BAKING THROUGH THE BLOGOSPHERE

And now for something completely different. I will share a few recipes straight from blogs I follow. You can click on the link to the original blog posts to get the recipes that perk your interest…

PERUVIAN ALFAJORES
(from Carlos’ blog)

Delicious cookies, filled with dulce de leche, which reminds me so much of my childhood!  My Mom used to pressure cook cans of condensed milk, open them to reveal the luscious caramel inside, and I would enjoy it by spoonfuls. I was such a picky eater, I suppose having that around would make sure I got enough calories to survive.  Carlos offers THE authentic version for these famous cookies. They are delicate, elegant, and incredibly tasty.

HELEN’S BROWNIES
(from Bakers Anonymous)

These are just amazing brownies. A huge hit of chocolate, perfect texture, got rave reviews from the resident brownie critic, who has been very VERY hard to please in the brownie department. His favorite version takes toasted pecans in the mix (follow Helen’s recipe and add 3/4 cup toasted pecans in the final mixing).

CHOCOLATE-SWIRLED BANANA BREAD
(from Jamlab)

This takes your regular banana bread and dresses it up for party… I find that people are usually divided into two groups when it comes to banana bread. Those purists who want a plain, banana-only taste in their loaf, and those who don’t mind bells and whistles. Obviously, this version is dedicated for those in the latter group. Don’t be stingy with the chocolate chips on top. They add a lot, and look super cute.

ALMOND TEA CAKES
(from Saving Room for Dessert)

A lot of fun to make, these are egg-free little cakes in bite-size format, deliciously addictive. You can add any kind of jam to their centers. I used boysenberry jam. Other than that, I followed the recipe from Tricia’s blog to a T. They turn out quite elegant also, I visualize them in a tea party next to Peruvian Alfajores. What a nice couple!

LOVE BARS
(from Helen’s Pastries like a Pro)

These are quite unusual, and the looks do not do justice to their taste. Helen described them so well in her blog, that I could not wait to bake a batch. The base bakes at the same time as the topping, simplifying the preparation quite a bit.  If you are into gingerbread type dessert, you will go nuts for this one. Trust me.

DOUBLE CITRUS POPPY-SEED BREAKFAST CAKE
(from Joanne’s Eats Well with Others)


This was an OMG type of cake. I slightly modified her recipe by using a mixture of Meyer Lemon and Blood Oranges, juice and zest. The slices on top were Meyer Lemons, but the drizzle was a mixture of lemons and blood oranges, so in the end the red color spoke louder. It is a very moist and tender cake, intensely fragrant. A crowd-pleaser.

CHOCOLATE DONUTS
(from Dana’s Wake and Bake Mama)

Baked donuts made as festive as possible through the power of sprinkles. Dana’s recipe is quick to assemble, one-bowl-type-thing. Less things to wash, no need to get the KitchenAid out to play. Granted, maybe I used a bit of a heavy hand with the sprinkles, but they make me happy.

 

TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD
(from Tanya’s Global Bakes)

Last December I went on a compulsive shortbread cookie adventure, and tried several recipes, including one super convoluted from America’s Test Kitchen, in which every single utensil of my kitchen was involved. Tanya’s version won my heart, apart from going a bit over the top with the decoration, I stayed true to her recipe. Two thumbs all the way up for it.

That’s the end of my walk through the blogosphere… all these bakes ended up as part of the Common Table meals, something that has kept me busy and “sane” through these odd times we are going through. Baking is a huge therapy for me, and I know I’m not alone, many of my baking friends feel the same way.

ONE YEAR AGO: Chickpea Burgers, Vegan and Delicious

TWO YEARS AGO: Macarons with Ganache Noisette

THREE YEARS AGO: Quiche with Asparagus and Fennel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fakebouleh

FIVE YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

NINE YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

TEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

CANDY CANE COOKIES

Candy Cane Cookies 2

Before the holiday season is over, I must share with you these adorable little cookies I made for a Holiday Dessert Party hosted by a colleague from our department. The idea is a get-together mid-afternoon in which everyone brings something sweet. It can be a cake, a pie, cookies, bars, preferably home-made, but no one will be mad if you bring store-bought stuff. The important is to join the party and have fun.  When I got the invitation, I quickly assembled a list of possibilities, but decided that it would be hard to top these babies, recently blogged by Chris, from The Café Sucre Farine. They are simply PERFECT for the season, and a lot of fun to make. Too bad Greenlee is a bit too young and way too far away. Still, I know one day I’ll be making a batch with her help. Can hardly wait.

Candy Cane Cookie

CANDY CANE COOKIES
(from The Café Sucre Farine)

1 cup salted butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup color nonpareil sprinkles
1 10-ounce bag Hershey’s Holiday Candy Cane Kisses

Heat oven to 350°F. Pour sprinkles into shallow bowl. Unwrap Candy Cane Kisses, reserve.

Combine butter, sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low-speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Shape dough into small 1-inch balls, then roll balls of dough in sprinkles, patting sprinkles gently onto any areas where sprinkles have not adhered. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 14-18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and quickly place a kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down barely (about ¼ inch or less!) into the cookie.  Let stand 5 minutes on cookie sheets, then carefully remove to cooling rack. Cool completely before moving or touching them. The kisses will take a while to firm up, so be gentle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositecandy

Comments: These are the simplest cookies ever as far as the dough goes. A regular shortbread type, no eggs, just butter, sugar and flour. I have very limited experience with shortbread, but when I made a batch of choc chip shortbread cookies there were no issues, and I loved the resulting texture. These are shaped as balls one by one, they don’t spread too much, get all plump instead. I was worried about the cookies hardening too fast, so I left one baking sheet in the oven when they were done baking, and worked as fast as I could on the first sheet.  It turns out you can take your time, get both sheets out of the oven at the same time and move along. However, make sure to have all candies unwrapped and waiting. This batch made 26 cookies, which is about half the bag. I suggest you unwrap 30 just to be on the safe side, and if there are kisses leftover be brave and do the sacrifice expected from a real baker: polish them off.

The thing I loved the most about these cookies (apart from their cuteness) is the way the mint flavor of the candy permeated through the whole cookie. I did not expect that to be the case since the candies are placed after baking. Let’s say it was a very pleasant surprise.

cooling2

This basic recipe could be adapted to so many situations!  All you’ll have to do is change the color of the sprinkles, and the type of kiss candy in the center. I can visualize a batch for Valentine’s Day, for Halloween, 4th of July, or to match the colors of your favorite team or school.

Thank you Chris for a great recipe, and super helpful advice!

 

holidays-2

This will be my last post for the year, so I wish all my readers a wonderful New Year’s Eve! We are heading to Colorado for a week. I intend to face the ski slopes with the bravery of someone born and raised in the Austrian Alps.
(I am laughing so hard now I’ll need to dry my eyes)

Candy Cane Cookies from Bewitching Kitchen

holidays-2

ONE YEAR AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

TWO YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

THREE YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gougeres

SIX YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP SHORTBREAD COOKIES

It’s hard to make a case for one more chocolate chip cookie recipe, but this one is worth talking about…   What makes this recipe special is its shortbread nature. No eggs in the dough. As Sue described in her original post, shortbread cookies were probably the first versions “invented” by bakers. Think flour, butter and sugar. Beautify it with your favorite additions. And that’s pretty much it. The texture is completely different from a regular cookie. I think I slightly over-baked this batch, as the edges turned just a tad too dark compared to hers.  It did not compromise the deliciousness of the final product, though.  Trust me.

Shortbread Cookies1

MILK CHOCOLATE CHIP SHORTBREAD COOKIES
(from The View from Great Island)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350F.

Cream the butter and the sugar together. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. Fold in the chips just before it all comes into one mass. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and bring it all together with your hands. Form it into a plump disk and then roll it out, flouring your rolling-pin as necessary, to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.

Cut cookies with a 3″ cookie cutter, pressing down firmly to cut through the chocolate chips. Reform the dough as needed to use it all up. Arrange the cookies on a cookie sheet and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the whole tray for at least an hour.

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes. You want them to be every so slightly golden just around the edges, and be slightly firm to the touch.  Let them cool for a few minutes on the tray and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

cutting1

Such a nice dough to work with!  It rolls smoothly, each cookie hiding the perfect amount of chocolate chip goodness… I rolled mine straight on the countertop, nice and easy.compositeThese cookies don’t spread much, so cut them in the size you’d like to enjoy them.  You might be surprised to see milk chocolate instead of dark, but I think the extra sweetness is perfect in the shortbread environment. Of course, you can use this basic recipe to make many variations.  Think white chocolate and dried cranberries, toffee bits and dark chocolate would be awesome too.  Not to mention macadamia nuts, a little lemon zest…  Ok, I’ll stop here, but you don’t have to, put your imagination to work…

I’d never had a shortbread cookie before. With the first bite, I asked myself “do I like it?”… one more bite….  “Hummmmm, I think I do like it!“…..  After two cookies disappeared in lightning speed, I realized they won me over, big time! If you’ve only had “regular” cookies until now, open your baking horizons with a batch of these.

Sue, as usual it took me quite a while to blog on this recipe… I checked my files and noticed I baked these cookies back in January, can you believe it?  But better late than never to say thank you for the inspiration!

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken in Green Pipian Sauce, Sous-vide Style

TWO YEARS AGO: Classic Shrimp Gobernador Tacos

THREE YEARS AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

SIX YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner