Christmas Pretzel Hugs and a Merry Christmas

December 23rd, 2013

Pretzel Hugs 3

Here is a very easy Christmas treat.  There is minimal baking and all you need is patience and a steady hand.  The cookies use square pretzels, Hershey’s Hugs and Christmas M & M’s.  I found the recipe on Pinterest from Jaclyn of Cooking Classy.

Pretzel Hugs 1

It makes 70 treats.  We will be taking these to North Carolina for the Grandkids.  I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with special hugs from me.  May you have a magical time with your loved ones.

Mimi&Gampy Christmas Card

Card designed by The Green Kangaroo.  Photo by Azul Photography.

CHRISTMAS PRETZEL HUGS

70 Square pretzels (Do not use Butter Snaps)
70 Hershey’s Hugs, unwrapped
70 milk chocolate M & M’s. (I used Christmas ones)

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Align pretzels on cookie sheet in a single layer then top each pretzel with one Hershey’s Hug chocolate. Bake in preheated oven for 4 – 5 minutes, until the chocolate is shiny and soft (but NOT melting, the chocolates should still hold their shape).
  • Remove from oven and carefully place one M&M in the center of each soft Hug and press down on M&M to spread the chocolate. Place in refrigerator and allow to rest until chocolate has set, about 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container.
  • Printable recipe

Glazed Citrus Rounds

December 20th, 2013

Glazed Citrus Rounds 1

Santa Baby may find these cookies to his liking.  They are not too sweet and have a strong citrusy tang that will keep him going on his rounds.  We will be spending Christmas with the grandkids and their parents this year.  It means a trip back to North Carolina, but it is so worth it.  Christmas through a child’s eyes can’t be beat.

Glazed Citrus Rounds

 Baking cookies has not been high on my holiday priority list this year.  Since I am trying to simplify and relax this year, baking sweets seemed to be an obvious task to relegate to the “I’ll get around to it when I can” list.  Well, I found time this week on a sunny afternoon.  Gifts were ordered on line, the tree was up, wreaths on the door and cards were mailed.  Butter, flour and sugar were calling my name.

Glazed Citrus Rounds 2

 

These are very easy cookies to assemble.  I didn’t have time or the inclination to do anything more complicated.  They are also very good, even though someone in the family would have preferred chocolate.  That will be coming up next.

GLAZED CITRUS ROUNDS ( The Food Network Magazine)

Makes about 30 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated citrus zest (orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit)
2 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon orage extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (use the same kind as the zest)

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon citrus zest and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat i the egg and orange extracts.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until a soft dough forms.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.  Freeze at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake the cookies straight from the freezer, 1 baking sheet at a time, until the edges are set and the bottoms are lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes.  Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons citrus juice and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon zest in a medium bowl until thick and smooth.  (Add 1 more tablespoon citrus juice if the glaze is too thick.)  Spread on the cookies; transfer to a rack and let set, about 1 hour.

Printable Recipe

Rugelach and other cookies

December 17th, 2012

 

I was inspired to make these cookies this year by my friend Maxine.  Rugalach is a traditional Jewish dessert served during Hanakkuh.  But it is also a cookie that originated in Eastern Europe and was embraced by many ethnicities.  My Mother made a similar cookie with leftover pie dough.  It is interesting that so many traditions were shared by various immigrants to our country.  I remember as a child loving the rolled dough pieces with cinnamon more than the pie that was the reason for their existence.

 

 

Rugelach are made with a pastry that includes cream cheese.  The filling usually includes apricot jelly, ground walnuts and sometimes chocolate.  Because I love chocolate, that was a necessary  inclusion.  I made the pastry one day while I also made the dough for my sugar cookies.  It made it easy the next morning to pull each wrapped dough out of the refrigerator as I needed it.  All was finished by noon.

 

 

Here are some of the snowflake sugar cookies.

 

 

The rest of the sugar cookies, above.  It is nice to have a variety of cookies ready for the Grandkids.  My heart is full of gratitude that I can hold them close this year.  The events of the past week have broken my heart.

 

RUGELACH (Martha Stewart)

For the Dough
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pur vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough

For the Filling
4 ounces walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
12 ounces apricot jelly, melted*
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, or currants or a combination

For the Finishing
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fine sanding sugar

Directions

1. Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese at medium speed.  Add sugar, and beat until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, on at a time, beating to combine after each addition.  Add vanilla and salt, and beat to combine.  Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour.  Remove from bowl, and divide into 3 pieces on a lightly floured surface.  Pat into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

2. Make the filling;  In a food processor, combine walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and salt,  Pulse until fine.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a 12-inch round, less than 1/8 inch thick.  Brush evenly with jelly.  Sprinkle with one-third of the walnut mixture and one-third of the chocolate chips.  Using the rolling pin, gently roll over filling to press.

4. Cut the round into 16 equal-sized wedges.  Beginning at the large base of each wedge, roll to enclose filling, forming crescent shapes.  Pinch to seal.  Place on prepared baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients.  Brush tops with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake until golden brown 20 to 25 minutes.
* I did not use all of the apricot jelly.  I just smeared a thin layer on each of the rounds.

 

ICED SUGAR COOKIES

Makes 24 to 36 cookies

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder (Available at Michael’s)
Nonpareils, for decorating (optional)

1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl witha mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 2 batches and beat until just incorporated.  Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, lightly dust the dough with flour and roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper until about 1/8-inch thick.  Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 15 minutes.  Cut out shapes using 2-to-4 inch cookie cutters and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.  Gather the scraps and refrigerate until firm; reroll once to cut out more cookies.  Refrigerate the cutouts until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F.  Bake the cookies, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until just golden, 13 to 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, make the icing; Sift the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder into a large bowl.  Beat in 6 tablespoons water with a mixer on medium speed until soft, glossy peaks form.  Spread on the cookies and decorate with nonpareils.  Let set, about 1 hour.

 

Printable recipe: Rugelach

Printable recipe Iced Sugar Cookies

 

 

Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies

December 9th, 2012

 

This is such a pretty cookie to add to your Christmas cookie tray.  It was one of the cookies featured in The Food Network magazine December issue.  Now if you look at the cookie in the magazine, you will see  a much prettier cookie.  The swirls are more defined and even.  But hey, I’m not complaining.  I still like the looks of my cookies.

You start with a basic sugar cookie dough, divide in half and add food coloring, chocolate and cinnamon flavoring to one half.  Roll out each dough on a piece of parchment.

 

Turn the red half by lifting the parchment and place it on top of the plain half.

 

 

Trim the edges.  I saved this dough and made multi colored cookies from it.  Once the edges are trimmed roll the dough into a log.

 

 

There are a number of trips to the refrigerator for this dough but it is easy once you reach this stage.  Just slice and bake.

 

 

I am making several types of cookies this year because the Grandchildren will be here for the holidays.  Making cookies certainly has a way of putting you in the holiday spirit.  I am also taking the time to wrap my presents with pretty bows.  I will tell you more about that technique in my next post.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

CINNAMON PINWHEEL COOKIES  (The Food Network Magazine)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon extract (optional)*
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sanding sugar (clear or red), plus more for coating

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bow.  Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Remove half of the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Add the cinnamon extract, cocoa powder and food coloring to the remaining dough beat until incorporated; wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate both pieces of dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Dust the dough with flour and roll out each piece on parchment paper into a 10-by-11-inch rectangle.  Flip the red dough on top of the plain dough; remove the top piece of parchment and trim the edges.  Sprinkle the ground cinnamon and sanding sugar on top  Starting from a shorer end, tightly roll up the dough, using the parchment to help; roll the log in sanding sugar.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Position rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Slice the log crosswise 1/4 inch thick; arrange the slices about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until slightly puffed and lightly golden on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to rack to cool.

* I could not find cinnamon extract, but did find cinnamon oil at Hobby Lobby in the cake decorating department.  It is stronger by 4.  I used 1/16th of a teaspoon.  To be honest, I don’t think you need it.

Printable recipe

 

Biscoff Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies and a Perfect Fall Day

October 27th, 2012

The weather is rapidly changing as both hurricane Sandy and Winter bear down upon us.  But last Thursday was a perfect Fall day in North Carolina.  I baked these delightfully Fall tasting cookies after a day spent with one of my best buddies and blogging pals, the other Penny.  Penny has two blogs now; her lifestyle blog, The Comforts of Home and her cooking blog, From Harvest to Table.  We spent the morning in Asheville antiquing in the downtown area.  It is so much fun to spend time with someone who shares your interests.  We were both on the same quest.  We were looking for props for our cooking blogs.  After a successful morning of shopping we stopped for lunch at Creperie Bouchon.

The leaves were falling and the dappled sunshine made eating outside delightful.  Not even leaves falling into our crisp Sauvignon Blanc deterred us.

Our lunches of Pesto Chicken Crepes with arugula, tomatoes and Swiss were just right.

We couldn’t resist the frites dusted with Herbes de Provence and served with Roasted Red Pepper Mayonnaise.  Perfect.

One of my purchases was this cute blue polka dot plate.  It pairs well with the milk bottle that I picked up in France this summer.  It inspired me to make these cookies with cinnamon spices,  pumpkin and biscoff spread.  I am cleaning out my pantry  before my return to Florida and my jar of biscoff had just enough left in it.  I found the recipe on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.  A perfect recipe for a perfect day.

BISCOFF PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES (Two Peas and Their Pod)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup Biscoff Spread
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and Biscoff spread and mix until combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Stir in the oats.
5. Form the cookie dough into rounded tablespoons and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden and just firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.