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Sunday
Oct262014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chocolate-Almond Butter Turtles

Turtles - Pillsbury BakeOff

Seriously. Don't these sweet little things look like sweet morsels of pure magic?

Credit for these sweet little treats goes to Christine Southard of Noble, Oklahoma, who will be attending the Bake-Off next week!

Chocolate-Almond Butter Turtles

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 10 Min
  • Makes: 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 2/3 cup crunchy almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
  • 24 caramels, unwrapped
  • 24 milk or dark chocolate-covered almonds

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add almond butter and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon, or knead with hands until well blended. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  3. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth. Spoon and spread 1 teaspoon chocolate on each cookie.
  4. In another small microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and 1 1/2 teaspoons water uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until caramels can be stirred smooth. Spoon about 1 teaspoon caramel in center of each cookie; top with almond. Store covered.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Sunday
Oct262014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Golden Fruit Brioche Rolls

Brioche rolls - bake-off

I love making people think I'm all fancy in the kitchen when really, I've just lazed around all day and baked something awesome in just 15 minutes. This clever recipe by Christine Wilson of Sellersville, Pennsylvania only takes 15 minutes to make, 45 minutes total (much of that is inactive, though). That means even if you've been watching Mad Men all night and just woke up, you could still get these together in time for brunch. WOO!

Golden Fruit Brioche Rolls

  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Total Time: 45 Min
  • Makes: 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crusty French loaf
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whipped butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In medium bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over apricots and raisins. Let stand 5 minutes; drain.
  3. Lightly sprinkle work surface with Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour. Remove dough from can; cut 2-inch piece from one end; set aside. Cut remaining dough into 12 (3/4-inch thick) slices; press each slice to form 2 1/2–inch round. Spoon rounded teaspoonful of apricot mixture onto center of each round. Bring dough up around filling to cover completely; pinch edges together to seal; shape into ball. Place 1 ball seam side down in each muffin cup.
  4. Cut reserved 2-inch piece of dough into 3 (about 3/4-inch) slices. Cut each slice into quarters; roll into balls. Place 1 ball on top of dough in each muffin cup; press in lightly. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix butter, honey and orange extract until well blended. Serve warm brioche with orange honey butter.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Saturday
Oct252014

Nutty Good: Candied Walnuts by Old School Favorites

Old School favorites candied walnuts

I get samples of products in the mail sometimes. Some I test out and forget. Others, I feel that I need to tell you about because they make me so incredibly happy.

Here's how it went down. This company called Old School Favorites tells me they'd like to send me some of their products: either their "Szauce", described as "an indulgent gourmet chocolate sauce that's handmade using a blend of Hudson Valley Fresh CreamNorth Fork sea saltMadagascar vanillaValrhona cocoa and organic stone ground Taza Chocolate", or their "Nutsz", described as "premium quality California walnuts blanketed in a sweet shell made from the finest organic New York State maple syrup and a pinch of North Fork sea salt. "

I probably responded with something like "sure, surprise me". And a few weeks later, I received a vacuum-packed bag of nuts. I'm sorry--nutsz.


I opened the pack and tested one out. Old School favorites candied walnuts Good golly, that tasted good. It was softer than most candied walnuts I've tried before, but not like, soggy soft. Maybe I'm not a candy purist, but I actually liked that it didn't threaten to tear the roof of my mouth or break my teeth. The maple flavor was a little different than what you'd expect in a candied nut--it made them a little more complex and cozy-tasting. I loved the salt--for me, something like maple syrup, which is so sweet, needs a little touch of salt to balance it out. I would have added it if they hadn't, so they saved me the trouble. 

Old School favorites candied walnuts

Before the end of the day, I was basically using them on everything: atop ice cream, to make my Nanaimo bars even richer by serving them with a nut or three on the side as garnish, heck, even on a slice of toast with butter and a pinch of sea salt.

Old School favorites candied walnuts

In short: I was impressed. The nuts (sorry, nutsz) are not cheap at $12 plus shipping, but you need a treat every now and again, don't you? And in a world where lattes are regularly over $5 now (when did that happen, btw?) it's not so terrible.

Buy online at the Old School Favorites website.

Saturday
Oct252014

Latest Drawing / Art Posts on Craftsy

Woo! I've done a bunch of awesome art/painting/design tutorials on Craftsy recently. Care to develop your illustrative prowess? Well, you'll find plenty of info and awesomeness in these posts:

Transfer paper how-to

First, how to use transfer paper. You know how awesome parchment paper is in baking? This is just as awesome in art, though its use is quite different. You'll find that you can draw things you never thought you could when you get a little tracing help from this easy to use medium. Here's my primer on how to use the stuff.

Urban Sketching

What is urban sketching and how do you do it? You'll find a fun article I wrote about finding artistic inspiration in the big city, including ways to express the energy and buzz of the city in fun drawing and sketching exercises. Check out the urban sketching tutorial here

Saturday
Oct252014

How to Make a Classic Sandwich Bread Loaf

This is the bread that kicked off my recent bread-making obsession. It's so simple you might start making fresh bread weekly, like I have been!! Once you master this one, you'll also want to try my honey-wheat variation.

Full recipe and photo tutorial here. 

Friday
Oct242014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Image: BitrebelsI'm amused and horrified by this Sta-Puft figure. (BitRebels)

Not sweet per se, but still a baked treat. The history of the Cornish pasty! (History.com)

How to make fake cupcakes. A valuable life skill! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Oatmeal banana bread pancakes. YES! (Whipped)

Master recipe for biscuits and scones. Yes! (NY Times)

No blurred lines here: a guide to different types of lines in drawing. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Who knew? Unexpected uses for honey. (Philly.com)

You knead to know: how to test yeast. (Taste of Home)

DIY Nutella. It's such a good idea. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Incredible white chocolate brownies. (The Perfect Brownie)

Caramel apple pie scones. Just absorb all of those things together. Add clotted cream. YUM! (United Cakedom)

Say hello to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (!) (Food World News)

I'm sorry, but did you miss these white chocolate candy cups filled with sugar cookie dough? Too much joy! (Crazy for Crust via CakeSpy)

It's early in the season, yes,, but I'm so into pannetone French toast. (Colavita)

The art of the conversation: how to draw people talking (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Book of the week: Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree. Because the south does biscuits best (no offense, rest of the world) and this is the bible of how to do biscuits right! Om nom nom.

Thursday
Oct232014

Sweet Tip: You can Bake Extra Pie Filling in Ramekins

Let me say first of all that this is a public service announcement, because as a bona fide crust lover, I would never-ever suggest that you avoid crust (or carbs in general).

But, I understand that there might be times to go crust-less. For instance:

  • You need to abide by a gluten-free diet.
  • You don't like crust (I don't understand you, but I can appreciate that you exist).
  • You made too much pie filling. It's not enough to fill a second crust, but enough that you don't just want to toss it. 

OK, so now I'll tell you the little factoid I discovered that you can keep in your back pocket for the next time you need it:

You can bake your pie filling in ramekins and it will turn out just fine.

I've done this several times in the past, with pumpkin, sweet potato, and Bob Andy pie. And each time, it's turned out just fine. It occurs to me that you could make a conscious effort to do this, too, mixing up a batch of filling and baking it all in separate ramekins for a sort of sweet souffle-like dessert.

Should you want to do this, all you need to do is the following:

  1. Grab a few oven-safe ramekins.
  2. Fill them with the pie filling of your choice. Mostly, but not quite, full.
  3. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven, heated to the same temperature called for in the pie recipe.
  4. Bake, but for significantly less time than a pie would take. For instance, if a full pie takes 45 minutes to bake, check the ramekins at 10-15 minutes or so. Look for the same signals of doneness as you would in a pie: mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center, slight pulling away from the sides, et cetera.
  5. Remove and let cool in the ramekins. Serve right in them once cooled. I like mine slightly warmed with cookies or ice cream, but it's nice plain, too.

What do you do with extra pie filling?

Thursday
Oct232014

Butter Me Up: Three Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits

Three. That is the sum total of ingredients required to make delicious buttermilk biscuits from scratch. Want to learn more? Lucky you. The entire recipe (as well as an explanation of how it all works) can be found on Craftsy

Thursday
Oct232014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chewy Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Drizzle

Who says that ginger cookies have to be snappy? These ones are soft, and in the best way possible. It makes them all the better to cuddle up with on a cold night with a cup of cocoa!

This yummy recipe is courtesy of Michele Kusma of Columbus, Ohio. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chewy Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Drizzle 

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 45 Min
  • Makes: 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated pie and pastry dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup white vanilla baking chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, break up dough. Add remaining ingredients except baking chips. Mix with electric mixer on medium-low speed about 2 minutes or until well blended.
  3. Shape dough into 30 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (dark cookie sheets not recommended); flatten with fingers into 2-inch rounds.
  4. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth.
  6. Place in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle melted baking chips over cooled cookies. Store covered.

About this post: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off events, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Wednesday
Oct222014

Sugar Cookie Dough Cups from Dessert Mash-Ups

I felt a shiver of excitement upon receiving a review copy of the new book Dessert Mashups by Dorothy Kern of Crazy For Crust (a site well worth checking out if you ask me). Before I even opened the book, I already loved the concept. Upon opening it, I just got more excited: s'mores cakes, cheesecake cookie dough truffles, carrot cake-coffee cake...the tasty mashups prove that if some is good, more is amazing (something I have long suspected).

Basically, I'm going to tell you that if you liked my first book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, then you absolutely need to buy Dessert Mashups

In case I haven't made myself clear enough, I'll bring the point home with an excerpt from the book, for sugar cookie dough cups. This excerpt, including headnote and photo, is reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. Thanks dudes!

Sugar Cookie Dough Cups

My father-in-law was a sugar-cookie fanatic. Every Christmas I’d make our family sugar cookies and I’d have to make him his own extra batch so he wouldn’t eat all of ours (and he would have!). Over the years I started making lots of other sugar-cookie treats, from bars to candy, to give him for every holiday and birthday. I made these in his memory, and I know that he would have loved them (and eaten them all without gaining an ounce).

  • Yield 12
  • Prep Time 45 minutes
  • Chill Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 to 16 ounces vanilla-flavored melting chocolate
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Procedure

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the vanilla, milk, and flour.
  2. Form the dough into a disk. Place between two sheets of waxed paper on a cutting board. Roll out to 1⁄4 inch thick. I like to peel the waxed paper off the top, then flip the dough over and peel it off the bottom after every few rolls so that it doesn’t stick. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 circles of dough, rerolling as necessary. Place half the dough rounds on top of the other half, for a total of 12. Refrigerate until ready to assemble cups.
  4. Melt the melting chocolate according to the package directions. (See Candy Dipping Tips.)
  5. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melting chocolate into the bottom of each liner, enough to coat the bottom. Tap the pan to settle the candy and release any air bubbles.
  6. Place one cookie dough round in each muffin liner. Top with
1 to 2 tablespoons more melting chocolate, spreading as necessary to make sure that the two edges of chocolate meet. Tap the pan again to release air bubbles. Top with sprinkles. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. These can also be frozen.
  7. Tip: These are a big dose of sweet! To make them more bite-size, use a mini muffin pan, with mini muffin liners and a 1-inch round cookie cutter. You can also make these with your favorite flavor of cookie dough. Just substitute 1 tablespoon of milk for each egg called for in the recipe to make an eggless cookie dough, and you can omit any leavening that is called for. Use vanilla or chocolate candy melts, depending on your cookie dough flavor.

Someone come over my house, because I feel like I could eat the whole batch!

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