Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies

I imagine the reason I started baking snickerdoodles as a kid was because the house was totally void of chocolate and /or peanut butter.  Snickerdoodles are pretty much crunchy sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  They do have one unusual ingredient and that is cream of tarter.  I have no idea why my not-so-domestic Goddess mother would have cream of tarter in the pantry....but she did. Strange.

If you have never played around with browned butter, you need to start.  It's oh so tasty!  The first time I experienced it was at Cat Cora's Kouzzina in Orlando.  Think Brussels sprouts caramelized in browned butter then splashed with fresh lemon and topped with melty Parmesan.  Heaven!  Yep, I'm pretty sure my ten year old self never ever dreamed I'd say that about Brussels sprouts.  Ever.

I am in love with these cookies.  The brown butter makes a HUGE difference in taste.  I've always heard it described as tasting nutty.  I'm not really sure if that is how it tasted to me.  I find that it is just really fragrant and rich.  It's worth the effort, trust me.

Yield = 18 large cookies

2 1/2C flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1C butter
1 1/4C brown sugar, dark
1/2C sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla
1tbl sour cream

1/4C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt.

2.  Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and sputter and that is okay.  Just keep whisking through this process.  After a few minutes the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Continue to whisk and remove the butter from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown.  You'll know it is ready when it starts to smell nutty.  Kind of like those yummy cinnamon almonds they sell at the mall. Be careful because it can go from zero to dark thirty in a flash.  When you get to the right color take the butter off the heat, move it to another container and set aside to cool a bit.

3.  Using a mixer, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat in egg and yolk, vanilla and sour cream.

4.  Add dry ingredients until just combined.

5.  Chill the dough for about 2 hours.

6.  Form dough into balls and roll into sugar and cinnamon mixture.

7.  Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies

Okay, so it is 93 degrees and humid as all get out here in Florida and yet somehow it still feels like fall.  I love this time of year!  The stores are already full of fall merchandise and it has me in full pumpkin mode.  I even have the pumpkin spice plug ins in place in the house already!  Look at these awesome pumpkin spice M&Ms I found at Target.  The cashier said they can't keep them in stock.  Guess I'm not the only one on the pumpkin band wagon.

I saw these and immediately thought they needed to be in a cookie.  So, basically I tossed them into my "perfect chocolate chip cookie" batter, added some espresso and pumpkin pie spice and voila!  pumpkin spice latte cookies.  Very yum and spicy and Fall!  BTW, these cookies are really tasty dunked in a cup of coffee.  But then aren't they all?
Yield = 24
3/4C butter
1/4C shortening
3/4C brown sugar
3/4C sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 C flour
2tbl cornstarch
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2tsp vanilla
1tbl espresso powder
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2C pumpkin spice M&Ms
1C chocolate chips, semi sweet
1/2C chocolate chips, 60% (bitter sweet--I use Ghirardelli)
1.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, espresso powder and pumpkin pie spice.

2.  In mixer bowl, cream together butter, shortening and sugars.

3.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl occasionally.

4.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

5.  Fold in the M&Ms and chocolate chips.

6.  Scoop dough into large golf ball sized balls.  I use a medium sized ice cream scoop for uniformity.

7.  Place the dough balls in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.  Sometimes I freeze half the batch for a later use.

8.  Place the dough balls on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes.

9.  After two minutes carefully move the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pumpkin Maple Cupcakes

PSL10.  Thank you, Starbuck's, for officially opening Pumpkin Spice Season.  Who knew we'd ever see such a frenzy over coffee?  I admit I have indulged ......and indulged again.  Loooove that pumpkin spice latte!

Well, anyway let the holiday baking begin, woohoo!!  These pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting are a big hit with my panel of taste testers.  I made them for a Halloween gathering several years ago and they have become a staple now.  These are not fussy cupcakes, 'cuz who needs that?! They are very easy and quick to make and they stay moist and flavorful for a couple of days.  In fact, I think they become better and more spicy the day after baking---yum!

Yield = 12 cupcakes

1C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground
2 eggs
1C canned pumpkin
1/2C sugar
1/2C brown sugar
1/2C veggie oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heath Toffee bits for garnish

1.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (I grind my nutmeg fresh.  It makes a huge difference I swear!).

2.  In larger bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla.

3.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Be careful not to over mix--they'll get tough if you do.

4.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

5.  Pipe maple frosting (see below) onto cooled cupcakes.  Sprinkle with Heath toffee bits for garnish is desired.


6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbl butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp maple extract
2C confectioners sugar

1.  Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add maple extract and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.  You can add more or less to suit your tastes in flavor and consistency.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Housemade Ranch Dressing

Salad Dressing, whoa there is a ton of it out there.  Look at how much of the supermarket shelving is devoted to it.  Look at Paul Newman's fortune.  Yep, its a big industry.  Yet I have to say that with all those choices out there I am still a good 'ole Ranch dressing girl through and through.  Oh, and it has to be Hidden Valley Ranch, full fat version.  None of that low fat stuff,  eww.

I put Ranch on everything and dip everything into it.  I decide which restaurant we go to based on their version of Ranch.  Sweet Tomatoes has awesome Ranch and so does Manny's.  Both of them make their own.  That's the key, I think?

I don't know why but out of the blue I decided to try to make my own Ranch.  Oh what a revelation!  Why did I wait so long to do this?  It's so easy and so GOOD.  After making my own I really have no desire to ever buy bottled again.  Sorry Hidden Valley, nothing personal.

This dressing can be tweaked to suit your taste.  I like mine rather tangy, with lots of garlic and less of the green stuff in it.  Try it, tweak it.  You'll love it!

Yield: 2 cups

1/2C buttermilk (full fat)
1/2C mayonnaise
1/4C sour cream
2tbl fresh parsley, chopped
2tbl fresh chives, chopped
1tbl fresh dill, chopped
1tbl lemon juice, fresh
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
pinch of sugar
A couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce

1.  Whisk all together and chill for a couple of  hours prior to first use.  Store in a covered container and plan to use it or toss it within 5-7 days.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie

Wow, what a crap-tastic week.  Seriously, I just don't understand how can people be so unaware of the obvious?!  Perhaps they just don't want to see it?

I have no special story about lemon meringue pie other than I really like it.  If you put every conceivable dessert in a room a la Biggest Loser and then had to select one or two what would you pick?  I would go right for the chocolate chip cookie dough (yep, you read that right) and then the lemon meringue pie.  :)

So, in an effort to make my week a tad bit brighter I have thrown this pie together to soothe my soul.  It's not picture perfect and it doesn't have to be.  As long as it tastes yum and makes ya smile, that's all that matters!


Yield:  3 crusts

1-1/2 C Crisco
3C Flour
1 Egg
5 tbl cold water
1tbl vinegar, white
1tsp salt

1.  Work Crisco into flour with a pastry blender (or two knives) until the mixture resembles small peas.

2.   In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture.

3.  Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

4.  Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

5.  Separate the dough into thirds. Flatten into disc shapes, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  I usually freeze two of them to use another time.

6.  Roll out and place into pie pan.

7.  Bake at 350F until golden. 


1C sugar
1 tbl lemon zest
2/3C fresh lemon juice
8 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 sticks butter (10 tablespoons), cut into small chunks
1C water
1/4C cornstarch
1.  In pan, whisk together sugar, zest and yolks.  Whisk in lemon juice and salt.
2.  Whisk together 1 cup of cold water and 1/4 cup cornstarch (I think my mom called that a slurry--hhmm, I'll have to research that) and add to the lemon mixture in the pan.
3.  Place pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Be sure not to let it boil.
4.  Remove pan from the heat and continue to whisk.  Add butter.  Whisk wisk wisk.
5.  When butter is melted, pour curd through a strainer.
6.  Pour into prepared pie crust.

4 egg whites
2/3 C sugar
1/2tsp cream of tarter

1.  Beat egg whites until foamy.
2.  Add cream of tarter and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
3.  Gradually add sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.
4.  Distribute meringue evenly over the top of pie, starting with the edges, and then the middle.
5.  Make sure it attaches to the crust.
6.  Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Happy Happy Joy Joy!