Dulce de Leche Swirl Ice Cream

After seeing authentic dulce de leche in the store, I felt compelled to make a caramel swirl ice cream using my new favorite vanilla ice cream base, from the French-Style Roasted Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream that I made earlier this season.

The vanilla ice cream recipe used in the base was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Fany Gerson. Dulce de leche is an ice cream flavor that everyone in my house enjoys. 🙂

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 vanilla bean pod 
  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • 5 T (1/3 cup) granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Swirl:

  • about 7 oz canned Dulce de Leche (I used Nestle La Lachera), or more, as needed
  1. Stir together cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise; scrape seeds. Add scraped seeds and vanilla pod halves to mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Return steeped cream mixture to heat over medium-low; cook, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
  6. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into yolk mixture in bowl. (It’s important to slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and never bringing to a boil, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  7. Transfer cream-yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t bubble. (I cooked mine for 7 minutes.)
  8. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium-size heatproof bowl; discard solids.
  9. Place bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture reaches room temperature, about 8 minutes. (I kept mine in the ice bath until the ice melted.) Remove.
  10. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer base to a sealable container; seal and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
  11. Pour base into frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker; proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  12. Transfer a few scoops of the vanilla ice cream into a shallow container, such as a glass loaf pan, and spread into an even layer.
  13. Top with some of the dulce de leche; spread into an even layer. Repeat the layers, finishing with ice cream on top, until all of the ice cream base has been transferred.
  14. Cover, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. (I press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then top the container with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.)
  15. Store in an airtight container in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Strawberry Cream Pie

This pie is an upgrade of classic strawberries and cream. It was simple and minimally sweet. The creamy pudding filling was flavored with vanilla bean- yum. I had originally planned to make it with our freshly picked berries but ultimately made it with store-bought berries. (I ran out!) The honey drizzle was essential to the presentation and to add a little sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I made the crust and filling in advance and chilled each component separately until serving to ensure that the crust wouldn’t soften once assembled. I must note that the crust remained crisp the next day when we ate the leftover pie. I also used a ceramic deep dish pie pan. Next time, I would sweeten the filling a little bit more, noted below. I would also add salt to enhance the vanilla flavor.

This would be a wonderful dessert to serve on July 4th because the components can be made in advance. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (adjust sweetness to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) cornstarch
  • generous pinch of coarse salt, or to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled (or enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands, or pulse in the food processor until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. Add the water and mix to combine. The dough should come together easily but not be wet or sticky.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled it out between lightly floured parchment paper.)
  7. Transfer it to a pie plate, and trim the edges so there is only 1/2 inch of overhang all around. (I did not have this luxurious amount of excess crust because I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
  8. Chill the dough inside the pie plate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. Fold the excess dough under at the edges, pressing gently to “seal” the dough to the pie plate. Finish the edges as desired.
  10. Poke the base of the crust a few times with a fork. If the dough seems warm, chill it again.
  11. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the crust is fully baked, 5 to 10 minutes more. (I continued to cook the crust for an additional 8 minutes.)
  13. Cool completely. (After the crust had completely cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it at room temperature overnight. I chilled it the next day before assembling the dessert.)

To Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:

  1. Mix the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a medium sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. (I used 1/4 cup granulated sugar this time but would use up to 1/2 cup next time.)
  2. While the milk warms up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium heat-safe bowl.
  3. When the milk comes to a simmer, gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the mixture is thick and comes to the “first boil” (one large bubble rising from the center of the pot, not many small bubbles around the edges).
  5. Whisk in the butter and pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. (I made the filling a day in advance and placed it in a glass bowl and refrigerated it overnight.)
  6. Cover the surface of the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chilled the pie crust for at least 3 hours prior to assembling and serving the pie as well.)
  7. To finish the pie, top the pie with the hulled strawberries.
  8. Warm the honey in the microwave or over medium heat, and when it’s runny, brush it over the strawberries.
  9. Serve the pie chilled. (not too chilled- let it warm up slightly so that the flavors shine through!)

French-Style Roasted Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream

This is the most amazing strawberry ice cream I’ve ever experienced. The original recipe states that “the key to French-style ice cream is making a base so good you could eat it without freezing it.” The base was incredibly creamy and rich. The roasted strawberries had concentrated flavor and a perfectly tender texture. Wow.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Fany Gerson. I loved that the vanilla bean steeped in the cream for an hour before being removed. My finished ice cream had a bit of a custard swirl because I didn’t fully mix the roasted berries into the custard before churning- still delicious but I would correct this next time.

To celebrate my birthday, my daughter made pizzelle bowls for serving the ice cream. It was a very special celebratory dessert and perfect way to use our freshly picked strawberries this season.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Roasted Strawberries:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved if small or quartered if large (about 3 1/2 cups) 
  • 2 T granulated sugar  
  • 2 T light corn syrup or golden syrup 
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt 

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 vanilla bean pod 
  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • 5 T (1/3 cup) granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt 

To Make the Roasted Strawberries:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss together strawberries, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 13×9-inch baking dish. (I used a glass pyrex baking dish.)
  3. Roast in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until strawberries are soft and darker in color and juice is thickened, 30 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Using a potato masher, lightly crush strawberries in baking dish, making sure you have a chunky mixture.
  5. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Transfer to a resealable container, and refrigerate until ready to churn or up to 2 days.

To Make the Vanilla Ice Cream Base & To Finish:

  1. Stir together cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise; scrape seeds. Add scraped seeds and vanilla pod halves to mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Return steeped cream mixture to heat over medium-low; cook, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
  6. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into yolk mixture in bowl. (It’s important to slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and never bringing to a boil, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  7. Transfer cream-yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t bubble. (I cooked mine for 7 minutes.)
  8. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium-size heatproof bowl; discard solids.
  9. Place bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture reaches room temperature, about 8 minutes. (I kept mine in the ice bath until the ice melted.) Remove.
  10. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer base to a sealable container; seal and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
  11. Stir together strawberry mixture and ice cream base in a bowl.
  12. Pour mixture into frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker; proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  13. Transfer to a shallow container, such as a glass loaf pan, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. (I press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then top the container with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.)
  14. Store in an airtight container in freezer up to 3 weeks.

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.

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 tsp 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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