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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Homemade Peppermint Swirl Marshmallows

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DAY 7: Peppermint Swirl Marshmallows

Now that you have Hot Cocoa Mix, it is time to step up your Marshmallow game (I shouldn’t write in the middle of BYU basketball games; sports analogies are not really my thing). But in all seriousness, save the bag of Jet Puff for making Rice Krispies treats, and make yourself (and friends) homemade flavored marshmallows this year.

These marshmallows are peppermint flavored with a fun swirl.

Marshmallows are a fairly easy candy to make. Much more forgiving than caramels, no tempering like chocolate. In fact, it is the mixer that does most of the work for you. But the powdered sugar coating does tend to make a bit of a mess. You will also need a stand mixer (or a lot of arm strength with your hand mixer) and a candy thermometer.

Once the marshmallows have set overnight, you can easily cut them into squares, or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes.

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RECIPE:

Peppermint Swirl Marshmallows

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⅔ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups cold water, divided
3 packets unflavored gelatin (about 2 ½ Tbs)
¼ tsp salt
⅔ cup light corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
scant ½ tsp peppermint extract
2-3 drops red food coloring

Line a 9×13” pan with nonstick foil (or spray regular foil lightly with cooking spray). Set aside

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

Pour 3/4 cup of the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until the gelatin becomes very firm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.

In a small saucepan, mix the remaining 3/4 cup water and the corn syrup. Pour the sugar into the center of the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, gently swirling the pan, until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture reaches 240°F, about 10-15 minutes.

Carefully pour the hot syrup into the center of the mixer bowl with the softened gelatin, avoiding the sides of the bowl as much as possible. Using the whisk attachment, turn mixer onto low speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is very thick and stiff, about 7 – 10 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and mix until well blended. Turn off mixer and place 2 –3 drops of red food coloring on top of the whipped mixture (space drops evenly throughout the bowl). Pulse 2 or 3 times until gently swirled. Do not overmix, or you will just have pink marshmallows.

Working quickly, scrape the mixture into the oiled pan using an oiled spatula. Smooth the top into an even layer. Sift 2 Tbs of the powdered sugar mixture over the pan. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.

The next day, turn the marshmallow slab out onto a cutting board and peel off the foil. Sift 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar mixture over the slab of marshmallows. Using a sharp knife that has been rubbed with oil, cut into 1-inch  square marshmallows. Or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. (If you are using cookie cutters and don’t want them to be 1” tall, then spread soft marshmallow mixture into a foil lined half-sheet baking pan before letting them set overnight.)

Place the remaining powdered sugar mixture in a large Ziploc bag. Working with 3 or 4 marshmallows at a time, toss the marshmallows in the bag with the powdered sugar mixture, then toss in a fine-mesh strainer to remove any excess powder.

Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 90 square marshmallows

(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

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DAY 11: Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

Traditional flavors of Christmas, all swirled into a bite-sized cookie. Buttery orange dough swirled with chopped fresh cranberries and pecans. A delicious cookie for the grown-up cookie plate.

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RECIPE:

Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

  • Servings: 60 cookies
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1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp grated orange peel
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and orange peel until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

For filling, in a food processor combine cranberries, pecans, and brown sugar. Cover and blend or process until cranberries and nuts are finely chopped; set filling aside.

Roll half of the dough between pieces of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) into a 10-inch square. Spread half of the filling over dough square to within 1/2 inch of edges; roll up dough. Moisten edges; pinch to seal. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices . Place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Makes about 60 cookies

 

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

 

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Twelve (More) Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

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DAY 9: The great American classic taste combination: Chocolate & Peanut Butter. This fun-looking swirl cookie was inspired by a cookie failure last year. Unlike last year’s Peppermint Swirl Cookies, which looked cute but tasted awful, this cookie is both delicious and fun to look at. The kids’ memories were better than I thought: they were leery of trying these after being so disappointed last year. One bite and they were hooked though!

I used my standard Peanut Butter cookie dough recipe and pieced together a chocolate dough from a few that I like. The textures of the two doughs swirled together nicely for a soft, fun cookie.  Creating the swirl is an easy process:

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Lay 2 logs of dough side by side.

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Press together and gently twist.

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Pinch off a tablespoon-size chunk of dough and roll into a ball.

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RECIPE:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

  • Servings: Makes about 4 dozen cookies
  • Print

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Peanut Butter Dough
½ cup butter
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder

Chocolate Dough
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 ¼ cups cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 tsp baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peanut Butter Dough: Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Chocolate Dough: Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Add 1 cup flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to mixing bowl; beat slowly until well combined. Mix in remaining 1 cup flour.

Roll half of each dough into a log. Press the two logs (of peanut butter and chocolate doughs) together and gently twist the doughs. Repeat with remaining halves of dough. Break off tablespoon-sized pieces of dough. Roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES (2010) RECAP:
DAY 1: Raspberry Crumb Bars
DAY 2: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
DAY 3: Chocolate Nutella Cookies
DAY 4: Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
DAY 5: Almond Macaroon Brownies
DAY 6: Trail Mix Cookies
DAY 7: Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies
DAY 8: Chocolate Revel Bars

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Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

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I recently tried a new pumpkin bar recipe that was really good. I found the original recipe on CookieMadness. We all really liked the bars, but as cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, I think that next time I make these I will go heavier on the cheesecake marbling. It looked really pretty, and the cheesecake swirl helped make the  bars wonderfully moist, but the cheesecake part was not a real stand-out flavor.

These bars are made by preparing a pumpkin batter, which is spread into a 15×10” pan. The cream cheese layer is added to the top and then run through with a knife to create the swirled pattern.

An easy way to create a swirl is to start in one upper corner and run the knife back and forth diagonally across the pan to the opposite lower corner. Then start in the opposite upper corner and run the knife diagonally the other way.

DSC02267-1 Doesn’t that make a gorgeous swirl!

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Below is the recipe that I adapted (a little) from CookieMadness. Next time I will add more of the cream cheese batter (maybe double).

UPDATE (10/11/2011): My daughter made these last night with double the amount of the cream cheese batter. They were great! I will be making them that way from now on.

RECIPE:

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup buttermilk or kefir
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Swirl (Double the ingredients below for a more pronounced cheesecake flavor):
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 15×10 inch pan  with cooking spray.

Pumpkin Batter: Mix together the butter, salt and sugar. With a mixing spoon or whisk, beat in eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg together; stir into batter. Reserve about ¼ of the batter. Spread remaining ¾ of batter evenly in prepared pan.

Swirl: In a second bowl, with a mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat until smooth. Drop tablespoons of cheese mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through to swirl. Drop reserved pumpkin batter over the top and swirl again. Bake on center rack until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, then chill for an hour or more.

Cut into 24 bars.

 

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