch. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. It will become very thick. Scrape it into a small bowl, cover tightly, and set it aside.
  4. Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid.
  5. Transfer this liquid to a 4+ cup microwavable measure with a spout that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Add the butter and microwave for about 6 to 7 minutes until reduced to about 1/3 cup (3.1 oz/88 g). It will be syrupy and lightly caramelized. Watch carefully to prevent burning. (Alternatively, reduce the liquid in a saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Swirl but do not stir it.)
  6. Transfer the apples to a large bowl and toss them with the 1 T plus 1 tsp of cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared.
  7. Pour the reduced syrup over the apples, tossing gently. (Do not be concerned if the syrup hardens on contact with the apples; it will dissolve during baking.)
  8. Scrape in the thickened apple cider and again toss gently to mix it in.
  9. Spoon the apples into the dough-lined pie plate.

To Complete the Pie:

  1. Moisten the border of the bottom crust by brushing it lightly with water.
  2. Roll out the dough for the top crust to a diameter of 12 inches.
  3. Place the top crust over the apple filling. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down all around the top to seal it. Crimp the border using your forefinger and thumb or a fork, and use a small sharp knife to make 5 evenly (I tried!) spaced 2-inch slashes in the top crust, starting about 1 inch from the center and radiating toward the edge.
  4. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking to chill and relax the dough.
  5. 45 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it. Cover with non-stick aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (convection).
  6. Place a foil or silicone ring over the edge of the pie crust to protect from over browning. Set the pie on the foil-covered baking stone or sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate pie.
  7. Continue baking for 20 to 35 minutes, or until juices bubble through the slashes and the apples feel tender but not mushy when a cake tester or small knife is inserted through a slash.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  9. Store at room temperature, 2 days; refrigerated, 4 days.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Birthday Red Velvet “Owl” Cupcakes, Johnnycake, & The One Room Schoolhouse

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My daughter is so grown up for a second grader. She chose going to a Broadway show instead of a birthday party to celebrate her 8th birthday. She is a Broadway show tune junkie! :) Another grown up choice was choosing red velvet cupcakes for her special birthday dessert. I thought that I wasn’t a red velvet fan- but these were super moist and wonderful. When we saw the owl cupcakes on Nancy Creative around Halloween, we both knew that we had to make them! I would say that the owl cupcake choice was the 8-year-old part of this birthday celebration, but I want them for my birthday too!! :) The cupcake recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

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To make the owl’s eyes, I microwaved the oreos 3 cookies at a time for 7 seconds, but I still had trouble getting a clean split. I need more practice… I suppose it’s been too long since I’ve eaten oreos the right way! The eyeballs and beak were made out of m&m’s. The eyebrows are made from the remaining filling-less sides of the oreo cookies, scored slightly less than in half. Adorable!

Yield: 12 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

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  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (can put in a bowl of warm water to quickly change the temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. (I used foil-lined paper liners.)
  2. Whisk together cake flour, and cocoa; add salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  4. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
  5. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter; mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  6. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18 minutes (on convection). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  7. To finish, top with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

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Yield: 2 cups, enough to frost 12 cupcakes

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  2. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth.
  3. Using a pastry bag with a large fluted tip, pipe onto cupcakes in a circular motion, starting on the outer rim.

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Number Cookies: Our Family Tradition! :)

Another highlight of her birthday was that her class went on a field trip to a historic One Room Schoolhouse. She has been desperate to go on this trip because part of the fun is that everyone is supposed to dress in old-fashioned attire. She absolutely loves dressing up for everything- but this was particularly special because she wore one of my old dresses! (Thanks to her Nana who saves everything! :)) With a felt bonnet too. Super cute.

The kids also bring their lunch in baskets- with each item wrapped in bandanas or cloth. She brought an apple, a buttered roll, dried fruit, and a buttered johnnycake. We had problems coming up with a vessel for her drink…. Makes one appreciate modern conveniences!

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For the New England Johnnycake:

Yield: 12 standard muffins or 1 8-inch square cake (12 squares)

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees (convection).
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the milk, syrup, oil, and eggs. Stir until just incorporated.
  4. Bake in a lined or greased muffin tin for 14 minutes, or in an 8-inch square pan for 20 to 25 minutes.

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One Year Ago:

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I feel as though I am revealing a secret recipe…. These cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York, are sold all over the United States. Now I know why these cookies are their signature item! They are FABULOUS- thin, crispy – but not too crispy, and loaded with chocolate chips. I don’t know if the water in the dough or the dark brown sugar makes the difference, but there is a difference. :)

This recipe is from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Home-Style Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads. I modified the recipe by using unsalted butter, chilling the dough for 1 hour prior to baking, and by adjusting the baking time for a convection oven. I baked them for 12 minutes when using 2 baking sheets at a time, and for 8 minutes when using only 1 baking sheet. Delicious.

Yield: 4 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup salted butter (I used unsalted!)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, silpat, or butter.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the water and vanilla; mix until just combined.
  6. Add the eggs and mix them lightly.
  7. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Be careful not to overmix!
  8. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Bake them for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges and centers are brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

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Two Years Ago:

Vanilla Bean Milk Tart with Brown Sugar Crust

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The cover of the Martha Stewart Living Thanksgiving issue displays an assortment of pies. I decided I needed to make a pie before Thanksgiving- because I am not planning to make six different types on Thanksgiving and I don’t want to limit myself!! My husband and daughter selected the same pie to try first… milk pie.

This pie is really a tart. The crust is cookie-like and delicious. The filling is reminiscent of rice pudding, in a vanilla bean, custardy sort of way. Delicious!! This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Crust:

  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

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  1. Make the Crust: In a food processor, pulse brown sugar and 1/4 cup flour to combine. Add salt and remaining 1 cup flour; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse just until mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add egg yolk and ice water and pulse just until mixture starts to come together. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring together in plastic to form a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch round. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim edges flush with rim. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. (I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.)
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tart pan on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Line dough with double parchment; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 25 minutes, then remove parchment and beans. Bake until crust is golden and set throughout, about 10 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Make the Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat milk and cream with vanilla pod and seeds until almost boiling.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together egg and granulated sugar until combined and thick, about 4-5 minutes, then whisk in flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. Reduce heat of the milk and cream to medium, then slowly whisk egg mixture into cream mixture. Continue whisking until bubbles appear in center of pan, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Pour filling into cooled crust. Sprinkle with cinnamon and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Cut into wedges to serve.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

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It can be so upsetting to bake for classrooms of kids…. I have learned my lesson the hard way. Laboring over homemade birthday cupcakes with cute decorations to bring in for preschool birthday celebrations, only to see kids lick off the frosting and throw them in the garbage… take one bite and throw them in the garbage…. You get the idea.

Both of my kids (now in 2nd & 4th grade) had a Halloween celebration at school this year where parents were asked to volunteer to help or bring in treats or supplies. I can’t help myself! I had to volunteer to bake. :) Our first plan was to make bat sugar cookies. Then I imagined rolling, cutting, chilling, baking, and decorating 60 bats and watching kids throw them out. Nope. When I saw these festive bite-sized sugar cookies I knew that they were a much better choice. Cute and quick. My kids also helped make them by rolling the dough into balls, sprinkling the sanding sugar, and adding the candy corns. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living Special Issues.

My son and daughter each brought 30 sugar and 30 chocolate-sugar cookies to school to celebrate. Perfect! I had a couple leftover to bring to Fiesta Friday #40 this week too! Happy Halloween! :)

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Yield: 64 bite-sized cookies

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 stick, very soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • orange sanding sugar
  • About 64 candy corns (I used Brach’s)

Note: To make the chocolate variation: Reduce the amount of all-purpose flour to 1 cup. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 3.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add flour (and cocoa if making the chocolate version), and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough (I used the teaspoon side of my melon baller & scooped it out with a tiny condiment spoon), and roll into balls. Chill dough balls for about 10 minutes prior to baking.
  5. Place balls on 3 parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with orange sanding sugar.
  6. Bake until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 9 to 10 minutes on convection, or up to 12 minutes in a standard oven.
  7. Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

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I may have overdone it… I made Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread for breakfast and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake for dessert on the SAME DAY…. BUT, I have never made a “dump cake” (or heard of a “dump cake”) and I really wanted to try this one! :) A “dump” cake is named for its simple preparation- dumping ingredients into a bowl, stirring, pouring into a pan and then coating with toppings prior to baking. The bottom layer of the cake is custardy and the top crunchy- great.

I knew that this “pumpkin-overload” in my menu planning was okay when my son called this cake “heaven on a plate.” My husband said that it was the best pumpkin dessert he had ever had! What rave reviews!! :) This recipe was adapted from AllRecipes, via Nancy Creative. It is a wonderful autumn dessert and would be a great part of a Thanksgiving menu as well. We ate it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Yield: Makes one 9 x 13-inch cake

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  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16.5 oz.) package yellow cake mix (or use spice cake mix) (I used Dunkin Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • salted caramel sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, mix pumpkin, light brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt, blending well. Stir in the evaporated milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle all of the dry yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle the chopped pecans and then the toffee bits evenly over top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over everything.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes (on convection) or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven, until edges are lightly browned (it may be a little soft in the center, but will set as it cools; also, the cake may sink slightly as it cools). Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. You can serve just as it is or with a dollop of whipped cream. (maybe even a drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top if you really want to make it decadent!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

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I have a few friends on a gluten-free diet. Chocolate Soufflé Cake is really my go-to gluten-free dessert, but I feel the need to expand my horizons. I have had a couple of failures in the past- most memorably a gluten-free berry clafoutis. :( Happy to say that these cookies were a success! They were crisp on the outside and sweet, chocolatey, chewy, and tender on the inside- difficult to believe that they were flourless. We ate them as is, but they would be wonderful with a bowl of ice cream too- and still gluten-free. This recipe was adapted from Joie de Vivre. Delicious!

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt until well blended. Add in the egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract; mix until well combined.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Drop heaping full tablespoons (I used a large cookie scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are puffed and crackled, rotating sheets once during the baking.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

German Apple Cake

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I love apple baking season!! My son has also become obsessed with cinnamon-sugar ever since pumpkin doughnut muffins became part of his life. :) Apples and cinnamon-sugar are a match made in heaven- not to mention eating tasty cake a la mode- the whole dessert was heavenly!

I chose this recipe because the presentation was so pretty- so happy it was equally delicious. This cake was AMAZING. The recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used Ginger Gold apples because they were the most tart and best baking apples available at my farmstand at the time. It would also be wonderful with a combination of Granny Smith, Winesap, or Cortland apples. I usually prefer to combine varieties, but I couldn’t wait to make this cake. :)

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  • cooking oil spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, separated
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 large, tart apples, such as Ginger Gold, Granny Smith, Cortland, or Winesap

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  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (on convection). Butter (or spray with cooking oil) a 9 x 7-inch or an 8-inch square pan, or other equivalent-size baking dish. Line with parchment paper, butter or spray the parchment as well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3-cup sugar with the cinnamon.
  5. Squeeze lemon juice into a medium bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples into the bowl. Add the cinnamon-sugar mixture and toss to thoroughly coat each apple slice.
  6. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter in overlapping rows, pressing lightly into the batter. Drizzle remaining cinnamon-sugar over the top.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

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If you call these muffins, it’s okay to eat them for breakfast, right? :) These moist and cakey muffins are transformed into doughnut-like treats when coated with cinnamon-sugar. They are perfect for a cool, autumn morning or for a special Halloween or Thanksgiving breakfast.

This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I made them in a muffin pan this time, but next time may try a mini-bundt pan. I adapted the recipe to make them slightly healthier by incorporating white whole wheat flour and by serving them with sliced fresh pears. :) They were worth every bit of indulgence!

Yield: Makes 12 standard muffins

For the Batter:

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.
  2. Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.
  5. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.
  6. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  7. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.

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One Year Ago:

Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette

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Galettes have the most fabulous presentation- and simple preparation. The best combination! :) This buttery and flaky crust can be made in minutes, and this tart can be made with any seasonal fruit. It was amazing with a combination of red and black plums. This recipe was adapted from a staff-favorite Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Jacques Pépin.

I’m bringing it to my favorite weekly blog party, Fiesta Friday #33, at The Novice Gardener this week. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

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For the Pate Brisee:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds large plums—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (I used a combination of red & black plums)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/2 cup good-quality plum, apricot or raspberry preserves, strained if chunky or seedy
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  1. Make the Pate Brisee: Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and process for 5 seconds; the butter should still be in pieces. Add the ice water and process for 5 seconds longer, just until the dough comes together; the butter should still be visible.
  2. Remove the dough from the processor and gather it into a ball. On a lightly floured surface or plastic wrap, roll out the dough into a 16-by-18-inch oval 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a large, heavy baking sheet (I used a very large cutting board.). Chill the dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°(convection).
  3. Transfer the chilled dough onto a large piece of parchment paper.
  4. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the ground almonds and flour. Spread this mixture evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the plum wedges on top in a circular pattern and dot with the butter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over the fruit. Fold the edge of the dough up over the plums to create a 2-inch border. (If the dough feels cold and firm, wait for a few minutes until it softens to prevent it from cracking.) Sprinkle the border with the teaspoon of turbinado sugar.
  5. Transfer the tart, on the parchment paper, to a large, rimmed baking sheet. (I used a pizza peel for the transfer.)
  6. Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes (on convection) or up to 1 hour in a standard oven, until the fruit is very soft and the crust is richly browned. If any juices have leaked onto the baking sheet, slide a knife under the galette to release it from the sheet. Evenly brush the preserves over the hot fruit; brush some up onto the crust, too, if desired. Let the galette cool to room temperature before serving.

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One Year Ago:

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