Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread Men

Making your own gingerbread is rewarding and simple to do. It's most likely better than anything you could buy at your local coffee shop or grocery. You can bake to your desired doneness - softer for dunking but firm enough to hold whatever shape you make. Yummy!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season!

Gingerbread Men
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

In a large bowl, mix together the egg, molasses, sugar, melted shortening and baking soda. Beat well.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and ginger. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture, blending well. Chill the dough for several hours or overnight.

When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets, or line them with parchment.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Form each portion into a nice compact ball, flouring it well. Roll out each piece on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-inch (3mm) thickness.

Using cookie cutters, cut out gingerbread people (or animals, or dumptrucks etc.). Carefully transfer people to the cookie sheets and bake for 5 to 7 minutes - until very lightly browned around the edges. Watch them closely - small shapes will bake more quickly than large ones.

Let your cookies cool for a minute or two before removing them to a rack to cool completely. Decorate with icing. Let icing set before eating (if you can wait).

Icing Paint
4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup water
paste food colouring

In bowl, whisk sugar with water, adding up to 2 tbsp more water if necessary to make spreadable. Tint with food coluring as desired.

Recipe Sources: The Clueless Baker, 2001 &
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Mini Panettone Cookies

The Holiday Season is here and with it comes all the smells and flavours we associate with this time of the year.  I don't think you can go into a grocery store without seeing boxes of Panettone stacked like a mountain.  If you like this seasonal bread then you'll enjoy these cookies flavoured with fennel, almond and orange.

The cookies are very petite and the batter is thin-ish so when you make them try to put even amounts of the cherries, nuts and raisins in each so they end up being roughly the same size.

Mini Panettone Cookies

1/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp anise extract (or 1/2 tsp fennel seeds or anise seeds, crushed)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda, baking powder and salt
1/4 cup chopped candied red cherries
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted slivered almonds


1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp salted butter, softened
4 tsp milk

In large bowl, beat butter, sugar and egg until fluffy; beat in orange rind, and almond and anise extracts.  In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Stir in cherries, raisins and nuts.

Drop by rounded 1 tsp about 2 inches apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake in 350F oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to racks, let cool.

Icing: In small bowl, beat icing sugar, butter and milk until smooth.  Using piping bag fitted with plain tip or resealable plastic bag with corner tip cut off, pipe icing decoratively over cookies. (Or spread with knife.)  Makes about 60 cookies.

Recipe Source: Canadian Living Holiday Celebrations, 2009

Monday, December 12, 2011

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are one of my favourite cookies.  They're easy, fast and always taste delicious.  Add some chocolate chips and they become out of this world.

This recipe completely uses whole wheat flour.  Sometimes too much whole wheat can make baked goods heavy and loose its light texture.  In these cookies there is no fear of that - no one will know!  The texture is chewy and I baked mine a little longer so the edges were crispy and the centre soft.  If you want, the recipe can be made with all-purpose flour or a mixture of both.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375F.

In large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, peanut butter, granulated and brown sugars and the egg until creamy ans thoroughly mixed.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and blend  very well.

Now make the cookies: by hand, roll the dough into 1-inch (2 cm) balls, place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) between them to allow for spreading.  For the classic peanut butter cookie look, flatten each ball of dough with a fork, pressing lightly to make a criss-cross pattern.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies have puffed slightly and are lightly browned on the bottom.  Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Recipe Source: The Clueless Baker, 2001

Monday, December 05, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've made chocolate chip cookies countless times and am always interested in new versions of this classic.  I haven't really had a go-to recipe until I came across this one from Bite Me by sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat.

For starters, these cookies are larger than most cookies and do not flatten out to become thin discs.  They are solid, dunkable and chewy - just how I like my cookies.  I've made them a lot and they've never disappointed.  Impress your family and friends and whip up a batch today!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium speed until well blended.  Beat in vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and fluffy.  On low speed, add flour mixture and chocolate chips, mixing just until flour disappears.

Drop dough by 1/4 cup at a time, 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack.

Yield: 20-24 large cookies.

Recipe Source: Bite Me, 2009 by Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat

Friday, December 02, 2011

Naughty Biscotti

I've been a fan of the Podleski sisters ever since they released Looneyspoons in 1996. I have all four of their cookbooks and their latest, The Looneyspoons Collection, was given to me a few weeks ago as a gift. It contains their greatest recipe hits updated and some brand new ones. It's a beautiful book to go through and I do think there is something for everyone in it.

If you're familiar with Janet and Greta then you know they give their recipes quirky and humorous names. Naughty Biscotti is their version of a lemon, cranberry and pistachio biscotti that does not disappoint. They are chock full of bright flavour and colour. They're a breeze to put together and, as they say in the recipe, the longer you bake them the crisipier they get. I followed the recipe as is and was very happy with the end result. The are delicious and nutritious. Can't argue with a cookie that has oat bran in it. :)

Naughty Biscotti

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 egg white
1 1/2 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Preheeat oven to 350F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine flour, oat bran, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together both sugars and butter on medium speed of electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs, egg white, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat again until well blended. Using a wooden spoon, add flour mixture to sugar mixture and stir just until blended. Dough will be thick. Add cranberries and pistachios and mix well.

Divide dough in half. Using lightly floured or greased hands, shape each half into an 8 x 3 x 1/4-inch loaf and place on prepared cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart. Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.

Bake on middle oven rack for 20 minutes. Remove loaves from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 275F. Transfer loaves to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife cut each loaf crosswise on a diagonal into 9 slices. (You'll have some scraps from the end pieces, so go ahead and eat them. Everyone knows scraps have zero calories.) Place slices, cut-side down, on same cookie sheet. Return to oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake for 8 more minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Biscotti will harden as they cool.

Note: If you prefer super-hard biscotti, increase baking time from 8 minutes to 10 minutes per side.

Recipe Source: The Looneyspoons Collection, Janet & Greta Podleski, 2011
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