Monthly Archives: December 2011

Eggnog Cookies



Ok so call me crazy, but I don’t like eggnog.  I know!  It’s too rich for me; one sip is fine, but an entire mug?  Forget it… like most cream sauces, hollendaises, alfredos, etc… I just don’t care for their richness.  So why did I make these Eggnog Cookies?  Well, my hubby loves eggnog so I decided to make them.  But low and behold, I actually ended up loving these cookies!  The eggnog flavor is definitely prominent, but eating a few cookies is definitely not the same as downing an entire mug of the stuff.  I also added some Captain Morgan’s Rum to the frosting, so these cookies are definitely sure to please even if you don’t want them to 🙂  Even if you’re like me and don’t care to drink eggnog, these cookies taste amazing with their hint of eggnog, rum, and nutmeg.
Enjoy and have a Merry and blessed Christmas!!!!!!
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp eggnog
  • 3 tbsp rum (I used Captain Morgan)
  • Nutmeg for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light.  Add egg and eggnog and mix until blended.  On low speed, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until blended.
  3. Drop dough by the teaspoon onto cookie sheet, spacing each cookie 2″ apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine confectioner’s sugar, eggnog, and rum and beat until smooth.  Underneath the wire rack, place a sheet of parchment or wax paper to catch the excess frosting.  Using a butter knife or metal spatula, frost the top of the cookies and sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.  Allow to dry.

Yield:  36 cookies

*Sweet Maria’s Big Baking Bible

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Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge

Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge anyone???  The bottom layer is chocolate fudge and the green layer is mint; top it off with chocolate chips and you have yourself a tasty treat that will remind you of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  I have to start layering fudge more often because it’s much more fun to eat a chunky piece of fudge with two different flavors that complement each other rather than just one.  Next time, I’ll definitely have to make some peanut butter and chocolate fudge.  Definitely give this delicious fudge a try!
T-4 days until Christmas… Are you ready???


Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 can (15oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 8-10 drops of green food coloring
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Add semisweet chocolate to a microwave bowl with 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil and microwave until melted and smooth.  Add half of the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla.  Stir with a spatula until combined (mixture will be thick), then spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Add white chocolate to a microwave bowl with 1 tbsp of oil and microwave until melted and smooth.  Add in remaining condensed milk, peppermint extract, and food coloring and stir until combined.  Add white chocolate on top of chocolate, spreading evenly to coat.  Top with chocolate chips and chill in the refrigerator for 60-90 minutes.  When set, cut into squares.

*Adapted from How Sweet it is

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Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread

I can’t believe that Christmas is less than a week away!   Are you ready for it?  I finished all my Christmas shopping and am now looking forward to enjoying the short work week before I head home to celebrate with family and friends.  If you’re looking for another Christmas treat to make, try this Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread.  It’s easy to make, festive, and delicious.  Enjoy!

Shortbread

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate, melted, cooled
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

 Glaze and Topping

  • ½ cup white chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 tbsp chopped miniature peppermint candy canes

Ingredients:

  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Spray 2 (9-inch) glass pie plates with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, chocolate and peppermint extract with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in flour and cocoa. Divide dough in half. With lightly floured hands, press dough evenly in pie plates (not up the sides).
  3. Bake 22-24 minutes or until edges just begin to pull away from sides of pie plates. Cool in pie plates 5 minutes. Carefully cut each round into wedges. Cool completely in pie plates, about 30 minutes.
  4. In small, microwaveable bowl, melt white chocolate chips until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over wedges and sprinkle with candies.

Yield:  2 9” pies

*Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Baked Brie w/Cranberry Sauce


My mother-in-law introduced me to baked brie several years ago, and I’m so glad that she did because baked brie inside a large loaf of crusty bread is absolutely amazing!  In the spirit of the Christmas season, I decided to make some cranberry sauce to put on top of the baked brie.  This cranberry sauce is simple to make and so tasty with a hunk of warm bread and gooey brie cheese.  You can top baked brie with whatever jam/jelly/chutney/relish you like.  Enjoy Baked Brie w/Cranberry Sauce!


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12-oz bag fresh cranberries (3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 round loaf of bread
  • 4 oz. brie

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10-12 minutes.  Stir in zest, then allow to cool.
  3. With a serrated bread knife, cut out the middle of the loaf leaving about 1″ around the perimeter and 1″ on the bottom.
  4. Unwrap the brie and place in the middle of the loaf.  Wrap the top of the loaf that was cut out in aluminum foil.  Place both on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Scoop cranberry sauce over brie and bake until brie starts to melt, about 30-35 minutes.
  5. When cool enough to touch, unwrap the top of the bread from the foil and rip apart into pieces.  Place bread bowl on a serving plate and place ripped pieces around bowl.  Serve immediately.

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Fruit Tart w/Lemon Pastry Cream


It was my sister-in-law’s birthday this past Monday, so my hubs and I had her over for a special dinner.  I’m sneaky because a few weeks ago at Thanksgiving while we were eating dessert, I asked her what her favorite cake/pie was; she told me that she loves fresh fruit tarts, so I knew that I’d make her a Fruit Tart w/Lemon Pastry Cream for her special day.  I’ve never made a fruit tart before, so I was a little wary how it would turn out.  Luckily, it turned out pretty well!  There’s several steps to making this tart, i.e. baking the crust first, making the pastry cream, slicing the fruit, etc.  If you give yourself enough time, this tart is pretty simple to make and well worth the steps.  I love this crust recipe because it almost reminds me of a sugar cookie.  Also, I made lemon filling instead of vanilla and it really tasted delicious with the sugary cookie crust and fresh fruit.  The fruit is the simple part because you can choose whatever fruits you like.  I had every intention to use raspberries but after seeing them not looking so hot at the grocery store, I decided to use a pomegranate.  Pomegranate arils taste amazing and are much more appropriate for this holiday season!
Have you ever made a fruit tart before?  What was the biggest challenge?


Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp very cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

 For the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

For the Topping:

  • 2 kiwis, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 half-pint of blackberries
  • 1 pomegranate (you won’t use all the arils)
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam

Directions:

  1. To make the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl.  Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.  Add the egg mixture and beat just until the dough pulls together.
  2. Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Use the dough immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
  3. To roll out the dough, on a lightly floured board, flatten the disk with 6 to 8 gentle taps of the rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn.  Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick.  Use a small, sharp knife to cut out a round or rounds 2 inches greater in diameter than your tart pan.
  4. Transfer the dough round to a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with or without a removable bottom (if using pan without removable bottom, spray with cooking spray) and press it gently onto the bottom and sides of the pan, forming an even layer.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes and preheat an oven to 375ºF.
  5. Line the pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, rice or beans. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the weights and parchment.  Continue to bake until pale gold, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Let cool on a rack.  If using a tart pan without a removable bottom, place a large serving plate over the tart pan and turn upside down allowing tart to come out of the tart pan and onto the serving plate.
  6. To make the pastry cream, warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear along the edges of the pan, 6-8 minutes.  In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar.  Add the cornstarch and salt.  Pour in half of the hot milk while whisking constantly.  Whisk in the remaining hot milk and add to the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a firm consistency, 5-8 minutes.  Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the lemon extract and zest.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  7. To assemble the tart, stir the pastry cream with a rubber spatula until smooth.  Spoon into the bottom of the tart shell and spread evenly.  Starting on the outer rim of the tart, place the blackberries around the tart.  Next, overlap the kiwi slices in the middle ring of the tart.  Last, fill the center with the pomegranate arils.
  8. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the jam until it liquefies.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the fruit with a thin coating of jam.
  9. If using a tart pan with a removable bottom, let the sides fall away and then slide the tart onto a serving platter.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, then let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

*Adapted from Pie & Tart

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Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti

Biscotti dipped in white chocolate anyone?  This delicious Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti is perfect with a warm cup of coffee or as a tasty after-dinner treat.  I love the pistachio, cranberry, and white chocolate combo too; it’s the perfect balance of salty and sweet.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.
  3. Form the dough into a 13-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Place the log on a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.
  5. Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

Yield:  2 dozen

*From Giada De Laurentiis

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Gingerbread Loaf w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Tis the season for gingerbread especially this Gingerbread Loaf w/Cream Cheese Frosting.  Cream cheese frosting spread on top of just about everything tastes delicious, but trust me when I say that this gingerbread and cream cheese frosting combo is killer!  Gingerbread has quite a few strong spices in it, so the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting really pairs deliciously with the spice.  You definitely will have to eat more than one slice.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle.  Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, dust with flour, and tap out excess.
  2. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and allspice in a large bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined.
  3. Combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated.
  4. Stop mixer and scrape bowl and paddle (mixture will look separated and curdled). Add one third flour mixture beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. While cooling, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth.  Add in the milk and vanilla.  On low speed, add the powdered sugar and beat until combined.
  7. Once gingerbread has completely cooled, spread frosting on the top and the sides.

*Adapted from Chow

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