Seven-layer Cookies

These cookies remind me of my childhood in New Jersey.  I used to think they were magic.  They are super easy to make. And they taste delicious.

INGREDIENTS

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
8 ounces of almond paste
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

DIRECTIONS

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set.

Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.

When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.

Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water.

Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Cut lengthwise into 4 strips (I cut them into more, because I wanted them 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide, as I remember them). Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.

Reprinted from Smitten Kitchen.

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Lemon Coconut Biscotti

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INGREDIENTS

cups coconut
1/2 cup candied lemon rind
cup white sugar
cup light brown sugar
teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
3 large eggs
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1egg, lightly beaten for brushing on top of loaves

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, hand mix coconut, finely copped candied lemon rind, sugars, baking powder, and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add the vanilla and whisk until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into four equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface place one piece of dough, and using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 3/4 of an inch high. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Place two logs per baking sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing. Place a loaf on a cutting board, and using a large serrated knife, slice cookies 3/4 of an inch thick on the diagonal. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or they could become too hard to slice. Place slices on their sides back on to the baking sheets; place in the still warm oven with the temperature off and the door closed for 30-60 minutes. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they will become. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container, preferably a tin, which helps keep them crisp. Stored properly, biscotti will last up to a month.

Thanks for this basic recipe from Food52.

Little Bit of Spice Cake

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup salted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
juice and zest of one orange

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. In a large bowl, beat the butter until very light.  Beat in the sugar gradually and then the eggs, one by one. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, juice and zest. 

Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Stir to combine after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, until it springs back when pressed lightly in on top, and a long toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and loosen its edges. Wait 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving. 

Gingerbread Stars

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Let’s get the holiday baking started!

INGREDIENTS

Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour

Icing
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey
1 to 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt butter, then stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt, and spices.

Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, and beat in the egg.

Whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, and then stir these dry ingredients into the molasses mixture.

Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a thick rectangle. Wrap well, and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. The dough may be sticky and hard to roll if not thoroughly chilled, so make sure it’s cold before continuing.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out several baking sheets; there’s no need to grease them, though lining with parchment saves effort on cleanup.

Once the dough has chilled, take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface. Roll the dough 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick; the thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be. Flour both the top and bottom of the dough if it starts to stick. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap over it as you roll, pulling the plastic to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

Cut out shapes with a floured cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.

Transfer the cookies to ungreased cookie sheets (or, if you’ve rolled right onto the parchment, remove the dough scraps between the cookies). Bake the cookies just until they’re slightly brown around the edges 8 to 12 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

For icing, mix all of the ingredients together. Stir until smooth; a fork works fine. The glaze should be thick, but soft enough to “settle” when you spread it. If the glaze is too thick, dribble in another teaspoon of milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

Decorate as desired with icing and sprinkles.

 

Biscotti

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The Italians really know what they are doing when it comes to making simple cookies that go perfectly with a cup of coffee.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground anise
2 1/2 cups of flour
3 eggs + 1 egg for brushing
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl if mixer, mix the sugars, ground anise, baking powder, and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Add to the flour mixture. Mix until dough comes together.

On a lightly floured surface separate dough into four equal pieces. Roll one piece at a time into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long, 2 inches wide. Repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Place two logs per baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before slicing. Place a loaf on a cutting board, and using a large serrated knife, slice cookies 3/4 of an inch thick on the diagonal. Place slices on their sides back on to the baking sheets and bake on each side for 7 minutes each.   Remove from oven and cool completely.  They will last for about a month in an air-tight container.

 

Leftover Cranberry Pound Cake

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Why not bake with leftovers?

INGREDIENTS

1 pound butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups flour
3/4 cup milk
Juice of one orange + zest
1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecans

DIRECTIONS

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  This could take up to 7 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and zest (all at once) beating at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow yolk disappears.

Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with milk and orange juice, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. The batter should be smooth with no lumps. Fold in cranberry sauce and pecans.

Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan.

Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Decorate as desired. I used a dusting of sugar and the cranberry juice.

BA’s Best Pumpkin Pie

Well, what were you expecting? I got this recipe from Bon Appetite.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons chilled lard or vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 large egg, beaten to blend

Filling and Assembly

⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, room temperature, beaten to blend
2 cups unsweetened pumpkin purée
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Crust

Pulse sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour in a food processor until combined.
Add butter and lard and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pieces of butter and lard visible, about fifteen 1-second pulses.
With motor running, drizzle in vinegar and 5½ Tbsp. ice water and pulse until dough is still crumbly but just holds together when squeezed (add 1 tsp. water at a time if necessary, but be careful not to overwork dough).
Turn out dough onto a work surface. Knead 1–2 times, pressing to incorporate any shaggy pieces. Flatten into a 6″-wide disk.Wrap with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 14″ round. Transfer to a 9″ pie dish. Pick up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish, letting excess dough hang over dish. Trim, leaving about a 1″ overhang. Fold overhang under; pinch and crimp.Chill 30 minutes.

Line dough with parchment paper or foil, leaving some overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edges and just beginning to brown, 25–35 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and weights and reduce oven temperature to 350°.Brush inside of crust (not the crimped edges) with egg wash and continue to bake until crust is set and beginning to lightly brown in the center, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Filling and Assembly

Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl until no clumps remain.

Add eggs, pumpkin, condensed milk, cream, maple syrup, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled crust. Bake pie until edges are set and slightly puffed but center is recessed and wobbles like Jell-O, 60–75 minutes (it will continue to set after baking). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 3 hours before slicing.

Blue Cheese, Walnut & Grape Muffins

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INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/4 finely chopped walnuts + extra for topping
12 grapes cut into small pieces
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients–milk, butter, eggs.  Take a fork or wire whisk and blend the two briefly–do not overmix. Fold in the nuts and grapes. 

Fill the cups of the muffin pan two-thirds to three-quarters full. Sprinkle nuts on top

Bake the muffins for 10 minutes and then lower over to 350 F and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and as soon as you can handle them turn them out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Chocolate Covered Flap Jacks

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 1/3 cups oats
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a medium-sized pot, melt butter with brown sugar, and honey. After it boils simmer for 30 seconds.  Take it off the heat and mix in oats. Spread in pan in an even layer and baked bars for 25 minutes, until deeply golden at edges.

If you’d like to add chocolate, let them rest in their pan on a cooling rack for 3 to 4 minutes before sprinkling the chips all over, then waiting 5 minutes before spreading them in a single layer.

I worked with this recipe.

Bakery Style Corn Muffins

Give someone the gift of waking up to a fresh hot corn muffin.

INGREDIENTS

1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cups corn meal
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup melted and cooled butter

DIRECTIONS

Whisk together dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another.  Combine until just mixed and refrigerate for approx. an hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray or grease muffin tin.  Scoop mixture into muffin cups and bake for 10 minutes at 425.  Do not open oven door.  After 10 minutes, lower temperature to 375 F and bake for another 10 minutes.

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