How To . . . Make Your Own Pie Crust Shield


Getting ready to bake a ton of pies for Thanksgiving? Tired of burnt edges to your pie crusts, but don’t want to spend major $$ to buy commercial pie crust shields? Frustrated with trying to arrange foil strips and then nursing burnt fingers when the strips fall off in the oven?

Making your own pie crust shield is super easy, cheap, and will keep your fingers blister-free. And you won’t be tempted to curse in frustration at foil strips that just don’t stay put. Oh- and you will end up with perfectly browned pie crusts.

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To make you own pie crust shield you need the following: aluminum foil, scissors, pencil and the pie plate you will be baking in.

Set your pie plate, right side up, on a square of foil that is 2-3” larger than your pie plate.

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Trace the bottom of your pie plate (the smaller side).

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Set pie plate aside and cut out the inner circle.

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You can trim the corners on the outside edge, but I usually just leave them. Fill your pie crust, then set foil ring over the edge of the unbaked pie. Gently fold down outer edges, being careful not to squish all of that edge-crimping you worked so hard on!

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Bake pie, or quiche, with the pie shield on. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, carefully remove shield. If the edges are not brown enough, leave shield off and bake until edges are golden brown. If the edges are browned, replace shield and continue cooking until quiche/pie is cooked through.

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Uses for Pie Crust Shield:

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Pumpkin Shaped Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Rolls 4

Looking for a fun roll to go with your Thanksgiving feast? These pumpkin shaped rolls are also made with pumpkin, but are a savory roll that goes perfectly with all of your Thanksgiving dinner favorites.

Pumpkin Rolls 3

If you can roll a hunk of dough into a ball and have a pair of sharp scissors, you have all the skills you need to make these cute little pumpkins.

You can make these rolls with either whole wheat or white flour. I usually use a combination of about half of each.

To make the pumpkin shapes: Place balls of dough on a greased baking sheet (or use a silicon baking sheet). Use kitchen shears (or other clean sharp scissors) to make about 5 cuts around the edge of the dough; cuts should be about ½” deep.

Pumpkin Rolls 5

Brush or spray dough with oil, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled. For a shiny finish, brush rolls with an egg white wash (room temperature egg white mixed with 1 Tbs water) before baking.

After rolls have baked, use a toothpick or a skewer to poke a small hole in the center of each roll. Press a long sliver of a pecan into the hole to make the stem.

Pumpkin Rolls 1

If you are not into pumpkin shapes, you can always make them into more traditional crescents or knots. Instructions on making these shapes can be found HERE.

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I like to serve these with honey butter: Mix 1 stick of very soft butter  with 1-2 Tbs honey. These rolls can also be made ahead of time and frozen, then baked again just before serving.

Pumpkin Rolls 2


Pumpkin Rolls 3

Pumpkin Shaped Dinner Rolls
——————-Yield: about 2 dozen rolls

1 ¼ cups warm water
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs molasses
4 cups whole wheat or white flour
¼ cup wheat gluten
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice **
2 tsp salt
1  Tbs instant yeast***
about 1- 1 ½ cups additional flour
Egg wash: 1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbs water
Pecans, for stem garnish

Mix water, egg, pumpkin, honey, olive oil and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, gluten, sugar, spices, salt and yeast. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add additional flour, if needed, a little at a time, until dough just begins to form a ball. Knead for 5-6 minutes, or until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and springs back slightly when touched.

Shape dough into about 24 balls. Dough balls should be bigger than a golf ball, but slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, or use a silicone mat. Use kitchen shears (or other sharp scissors) to make 5-6 cuts around the edge of the dough; snip completely through dough to a depth of about ½”. Spray or brush with oil and cover with towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Brush rolls with an egg wash: 1 egg white (room temp) mixed with 1 Tbs water. Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes. After rolls have baked, use a toothpick or a skewer to poke a small hole in the center of each roll. Press a long pecan sliver  into the hole to make the stem.

Pumpkin Pie Spice substitute: 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp each allspice, ginger, and cloves.
***If you are using regular, and not instant, yeast, let dough rise once in a covered bowl until doubled, and then shape into rolls and rise again. (Instant yeast only needs one rise period)

If desired, serve with Honey Butter: 1 stick softened butter mixed with 1-2 Tbs honey.

To make and freeze: Shape rolls and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Let rise as usual. Bake rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown, but are cooked in the center. Rolls should look slightly underdone (not completely brown). Remove from oven. Do not put pecans into center of rolls. Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake at 350°F for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. If rolls are thawed, bake for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Add pecans for stems after baking.

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Banana Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Banana Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

We went to a church fall festival activity tonight, and I brought this banana cream pie as well as this Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie: RECIPE HERE.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 2

I was not planning on posting the banana cream pie recipe yet, since I only got a couple of not-so-great photos of the whole pie before we left. And there were no left-overs to take a picture of after getting home. But I have had a few requests for the recipe, so I am going to go ahead and post the recipe without the “inside” pictures. So you will just have to imagine layers of flaky crust, salted caramel, bananas, homemade custard filling and whipped cream.

Salted Caramel Sauce 1

And once you have gone to the trouble of making salted caramel, it goes well with just about everything else you might want to drizzle it on.

Salted Caramel Sauce 2

This recipe was inspired by the many Salted Caramel Banana Cream Pies eaten on “Pi Day” at the Kings’ house in Pittsburgh. Not having Tony’s pies to look forward to every year now, I had to buckle down and make one for myself.


Banana Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Banana Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

1 Baked Pie Crust
Vanilla Custard (recipe below)
Salted Caramel (recipe below)
3 Bananas
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs cream cheese, softened

Bake and cool pie crust. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of salted caramel sauce over the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Slice 1 ½ bananas and place in single layer over the caramel sauce. Spoon half of the slightly cooled vanilla custard over the bananas. Slice remaining bananas (slice them thinly) and place over custard. Top with remaining custard filling. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1-2 hours.

Combine cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over chilled pie. Drizzle with additional salted caramel sauce and chill until serving time.

Serve pie with additional Salted Caramel Sauce.

Vanilla Custard
1 cup sugar
4 Tbs cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz cream cheese, softened

Combine sugar, cornstarch, milk, cream and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Whisk until well mixed. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Add cream cheese to hot custard about 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir with a whisk until cream cheese is completely melted and custard is smooth. Cool for 15-20 minutes before pouring into pie crust (stir occasionally so that it doesn’t form a skin).

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 – 1 ½ tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan). Cook over medium heat until sugar just begins to melt. Stir gently, trying to keep sugar crystals off of the sides of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts completely and is a medium amber color (about 350°F if you use an instant-read thermometer). Reduce heat to low and quickly whisk in butter chunks, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in cream, whisking constantly. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour immediately into a glass jar or heat-safe bowl to cool. Do NOT scrape sides or bottom of the pan with a spatula. If you do, you are likely to get sugar crystals into your nice smooth caramel. If the caramel has formed crystals while cooking, you can pour it from the pan through a fine sieve into the jar to remove any crystals before cooling.

Caramel can be kept in a covered jar at room temperature for several weeks.

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Blueberry Pie in a New Home

Blueberry Pie 3

***DISCLAIMER: If you are just here for the pie, scroll to the bottom of the post NOW. Otherwise, you will be subjected to a long-winded not-pie-related-at-all monologue on our family’s journey this summer from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. Not exactly a physically pioneer-worthy trek, but definitely an emotionally arduous one. So for those who are sticking this post out (i.e. my mother), welcome to the Smith family “What did you do this summer?” post. And yes, there will be pie at the end.

New House

We are officially moved into our new Maryland home now! While we have made a lot of unpacking progress, much of the house still looks like this:

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Two months ago today, we moved out of our Pittsburgh home, wandered around homeless for a month, then moved into our home in Carroll County, Maryland on July 7-8. The morning of July 8 (with movers still hauling in furniture and endless boxes), Brian and Little A left on a Boy Scout backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Middle K also left that day for a 2 ½ week humanitarian service trip to Fiji sponsored by BYU’s HEFY program.  So while Little J and I unpacked, painted walls, rearranged furniture and made endless trips to Home Depot, Middle K lounged on Pacific island beaches soaking up a tan. (Actually she worked really hard in a remote village building outhouse type toilets <that flush>, complete with septic tanks they dug out and installed).


**LIFE TIP FOR TEENAGERS** When your parents decide to move you just before your senior year in high school (after 14 years in one city, one house, one school district, one set of awesome friends), if you approach the move without throwing tantrums, issuing threats or otherwise making an already difficult move even more painful—if instead, you approach it with grace and maturity (love you Middle K!), you will find your parents much more likely to say “yes” to questions like: can I redo my new room when we move? and the bathroom? can I buy some new furniture? can I go across the world to Fiji and do humanitarian work for the summer?





So grateful for this amazing daughter who has grown into such an incredible young woman. I am really going to miss her when she leaves for college next year.

Kelsey Mt. Rushmore

During our month of homelessness, I decided to drive with the kids out to Boise, Idaho to visit my parents and sister (who live there) and other sister and her kids who joined us there from Texas. It was great to visit with family and for cousins to get together again. Many thanks to Mom & Dad for housing us all and for fabulous Aunt Myrna who opened up her home to us in Boise and let us hang out at her cabin at Cascade Lake.

Here are a few pics of our trip west. On our way there we detoured north to visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. The drive through the Black Hills National Forest was one of my favorites. On the way home, we went south through Utah (doing college tours with upcoming senior Middle K) and then visited Bryce Canyon before heading east again.

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Mount Rushmore

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Old Faithful: not as impressive as I had expected. And so crowded!

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Boogie boarding the rapids on Payette River. We left with a few war wounds.

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Awesome time hanging out with Grandma and cousins!
(Grandpa too, but he is tough to nail down for a picture)

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It was REALLY hot in Idaho and Utah!

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Saw some temples in Logan and Provo that we hadn’t seen before.

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Bryce Canyon

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While we had a great time touring the country and visiting extended family, it is nice to be settled again, and to not have Brian commuting from Baltimore to Pittsburgh every weekend. Many props also to Brian who stayed in Baltimore working and missed most of these adventures (someone had to bankroll all of this fun!).

While some of us have been road-tripping the US, building toilets in Fiji and working in Baltimore, the other 2 members of our family have been off on their own adventures. Justin is doing a semester abroad this summer in Jerusalem. He gets home this week and will be here for about 2 weeks before going back to BYU.

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Dome of the Rock

And since last October, our oldest daughter, Alyssa, has been serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Berlin, Germany. We got to talk to her on Christmas and Mother’s Day, but mostly we rely on emails and the occasional picture to know how she is doing. So at one point this summer, our 7-person family was spread across 4 countries (and 2 states). That is definitely a challenge for a mom’s heart.

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Rapunzel's CastleAlyssa and Bach

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But enough maudlin rambling: it is time for pie!

Blueberry Pie 1

Little A’s 13th birthday arrived in the middle of this chaotic summer and we celebrated with an awesome blueberry pie. Little A is much more a pie guy than a cake guy.

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And it turns out that in moving from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we are now closer to Amish country! And there is an Amish farm down the road that sells huge ripe blueberries for a couple of weeks in the summer. When I get more time, I can’t wait to go north (about 30-40 minutes, from what I hear) and hit up all of the fresh stuff at the Amish auctions there. My kids are also on the prowl for a great Amish donut place (Soergels: we miss you!).

Blueberry Pie 2


Blueberry Pie 1

Blueberry Pie

Double pie crust (see recipe below)
6 cups fresh blueberries
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
¾ cup sugar (adjust based on the sweetness of berries)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs cold butter
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbs heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place dough for one pie crust in a DEEP DISH pie plate (for a regular pie plate, reduce amount of filling).

In a large bowl, stir together the blueberries, lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir into berries and mix well. Spoon into the unbaked pie crust, mounding berries in the center. Dot blueberry mixture with small pieces of the cold butter.

Top with remaining pie crust. Seal and flute edges of the pie crust. Use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top of the crust (for steam to escape). Brush crust with egg wash. Place a large piece of foil on the lower rack on the oven to catch drips from the pie as it bakes.

Cover edges of crust with a pie crust shield and bake at 375°F for 60-80 minutes, or until filling is hot and bubbly (you should start to see filling bubbling from the center slits in your crust).

Double Pie Crust

2 ½ cups flour
1 Tbs sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter
3 Tbs ice-cold water

Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse once. Add butter, in 1 Tbs chunks, and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add water, 1 Tbs at a time, until dough just barely sticks together. (If you are not using a food processor, grate very cold or frozen butter into flour mixture using a cheese-type grater. Stir with a fork, or pastry cutter, and then slowly add water until dough sticks together.)

Divide dough in half and roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface. If dough is too sticky to work with, place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Top with a second piece of plastic wrap and press with your hands or a rolling pin until dough is a thick disk. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, then roll again until thin enough to fit pie plate (about a 12-13” in diameter).

NOTE: For information on how to make your own pie-shield, click HERE.


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 2

I have been a less-than-faithful blogger the last several months. Being a single mom during the week for the last eight months (since my husband accepted and started working at a job 250 miles out of town) has really taken a toll on blogging. Plus trying to get a house ready to sell and move. It is scary how much junk you can accumulate when you stay in one house for 14 years. And how many little repair jobs you can ignore. And how you once thought wall paper was a really good idea.

But I hope to get in a few more posts before I am swamped with last minute moving details and the craziness of unpacking in a new house. I am excited to start cooking in this new kitchen in about 6 weeks! This photo is the sole reason that I agreed to purchase a house that I have not seen yet. In a neighborhood I have never been to. If I get this room to play in, who really cares what the rest of the house looks like?!

New Kitchen

Last weekend was our annual church youth camp fundraiser. Along with some Rocky Road Cookies and Snickerdoodle Bars,  I made a couple of these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies to auction off. And there just may have been enough “extra” filling that couldn’t possibly have fit into the pie crusts and had to be saved in a small bowl at the back of the fridge where no one could see it.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 2

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
——–((inspired by Zoe Bakes)

6oz chocolate wafer cookies (about 2/3 of a Nabisco 9oz package)
5 Tbs salted butter, melted

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 can (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Chocolate ganache:
¼ cup heavy cream
2 oz (about 1/3 cup)  semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Candied Peanuts:
½ cup salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Crush chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor or blender until finely ground. You should get about 1 ½ cups of crumbs. Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Stir in chocolate wafer crumbs. Press into 9” pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes (not longer or it will taste burnt). Cool completely before filling.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Stir in half the whipped cream to lighten the batter, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least one hour.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place ¼ cup cream in microwave safe measuring cup or bowl. Heat for 45 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips. Let sit for one minute, then stir again until smooth. Let  cool until slightly thickened. Spoon the ganache over the chilled peanut butter filling, spreading almost to the edge of the filling. Return pie to refrigerator. Chill until ganache has completely set.

Whipped topping:
Combine 1 cup heavy cream and softened cream cheese (must be very soft, or your topping will be chunky!) in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Spread over top of cooled ganache, spreading almost to the edge of the ganache. Chill pie until firm, about 1 additional hour. (The cream cheese in this topping will stabilize your whipped cream and help it keep its shape even over several days.)

Candied Peanuts:
In a medium skillet (I like to use my cast iron skillet), stir together the chopped peanuts and sugar.  Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar begins to melt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely melted and begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Pour the nuts onto a piece of foil or parchment paper  to cool. Sprinkle top of pie with candied peanuts just before serving.


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Sixth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Round-Up

Twelve more cookies on the books! Now it’s time to give them all away.

Here is the run-down of the cookies featured this year:


DAY 1: Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

Rocky Road Cookies 1

DAY 2: Rocky Road Cookies

Lofthouse Style Frosted Cookies_thumb

DAY 3: Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies with Glaze Frosting

 Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies 1

DAY 4: Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies

 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

DAY 5: Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Christmas Snickerdoodles

DAY 6: Christmas Snickerdoodles

 Chocolate Andes Cookies

DAY 7: Chocolate Andes Chip Cookies

 Chocolate Chip Cookies 1

DAY 8: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Frozen Snowflake Sugar Cookies 1

DAY 9: Frozen-Inspired Snowflake Sugar Cookies

 Lemon Pillow Cookies

DAY 10: Lemon Pillow Cookies

 Cookies and Cream Brownie Bites 3

DAY 11: Cookies ‘n’ Crème Brownie Bites

 Filled Almond Lace Cookies

DAY 12: Filled Almond Lace Cookies

Need more baking inspiration? Try these cookies from previous years of Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies:

First Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies
Second Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies
Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies
Fourth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies
Fifth Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies

While sharing Christmas cookies with friends and neighbors is a wonderful tradition that we celebrate in our home, this is the true gift of Christmas that we celebrate now and throughout the year:

He is the Gift. He is Christmas.

Discover the Gift
Embrace the Gift
#Share the Gift

The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift given by a Father to all of his children, to us. He gave us His son, the Christ. He is the gift. This Christmas season, how will you share the gift?


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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Filled Almond Lace Cookies

Filled Almond Lace Cookies

DAY 12: Filled Almond Lace Cookies

Almond Lace Cookies are a thin delicate cookie similar to a Florentine. You can eat them plain or drizzled with chocolate. Or dress them up by wrapping the hot cookies around a tube and then filling them when hardened. I filled them with vanilla custard and fresh raspberries, but you could also use sweetened whipped cream, chocolate mousse, or ice cream (soften before filling, then refreeze before serving).

Almond Lace Cookies 1


Filled Almond Lace Cookies

Filled Almond Lace Cookies

Almond Lace Cookies (recipe below)
Filling (any combination of the following):

  • Vanilla Custard (recipe below)
  • Fresh raspberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries
  • Whipped cream, sweetened
  • Chocolate (or other flavor) mousse
  • Softened ice cream

Melted chocolate

Prepare Almond Lace Cookie batter. Bake cookies (**SEE NOTE). Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Wrap hot cookies around a cylindrical tube, about 1” in diameter. (I used an empty vanilla bean jar. A cannoli form would be perfect.) Let cookie harden before removing.

**NOTE: Only bake as many cookies at a time as you have forms to wrap them around.

Place chilled custard, whipped cream, mousse, or softened ice cream in a Ziploc bag or pastry bag. Cut off one corner and pipe filling into cooled cookie shells. (If you are filling cookies with softened ice cream, place filled cookies on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in freezer until solid.) Drizzle filled cookies with melted chocolate. Serve immediately.

Almond Lace Cookies
——–(recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)

⅔ cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 Tbs heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups rolled oats
2 Tbs flour
½ cup toasted, finely chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Bring the butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Reduce the heat so the butter slows to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the solids on the bottom of the pan turn light brown. Remove from heat.

Whisk in the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt and vanilla to the butter and stir to blend well. Stir in the oats and flour, then fold in the almonds.

Drop teaspoons of the batter onto the baking sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack and let sit until the cookies firm up, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, gently transfer the cookies to wire racks until cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.


Vanilla Custard

¾ cup sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, optional
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (if not using vanilla bean)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean (Split bean in half and scrape seeds into the saucepan. Place bean pod in the saucepan as well). Stir in milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. While boiling, cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Return egg yolk mixture to the saucepan, stirring well. Return custard to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla extract (if using) and remove vanilla bean pod. Pour into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard (to keep from developing a skin). Chill until cool. Do not stir while custard is cooling.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cookies ‘n’ Crème Brownie Bites

Cookies and Cream Brownie Bites 3

DAY 11: Cookies ‘n’ Crème Brownie Bites

A simple cookie recipe that starts with a brownie mix and ends with a kiss.

I added white chocolate chips to the dough, but next time I think I will leave them out. You can use Hershey’s Kisses or Dove Chocolates to top the cookies. When I used the Dove chocolates,  I let them melt on the hot cookies and then swirled them with a toothpick into a rounded shape.

Cookies and Cream Brownie Bites 2


Cookies and Cream Brownie Bites 3

Cookies ‘n’ Crème Brownie Bites

1 brownie mix (18-20 oz package)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1 pkg. Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème Kisses or Dove Cookies & Crème Chocolates

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine brownie mix, cream cheese, butter and egg. Beat with a mixer until smooth. If desired, stir in white chocolate chips.

Use a very small cookie scoop (about 2 tsp) or teaspoon to drop balls of dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then press a Hershey’s Kiss or Dove chocolate into the center of each cookie. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

If using the Dove chocolates, let the chocolate melt on the warm cookies and then swirl with a toothpick.

Makes 48 small cookies.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Lemon Pillow Cookies

Lemon Pillow Cookies

DAY 10: Lemon Pillow Cookies

Soft and fluffy, like a good pillow. Just lemony. And edible.

A nice break from a season full of chocolate-dipped and candy-topped confections. Think of them as a much needed palate cleanser.

Recipe adapted from Yes to Yum.


Lemon Pillow Cookies

Lemon Pillow Cookies
———–(adapted from Yes to Yum)

3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 Tbs sour cream
2 Tbs milk
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
zest from one lemon (about 1-2 tsp)
½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, sour cream, milk, lemon juice, vanilla and lemon zest. Gradually add flour mixture.

Place ½ cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll cookie dough into 1” balls (or slightly smaller) and roll in sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 11-­12 minutes, or until the tops are set. These cookies will stay a pale color, even when they are baked through.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Frozen-Inspired Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Frozen Snowflake Sugar Cookies 3.1

DAY 9: Frozen-Inspired Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Want to brighten a little girl’s eyes this Christmas? Make these Disney Frozen inspired snowflake cookies together. She can be totally in charge of the sprinkles.

This is a different sugar cookie dough than I usually use. (That recipe can be found here: Sugar Cookies). I prefer the flavor of the other dough, but this dough is much easier to work with and creates super sharp edges. And no refrigeration of the dough is needed. When I am using a cookie cutter where sharp edges really matter, this is the dough I prefer to use. The recipe comes from In Katrina’s Kitchen.

I used Royal Icing (recipe below) to pipe thick lines, but you could also use this Glacé Icing. Cover lines with shimmery sanding sugar or thicker blue and silver sprinkles immediately after piping.

Frozen Snowflake Sugar Cookies 1


Frozen Snowflake Sugar Cookies 1

Snowflake Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
————–(from In Katrina’s Kitchen)

Sugar Cookie Dough:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour

Royal Icing
Blue and Silver Shimmery Sanding Sugar or Coarse Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in extracts and egg.

In a separate bowl combine baking powder with flour and slowly mix into the wet ingredients. The dough will be stiff.

Do not chill dough. Roll dough out onto a floured surface to almost 1/4 inch. You want these cookies to be thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookie shapes and place on baking sheets.

Bake for 7-9 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

Yield will depend on the size of your cookie cutter and the thickness of your dough. I got 25 cookies made from 4” snowflake cookie cutters.

Royal Icing
——(from Bake at 350)

2 Tbs meringue powder
scant ¼ cup water
½ lb powdered sugar
½  tsp light corn syrup

Combine the meringue powder and water in a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat until foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Mix in the corn syrup. Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 3-5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.

To store for later use: cover with plastic wrap touching the icing and refrigerate.

Use a thick open circle decorator tip to pipe thick lines onto each snowflake. Sprinkle cookie with sanding sugar or sprinkles immediately after piping lines (on each cookie). Icing will harden quickly.

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