Tag Archives: baking

8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Recap

Here is a quick recap of our yearly baking madness! Scroll to the end for links to even more cookie deliciousness.

A very Merry Christmas to family and friends far and near!

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

DAY ONE: Snow Capped Christmas Trees

 Chocolate Toffee Cookies

DAY TWO: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

Cinnamon Pecans 2

DAY THREE: Cinnamon Pecans

 Molasses Crinkles

DAY FOUR: Molasses Crinkles

 Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

DAY FIVE: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

 Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

DAY SIX: Butter Pecan Spiced Cookies

 Nutella Fudge

DAY SEVEN: Nutella Fudge

 Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

DAY EIGHT: Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

 Almond Toffee Triangles 2

DAY NINE: Almond Toffee Triangles

 Cream Cheese Mints 
DAY TEN: Cream Cheese Mints

 Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies

DAY ELEVEN: Maple Cream Sandwich Cookies  

 Homemade Caramels

DAY TWELVE: Homemade Caramels

 

#LIGHTtheWORLD

 

More Christmas Cookies and Treats:

1st Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2009)

2nd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2010)

3rd Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2011)

4th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2012)

5th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2013)

6th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2014)

7th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (2015)

1 Comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and Treats): Cream Cheese Mints

Cream Cheese Mints

DAY 10: Cream Cheese Mints

Melt in your mouth cream cheese mints.

Making these mints is like playing with scented edible Play Doh. The hardest challenge will be keeping your kids from playing with it and eating it before you can roll the mints.

Cream Cheese Mints 2

RECIPE:

Cream Cheese Mints

Cream Cheese Mints

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar (plus additional, if needed)
¼–½  tsp peppermint extract (or a few drops of peppermint oil)
Red and green gel food coloring

Place cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Add ¼ tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil. Taste mixture and add additional flavoring, if desired. (Mixture can also be mixed and kneaded by hand.)

Divide dough into thirds and place in separate bowls. Add red and green food coloring to two of the bowls. Knead in coloring until color is consistently smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if the dough is too sticky. It should be Play Doh consistency.

Shape dough into small balls and then flatten with a fork. Place on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow mints to dry for 2 hours (longer in humid locations) at room temperature before storing in a covered container.

Candy molds can also be used to make shaped mints. If you are using candy molds to shape the mints, roll the balls in granulated sugar before pressing into the candy molds to keep them from sticking.

Makes about 50 mints.

Leave a comment

Filed under Candy, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Almond Toffee Triangles

Almond Toffee Triangles

DAY 9: Almond Toffee Triangles

A shortbread crust, topped with a sliced almond caramel mixture and then baked to perfection.

Easy peasy!

Almond Toffee Triangles 2

 

RECIPE:

Almond Toffee Triangles

Almond Toffee Triangles

Crust:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
¼ tsp salt

Topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sliced almonds

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of a 15×10” pan.

Use a mixer to cream butter and powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat in flour and salt. Press evenly into greased pan.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

Topping:
While crust is cooking, prepare topping. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almonds. Pour topping over HOT crust; spread evenly.

Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes, or until topping is set. Cool completely. Cut into 2 ½ inch squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.

Makes 48 triangles

 

**To prepare in a 17×13” pan, prepare 1 ½ times the recipe.

1 Comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

DAY 8: Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

Here is a fun Christmas treat to make with kids that is easier than your traditional frosted sugar cookies. All you need is a good sugar cookie recipe, a package of Jolly Rancher hard candies and two different sized cookie cutters.

To begin, you will need to line your baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper so that the candy centers don’t stick.

Prepare your dough and cut out large Christmas shapes (my cookie cutters were about 3” tall). I usually like to make nice thick sugar cookies, but these need to be about 1/8” thick, or the center “window” will be too thin compared to the cookie.

Place cookies on baking sheet before cutting out the smaller design in the center of each cookie. I used the inserts for linzer cookies to cut the center shapes. Cutting out the smaller shape after the cookie is on the baking sheet helps the cookie dough retain its shape. It is harder to move cookie dough with the center cut out.

Place half of a Jolly Rancher candy  in the center of each cut out. (Cut candy in half with a sharp knife)  If your openings are large enough to fit the whole Jolly Rancher, then use them whole. You can also crush the candies first, but I found that there are fewer bubbles in your windows if you leave the candies whole. And it is so much easier than crushing hard candy!

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies 3

While the cookies bake, the candies will melt and fill in the centers.

After baking, let the cookies completely cool and the candy window centers harden before removing from baking sheet.

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

You could also make these using a Gingerbread Cookie Dough.

RECIPE:

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
About 7 – 7 ½ cups flour
1 package Jolly Rancher candies, cut in half for small openings

In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, butter, sour cream and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs.  Mix in baking soda, salt and enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough (Start with 7 cups and add more if needed).

Chill for 20 minutes to 1 hour, if necessary, for easier handling.

Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375°F.

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).

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 candy down inside the opening.

Bake at 375°F for 8 -10 minutes, or until candies have melted; cookies should not be browned on the edges.  They should look white when done. 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.

Makes about 6 dozen (using a 3” cookie cutter)

1 Comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and Treats): Easy Chocolate Nutella Fudge

Nutella Fudge

DAY 7: Chocolate Nutella Fudge

Can you ever go wrong adding Nutella to a dessert?

Here is a perfect example: a rich, creamy fudge made even more delicious by adding Nutella. Plus lots of toasted nuts. And nuts are protein, so that makes this healthy, right?

You can also make this completely smooth and creamy, but I love the addition of chopped toasted nuts. I like lots of nuts per bite, so I use 2 full cups of chopped nuts, but if you just want the nuts sprinkled here and there, use less. My ideal fudge would be a pile of nuts with just enough chocolate to hold the nuts together in one piece!

I used a small cookie scoop to scoop the warm fudge into miniature foil cups. You can also spread it into an 8” square pan and cut it into squares.

Nutella tip: to easily measure Nutella, warm the jar of Nutella in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (be sure that all of the foil seal is removed first!). Spray a measuring cup with oil or cooking spray, then pour warm Nutella into the measuring cup.

RECIPE:

Nutella Fudge

Chocolate Nutella Fudge

1 cup Nutella
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (about 1 heaping cup bittersweet chips)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 Tbs salted butter
1/8 tsp salt (omit salt if using salted nuts)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups chopped toasted nuts, optional **

If you are making fudge in a pan, lightly grease an 8” square pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the edge on 2 sides. If you are making individual fudge cups, lay 48-64 miniature foil baking cups on a rimmed baking sheet or tray.

Place Nutella, chopped bittersweet chocolate, sweet milk and butter in the top of a double boiler. Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler to a simmer, reduce heat to low and place the top of the double boiler with the chocolate mixture over the water. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in salt, vanilla and chopped toasted nuts.

Spread warm fudge into the prepared pan OR use a small cookie scoop (or spoon) to drop about 1 tablespoon of warm fudge into each foil cup. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fudge is firm.

If fudge was prepared in a pan: For easier cutting, run the knife under hot water, then pat dry before using to cut the fudge. Run the knife along the edges of the pan and use the parchment paper to lift out the block of fudge. Rinse knife in hot water again, dry. and cut the fudge into 1” squares (cut larger squares, if desired). Rinse and dry knife before each new cut.

Makes 48-64 servings

**To toast nuts: Coarsely chop nuts and spread into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at350°F for 5-10 minutes.

1 Comment

Filed under Candy, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

DAY 5: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Balls of peanut butter cookie dough baked in a mini muffin pan and then squished by a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Definitely a kid favorite! Both to make and to eat.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies 2

RECIPE:

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 pkg (12 oz) Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped **

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a mini muffin pan (or spray with non-stick baking spray).

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in peanut butter, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to mixing bowl and beat until well mixed.

Roll dough into 1” balls and place in greased muffin pan. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until dough puffs and just barely begins to brown on the bottom.

Remove pan from the oven and immediately press a Peanut Butter Cup into the center of each cookie, pressing down until top of peanut butter cup is level with the top of the cookie. Cool completely in the pan and then remove to a wire rack. To remove cookies, hold the cookie by the top edge and twist gently.

Makes about 32 cookies.

**NOTE: A 12 oz package of peanut butter cups usually has 40 candy pieces. The recipe makes about 32 cookies, so you may have a few extra.

4 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

DAY 2: Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

An easy to make rich dark chocolate drop cookie made with toffee chips and nuts. Slightly crispy outside, and soft gooey middles. A great cookie for chocoholics!

Just be sure to use silicone mats or parchment paper on your baking sheets, or the toffee pieces will stick to your pans.

RECIPE:

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Fudge Toffee Cookies

16 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 2 ½ cups bittersweet chips)
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or toasted almonds
1 ½ cups (8 oz bag) toffee chips

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

Place chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat (or a double boiler) until melted and smooth, stirring often. Cool completely to room temperature.

Combine sugars, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cooled chocolate.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl. Add to mixing bowl and beat until just combined. Mix in nuts and toffee chips. Let dough sit, at room temperature, for 15 minutes before scooping and baking.

Drop  tablespoon-sized scoops of batter onto the lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes; do not overbake. Leave cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then use a thin metal spatula to remove them to a cooling rack.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

2 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Welcome to December and No Empty Chairs’ 8th Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies Celebration!

DAY 1: Snow Capped Christmas Trees

These Christmas trees are an easy way to make a cute sugar cookie without the hassle of frosting and decorating. And they are easy to stack and store. You could dress them up with additional sprinkles, but I prefer the clean look of the green and white.

Cookie baking at Christmas is a long-held tradition in our home. Another great Christmas tradition is service. Check out this link for ways to Light the World this Christmas season through Christlike service over the next 25 days:

#LIGHTtheWORLD

 

Another great place to find ways to serve in your local community:

JUSTSERVE.ORG

 

RECIPE:

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

Snow Capped Christmas Trees

3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
3 eggs
7 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Green food coloring
About 12 oz white chocolate, or white melting candy discs

In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, butter, sour cream, vanilla and almond extract (if using). Beat in eggs. Add baking soda, salt and 5 cups flour, and beat until well mixed. Mix in a few drops of green food coloring. Beat in additional 2 ½ cups of  flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Chill for 20 minutes to 1 hour for easier handling. Roll out dough and cut out with Christmas tree cookie cutter.

Bake at 375°F for 10 -11 minutes; if they brown, it’s been too long. Cool on a wire rack.

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.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies (using a 3″ cookie cutter)

 

5 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

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.

RECIPE:

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Candy, Desserts

Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Christmas Fortune Cookies

Christmas Fortune Cookies

DAY 11: Christmas Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies aren’t just for takeout anymore.

Fill these with fun holiday wishes or fortunes, “Name that Christmas Carol” lyrics or quiz, or funny quotes from Christmas movies.

Ideas for Christmas Fortunes:
Quotes from Christmas movies
Name that Christmas Carol quiz quotes
Christmas Jokes
Christmas Fortunes 1
Christmas Fortunes 2

For more photos and detailed instructions on baking and folding homemade fortune cookies click:
Homemade Fortune Cookies

RECIPE:

Christmas Fortune Cookies

Christmas Fortune Cookies

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
½ tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbs water
1 ½ tsp orange or almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fortunes cut into strips about 3 ½” long by ½” wide
Melted chocolate, sprinkles and/or crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

Use a whisk to mix flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, use the whisk to lightly beat the egg whites, oil, water, vanilla, and orange or almond extract until frothy.

Stir the flour into the egg white mixture and mix until you have a smooth batter. The batter will be thin, with the consistency of a sticky pancake batter and not stiff like a normal cookie dough.

Place one tablespoon of batter onto the cookie sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread batter in a circular motion to make a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Place 4-6 cookies on a baking sheet (start with fewer cookies until you get the hang of folding quickly). The batter should be very thin on the baking sheet. If it’s too thick the cookies won’t fold without breaking.

Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the outer edge of each cookie barely begins to brown.

TO FOLD: Immediately after  removing baking sheet from the oven, working very quickly, remove a cookie with a thin metal spatula and flip it over onto a clean plate or mat. Place a fortune in the middle of the cookie (let one end slightly extend beyond edge of cookie, if desired). Fold the cookie in half, but do not flatten center crease; just make the edges meet gently. Fold cookie in half again by gently pulling the edges downward over the rim of a mug or glass. Place the finished cookie in the cup of a muffin tin so that it keeps its shape while it cools. Continue with the rest of the cookies.

Let cookies sit, uncovered, for 1-2 hours (so that they harden completely).

Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate. Sprinkle immediately with crushed candy canes or sprinkles. If you are piping contrasting colors of chocolate onto the cookies, do this AFTER the chocolate coating has hardened.

Yield: 36-40 cookies

3 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts