Red White and Blue Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

Happy 4th of July (one day late)! I had a great day off from class yesterday, which was a much needed recovery and chill out day after a weekend of ultimate frisbee. If you’ve ever heard of Potlatch, a big ultimate frisbee tournament held in Redmond, WA every July, then you know how much fun I had over the weekend. Unfortunately I missed the last day of the 3-day tournament for class, but we did have yesterday off, so I took advantage of it by going to a friend’s house for a barbecue, and I brought these patriotic themed cookies as my contribution. I found this recipe from Just a Taste, but I didn’t really have the time to wait for hours for the dough to chill, so I just did a combination of fridge, freezer, and improvisation. I added a little more flour to make the dough a little stiffer so I didn’t have to refrigerate it as long. I also added some almond extract to the dough to give it a little more classic sugar cookie flavor, and shortened the baking time to keep them nice and soft. They turned out wonderfully soft and chewy and although I didn’t get the colors exactly right, they were still pretty! Please note that I used about 20 drops of food coloring to get to the color in these photos, so to get a deep red and blue, you will have to use a LOT of food coloring, or it might be best to resort to the gel or something with a more powerful color. In any case, here’s my recipe!

Patriotic Pinwheel Sugar Cookies

adapted from Just a Taste

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

Blue food coloring (I used 20 drops to get to light blue)

Red food color (I used 20 drops to get to a dark pink)

Directions

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in both extracts and eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

Separate the dough into three equal parts. The first part will be the white part of the cookies. Mix blue food coloring into the second part until the desired blue consistency is reached. Wash the bowl and mixer (or use a second bowl) and mix red food coloring into the third part until desired red color is reached. Wrap all the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and divide each third into two equal parts. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll each portion of dough into a rectangle of about the same size and shape, about 1/8 inch thick. Chill the dough in the fridge between sheets of wax paper for another 15-30 minutes.

After the second chilling, remove the dough and use the wax paper to put together the layers. I put the blue on the bottom, then white in the middle, and red on top. Use the wax paper to place the layers, peeling off the bottom wax paper first, laying down the dough, then peeling off the top layer of wax paper.

Roll the layered dough into a tight log, then roll out the log until it is the desired diameter of your cookies (mine was about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place in the fridge for another 30 minutes (or you can probably skip this step if you have a sharp enough knife and don’t mind the cookies not being entirely round, which is what I did).

Once you are done chilling the dough logs, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the cookie logs into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, so the cookies are just baked but not yet browning on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a couple minutes before moving them to cooling racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Sugar Cookies with Simple Icing

Happy New Year everyone! I decided that I should get in at least one blog post in the new year, so here we are. This is my first winter without a winter break, since I’m not a student for the year, which has been a little sad. At least work has been pretty quiet the last couple weeks. But, my sister is still in college, so she’s been home for the last three weeks, and we’ve had lots of fun making and decorating gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies! This is my mom’s favorite recipe for sugar cookies. I have no idea where it came from, since it’s just handwritten on an index card she has filed away, but it’s the recipe we’ve been using for years, and I’m a fan of it.

These cookies are sweet, as sugar cookies should be, and pretty delicious by themselves. However, half the fun is decorating them! Plus adding a little sugar can only improve the flavor, right? Right. We didn’t do any fancy royal icing, so it’s a little more delicate, but once you ice the cookies, if you let them dry for a few hours, you can stack them with wax paper with little damage. The cookies have a light, delicate crumb, and I baked them for a little less time than recommended, to keep them nice and soft, while still sturdy enough to hold icing. With a little time and patience, these can be a fun family (or in my case, sibling) project, and they make great holiday giveaways! Get creative and have fun with your cookies, they’ll still taste great no matter how they look! Also if you really mess up, you can just eat it and no one will be the wiser… Not that we’ve done that or anything. Anyway, here’s our family holiday recipe.

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar

3 cups all-purpose flour

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp milk, or to desired consistency

1 tsp vanilla extract

Few drops food coloring of choice

Directions

To make the cookies, cream together the butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer, until a smooth paste forms. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Whip in the baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, then stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be pretty dry and crumbly, I often have to mash it together with my hands at the end. Divide the dough into two parts, form each into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When ready to roll out the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a floured surface (we use cutting boards), roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your choice, or just round glasses will work if you don’t have cookie cutters. Once you’ve finished with the sheet of dough, press the scraps together gently and roll out again, trying to handle the dough as little as possible. Continue to cut cookies and roll out the scraps until you’ve exhausted all the dough. Transfer cut cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake for 6-7 minutes, until puffy, but before they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. It is important that the cookies are completely cool before decorating, otherwise they will heat up the icing and make it run everywhere.

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting. Stir together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, until the desired consistency is reached. If you want to add food coloring, add a couple drops at a time, until the desired color is reached. Fill a ziploc bag (I use the cup method) and cut a tiny (like 1-2 mm tiny) hole in one corner of the bag (you can always cut it bigger, but it can’t be cut smaller, so start small). Decorate the cookies as you wish. Allow the icing to set for a few hours before stacking and storing them. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Happy Sunday! It’s raining and a little gloomy here in LA, but never fear, this coffee cake is the perfect rainy day treat for a day like today! Shelby and I made this over winter break, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, and we loved it. The cake part is soft, fluffy, and moist, and the streusel is sweet, crispy, and delicious.

We decided to take the chocolate chips out of the cake, but leave them in the streusel, but it really could go either way. We agreed that we made the right choice leaving the chocolate chips out of the cake itself, since it would have overwhelmed the pumpkin flavor. I may make this again and leave the chocolate chips out altogether, since the cake was so delicious! There was just the right amount of pumpkin and spice (as usual, we upped the spices), and the textures of the soft cake and the crispy streusel made for a delicious combination in every bite. The chocolate chips added a little extra pop of flavor, but if you’re not one who likes combining pumpkin and chocolate, then feel free to leave them out. I personally love pumpkin and chocolate (hence my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and more pumpkin chocolate chip cookies), but even I admit that this cake would be amazing without the chocolate.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

Half a 15oz can pumpkin puree (about a heaping 3/4 cup)

Topping:

For the streusel:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9×13 pan.

Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and sugars. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, knives, or your fingers (I find this the easiest), until soft crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over the batter, then sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the streusel.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool, then cut into bars. Enjoy!

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Warm pan of pumpkin chocolate goodness!

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Mmmm, look at that lovely soft cake crumb!

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Complete with crispy streusel topping and melty chocolate chips 🙂

Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Cake

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope every is having a good winter break, or at least a good couple weeks of winter holidays. It’s a little colder here in the bay than in LA, which is surprisingly a welcome break from the monotony of the warm SoCal weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to wear shorts year round, but it is a little nice to break out those cozy winter sweaters that have been crammed into my bottom drawer all year. Although I’m sure in a week I’ll be ready to go back to sunny SoCal, but I’ll enjoy the chilliness while I’m here.

Anyway, I was in charge of making Christmas dinner this year, which was quite fun. I made sweet potato gnocchi, cheddar cheese bread, and a dish with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and caramelized onions with goat cheese that one of my roommates made for Thanksgiving. It was delicious, so I tried to replicate it for this dinner, and it turned out pretty well. However, what’s a Christmas dinner without dessert? Not much of one, obviously. My family loves chocolate, and winter holidays scream mint chocolate to me, so I decided to make this candy cane cake from Eat Live Run, with a few small modifications.

The result was a dense, fudgey cake, which a luscious chocolate ganache coating with crisp peppermint shards for garnish, and a lovely mint flavor throughout the cake and the ganache. I even made this in the toaster oven, to minimize energy usage, so that was a nice bonus, since it’s made in a loaf pan. I will say this was not the most moist cake I’ve ever made, but it was pretty delicious, and I love anything with chocolate mint, so I was pretty jazzed about it. It’s also possible I baked it a few minutes too long, which is why it was a little more dried out than I would like. Anyway, you can try it for yourself, here’s the recipe!

Candy Cane Peppermint Chocolate Cake

adapted from Eat Live Run

Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp peppermint extract

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk

Ganache

1 cup bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips, but non-chip form will give you a smoother ganache)

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp peppermint extract

2 candy canes, crushed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract until light and fluffy. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet alternately with the buttermilk and mix with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix!

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, turning halfway through. Once a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15-20 minutes. Loosen with a spatula then invert the cake out of the pan and place it on a plate or rack to cool completely, an hour or so.

Once the cake is cooled, prepare the ganache by bringing the cream to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate, then stir until smooth. Add the peppermint extract and stir until well combined. Pour the ganache over the cake and spread into a smooth layer over the top and sides.

Crush the candy canes in a plastic bag with a meat mallet or with a rolling pin, then sprinkle over the cake. Allow to cool, so the ganache hardens into a thicker consistency. Slice and enjoy!

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Irish Cream White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy winter break! Done with finals and back at home for the holidays. It’s a good feeling. During finals week, when I was stress-baking as a study break, and just to get some sugar into my system (it works like caffeine to keep you up, right?), I made these delicious little cookies. The alcohol bakes out, but it leaves a lovely sweet flavor in the finished product. I adapted this recipe from Savory Simple, and I was quite pleased with the results. The cookies are soft, chewy, slightly gooey, and very sweet. I might actually reduce the sugar a little bit, since the Irish cream also gives them extra sweetness. These do require chilling, but I think if you added about 1/4 cup extra flour, that would stiffen the dough enough to skip that step. Maybe I’ll try that later during this break, since they were so tasty, I might end up making them again!

Irish Cream White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Savory Simple

Makes 3 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar, depending on your preferred sweetness

1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (I used Carolan’s)

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and Irish cream and beat until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the white chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

Chill for 15-30 minutes, then scoop small balls (2 tsp each) onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a couple minutes, then remove and place on racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

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Nothing better than a plate of fresh baked cookies for a study snack 🙂

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Mmmm, so soft and gooey inside!

Braided Cinnamon Sugar Bread

Hello weekend! Unfortunately it’s already halfway over, but I have a lovely recipe to share with you today. I saw this recipe for a Cinnamon Braid Bread on Facebook or something, and it was so pretty, I knew I had to make it. One night a couple weeks ago I made French macarons, which use egg whites, so I had three egg yolks leftover, and this recipe uses one, so I decided, why not make it?

This bread looks wayyyyy more complicated than it is to put together. It’s quite beautiful, a braided bread in a wreath, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar topping. Double bonus, it’s a delicious as it is pretty! The lightly sweetened yeast bread is crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and sprinkled with the sweet cinnamon sugar topping, it makes for an amazing dessert, or an indulgent breakfast or brunch. This could also be served at any upcoming holiday parties, especially if you want to impress your guests. I basically followed the recipe except I didn’t read the instructions carefully so for the topping I mixed almond flour into the topping instead of sprinkling it over the top, but I don’t really think it made a difference. Here’s what I did!

Braided Cinnamon Sugar Bread

from Home Cooking Adventure

Ingredients

Bread

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

1 tbsp granulated sugar

3/4 cup warm milk, 110-115˚F (or as yeast package instructs)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 egg yolk

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

Filling

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

3 tsp almond flour

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast and sugar. Add the warm milk, melted butter, and egg yolk, and whisk to combine.

Sift together the flour and salt, then add to the yeast and milk mixture. Knead with a dough hook for about 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Form the dough into a bowl, then cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place in a warm area of the kitchen to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

While the dough rises, mix together all the filling ingredients until a smooth paste forms.

Once the dough has risen, turn on the oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and roll into a rectangle about 18×12 inches.

Reserve 1-2 tbsp of the filling, then spread the rest evenly over the rectangle of dough, getting as close to the edges as possible. Roll the dough into a tube, the long way, so you have an 18 inch roll. Cut the roll in half lengthwise, leaving one end uncut for about a 1/2 inch.

Turn the two halves of the roll out, so the layers are on the outside, then twist together, keeping the layers facing out. This is what gives the braided appearance. Once the entire roll is twisted, pinch the ends together, forming a circle. Transfer the wreath to the baking sheet and brush with the remaining filling.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350˚F to avoid over browning and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until the outside is golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve warm, cut or as a pull-apart bread. Enjoy!

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Nicely golden brown

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Such a pretty dessert!

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Go ahead and tear into it!