Mexican Sweet Corn Cake (Pan de Elote)

In Mexico, this simple cake is called panqué de elote, pan de elote or pastel de elote. It is often served for breakfast. We ate it for dessert after our family favorite Middle School Tacos on Cinco de Mayo this year and ate the leftovers for breakfast. Perfect. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street. The original recipe accurately describes the texture as somewhere between cake and cornbread while hinting at custard. I used Greek yogurt and modified the method and the baking time for a convection oven. I served the cake with strawberries which was a lovely accompaniment.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked (see Note)
  • 36 grams (1/4 cup) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 57 grams (1/4 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
  • 165 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
  • fresh strawberries, to serve
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to the true convection setting.)
  2. Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
  3. Hold an ear of corn upright in the center of a medium bowl. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the corn. Repeat with the additional two ears. Measure 250 grams (1 1/2 cups) of the freshly cut kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use.
  4. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  6. To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Pour the puree into a large bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain. It is important that you don’t whisk vigorously! Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the finished cake is tender.
  9. Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes in a convection oven or 40 to 45 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
  11. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  12. Serve dusted with Confectioners’ sugar with strawberry slices on the side.

Note: Don’t use frozen corn kernels—it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer.

Toffee Sandwich Cookies with Almonds & Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling

WOW. My daughter declared that these are the best cookies I have ever made!

They are composed of crispy and crunchy, thin toffee cookies sandwiched with fabulous brown-butter buttercream. The filling is the perfect complement to the toffee flavored cookies.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I modified the method and increased the amount of filling. I also used toffee with chocolate- now I’ll have to try them without as well. Amazing!

The original recipe notes that these cookies are ideal for shipping and sharing because they have a long shelf life. They didn’t last very long in my house! 😉

Yield: 34 to 36 sandwich cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 227 g (about 1 1/2 cups) English toffee bits, preferably without chocolate (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)(I used Trader Joe’s Toffee Chips with both dark and milk chocolate, coarsely chopped)
  • 112 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 3 T (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, white and yolk separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (224 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) sliced almonds, or more, for garnish

For the Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling:

  • 16 T (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp plus a pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a food processor, process the toffee bits, sugar, baking soda and salt until the toffee is mostly ground and the mixture is sandy, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer the toffee mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
  3. Add butter, egg white and vanilla. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy and fluffy, stopping once to scrape the bowl and paddle, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add flour, and mix on medium-low until the mixture comes together into a soft dough, about 30 seconds.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before proceeding. (I wrapped each disk in plastic wrap.)
  6. Dust a piece of parchment paper and dough with flour. Top with a second piece of parchment paper.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick between the two sheets of parchment (the thickness of two stacked pennies), turning the dough frequently to ensure it moves freely, dusting with more flour as needed. Each sheet of dough will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
  8. Place the dough on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out cookies from one sheet of dough. Using an offset spatula, transfer rounds to a parchment paper lined rimmed sheet pan, placing another sheet of parchment paper between layers. (I stacked the rounds between sheets of plastic wrap but it was slightly difficult to remove them once frozen- parchment paper seems like a better plan.)
  10. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough.
  11. Gather and knead together any scraps, refreeze and re-roll, repeating until all the dough has been rolled out for a total of about 68 to 72 cookies.
  12. Wrap the rounds of dough on the sheet pan with plastic wrap; freeze on sheet trays for at least 30 minutes before baking. (Alternatively, once the cookies have firmly frozen, stack them between parchment in a freezer-safe container or zipper-lock bag for up to 3 months.)
  13. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  14. Whisk together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly brush on the tops of half (34 to 36) of the chilled cookies.
  15. Sprinkle the yolk-brushed cookies with almonds, pressing gently to adhere.
  16. Bake the cookies until deeply browned like a pretzel, switching the sheet trays from top to bottom and rotating from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes. (I simultaneously baked 3 pans of 12 cookies each for 10 to 11 minutes on convection.)
  17. Bake the remaining cookies (without almonds) at the same temperature for the same duration.
  18. Let cookies cool completely on the sheet pans.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Set a piping bag in a tall and narrow container, like a deli quart container, and fold over the top edge to secure.
  2. Flip over the cookies without almonds. (You need to pipe the icing onto the cookies immediately after mixing, so make sure you are set up.)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking butter, stirring and scraping frequently with a stiff silicone spatula, until the sputtering has subsided and the butter solids look deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the butter and any brown bits into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl if mixing by hand).
  5. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Sift over the powdered sugar.
  7. With the paddle attachment, mix on low until creamy and combined, about 1 minute, stopping once during mixing to scrape the bowl and the paddle. (You can also mix with a stiff silicone spatula until creamy and combined.)
  8. Transfer the icing to the piping bag and cut a 1-inch wide opening at the tip. (I used a round piping tip instead.) The icing will be warm and fluid.
  9. Pipe a scant tablespoon of filling onto a flipped cookie and immediately top with an almond-topped cookie.
  10. Gently press to adhere so that the filling reaches the edges of the cookie.
  11. Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Chicago Public School Butter Cookies

As soon as I read an article about these cookies, I was obsessed. 😉

Although named butter cookies, I would describe them as shortbread cookies. According to The Chicago Tribune, these fantastic cookies were the standout item served by the Chicago Public Schools from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Now described as a “cult classic,” easily identified by the three-finger press on top of the dough, Crockett Cookies updated the original recipe by incorporating vanilla bean paste and sea salt.

The recipe was adapted from crockettcookies.com, via myrecipes.com and The Chicago Tribune. I modified the proportions and size, using a cookie scoop to ration the dough. I also baked the cookies in a convection oven. Crockett Cookies sells them (as well as a peanut butter version) in grocery and specialty stores throughout the Chicagoland area- genius.

They have quickly climbed the ranks to be one of my husband’s absolute favorites- tied with Tutu’s! 🙂 The texture is perfect- crispy on the edges and tender and crumbly in the center. Crazy easy and absolutely delicious.

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to blend.
  3. Mix the salt into the flour, then add to the mixer and beat on medium until combined.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, make balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  5. Using three fingers, press down on top of the dough to flatten, leaving the finger marks on the cookie. Place the cookies in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375° and prepare 2 large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. Bake 12 minutes, on convection, or up to 15 to 18 minutes in a standard oven, until lightly golden brown on the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.
  8. Cool completely on a rack on the pan then transfer to an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.

Note: To bake at a later date, the prepped cookies can be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, and then transfered to a zip top bag. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls with Apple Cider Glaze

One more apple treat to share. 🙂 We ate these rolls as a special snack and re-warmed them for breakfast the next day as well.

The recipe for these miniature “monkey breads” was adapted from King Arthur Flour.com, but I was inspired to top them with apple cider glaze from davebakes.com.

The apple cider glaze gave them an unexpected tanginess. Tasty and fun.

Yield: 16 rolls

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup (113g) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups (240g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (8g) fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons (32g) potato flour
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (113g) lukewarm milk (I used 2 percent milk)
  • 1/2 cup (113g) lukewarm water

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup (4 T) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 heaping cup (128g) cored, chopped apple, peeled or unpeeled (I used Pink Lady apples)
  • raisins, optional (I omitted them)

For the Glaze:

  • 2 cups apple cider, reduced, optional
  • 2/3 cup (74g) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 T (14g) milk (I used 2 percent milk)
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Dough:

  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to make a smooth, soft dough. It may seem dry at first, but as you knead it’ll soften up.
  2. Place the dough in a greased bowl or greased 8-cup measure, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s noticeably puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). (I used a proofing oven.)
  3. Lightly grease paper muffin cups, and use them to line 16 cups (8 cups in each) of two standard muffin tins.
  4. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 16 pieces; each will be about 1 1/2 ounces (44g). Round each piece into a flattened ball.
  5. Working with one piece at a time, use a bench knife (or regular knife) to cut the dough into 8 wedges. Don’t worry about being precise; pieces can vary in size.

To Make the Topping and Form the Rolls:

  1. Ration the chopped apple into 16 piles, each pile should be about a generous tablespoon.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon with a whisk.
  3. Roll or shake four dough pieces in cinnamon sugar, and place them into a muffin cup.
  4. Sprinkle with raisins, if using, and chopped apple.
  5. Roll the remaining four dough pieces in cinnamon sugar; top the filling with these remaining four pieces of dough.
  6. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, raisins, and apple.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each roll with an additional 1/4 tsp cinnamon sugar.
  8. Cover them lightly with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them rise for about 2 hours, until they’re noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
  9. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  10. Uncover the risen rolls, and bake them for 14 minutes, on convection, or up to 17 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Don’t let them darken too much; they’ll be dry.
  11. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack.

To Make the Glaze & to Finish:

  1. Place the cider in a pot over medium heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Set aside. (If the cider cools, it must be rewarmed in order to add it to the glaze mixture.)
  2. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, salt, milk, and butter. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of reduced cider, to taste.
  3. Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding more milk or more reduced cider.
  4. Using a spoon, drizzle the rolls with glaze.

Szarlotka

I am happy to have a fitting post to share on Pi day! 🙂

Dorie Greenspan described this Polish dessert as a “combination of a cake, a crumble, and a torte.” After reading this in her book, I expected something different. I would describe it as a fruit-packed deep dish pie.

Because I served it warm, the slices had a little bit of trouble keeping their shape! Ice cream was not an essential accompaniment, but we preferred it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The recipe was adapted from Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple by Dorie Greenspan. Next time I would add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the filling.

The original recipe includes ideas for variations in the filling including mixing pears with the apples and using dried cherries or dried cranberries instead of raisins. Toasted nuts would also be delicious in the filling.

Yield: One 9-inch pie (serves 8 to 10)

For the Crust:

  • 306 g (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 11 T (5 1/2 oz / 155 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cold large egg
  • 1 cold large egg white

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds (1.3 kg) sweet apples, such as Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 67 g (1/3 cup / 5 T) packed light brown sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 160 g (1 cup) moist, plump raisins, preferably golden
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice, to taste, optional
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste (I used 1/2 a large lemon)

To Serve:

  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • ice cream or whipped cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Crust:

  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Place the prepared pan on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend.
  3. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse, about 15 times, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple to times. The mixture should resemble crumbs.
  4. Lightly beat the egg and egg white; add to the flour mixture in 3 additions, pulsing after each. Scrape the bowl as needed. The mixture should form moist clumps and curds.
  5. Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather it together.
  6. Remove 1/3 of the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer. (This dough will be used for the topping.)
  7. Shape the remaining dough into a ball, flatten it and sandwich it between sheets of parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into a round about 14-inches in diameter. Peel the parchment back intermittently to make sure it’s not creasing the dough. (The round will be about 1/8-inch thick.)
  9. Place the dough (still between the parchment sheets) on a flat surface and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  10. After chilling, transfer the dough to the springform pan. Gently press it against the bottom and up the sides, patching and folding if necessary. Trim the top even with the pan.
  11. Place the pan/crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I set my oven to the convection setting.)
  2. Toss the chopped apples, brown sugar, flour, and raisins in a large bowl and mix to coat the apples with sugar and flour. Add the spices at this time as well, if using.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice; mix.
  4. Taste a piece of apple and adjust the sweetness and/or spices, to taste. Let rest for 5 minutes and mix again.
  5. Place the dough-lined pan on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Scoop the filling into the crust, including any juices that have accumulated in the bowl.
  7. Remove the chunk of dough from the freezer and, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen dough. Intermittently stop and sprinkle the pieces over the top of the apples.
  8. Bake the pie for 40 minutes.
  9. Tent it loosely with foil and bake another 25 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown and, most importantly, the juices are bubbling up thorough the top crust. (I baked it for an additional 35 minutes once tented but would add even more time next time- the apples could have been even more tender.)
  10. Transfer the szarlotka, on the baking sheet, to a rack and let rest for 20 minutes.
  11. Gently run a table knife between the pie and the sides of the pan and remove the sides of the springform pan.
  12. Let the pie cool until it’s just warm or reaches room temperature.

To Serve:

  1. Dust the pie with confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Slice the pie using a serrated knife using a sawing motion.
  3. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, if desired- I recommend it!

Note: The szarlotka is best the day it is made. To store it you can keep it covered at room temperature for one day or refrigerate it for a second day.

Mini Vanilla & Red Velvet Layer Cake

My daughter and I are obsessed with mini cakes. My mom gave me 6-inch cake pans for Christmas and we have been waiting for the perfect occasion to use them. Yay for Valentine’s Day! 🙂 ❤ I will admit that I’m not sure if a 3-layer cake is truly “mini”…. but it was really cute.

Some math is involved in order to adapt a recipe to make a mini cake. In this case, the vanilla cake recipe, originally for an 8-inch layer cake, was reduced to 57%. I made the red velvet cake, originally for 12 cupcakes, in its entirety in order to make additional cupcakes. The icing recipe makes enough to generously frost the layer cake as well as the cupcakes.

The vanilla cake recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. The red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting recipes were adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

For the Vanilla Cake Layers:

Yield: Two 6-inch cakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 pure vanilla extract
  • 5 1/2 T sour cream
  • scant 2 T buttermilk
  • 162 g all-purpose flour
  • 169 g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus generous 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 9 T (129 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Red Velvet Cake Layer:

Yield: One 6-inch cake and 5 standard cupcakes (Alternatively, 57% of the recipe can be made to just make a single cake layer, if desired.)

  • 148 g (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 granulated 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

To Make the Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 6-inch cake pans and then line them with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pans. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Divide the batter between the cake pans. Each well should be about halfway full. (I weigh them to make sure that the batter is evenly distributed. Each pan had about 360 g of batter.)
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Then, remove from pan, remove the parchment paper, and let cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Red Velvet Cake Layer & Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place 5 cupcake liners in a standard muffin pan. Butter one 6-inch cake pan and then line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and then flour the pan. Set aside.
  2. Sift together cake flour, and cocoa; add salt and whisk to combine.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.
  4. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each.
  7. 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.
  8. Place 350 g to 360 g batter in the prepared cake pan, about halfway full. Divide the remaining batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full.
  9. Bake the cake pan, rotating halfway through, about 23 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.
  10. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Yield: 4 cups, enough to frost 1 6-inch cake and 5 cupcakes

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring, if desired
  • decorative sprinkles, if desired
  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. (I sifted 1 cup of sugar at a time prior to adding it to the butter-cream cheese mixture.)
  3. Tint the frosting with food coloring, if desired.
  4. Fill between the cake layers and the frost the top and sides of the cake. Using a pastry bag with a large fluted tip, pipe onto cupcakes in a circular motion, starting on the outer rim.
  5. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
  6. Refrigerate the cake (and cupcakes) prior to serving.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

I made these delicious cookies for my daughter and some of her friends for their Valentine’s (Galentine’s!) Day celebration. Tanya Ott, the amazing baker of globalbakes.com, promised that they would hold their shape and she was right. I was so pleased! 🙂 Because the dough does not contain a rising agent, the cut out shapes stay completely intact while baking.

The cookie recipe was adapted from globalbakes.com. I made half the recipe, used fine sea salt, increased the chilling time, and baked the cookies in a convection oven. Tanya’s blog has many informative videos with amazing royal icing techniques and ideas. I highly recommend checking it out. 🙂

The royal icing recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

For the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Dough:

  • 227 grams (1 cup; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 114 grams (4 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 337 grams (2 1/4 cups plus 2 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add the flour and salt, and mix to form a soft dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, press into a 1/2-inch disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters, and place them on a plastic wrap-lined cookie sheet. Place another layer of plastic wrap between each layer of cookies. (I stack similar shapes on top of one another.)
  6. Chill for at least 15 minutes. (I chilled the cut shapes overnight.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F, preferably on convection. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets.
  8. Place the chilled cookies one inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (Bake cookies of similar size at the same time.)
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Bake time will vary with the size and thickness of the cookies. Allow to cool completely before frosting or decorating.

For the Royal Icing:

  • 1/2 pound (8 oz) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 T meringue powder
  • liquid or gel-paste food coloring
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, as desired
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/4 cup (4 T) water on low speed.  Beat until mixture is fluffy yet dense, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. To thin the icing for flooding (filling in areas with additional icing), stir in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Test the consistency by lifting a spoonful of icing and letting it drip back into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for 5 to 7 seconds.
  3. To tint icing, dip a toothpick or wooden skewer into food coloring, and gradually mix it in until the desired shade is reached. (I used 3 shades of pink once the icing was “flood” consistency.)
  4. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe a border around each cookie. Then, thin the icing to a flood consistency and fill in the border. (I used a larger tip to fill in the cookies.)
  5. Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles before the icing has set, if desired.

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Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Brown Butter Asparagus & Peas
Bread Machine Brioche
One-Pan Orzo with Spinach & Feta
Chicken Stew with Biscuits
Turkish Meatballs with Lime-Yogurt Sauce
Ina Garten's Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts
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