Tag Archives: Baking

{ Thanksgiving Pizza }

IMG_2680

I consider sage to be the dominant flavor of Thanksgiving. My mom and I use it in just about every dish, from our roasted butternut squash, to our stuffing, and our delicious turkey butter baste! So when a customer at my restaurant requested that I come up with a recipe for a Thanksgiving-inspired pizza special, I knew sage would be the foundational building block of the pie.

The savory, and slightly peppery, flavor of sage lends itself well with just about any ingredient but since I needed to construct a pie that tasted like Thanksgiving, I decided to pair it with butternut squash, caramelized onions, and cranberry sauce. Instead of using just mozzarella, I opted to add brie cheese which is a soft French cheese made from cow’s milk. The creamy cheese melts very easily when baked and the sweetness of the cheese lends itself well with the tartness of the cranberry sauce.

I have served this pizza to several taste-testers thus far, and each of them have said the same thing…”tastes like Thanksgiving!”

I consider that mission accomplished.

{ Ingredients }

  • One pizza crust — I use this recipe by Peter Reinhart
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 butternut squash, roasted, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 wedge brie cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced, and caramelized
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leave, chopped

{ To Make the Pizza }

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Using a spatula, spread the cranberry sauce over the prepared pie crust to the outer edges. Lightly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the cranberry sauce. Thinly slice the brie cheese and place slices onto the pie a few inches apart from each other.

Top the cheese with the caramelized onion and the cubed butternut squash.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges turn a golden brown and the crust is crispy.

Sprinkle with the chopped sage and serve!

IMG_2677

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Brunch, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

{ Italian Florentine Cookies }

Florentine

Last week I blogged my recipe for Italian seven-layer cookies, and this week I am sharing my recipe for another classic Italian Christmas cookie: Almond Florentines. Also known as lace cookies, Florentines are an extremely delicate, paper-thin cookie made of macerated almonds and orange zest. They are crunchy and sweet, and with the chocolate drizzle on top–optional in this recipe, but a must for me!–they are absolutely decadent.

I like to make these for the holidays because other people so often gravitate towards making softer dough cookies like sugar cookies, spritz cookies, and snickerdoodles. Baking something with a little crunch factor helps to set you apart from the other women at the neighborhood cookie exchange!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional:

  • 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

{ To Make the Italian Florentine Cookies }

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, orange zest, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, approx. 30 minutes.

Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread (and trust me, they do!!!).

Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve.

{ MUST HAVE  Chocolate Topping Drizzle }

Set up a classic double broiler system by putting the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Then bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl of chocolate over the saucepan so that it is just above, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.

Chocolate in a double boiler

Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Florentine-Cookies-40-1024x871

**Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

IMG_0444

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Cookies, Dessert, Recipes

{ Italian Seven Layer Cookies }

IMG_0474edited

I come from a long lineage of family bakers. Cream and sugar are literally coded in my DNA.

And when I was growing up, the holidays signified one thing: cookie season! I would come home from school and my mom would have magazine clippings for cookie recipes that she wanted to try out at one of her infamous cookie exchanges. Given that it was not warm enough to play outside, she would encourage my sister and I to help her sift the flour, roll out the dough, and dip/glaze/sprinkle the tops of cookies in an effort to keep us from turning on the television (or the ‘boob-tube’ as it was referred to in my house!). Of course, we were always more more than happy to oblige!

We would make dozens of spritz cookies, sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, pecan tassies, mixed nut turtles, and traditional Hungarian kiffles. But the one cookie we never made, was ironically the one that was my favorite–the Italian seven layer cookie.

Whenever I would spot these in a party tray assortment, I would pick them out, stuff them in a napkin, and then scurry away to eat them by my lonesome. I was–and still am–an Italian cookie fein and hoarder.

This year, I decided to make my own seven layer cookies using the recipe printed in Gourmet, December 2005, and since them endorsed by The Smitten Kitchen food blog. I will admit that they were quite laborious and involved to make, but since they can be frozen in large blocks, I will have them to enjoy/gift over the next few months (or weeks, depending on my level of self-control!).

3114755998_69d8f2f352

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 (8 oz) can of almond paste
  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 25 drops red food coloring
  • 25 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12 oz) jar of apricot preserves, heated and strained
  • 7 oz of good-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), roughly chopped

{ To Make Italian 7-layer Cookies }

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two of the ends, then butter paper.

Beat egg whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and almond extract and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set the white batter aside. Cover the green batter with plastic wrap and chill in fridge.  Pour the red batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)

Using the paper overhang, transfer the layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool (see note #1).

When all layers are cool, invert green layer onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread half of the apricot preserves on top. Invert white layer on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining apricot preserves. Finally, invert the red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper (see note #2).

3111716910_857db7beb1_m

Cover entire “layer-cake” with plastic wrap and weight down with a large baking pan (I stacked cook books on mine for extra weight!). Chill for at least 8 hours. BE PATIENT!

3110888019_5cedcfe6d8_m

Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over the hot water.

Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife so they are clean lines. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Cut lengthwise into desired number of strips, depending on the size and number of cookies that you want to yield. I cut mine into 10 I believe.   Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies  (see note #3).

**Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.

Three important notes:

Note #1Don’t stack the cakes during the cooling process: Not because they crush each other (they won’t) or because they’ll stick (they don’t), but because that paper liner is greased on both sides from baking and the chocolate shell won’t quite stick right to exterior of the red layer because of the grease accidentally left on it.

Note #2Be careful dividing your jam: If there is too much jam between one of the layers, it will ooze out when you cut the cake with a serrated knife. Sadly, the cookie will fall apart.

Note #3They’re easier to cut when frozen: Nevertheless, they tasted amazingly and I was all ready to do a victory lap around my wee kitchen counter, however, when I got to cutting them up and then it all went south. People, these were trying to cut. The problem lies within the differing textures of the layers — the top hard chocolate shell more benefits from a sharp serrated knife (a regular, even very sharp knife will crack the edges when you press down on it), the same serrated knife that gets gummed with jam and tries to pull the soft cake layers in between apart. It was exasperating. It didn’t go well. I packed up some for a party and stuffed the rest in the freezer, only to discover the next day that these cut fantastically when frozen. Seriously. Trust me. I have the gummy floor and gray hairs to prove it.

3114754008_186ca63709

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Cookies, Dessert, Holiday Recipes, Recipes

{ Tres Leches Macaroons – Gluten Free! }

Finished Macaroons

I have always been a fan of caramel ever since I was a little kid, but when I moved to Argentina and was introduced to Dulce de Leche my mind was literally blown and I have been an addict ever since (I actually have a dulce de leche-scented candle burning in my room at this very moment!). You see caramel is made from pure sugar, but dulce de leche is made from sweetened milk so it has a much richer and creamier texture. In Latin American cultures, dulce de leche is used to flavor all sorts of sweets and candies, from ice cream (the best is Freddo), to lollipops, to cakes, and cookies (“alfajores”).

Dulce de Leche

Ever since my return to the US, I have been looking for more and more ways to include it in my baking recipes at home. The result?

These mouth-watering tres leches macaroons, which make for a perfect passover dessert since they are gluten free! I made them for my friend Liz’s cookie exchange this holiday season, and they were a smashing hit. I might also add that they stayed good in the refrigerator for about 2 1/2 weeks when stored in an air tight container.

And as if coconut and caramel aren’t already decadent enough, I also like to dip my macarons in chocolate! They are sinfully good and ridiculously easy to make, so print this recipe out and make them please!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 – 14 oz bags of sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 – 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract (I use Madagascar)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips for dipping (optional!)

[ To Make the Macaroons }

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Combine the shredded coconut, the condensed milk, the sour cream, the heavy cream, and the extracts in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.

3. Mix the ingredients together on a low speed until well thoroughly combined.

Macaroon Mix

4. Use a large ice cream scoop (#12) to spoon the batter onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Do not press down on the cookies!!

Unbaked

5. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown around the edges.

Baeke2d

6. Use wire racks to allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Then dip in melted semi-sweet chocolate, if desired!

Dipping Macaroons

7. Or drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate!

Chocolate Drizzled

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Dessert, Recipes

{ Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown! }

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie
When The New York Times published the recipe for their favorite chocolate chip cookie, shit hit the fan…..in the food blogging world, at least!  It was like everyone instantaneously took out their kitchen aid mixers and got to baking and blogging. Post after post on my RSS feed featured reviews commenting on the cookie’s flavor, texture, and composition. Bakers and cookie connoisseurs alike disputed in blog columns whether or not this recipe was actually the best, and then offered their comments/suggestions to make it even better. With all this sugary hype, I  knew that I would just have to try the recipe out for myself. And being the type A, OCD freak that I am, I decided that I would also give a go at two of the other recipes suggested as contenders for the title of best chocolate chip cookie: (1) Jacques Torres’ Original Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe & (2) blogger, “Will Bake for Tattoos’” Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Batches
So with three types of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before me, which cookie recipe proved victorious?!?
Cookies Baked
Jacques Torres Chocolate
The New York Times recipe (#1 on the baking sheet) is a modified version of this classic (and it was a close second place), but the texture was uniform throughout the cookie. I liked that Jacques’ recipe  (#2 on the baking sheet!) had a crispier edge with a softer/chewier center.
NY Times Choc. Chip
The “Will Bake for Tattoos’” Recipe (#3 on the baking sheet) was far too commercial tasting in my opinion; it had a very “cakey” texture as opposed to a chewy texture, and the sugar in the cookie never caramelized to create a golden rim around the edge.
Will Bake for Tattoos
One thing that I did for all of the cookies, was allow them to chill in the refrigerator over night. The New York Times published an article in 2008, stating that the secret to a perfect chocolate chip cookie was to let it chill for a minimum of 24 hours, and ideally for 36 hours! I made sure to plan ahead (a rarity), and prepared my dough 24 hours in advance of baking to get the maximum quality out of the doughs.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

{ Directions }

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Using a 4-ounce ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes.

Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Homemade Empanadas }

I’ve been hunting for BA’s most delicious empanada for months now, and so far, my favorite contenders for the title also happen to be the spiciest (list of top 10 picks coming soon!). However, finding the right combination of tender meat, flakey dough, and proper spice can be quite a challenge in a country where hot sauce and chili peppers are shunned like the the plague. Also, Argentines don’t like to combine different food groups when it comes to stuffing empanadas (in a manner akin to children segregating their mashed potatoes from their meatloaf, as if an imaginary forcefield was dividing their plate). It’s either meat or cheese….never both in one pastry!

This continues to boggle my mind, because they have all the best ingredients at their disposal…they just never seem to get assembled in the way that I would combine them. I love meat and I love cheese….so why not put them together in one super delicious empanada, rather than forcing me to take a bite of caprese followed by a bite of carne (besides that fact that it always lures me into purchasing two empanadas, of course)?!

In an effort to solve this rather distressing empanada dilemma, I have decided to try making my own! Which brings me to TheGrubDaily’s first ever food event–a DIY Empanada Party, hosted in conjunction with the fabulous KitchenParty.org and LVstudio! I offered my home and empanadas caseras in exchange for good company and a bottle of wine to share! It turned out to be a wild success, as 120 empanadas were served before people began using their paper plates as fans in my tiny, overheated apartment.

I laid out a buffet table with various ingredients for filling the empanadas (chicken, beef, cheese, tomato, act…), and all 25 attendees were given the opportunity to come and make their own creations! With the help of a few native Argentine girls (Valeria and Elvira), everyone was shown how to properly stuff and close the empanada dough and then they were sent into the oven for baking!

The following recipe is a very Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada filling, showed to me by my very dear cleaning lady. The one below it, is a spicy “Gringo” version of that recipe, as adapted by myself. I recommend using Saltena empanada shells (or Goya, if you are in the US), rather than wasting time on homemade ones.

Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat and fold in chopped egg. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

“Gringo” Spicy Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1 yukon potato, boiled and chopped small

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, stir in chopped potato and remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

**I like my meat extra spicy, so I also added a couple of dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce while cooking!

Spicy Shredded Chicken Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • Slice Jalapeños (optional)

{ To Make the Filling } Place chicken breasts in a large stock pot, adding enough water to cover the meat. Heat over a medium-high flame, allowing to simmer until cooked through.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, before beginning to shred chicken (using hands or two forks).

In a large stock pot of a medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and sautee until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, green onion, kosher salt, chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of the tomato puree. Return the shredded chicken to the stock pot and stir to combine (if the meat needs more moisture, add more of the tomato puree).

Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and use to as empanada filling or taco meat!

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Remove an empanada dough from the package and wet one half of the pastry edge using a finger dipped in water. Spoon a your desired filling into the middle and fold over the ends (so moist end meets dry end), pinching hard to ensure that they are properly shut.

Then crimp the edges using a fork or your fingers, as we have done here:

Place onto a greased baking sheet and allow to bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until the edges and tops are golden brown (about 10 minutes).

Remove from oven and enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ The 12 Desserts of Christmas }

Foodies keep tabs on other foodies–especially blogging foodies! I must admit–with some embarrassment–that I spend a great deal of my day looking at food related tweets, facebook posts, RSS feeds, photos, and last but not least, blog posts (the I-pad has only made my food addiction more accessible!). I want to know what people are eating, and where people are eating.

For this Christmas, I have decided to compile a list of my favorite holiday desserts, drawing on the delicious recipes of my blogging idols, celebrity chefs, and family members. And since I have a sizable amount of free time on my hands, I have decided to present them in song format as the 12 Desserts of Christmas! Just click on the image and it will redirect you to a page with the recipe!

Merry Christmas everyone!


                                                               On the first day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Christmas Rocky Road from Nigella Lawson
 
                                                             On the second day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                   Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles by How Sweet Eat Is
                                                              
                                                              On the third day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                             Mixed Nut Turtle Cookie by Me

 

                                                               On the fourth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
   Italian Rainbow Cookies by All-Recipes

 

                                                                On the fifth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
                                                                       Pecan Tassies by Me

 

                                                              On the sixth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
Almond Cake with Clementines by Two-Tarts

 

                                                              On the seventh day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
Ricotta Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote by Design Sponge

 

                                                              On the eighth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
Peppermint Infused Brownies by Jennifer Joyce

 

                                                              On the ninth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Coconut Macaroon with Chocolate by Fosters Market, NC

 

                                                              On the tenth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Hungarian Kiffles with Lekvar from Great Grandmother’s Recipe

 

                                                            On the eleventh day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                 11 chewy amaretti cookies
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
 
 Chewy Amaretti Cookies from The Smitten Kitchen

 

                                                            On the twelfth day of christmas
                                                                  my true love baked for me 
                                                                 12 ginger bread men cookies
                                                                 11 chewy amaretti cookies
                                                                      10 Hungarian kiffles
                                                              9 macaroons with chocolate
                                                                  8 peppermint brownies
                                                                    7  ricotta cheesecakes
                                                                         6 almond tortas
                                                                          5 pecan tassies
                                                                        4 rainbow cookies
                                                                        3 mixed nut turtles
                                                                          2 snickerdoodles
                                                             and Nigella’s rocky road candy
Homemade Gingerbread Men with Royal Icing by The Food Network

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Pecan Tassies }

As I have mentioned several times on blog, I am not particularly keen on sweets. Given the option, I would always prefer to gorge more “real” food, rather that save myself for a dessert. This being said, I am a major proponent of one-bite desserts that let you have a little taste without a full dessert commitment. Something small that you can just pop in your mouth and be done with in seconds (not an obnoxious slice of cake that you have to try to pawn off to everyone around you, before finally stashing it under a pile of napkins in the hostess’s garbage can….hey, we’ve all done it).

These pecan tassies are a perfect dessert for holiday meals, because you can always find room for at least one, no matter how much you have already eaten.  My mom makes this recipe every year, and finds that they are always well received at the annual cookie exchange (a nice switch-up from the santa sugar cookie cutouts!).

This recipe is low cost, straight forward, and delicious. Try it out this Christmas!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur is best)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (Madagascar is best!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • dash of salt

{ To Make the Dough Cups } Using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the 2 sticks of butter and the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Then mix in the flour, until well combined.

Using your hands, roll the dough into about 48 small balls. Place the balls into a small, lightly greased muffin pan. Create small wells in the dough, using the pressure of your thumb (remember, the well must be large enough to contain the pecan filling).

{ To Make the Pecan Filling } Combine the brown sugar, melted butter, honey, vanilla extract, salt and eggs. Stir until well combined. Add the chopped pecans and mix to coat.

{ To Assemble the Tassies } Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon the pecan filling into the wells of the dough cups, until all of the filling has been used up.

Bake the tastes at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat 250 for the final 10 minutes of baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving!

 

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Hungarian Cream Cheese Cookies – Kiffles }

When I was growing up, the the holidays were marked by my Hungarian grandmother’s homemade cream cheese cookies (or Kiffles, as they are called in Hungarian). They would make their first appearance on Thanksgiving, and then she would continue to bake them until Christmas day. I couldn’t get enough of these little cookies, eating them by the plateful (and always getting caught because of the powdered sugar trail I would leave behind).

A kiffle is a moist and delicate pastry dough filled with lekvar (tart prune) or apricot preserves. This year, I have decided to continue the family cookie tradition here in Buenos Aires by making my great grandmother’s original recipe (yes, this is it). It is a simple recipe to make because only a few ingredients are required and no “special equipment” is needed!

NOTES: It is very important that you be patient and allow the ingredients to properly soften before beginning, or the dough will not come together right. Also, I suggest using King Arthur flour in this recipe because it is the best flour for baking. Since the dough is composed of so few ingredients, it is really important those those couple be of a very high quality. Splurge on the King Arthur if you can, but the recipe will work if you can’t find it (I couldn’t here in Argentina, and my cookies still came out fine).

{ Ingredients }

**Makes about 48 cookies

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 stick of margarin, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
  • Lekvar or apricot preserves
  • Confectioner’s sugar

{ To Make the Cookies } Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using and electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the softened butter, margarin, and cream cheese. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix until light and fluffy.

IMG_0726

Add 3 cups of flour and mix with hands. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. If it is too sticky, continue to add flour until the right consistency is achieved. Divide the dough into four balls, cover in plastic wrap and put in freezer for 20 minutes.

IMG_0730

IMG_0720

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then cut the dough into small squares. Place a dollop of lekvar or apricot preserves in the center of the square and then bring two of the opposing dough corners together atop it.

Arrange cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve!

16 Comments

Filed under Baking, Recipes

{ Cheddar & Chive Buttermilk Biscuits }

It’s a rainy day here in Philadelphia, which means that a pot of soup is on the stove in the Bajek household–Tyler Florence’s roasted tomato soup, to be specific! And I highly recommend that recipe if your looking to use up the last of your garden tomatoes! But as much as I love a great bowl of soup, I am a big eater and broth alone just doesn’t cut it for me. I always find myself hungry an hour of so later. To help eliminate this problem, I like to pair my soup with a nice chunk of crusty bread or even grilled cheese sandwich, when I am feeling piggish (which, lets be real, is most of the time!). In fact, I almost never eat grilled cheese with out tomato soup and visa versa. They are a perfect food marriage, intended to be consumed together. However, in an attempt to be healthy today, I have decided to look for grilled cheese alternatives–something I can eat with my tomato soup that won’t pack an extra 500 calories. My solution: these cheddar and chive buttermilk biscuits.

A little surprised that biscuits would be considered a healthy alternative? I was too, considering I associate them with good ole “biscuits and gravy” from the South. But these biscuits are just 92 calories per serving and they are delicious!!

{ Ingredients for Biscuits }

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  • 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

{ To Make the Biscuits } Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, and use two knives to cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles a course meal.

In a measuring cup, combine the egg and egg yolk, whisking until blended. Add the buttermilk. Whisk in the chopped chives. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix until the dry ingredients are absorbed. Fold in the shredded cheddar cheese.

Put the dough onto a well-floured surface and kneed gently until the dough is no longer sticky. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough until is about 1/2 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to create the shape of the biscuit and then place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Allow the biscuits to bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are a nice golden brown. Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

{ To Serve } Top the biscuits with butter or serve alongside a sour cream-chive mixture as I did (see photo below). To make the sour cream, combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 3-4 stems of chopped chives. Stir well to mix.


Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes