Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Just in time for Christmas!  I bought a small bag of crushed candy canes at Bulk Barn, probably about $2.00 worth …. thinking it would be great for decorating the sugar cookies we make every year.  Well, Sloan had a different idea and decided they should go in the cookies, so that’s what we did.  What a hit!

Peppermint cookies 1

  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar.  When light and fluffy add in eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy and smooth.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into butter mixture.  It will be a stiff mixture, so you may end up using your hands, we usually do.

Last, stir in the crushed candy cane.

Knead lightly until you have a workable dough, then cover tightly and put in the fridge for at least an hour.  (you can do this days ahead or even freeze it at this stage)

Roll out dough on lightly floured board and cut into desired shapes.

We always decorate our cookies before baking them, in place of the added sugar you get with decorating with icing.

I used to use raw egg, but find I get better results using evaporated milk and gel food colouring.  Just put a little milk in a cup and stir in enough food colouring to get the colour you want.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, watching carefully – every oven is different.

 

peppermint cookies 4

Get your kids involved!  Sloan is 9 and has been rolling and cutting dough for years now.

peppermint cookies 2

So many fun sugars and sprinkles available now for decorating the tops.

Peppermint Cookies 3

We do a  cooking class on Fridays – these four work so well together, and we have a great time with Pearl and Leo joining Sloan and Stella.

peppermin cookies 3

Each of the kids made their own dough & we baked up two batches – each family got to take one batch home for baking another day.

Peppermint cookies 5

Pearl has this tray ready to go in the oven, love all the vibrant colors.

Peppermint cookies 7

The most important part is taste testing ….

 

Stay tuned – more cooking classes to come!

 

 

Apple Crumble Muffins with Vanilla Glaze

If you are looking for a quick weekend baking project with a little sweetie, this is perfect!

Apple crumb muffins 1

Moist and delicious, these muffins are fantastic.  That crumb topping tho ….. :o)

Crumble

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour

Muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple

Vanilla Icing

  • 1 cup powder icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ingredients:

  1. Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. You may need a 2nd pan as this recipe makes up to 14 muffins, though you can always bake in batches using 1 pan. Set aside. *See note about jumbo size muffins.
  3. Make the muffins: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk and apple, and mix on low speed until everything is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 15-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes.
  7. Make the icing: whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.
  8. Muffins stay fresh stored at room temperature for a few days– then transfer to the fridge for up to 1 week.
apple crumb muffins 2

3 year old Liv is the best helper!  So glad we could do a little baking together while she was here.

apple crumb muffins 3

How can you not love such a cute little helper?

Have you tried the website:  Sally’s Baking Addiction?  I’ve tried a few recipes and they are all great, this one came from her – let me know if you try it.  Or better yet, let Sally know!!

Profiterole Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs 1

I love bite sized desserts!  So great to be able to get a taste of each, especially after a big dinner.  These mini cream puffs, and mini pumpkin cheesecake bites finished off Thanksgiving dinner just the right way.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Profiteroles are actually quite simple, very few ingredients and easy enough to prepare … but the technique is important.

In a small sauce pan bring the water, butter and salt to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the flour all at once …quickly start vigorously with a wooden spoon until it pulls away from the side of the pan, has a slightly shiny sheen to it and has formed a ball.  Turn it into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time.  This is the important part.  Beat that first egg in until it has fully incorporated.  You can either beat it in with your wooden spoon or if you don’t feel energetic enough, use a hand held beater.  When the batter is smooth, start on the second egg.  Beat again (vigorously) and stir in the bit of cinnamon.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or ziplock.  Pipe onto prepared baking sheet.  Today I made them little mini’s to fill with cream and top with chocolate.  This mixture will make about 16 mini’s, but you can make them as big as you like.  Make sure you leave a fair bit of space around them as they do grow.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Once these have cooked and are completely cool they are ready for filling.  I ended up putting my custard into a piping bag and using a long tip to fill them before topping with chocolate.

Today I used my creamy custard to fill them, and then topped with a chocolate ganache.  What a hit!

You could also split them in half and serve with ice cream and warm chocolate fudge sauce …..

CREAMY CUSTARD FILLING 

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

In heavy saucepan, whisk all ingredients until incorporated very well then cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 20 minutes.  Boil 1 minute stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla.

I have also done this part in the microwave – stir every 2 minutes until mixture has thickened well.  Make sure you use a large bowl as the mixture will raise and lower several times while it cooks.

Cover right on the surface of the pudding with saran until cool, but not set, about 30 minutes.

CHOCOLATE ICING

  • 2 squares semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk

In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter.  Remove saucepan from heat.  With wire whisk beat in 1/2 cup icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp milk until smooth and easy spreading consistency.

Cream Puffs 4

I ended up with some pretty funny shapes because I went back and added a bit more to each “blob” so I’d recommend only piping once for each profiterole.

Cream Puffs 2

Dry, and ready for filling …. see what I mean about the funny shapes?  ha ha

Cream Puffs 3

The Best Peach Shortbread

Peach Shortbread 6

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 -3 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly.

Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares.

Peach Shortbread 1

I like to whisk the spices with the sugar first, then the flour.  It helps to make sure everything is well distributed.

Peach Shortbread 2

Press 3/4 of the flour/sugar mixture into your baking pan, reserving the rest for topping.

Peach Shortbread 3

These peaches are really the star here, but that buttery crust plays an amazingly delicious supporting role.

Peach Shortbread 7

Not so much topping that the peaches are hidden, and for a little extra crunch, sprinkle the top with a little raw sugar.

Peach Shortbread 4

OOOHHH, the smell of sweet peaches and buttery crumb can’t be beat.

Peach Shortbread 5

It might be difficult to wait, but they cut so much better if you let them cool.

This recipe came from smitten kitchen.com, so if you want to go one more step towards deliciousness, head over to her blog …. Deb Perelman …. she also browns the butter for a nutty flavour that apparently really comes through.  Today, I just didn’t have time, as I wanted to get these slightly cooled bars out to the workers to enjoy the fruits of their labours with peach picking, sorting and packing!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The first fresh fruit pie of the season … strawberries and rhubarb are ripe at about the same time and those two belong together!  The strawberries are sweet, and the rhubarb is tart …. its a perfect match.

Strawberr rhubarb pie 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 recipe unbaked double pie crust
  • 2 1/2 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 large stalks)
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)
Strawberry rhubarb pie

When the fruit looks this fresh, colourful and juicy you just know the pie will be perfect.

NSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare the bottom crust by rolling out one of the pastry disks to an 11-inch circle. Nestle the crust inside the pan so about an inch hangs over the sides. Press the pastry down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the fruit with the sugar, flour (or cornstarch) and lemon zest. Using the tines of a fork, poke the bottom of the pie crust evenly about five times. Pour the fruit mixture into the chilled pastry. Dot with the butter pieces.
  4. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with a finger dipped in water. Put on the top pastry in one piece and slice in a few air vents, or in a lattice pattern, trim, and crimp the edges.
  5. Brush the egg glaze over the crust. Transfer the pie to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake another 30 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before serving.
  8. Strawberry rhubarb pie 2

    I have a fancy little roller press that cuts this lattice pattern, but I can never get it onto the pie with it all looking smooth and even … I think I prefer just doing an old fashioned lattice … stay tuned for a photo next time I do that!

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 4

    Cut the pie while it is still warm, and you will end up with juices running … still delicious, but if you want it to be a firm slice, let it cool for at least a couple of hours.

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 5

     

     

Chocolate Chip Crisp Cookies

Cookies 6

Cookies are such a treat!  You can convince yourself (quite easily) that you are eating a nutritious cookie with the addition of wheat germ and rolled oats ….. (insert eye roll).

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (granulated)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, set aside.

Cookies 1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand held blender, beat the butter for 1 minute.  Beat in the sugars until the mixture is quite light and fluffy.  Scape down the sides and beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Blend well between the 1st and 2nd egg.  Beat in the vanilla and remove the bowl from the stand.

Cookies 2

You can see how fluffy the butter, sugars and eggs are – now is the time to work it by hand.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry mixture just until combined.  Stir in the oats, cereal and wheat germ.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookies 3

You don’t want to over mix cookie dough – stir just until combined.

Drop the batter in heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  You should be able to get about 12 cookies on a regular cookie sheet.

Cookies 4

What are those coloured bits you ask?  I had coloured rice crisps …..

One sheet at a time, bake in the centre of the oven until set and lightly browned around the edges.  My oven took 11 minutes, but check after 9 – ovens can be so different!  Cool the cookies on the sheet, set on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing to a separate wire rack to cool completely.

The results are best if you allow the cookie sheet to cool slightly before putting the next batch on to bake.

Cookies 5

So many schools have restrictions on nuts these days – you could always replace the pecans with raisins (but not in this house) or dried cranberries.

 

 

 

Vanilla Bundt Cake

A perfect dessert, delicious but tasty!  This simple vanilla cake can be changed up so easily.  For this version I added some blood orange juice and zest, which worked perfectly with the fruity glaze.

Vanilla Bundt Cake 2

To create the blood orange cake, squeeze the juice from one blood orange into a one cup measure of milk, fill the remaining cup with milk.  Zest one orange and stir into the batter.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ¼ cups (315 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups (370 g) sugar1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (125 ml) canola oil
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk

PREPARATION

  1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Generously butter and flour a 10 to 12-cup (2.5-3 litre) Bundt pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture triples in volume and forms a ribbon. Drizzle in the oil while beating.
  4. At low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, beating just until smooth. Spread the batter into the pan.
  5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes. Unmould and let cool completely on a wire rack.