Tag Archives: Cream Cheese

{ 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.

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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.

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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!

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{ Coconut Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Frosting }

These were my absolute favorite cupcakes as a kid. I remember my mom would bake them in huge muffin tins rather than cupcake pans, letting the batter spill over the tops so that each one resembled a miniature-sized cake (sometimes we would only get 8 to a batch!). Then as they cooled, she would make the cream cheese frosting, allowing me to lick the beaters of the mixer before she put them into the sink—a chore that I was more than happy to do.

Today, this dessert remains one of the select few that I will eat with the frosting. In fact, I eat it predominately because of the frosting (same reason that I eat carrot cake, same frosting!). The cream cheese cuts a lot of the sweetness and gives the icing a dreamy velvety consistency. It pairs beautifully with these delicate coconut cupcakes, but you can put it on almost anything—red velvet cake, zucchini cake, pumpkin cake, carrot cake, ect…

The only notes I have on this recipe, which comes from Ina Garten’s amazing “Barefoot Contessa” cookbook, is to use unsweetened coconut when decorating the tops of the cupcakes. I think it looks prettier because it is shaved, not shredded, and it prevents the cupcake from being over-the-top sweet. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Just let it sit for about an hour and viola…buttermilk!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
{ To Make Cupcakes } Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin with liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy (this takes about 5 minutes). With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry mix. Mix until just combined and then fold in the coconut with a spatula.

Use an ice cream scooper to put batter into the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a cooling rack.

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting }

  • 1 pound of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds of confectioner sugar
To Make Cream Cheese Frosting } In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and almond extracts. Gruadually add the confectioners sugar, until the mixture is blended smooth (about 5 minutes).
{ To Assemble the Cupcakes } Frost with cream cheese icing and top with the remaining shredded coconut. 

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{ Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting }

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One of the things that I miss most about living up North is the fall; the change of seasons, the falling of leaves, and the crisp air, which creates favorable conditions forwarm Starbuck’s beverages. I’m so sick of drinking iced coffees already. I want to be able to order a delicious steamy cappuccino and not worry about the hot flashes I may endure while drinking it! But it’s the end of October and no such luck in Miami yet…sadly 80 degrees is about as “crisp” as it has gotten here. So in an effort to convince myself that it is actually fall, despite the weather, I decided to make some pumpkin spice cupcakes tonight!! I really wanted to make a pumpkin pie, but cupcakes seemed easier to pass out to friends and with Halloween right around the corner….yeah, I’m not trying to eat an entire batch of 24 cupcakes alone one week before parading around the streets of Key West half-naked for Fantasy Fest!! So cupcakes it was!

I got the recipe for the pumpkin spice cake batter from Martha Stewart. I have found that all of her cupcake recipes are very good, but instead of using the vanilla frosting she suggested, I decided to pair my cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. This is my absolute favorite recipe for cream cheese icing and it’s particularly delicious on top of red velvet cupcakes and coconut cupcakes (there is a recipe for these under desserts!).

Anyways, the cupcakes turned out delicious!! The pumpkin puree kept them super moist and the freshly ground ginger gave off a great flavor. I actually kept some without frosting so that I could eat them in the morning like a muffin! But the cream cheese frosting did turn out to be a great combination with the cake and everyone loved them! I will be making these again for sure. It made about 24 cupcakes total and the frosting recipe below makes enough to generously ice this many cupcakes.

{ Cupcake Ingredients }

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted, and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
{ To Make CupcakesPreheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate mixing bowl (the bowl of an electric mixer if you have one) combine the eggs, butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. On a low speed, mix until well combined and smooth. Then add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in the pumpkin puree until well combined.

Line the cupcake pan with liners and fill each cup about ¾ the way full with batter. (TIP: Use an ice cream scooper to distribute the batter neatly and uniformly!) Place the pans into the oven and allow to bake for 20-25 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (TIP: I like to rotate the pans 10 min through baking process to ensure even cooking)

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in pans before removing and then icing.

{ Frosting Ingredients }

  • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾ pound of confectioners’ sugar

{ To Make FrostingIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extracts. Lower the speed and gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, mixing until smooth.

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