Apple Cider Caramels – A simple delight anytime

Just one of the great handmade caramel flavors Made By Mike. To order. just click the photo.

Just one of the great handmade caramel flavors Made By Mike. To order, just click the photo.

Happy New Year and the Best From Last Year

meringuefinal

Just a quick note to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

This post about Orange-Vanilla Meringue Swirls was my most visited from last year. To be honest, it was one of the favorite things I made last year, too.

A little sweet, a little crispy and a little chewy. These Orange-Vanilla Meringue Swirls are a perfect little treat. It’s amazing what a few great ingredients can become when combined with simple techniques.They taste almost like one of those delightful orange creamsicles.

Featured in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living, I’ve been looking forward to making these meringues for weeks. But first, I needed to find a half-inch plain pastry tip. After searching many stores, I had to settle for a half-inch star tip. And to be honest, I kind of prefer the look of the meringues with the decorative ridges.

The recipe calls for half of a vanilla bean’s seeds. I threw the other half and the seeded bean into the jar where I’m making homemade vanilla extract. I’m still about a month or so away from it being ready. More on that in another post, on another day.

Finally, I love the design left on the parchment paper after I removed the baked meringues. I’m thinking about framing the design. You can see a portion of the meringue imprint in the lower left image of the collage below.

Orange-Vanilla Meringue SwirlsMartha Stewart Living, May 2012

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Large pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Gel-paste food color, orange

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place egg whites in a heatproof mixing bowl. Add vanilla seeds and sugar, and whisk by hand to combine. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar.

Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and meringue is mostly cooled, about 7 minutes. Beat in orange zest.

Using a small paintbrush, paint 3 vertical stripes of food coloring inside the pastry bag fitted with a half-inch tip. Fill bag with meringue, and pipe 1 3/4-inch circular shapes 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake meringues until crisp on the outside but still soft on the inside, about 75 minutes. (I baked mine an additional 15 minutes.) Let cool completely on a wire rack.

meringue

Peppermint Crunch and White Chocolate Cookies

IMG_2094

It can’t be the holidays for me until some smashed up candy canes end up sprinkled on a cookie. Check out this peppermint-focused cookie from a few year’s back. This year, I present to you the Peppermint Crunch and White Chocolate Cookie. It’s a pretty basic buttery sugar cookie with a dash of peppermint extract, a bag of white chocolate morsels and a handful of pulverized candy canes. What could be wrong with any of that? Turn up the holiday music, here’s my favorite, and bake up a batch of cookies.

Peppermint Crunch and White Chocolate Cookiea Made by Mike Original

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups white chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs and peppermint extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate morsels.

Scoop dough with a 1-inch ice cream scoop, dip the tops of the dough balls into the crushed peppermint candy. Place candy-side up, about 2-inches apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-13 minutes, until puffy and light-golden brown in color. Let rest 5 minutes on sheet pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 40 cookies.

peppermintwhitecollage

 

Maple Pumpkin Granola

If you’re a long-time follower of the blog, you know that I have a thing for granola. Well, homemade granola, that is. To be honest, I don’t know why people buy it in the store. It’s insanely easy to make, I think even Greg could rock a batch. Remember his guest post? The other benefit. Your house will smell so good while the granola is baking and crisping up in your oven.

I had extra pumpkin puree left from a previous recipe, so I was super excited when I came across the original recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. I doubled up the recipe (this stuff is great, you’ll want to make a double batch, too) and swapped out their suggested nuts and seeds for pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds and sunflower seeds.

It’s not a terribly sweet  granola, it’s just right and the pumpkin flavor is more subtle than you’d think. Enjoy.

Maple Pumpkin Granolaadapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup good-quality maple syrup
  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Add in the oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and sunflower seeds and stir until well combined.

Divide the granola between two large rimmed baking sheets. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring the granola every 10 minutes. The granola is done when its dry and golden-brown.

Allow granola to cool on baking sheets. Add the dried cranberries, a half cup to each baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Candy Corn Krispie Treats

 

Halloween, not exactly one of my favorite holidays. It never has been. Well, except for the flood of fun-sized packets of Skittles, Starbursts and Sweetarts. Yes, I have a very real addiction to fruity-flavored confections that begin with an S.

There are a couple of other things that I really love about this time of year. Chief among them is the annual pumpkin carving with my sister’s delightful family. I was worried that it wouldn’t happen this year after their summer move to Kentucky. But alas, a visit back to Ohio was coordinated and the tradition continued. For a sweet treat, I made these Candy Corn Krispie Treats featured in the October issue of Everyday Food. You can find the original recipe here.

I tweaked the recipe just a bit. They called for adding orange zest and lemon zest to the colored layers. I thought the idea of adding a citrus twist to candy corn shaped treats a bit odd.  Instead I added some vanilla extract. The worst part of the recipe, and this is so minor, was repeatedly washing the saucepan between layers of the Rice Krispie loaf.

Candy Corn Krispie Treats - adapted from Everyday Food, October 2012.

  • 12 cups miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 9 cups puffed crisp rice cereal, divided
  • 9 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sat, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
  • red & yellow food coloring

Lightly coat a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat. Add 4 cups miniature marshmallows, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract; stir until melted. Stir in 3 cups puffed crisp rice cereal and immediately transfer to prepared pan. Coat a spatula with cooking spray and firmly press mixture into an even layer.

Rinse saucepan. Repeat the last step twice: To the second batch add enough yellow and red food coloring (about 5 drops, each) to tint marshmallow mixture orange before adding the cereal, then press into pan on top of the previous layer. To the third batch, add yellow food coloring (about 10 drops) to tint marshmallow mixture yellow. Press into pan on top of the orange layer.

Let set 2 hours or overnight. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and invert loaf onto a cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife, cut loaf into 10 slices. Cut each slice in half crosswise.

Using your hands, gently mold each treat into a candy corn shape pinching the white section to form the tip. Makes 20.

Molasses Ginger Crisps

What do you do when you’ve got four strangers replacing six windows in your house? If you’re like me, you bake cookies. Lots of cookies. Three months after The Great Hail Storm of Independence Day, we finally got our broken windows replaced. I kept my self busy baking Molasses Ginger Crisps while the guys got to work.

Now normally I prefer a chewy cookie. But let me tell you, these very crispy and crackly molasses ginger cookies are pretty terrific. The original recipe comes, of course, from Martha Stewart and her Cookies iPad app. I made these on-the-fly, so there was no fresh ginger in the house. I was amazed to find just enough crystallized ginger in the back of my spice cabinet. To make up for the lack of fresh ginger, I upped the ground ginger amount by half a teaspoon. Martha rolled her cookies in sanding sugar. I went a little more rustic and rolled my in Turbinado sugar crystals. I love the result. The crystals of the Turbinado sugar are larger and really make the cookies crunch.

Side note, the window installers really liked the cookies, too.

Molasses Ginger Crisps - adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies iPad App.

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in egg and egg yolk, then the crystallized ginger. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the molasses. Beat until well combined.

Shape teaspoons of dough into balls, and roll in Turbinado sugar. Place 2-inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are flattened and edges are dark golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have a special place in my foodie heart for anything snickerdoodle. The cookie, amazing. Snickerdoodle blondies, always a great hit. Snickerdoodle Krispie Treats, who knew? In fact, when we adopted Ted last December, the rescue had named him Snickerdoodle. We briefly considered keeping the name, but then figured that two guys with a dog named Snickerdoodle seemed a bit silly.

Every time I browse Martha Stewart’s cupcake cookbook, I always pause on the snickerdoodle cupcake recipe. And yet, I seem to end up baking another kind of cupcake.  That ended recently when I finally broke down and set out to bake these sweetly-cinnamon creations. One word of caution, the seven-minute frosting takes a bit of work on the stove with a candy thermometer. It’s a bit more work than traditional buttercream or cream cheese frosting. It’s totally worth it.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes - Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 28

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk

 

For the seven-minute frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 23o degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low, pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium high; whisk until mixture is completely cool and stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag with a large plain tip, pipe frosting on each cupcake. Using a small, fine-mesh sieve, dust frosting with cinnamon-sugar.

 

 

 

Foodie Pen Pal – September Edition

Just like the last two months, the mailman dropped off a box of goodies. This time from Tracy.  I’ve been participating in the very fun Foodie Pen Pal program. And you can too. Details are at the end of the post.

Back to my haul. You’ll notice, perhaps from the photo, that several of those bags look a little flat. That’s through no fault of Tracy. Well actually it kind of is. She packed some great treats that I couldn’t resist tearing into before I got my camera out for the group shot.

Those Yukon Gold tater chips over on the right….amazing. I love the caramel bits, they are going into some cookies soon. So are the cinnamon chips. I’ve never used them before, but they sounds perfect as a mix-in in some holiday cookies.  More local honey to add to my collection, this cute little honey bear bottle comes from Oklahoma. I told Tracy that I loved candy, and she certainly didn’t disappoint with the “awesome twosome” Jolly Rancher chews. Finally, and I give her a lot of credit for this, she steered me back to a healthy snack with the Special K cracker chips. What? A cracker and a chip all in one? I’m on board with that.

I sent my Foodie Pen Pal package to Leila, she’s a kindred spirit in Skittle love.

Interested in joining the program? Here’s how:

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for October, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You’re too kind.

Just a quick note of thanks to all who responded with advice to my little writer’s block problem. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I’m thankful for being part of such a great community. Here’s to a new post, full of yum-tastic treats, very soon.

There are no words

Cat got my tongue? Feels more like a liger.

The posts have been few and far between. I’m sorry about that. It’s not because I’m not making things. I am, and I’d love to tell you all about them. The problem is that every time I sit down to write a post, I just stare at the screen and the words don’t follow. I hope that all you food and other bloggers out there will comment and share your tips on overcoming this hurdle. In the mean time, here are a few photos of things that I’ve made and want to share with you very soon.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,719 other followers

%d bloggers like this: