Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread (12)

DAY 8: Scottish Shortbread

Sometimes simplicity makes for the best cookie. There is nothing fancy about this shortbread. Just good, quality ingredients that combine to make a cookie that melts in your mouth. A perfect companion to a cup of homemade hot cocoa.

Scottish Shortbread (5)

For a fancier treat, dip half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate.

ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2013): Scottish Shortbread

RECIPE:

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread (5)

2 cups butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
4 ½ cups flour
OPTIONAL: 6 oz dark chocolate (about 1 cup chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Make sure that butter is very soft, but not melted. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer for a full 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gradually add flour, mixing well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on a pastry board or mat. Gently press dough into a rectangle ½” thick (about 10”x 12”). Use a rolling pin to level out the top of the dough. Cut dough into 1” strips lengthwise and then into 2-3” wide rectangles. Prick each cookie with a fork about 4 times.

Use a thin metal spatula to transfer unbaked cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a small space between cookies. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes. Do not brown. Cool on a wire rack.

OPTIONAL: Melt chocolate and pour into a narrow bowl or cup. Dip half of each cooled cookie in the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper or wax paper to harden.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Rolo and Andes Mint Cookies

Andes and Rolo Cookies

DAY 7:  Andes & Rolo Cookies

This recipe is a great “two-fer”. You can make two completely different cookies from the same basic chocolate dough.

The Rolo Cookies have a Rolo candy nestled inside of the chocolate dough. Eat them warm for a delicious gooey caramel cookie.

Rolo Cookies (2)

The Andes Cookies have a melted Andes mint swirled on the top of a baked chocolate cookie.

The original recipe uses regular Andes, but when I make these I prefer the Andes Parfait mints, that have 2 green layers on the outside and a chocolate middle layer. It makes a nice contrast with the chocolate cookie. Unfortunately, they are sometimes hard to find in stores.

Andes Cookies 2

ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2009): Chocolate Rolo or Andes Cookies

RECIPES:

Chocolate Rolo or Andes Cookies

Rolo Cookies (2)

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups packed brown sugarclip_image002
2 Tbs water
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 ½ cups flourclip_image002[1]
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
Rolos (5-6 dozen)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a saucepan over low heat, combine butter, sugar and water. Heat until melted and add chocolate chips. Stir until mostly melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Pour mixture into large mixing bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Beat in eggs one at a time on high speed. Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix on low speed until well blended. Dough will be very soft, almost liquid. If desired, chill for 1 hour for easier handling (you can usually use the dough in less than an hour).

Take about 1 Tbs dough and wrap it around a Rolo (use just enough dough to completely cover Rolo). Place on baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes (Do not overcook; cookies will still look a little underdone). Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 5-6 dozen cookies

.Andes Cookies 2

Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies:

Chocolate Dough (see recipe above)
About 24 Andes mints (see note below)

Prepare dough as above (for Rolo cookies). Roll into 1” balls and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Place half of an Andes mint  on top of each hot cookie. Allow to melt slightly and then swirl with a toothpick.

NOTE: The original recipe uses regular Andes, but when I make these I prefer the Andes Parfait, that have 2 green layers on the outside and a chocolate middle layer. It makes a nice contrast with the chocolate cookie.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

(Original Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies recipe from Recipezaar)

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Molasses Crinkles

Chewy Molasses Crinkles

DAY 6: Chewy Molasses Crinkles

These are a soft and chewy molasses cookie, similar in taste to gingerbread, but without the work of rolling and cutting dough.

I love the way the house smells while these are baking! Better than a scented candle any day.

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ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2016): Chewy Molasses Crinkles

RECIPE:

Chewy Molasses Crinkles

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¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Sugar: ½ cup sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Add egg and egg yolk and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in the molasses and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat until mixed.

Cover and chill dough for one hour. In a small bowl, stir together the ½ cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll the chilled dough into 1” balls and then roll the balls in the Cinnamon Sugar mixture. Place dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 8-9 minutes.  Do not overbake, or they will no longer be chewy. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies 1

DAY 5: Sugar Cookies (Two Doughs/Many Variations)

Sugar Cookies are the iconic Christmas treat. Good thing they are also extremely versatile. Once you have your sugar cookie base, you can easily change up the design for very different looks and tastes. I have two basic sugar cookie doughs that I like to use. The first is a soft, thick dough that stays pillowy soft and tender after baking. This is the dough I use for most of my sugar cookies:

Sugar Cookies 2

But if I need really sharp edges, and absolutely no spread when the dough is baked, I go with the dough below. The cookies are still soft if you don’t overbake them, but they are more dense than the other recipe.

Sharp Edges Sugar Cookies

Whichever dough you choose, you can make traditional frosted sugar cookies, with various types of icing, or try something just a little different. These two options are actually easier than frosting with a regular icing.

Snow Capped Christmas Trees:

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Stained Glass Sugar Cookies:

Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookies 2

ORIGINAL BLOG POSTS:
Soft and Thick Sugar Cookies (2009)
Sharp Edged Sugar Cookies (2014)
Snow Capped Christmas Trees (2016)
Stained Glass Sugar Cookies (2016)

RECIPE:

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies 2

Soft and Thick Sugar Cookies

3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
About 7 – 7 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, butter, sour cream, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Mix in 4 cups of flour, the baking soda, and salt. Mix in enough additional flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Chill for 20 minutes to 1 hour for easier handling. Roll out dough to desired thickness (about 1/4” thick) and cut with cookie cutter.

Bake at 375°F for 10 -11 minutes; if they brown, it’s been too long.  They should look white when done.

Frost and decorate as desired.

Yield will depend on the size of your cookie cutter and the thickness of your dough. I got 6 dozen cookies made from 3” cookie cutters.

Sharp Edges Sugar Cookies

Sharp Edged Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour

Royal Icing
Optional: 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.

(Sharp edged sugar cookie dough from In Katrina’s Kitchen)

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Sugar Cookie Dough (see above)
Green food coloring
About 12 oz white chocolate, or white melting candy discs

Prepare sugar cookie dough.  Mix in a few drops of green food coloring. Chill for 20 minutes to 1 hour, if necessary, for easier handling. Roll out dough and cut out with Christmas tree cookie cutter.

Bake according to sugar cookie dough recipe.

Place white chocolate in a bowl at least as wide as the cookie sides you will be dipping. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each heating, until melted and smooth. Dip each edge of the cooled cookies in the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper to harden.

Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Dough (see above)
1 package Jolly Rancher candies, cut in half for small openings

Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Roll out dough to about 1/8” and cut out with large  cookie cutters. Place shapes on lined baking sheets. Cut out a smaller shape inside of each cookie  (after placing on baking sheet). I used the centers from a linzer cookie cutter set to make the center openings

Place half of a Jolly Rancher candy in the center of each cookie. Use a whole Jolly Rancher if the opening is large enough to lay the entire candy down inside the opening.

Bake according to sugar cookie dough recipe. Cool completely on the baking sheet. When candy centers are completely cool and hardened, remove cookies to a sheet of parchment paper.

Store covered between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper. The candy centers will stick together if they touch.

Frostings

Sugar Cookies 2

Glacé Icing

1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
¼ cup+ 2 Tbs  whole milk
¼ cup + 2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
Gel food coloring
Additional powdered sugar to reach piping consistency

With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth. Stir in corn syrup and almond or vanilla extract. Add food coloring for desired colors.

You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing. It’s smooth and thin. It easily runs off of a whisk in a thin drizzle.

To prepare the icing for piping, add additional powdered sugar until icing is stiff, but spoonable.

(Glacé Icing from Our Best Bites)

Sharp Edges Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing

2 Tbs meringue powder
scant ¼ cup water
½ lb powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
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.

For Snowflakes: 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.

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes 11

Cooked Vanilla Icing

1 cup whole milk
5 Tbs flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (do not use powdered sugar)
Optional: food coloring

In a small saucepan, mix the flour and milk until combined. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens (and is just about to boil). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer works best for this) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled milk mixture and beat for 5-7 minutes, until frosting is light, fluffy, and completely uniform throughout.  Beat in food coloring, if desired.

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Russian Teacakes

Russian Tea Cakes 2

DAY 4: Russian Teacakes

These are a nostalgic cookie for me. My mom made these for Christmas EVERY year, and we ALWAYS got to help rolls the balls of dough in the colored sugar.

The real reason I am doing a “best of” series this year is so that I can go back and look at pictures of my littles who are not so little anymore. And how they liked to help in the kitchen, just like I did as a child. They still like to cook, but are much more independent now. (This one just started high school.)  Photo circa 2009:

Russian Tea Cakes 2009

These are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies, but those usually only come rolled in white powdered sugar. We love the festive colors of Christmas.

Russian Tea Cakes 1

Rows of cooling cookies just make me happy!

Russian Tea Cakes 3


ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2009): Russian Tea Cakes


RECIPE:

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes 2

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
Red & Green granulated sugar or Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt on low speed of a mixer for 1 minute. Add flour; mix just until combined. Stir in nuts. Roll into 1” balls. If using colored sugar, roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until firm to touch, but not brown. If using powdered sugar instead of color sugar, roll cooked cookies in powdered sugar while still warm.

Makes 5-6 dozen cookies

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Swedish Peppar KaKar

ninjabread-men-3

DAY 3: Swedish Peppar KaKar (soft, mild gingerbread)

These are not your average gingerbread cookies. They are so much better! The traditional gingerbread flavors are all there, but there is only a little bit of molasses, which gives them a very mild flavor. Bake them for just a short time, and they are soft and wonderful.

Ninjabread Men 1

These cookies are fun to make with these ninja cookie cutters. You can get fancy with the icing, but I usually just pipe a few details.

Mini gingerbread 1

We also love to use our tiny gingerbread man and angel cookie cutters for these. They are only about 1 ½-inches tall. But be careful, they are very addictive. And when you can pop a whole cookie in your mouth in one shot, it is easy to talk yourself into “just one more.”

Swedish Peppar KaKar

You could pipe an icing around the edges or to make faces on these as well, but they are great just on their own. We end up with enough other cookies filled or topped with frosting that it is nice to have a less sweet, but super flavorful “plain” cookie.

DSC04171 DSC04189

My 2009 gingerbread helpers! I wish I could still get them to cooperate like this in the kitchen.

ORIGINAL BLOG POSTS:
(2009): Mini Gingerbread Men/Angels
(2013): Ninja-bread Men

RECIPE:

Swedish Peppar KaKar

ninjabread-men-3Mini gingerbread 2

(soft, mild gingerbread cookies)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp molasses

Combine dry ingredients; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend in egg and molasses. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Add a little bit more flour (up to 1/4 cup), if necessary, to get a dough that is soft, but not sticky.

Chill dough for 1 hour. Roll to about 1/8” and cut into small gingerbread men and angels (or ninja-bread men).

Bake at 350°F for 6 to 8 minutes for small shapes (8-9 minutes for larger cookies). Don’t overbake, or they will become crispy instead of soft. Cool.

Decorate with Royal Icing, if desired.

Makes about 60 mini gingerbread men or 30 ninja-bread men.

Royal Icing

2 Tbs meringue powder
scant 1/4 cup water
½ lb powdered sugar
½ tsp light corn syrup

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and 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 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.

NOTE: This makes “stiff” icing which is perfect for piping details. If you want to flood (totally frost) your cookies first, double the recipe above. Reserve some stiff icing to outline and pipe details. To fill in your cookies, first tint the remaining icing with food coloring.Then add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. Outline the cookies first with stiff icing, then flood the center with the thinner icing. Wait several hours until icing has completely hardened before piping on additional details over the flooded icing.

(Royal Icing from Bake at 350)

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

Lofthouse Cookies 4

DAY 2: Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

Lofthouse Cookies: those pillowy-soft cookies in the grocery store with a frosting that hardens just enough to be able to stack them. The homemade version are even better. And much easier to make than rolled and frosted sugar cookies.

Lofthouse Cookies 1

To frost them, simply hold them in your hand and dip them upside down into a bowl of icing. Shake on some candied sprinkles, let them set for an hour and you are ready to go. You can use different flavored extracts (vanilla, almond, orange, peppermint, etc.) for different flavored frostings.

Lofthouse Cookies 5

ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2014): Lofthouse Style Soft Sugar Cookies

RECIPE:

Lofthouse Style Frosted Christmas Cookies

  • Servings: about 3 dozen
  • Print

Lofthouse Cookies 1

Cookies:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix into butter and sugar in mixing bowl. If the dough is too sticky to roll into balls, refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes.

With hands, roll dough into 1” balls for small cookies, slightly larger for larger cookies. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten dough balls slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 7-9 minutes. Do not overbake.

Glaze Frosting:
6 Tbs butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 lb (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or ½ tsp almond, ½ tsp orange, or ¼ tsp peppermint) extract
3-4 drops gel food coloring
Candy Sprinkles

Place butter and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds, until butter melts. Use a whisk to mix in powdered sugar. If you are making more than one color or flavor of frosting, divide frosting into separate bowls. Stir in extract (if you want to use white icing, use a clear vanilla or other flavored extract). Mix in food coloring.

Dip tops of cooled cookies in warm glaze and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle immediately with candy sprinkles (the glaze starts to set fast: dip one cookie, then add sprinkles, then dip another cookie, etc). If glaze gets too thick, heat in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Allow glaze to set on cookies for about 1 hour before storing cookies.

To freeze: Freeze cookies in single layer and then place in container and store in freezer. Thaw cookies in a single layer.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

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Top Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

12-23-10 061-1

DAY 1: Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Happy December and the first day of No Empty Chairs’ Tenth Annual “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies”. This year, I am reaching back into the blog-files to share twelve of our family’s very favorite Christmas cookies.

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First up is a shortbread style cookie studded with candied cherries and pecans. This is a great make-ahead dough that you can pull out and slice anytime. Bake just a few at a time, or a whole batch.

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Roll the dough into a log and it can be stored in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to bake.

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Use a sharp knife to slice dough into rounds that are about 3/8” thick.

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ORIGINAL BLOG POST (2011): Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

Christmas is a wonderful season to both spend time with family and loved ones and to reach out beyond our normal sphere of influence. See below for ideas on how you can light the world in all areas of your life.

#LightTheWorld

Light the World 2018

 

RECIPE:

Christmas Cherry Pecan Cookies

12-23-10 061-1

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup pecan halves
2 cups red and green candied cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cream butter and powdered sugar; blend in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour and then add pecans and cherries. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Shape into 2  logs with about 2” diameter. Roll in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into slices about 3/8” thick and bake for 13-15 minutes. Do not let cookies brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

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Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 2

Looking for the perfect rolls to serve for Thanksgiving? Or more importantly, to use the next day to make turkey/cranberry sauce sandwiches?

Look no further: these rolls are amazing. They are soft and tender, but also hold up to slicing and using as a sandwich bun.

Leftovers are always the best part of a big holiday dinner. I love cooking once and then repurposing dinner for the next few days. And rolls are the perfect food to make ahead of time, freeze, and then reheat in the oven just before serving.

To help elongate the crescent rolls and keep them from being too thick in the center, I cut a slit in the wide edge, separate the slit slightly, and then roll the dough into a crescent shape.

Crescent Rolls 5 Crescent Rolls 6

This gives longer ends that are easier to curve into a rounded crescent.

Crescent Rolls 4

Happy Thanksgiving!

Crescent Rolls 1

I posted about these rolls previously, but I have adapted the recipe this time to use instant yeast, which doesn’t require proofing before adding to the dough. You can find the original recipe, using regular yeast HERE.

RECIPE:

Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 3

2 ⅔ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
6 Tbs butter
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 heaping Tbs instant yeast
8-8 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs
Melted butter (about 4 Tbs; for brushing on top of cooked rolls)

Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add 4 cups of flour and the instant yeast to the warm (but not hot) milk mixture. Use a dough hook to mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix on high speed for 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.

Knead in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. The dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a clean towel. Place the bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled.

Grease large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Punch down dough. Lightly oil  your work surface (USE OIL, NOT FLOUR, TO KEEP THE DOUGH FROM STICKING TO YOUR SURFACE). Divide dough into 3 balls and place one of the thirds onto the lightly oiled surface. Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.

Roll each dough ball into a circle and cut into 12 wedges. Cut a ½” slit in the wide end of the wedge, separate slightly and roll  into crescent shape and place on prepared pans.

Cover rolls with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375°F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. When done, remove from oven and brush lightly with melted butter.

Yield: 36 rolls

**To prebake (and freeze)  for serving another day: Bake rolls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown. Remove from oven. (Do not brush with butter) 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. Brush tops with melted butter.

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Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Pecans and Salted Caramel

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake 3

A delicious make-ahead dessert for Thanksgiving or other fall parties. This cheesecake starts with a lemon gingersnap crust and is filled with swirled layers of pumpkin and vanilla cheesecake.

To send it over the top, the cheesecake is garnished with candied pecans and then salted caramel is drizzled over individual slices. Even my cheesecake-averse daughter asked for this to show up on the Thanksgiving menu again this year.

The Lemon Gingersnap Crust is made from these cookies:

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 3

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake 2

For detailed information about baking a cheesecake in a water bath, see this post: Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

Just before serving, arrange the candied pecans around the outside edge of cheesecake. The pecans will get soft if they are put on the cheesecake and refrigerated too far ahead of time.

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake 1

Don’t skip the salted caramel. It really makes this an extraordinary dessert. And if there is any leftover, it is perfect for drizzling on ice cream, waffles, or just about anything.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Pecans and Salted Caramel Drizzle

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake 3

Lemon Gingersnap Crust
1 (7 oz) pkg Carr’s Ginger Lemon Cremes
½ cup pecans
2 Tbs butter, melted

Process cookies and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Add melted butter and mix. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes while preparing filling.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
⅛ tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. (You can also substitute 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice for the other spices)

Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil. Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

Pour half of pumpkin filling into crust.  Slowly pour half of the vanilla filling over top of the pumpkin batter. Use a knife or spatula to gently swirl. Repeat with remaining pumpkin and vanilla batters. Swirl again.

Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 1-2 inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 80 minutes. (Cover top of cheesecake with foil if it begins to brown before it is set.) When it is cooked, the cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly, but not soupy. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring.

Cheesecake Topping Layer:
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbs sugar
½ Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

While cheesecake is baking, combine sour cream, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour over hot (cooked) cheesecake and let stand at room temperature for 60 minutes. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Candied Pecans:
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbs water
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 cups pecan halves

Place a large piece of parchment paper or non-stick foil on the countertop.

Combine sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Stir in pecans. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Spread pecans on parchment paper/foil. While still hot, use 2 forks to separate pecans into a single layer so that pecans are not touching. Cool completely.

Just before serving, arrange candied pecans around the outside edge of cheesecake.

Salted Caramel Drizzle:
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp flaky or coarse sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (and/or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)

Place sugar in a medium to large saucepan (mixture will bubble up and expand as cool ingredients are added to the hot pan, so use a large 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.

Stir in cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel 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.

Drizzle  individual slices with Salted Caramel.

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