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Gingerbread cookies

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For Christmas this year we decided to make gingerbread cookies with the new moose cookie cutter that Linda got for us.  Thanks Linda.  The cookie dough from this recipe is very soft and needs a lot of flour on your work surface.  you also need to work with th edough in small quantities and keep it very cold or you end up with a sticky mess.  The simpler cutouts like the hearts are much easier, but the moose is too cute!  This makes a lot of cookies, so we cut the recipe in half since we were making several other kinds of cookies at the same time.

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and parchment
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cup unsulfured molasses

gingerbread cookies

Instructions:

  • Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then honey and molasses. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture until well combined. Divide dough into thirds, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm but still pliable, at lease an hour.
  • Working with a third of dough at a time (or less), roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on generously floured work surface. Brush off excess flour, transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, a least 15 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the freezer and cut into shapes with cookie cutters, rerolling scraps as needed. Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely on baking sheets set on wire racks.
  • Pipe outlines and decorations on cookies with royal icing.  Let set completely, uncovered, at room temperature, at least 4 hours or (ideally) overnight.

Scott Pollacek - about me

 

Orange Buttercream Filled Shortbread Cookies

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We made these for the first time for Christmas this year, and this has become one of our favorite little treats.  People can't believe that they are homemade and always ask us which bakery we bought them.

orange butter cream shortbread cookies

For the Cookies

Ingrdients:

  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. If using vanilla bean, scrape seeds from pod. Discard pod.
  • In a large bowl stir together flour and granulated sugar. Using a pastry blender or large fork, cut in butter and the remaining vanilla seeds or extract until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Knead until smooth. Form into a ball.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a fluted biscuit cutter or your favorite cookie cutter cut dough out into an even number of cookies. Place cut cookies 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

For the Orange Buttercream Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.\
  • Add half of the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of the milk, the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract), and orange peel. Beat until smooth.
  • Beat in the remaining powdered sugar and enough additional milk to make frosting of piping consistency.
  • When cookies are completely cooled, transfer Orange Buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a small closed-star tip. Pipe frosting on bottoms of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, bottom sides down.
  • Store cookies unfilled, and assemble when ready to serve or share for best results.

Scott Pollacek - about me

 
Mar
01
2015

Bailey's and Coffee Cheesecake

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In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day we decided to make some Irish Cream Cheesecakes.  We cut this recipe in half to make 6 individual Cheesecakes.  Just the right amount of Bailey's and coffee flavor.  Yummy!

Bailey's and coffee cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup very strong coffee
  • 1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  • Using a food processor, process the Oreo cookies until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and 2 Tbs of sugar into the cookie crumbs and stir until they are all combined.  Press into the bottom of a spring form pan, or if making individual cheesecakes, press into rings on a cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.  Bake the individual rounds in 350 degree oven for 10 mintes, set aside.
  • Beat together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then beat in the sour cream, coffee, espresso powder and Irish Cream until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared spring form pan, or into greased and parchment lined ramekins for individual cheesecakes.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  For individual cheesecakes arrange ramekins in a large baking dish and fill the dish with boiling water about halfway up the ramekins during baking.
  • Remove from oven to cooling racks for 20 minutes.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.
  • To serve the individual cheesecakes, run a warmed knife around edges of ramekins, and turn out onto prepared cookie rounds.

Scott Pollacek - about me

 

Classic Butter Cake

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As a kid, Mom always made a homemade butter cake for birthday's, special occassions, and just about anytime she was making a cake.  I remember her hand written recipe card yellowed and stained from all the years of use.  It read "Dad's Two Egg Cake".  The only thing better than that cake with sliced banana's and whipped cream on your birthday was the little teacup with a couple of tablespoons of cake batter that she would save just for me. 

I have always had problems with the recipe that Mom used.  It would often come out with a corn muffin texture instead of that smooth light cake consistency.  Finally, I have found the changes that make this cake come out perfect every time.  So here it is, my variation of Mom's - "Dad's Two Egg Cake" recipe.

classic butter cake cupcake
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1  1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour two 8 inch x 2 inch baking pans or prepare cupcake tins if making cupcakes, set aside.
  • In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In mixing bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy, add eggs and mix until well blended.
  • In alternating additions add one third of the milk and dry ingredients and beat with hand mixture, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. 
  • Repeat until all of the milk and dry ingredients have been inccorporated.  Finish by mixing in the vanilla, but don't over beat the mixture.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally between the pans.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes (19 to 21 minutes for cupcakes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven.
  • Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with your favorite frosting.  The cupcakes shown are frosted with our favorite Chocolate Fudge Frosting recipe.

Scott Pollacek - about me

 

Ultimate Brownies

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Brenda and I have tried a few different homemade brownie recipes over the years, and none of them could get us to switch from using a box mix... until now!  After making these the first time, we will never go back to a box mix.

This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten's outrageous brownie recipe.  The coffee really enhances the chocolate flavor.  I have cut the recipe down, and simplified it a bit.  

Ultimate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 Tbs instant coffee granules
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 Tbs flour

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  • Butter and flour a 9 x 13 x 1-inch baking sheet.

  • Melt together the butter, instant coffee granules and 11 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

  • In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder and salt; add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and remaining chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 2 Tbs flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.

  • Spread batter evenly in the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then knock the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the batter. Bake for approximately 15 minutes more until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!

Scott Pollacek - about me

 
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