Really Good Pumpkin Bread

Fall is here, so that means the wait is finally over.  It is now time to break out the pumpkin!  And just in time, I got the new Cook’s Illustrated magazine and saw a recipe for “really good pumpkin bread”.  Well, that sounds like a challenge to me.  Is it really good pumpkin bread?  I need to find out.  The weird thing about this recipe is that you actually cook the canned pumpkin.  This sort of takes the quick out of quick bread, but according to CI, it is supposed to remove the raw, tinny taste of canned pumpkin.  I never noticed that before, but whatever, I went with it.  I’m sure it also concentrates the pumpkin flavor, which can only be a good thing.  You add the usual fall spices of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, which together make the house smell absolutely amazing as the bread bakes.  You then sprinkle the batter with a delicious cinnamon streusel which gives a nice crunch and spicy sweetness to the top of the bread.

Jack and Sammie wouldn’t even try it.  Oh well, their loss.  My husband, Justin, a pumpkin bread connoisseur, loved it.  He said it wasn’t as dense as other pumpkin breads, but in a good way.  The baby also loved it.  I gave Alex a small piece at a time, so as not to make a big mess.  He kept coming back and enthusiastically using his hands to sign for more.  So is this really good pumpkin bread?  Yes, of course.  I mean, at least in my experience, the folks at Cook’s Illustrated are never wrong.

Really Good Pumpkin Bread

Yield: two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaves (or you can use two 9×5 inch pans, but check for doneness 5 minutes early)

For the Topping: 

5 tablespoons packed (2 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Using your fingers, mix all five ingredients together in small bowl until well combined.  The topping should look like wet sand.  Set aside.

For the bread:

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces

4 large eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine   I omitted

Adjust oven rack to the middle and preheat to 350F. Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray (Pam).  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine the pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly, until reduced to 1½ cups, ~ 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and cream cheese until combined. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes so the cream cheese can melt. Whisk until you can’t see pieces of cream cheese and mixture is homogeneous.

Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add the egg mixture to pumpkin mixture. Whisk to combine. Gently fold the flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until just combined (some small lumps of flour are okay). Fold walnuts into batter, if using. Scrape the batter, half into each of the two sprayed pans. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top of each loaf. Bake until skewer inserted in center comes out clean, ~ 45 to 50 minutes. Let breads cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove the breads from the pans. Let cool for at least 1½ hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated September/October 2012

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Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

If you haven’t noticed already, my family loves soft cookies, frosted, with pretty sprinkles.  So, I tend to make lots of different recipes fitting these three criteria.  I actually made the original recipe for these cookies about a year ago, and while they were good, the frosting was a bit too thin for my taste.  In this house, we like lots of frosting, especially when it is piped on all pretty like.  But, it wasn’t possible with this particular frosting recipe as written.  I suppose I could have added more powdered sugar.  But with the melted butter instead of softened butter in the recipe, I think I would have had to add lots of it, changing the taste of the frosting.  When I saw these soft frosted cookies on my beloved Pinterest (Gosh, sorry, I know I am obsessed), I knew this was exactly the recipe I was looking for.  It uses the same, soft vanilla flavored base but then the cookie is frosted with a thick, pipeable, buttercream frosting.  I mean, you gotta love those perfect swirls of frosting. Okay, maybe not so perfect.  I just realized I need to work on that.

Originally I had something else planned to make this morning, but I decided today was the kind of day that could use some uplifting from sprinkles.  It just isn’t possible to see this bright colored confetti and not smile.  Especially if it is the topping to a big, fat sugar cookie, with so much frosting it is almost too much…Almost. 😀  These are so delicious, they put those always enticing grocery store cookies to shame.  Sorry Lofthouse, we don’t need you anymore.

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

For the Cookie:

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

5 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt.   I didn’t sift. Instead I mixed it and fluffed it well with a whisk. 

Add the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat them together with the paddle on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, ~ 2-3 minutes

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated and evenly mixed.

Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 350F about 20 minutes before removing the dough from the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of dough (I used a medium cookie scoop) and roll into a ball.

Flatten the ball slightly with your fingers and place on baking sheet lined with parchment.

Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart to allow for some spreading.

Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes or just until set.  Do not overbake!  The edges should be no more than very lightly browned (if at all).  The cookies should stay very white in color on top, with some browning on the underside.

Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted   I did not and it was fine

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Food coloring   optional

Sprinkles  optional

In a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment, until smooth, ~ about 20 seconds

Add confectioners’ sugar and salt.  Beat on medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, ~ 45 seconds

Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Beat on medium speed until mixture is fully combined, ~ 15 seconds

Scrape bowl again and add vanilla. Beat on medium speed until incorporated, ~10 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, ~ 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice as needed.

If you want too add in the food coloring do so now.  Mix until it is well combined and one solid color.  I find it easiest to put the frosting in a Ziplock bag and pipe it on.  Add the sprinkles and let dry for a few hours for the frosting to set.

Source:  Cookies from Deliciously Declassifed, as seen on Annie’s Eats, originally from Hostess with the Mostess  and the buttercream frosting is from Deliciously Declassified, originally from Cook’s Illustrated.

M&M Confetti Cookies

I know I have said this before, but I ♥ Pinterest.   Once I get started, I can stay up way late into the night, just scrolling through the food category, telling myself just one more page, and then another, and another… I am so tired and I have to get up with the baby early in the morning and yet, I keep on scrolling.  I know I am not the only one.  I’m not, right?  There are just too many great ideas and amazing looking recipes.  Awhile back, I came across these M & M confetti cookies and pinned the recipe because I thought it was so clever.  Instead of throwing whole M & Ms into your cookie dough, you bang the hell out of them with a stick (Burbs anyone? 😀 ) to create chocolate and candy coating confetti.  In Munchkin Munchie’s recipe, she added the confetti to sugar cookie dough.  And, while these look delicious, I decided to add them to one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough bases, replacing the chocolate chips.  So fun looking right?  You get the look of sprinkles and milk chocolate in every bite of this perfectly chewy cookie.  Definitely another keeper for Jack’s lunch box.

M&M Confetti Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar     I use light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz bag of M & Ms, crushed (more or less to your liking)

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, the yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed (or mix by hand with a spatula) just until combined. Crush the M & Ms in a big Ziploc bag with a rolling pin (or any other heavy object you have handy) . Stir in the crushed M & Ms.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. (Or, if you prefer,  you can just use a large cookie scoop to portion the dough.)  Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.  See Brown Eyed Baker’s Blog for a good illustration of this shaping method.  

Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the outer edges start to harden, and  yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Make sure you cool them on the sheet to maintain the right texture.  Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula.

Source:  The New Best Recipe for the cookie base and  Munchkin Munchies for the M & M confetti

Fresh lime sherbet

When I was a kid, my favorite flavor at the ice cream shop was rainbow sherbet.  I was one of the weird kids who picked through the sherbet not for the orange or the raspberry.  Nope, I loved the lime.  So, I had a bunch of limes to use and I found this recipe for fresh lime sherbet.  Perfect.  All lime, so no picking through rainbow sherbet for the good stuff.  I had never made sherbet before.  And, even though it sounds all fancy, it really isn’t any harder than making homemade ice cream.  After countless times of stinging hands and burning eyes from hand juicing citrus, I finally broke down and bought a juicer.  I know. What had I been waiting for?  This made the juicing process so much easier.  But, then I had to go ahead and somehow zest off part of two of my knuckles.  Ouch.  But, Sammie kissed them and now they are all better. 😀

According to ATK, sherbet is a cross between sorbet and ice cream, containing fruit, sugar, and dairy, but no egg yolks.  It should taste vibrant and fresh like sorbet, be smooth in texture but not heavy like ice cream.  So, how do you do make lime sorbet?  The first step is grinding the lime zest (Don’t worry. I only used the zest, pre-accident 😀 ) with the sugar and salt in the food processor to release the oils.  You then then add lime juice mixed with water (to reduce the acidity) and strain it so the sherbet is totally smooth.  The lime mixture is added to heavy cream that has been whipped to create the light texture.  You then churn the base in your ice cream maker and freeze it at least 3 hours before eating.  Ugh.  Three hours is a long time.  But, let me tell you, it was so worth the wait.  The sherbet is super creamy and tastes so unbelievably bold with fresh lime flavor.  Are you looking for the perfect, refreshing dessert to complete a delicious summer meal?  Well, I’m thinking this is it.

Fresh Lime Sherbet

Yield: 1 quart

1 tablespoon lime zest
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons vodka or Triple Sec (I used vodka)
2/3 cup heavy cream

Process the zest, sugar and salt in your food processor until it’s damp, 10 to 15 one second pulses.  Combine the lime juice and water in a large measuring cup.  With the machine running, add the juice-water mixture in a slow, steady stream.  Continue to process until the sugar has dissolved completely, about 1 minute.   Strain the mixture through a nonreactive, fine-mesh strainer into a medium, freezer-safe bowl.   Stir in the vodka (or Triple Sec) and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Chill in your freezer until the mixture is very cold (about 40 degrees F), 30 – 60 minutes. Don’t let the mixture freeze.

When the mixture is cold,  using a whisk, whip the heavy ream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Whisking constantly, slowly add the cold juice mixture in a slow, steady steam down the edge of the bowl and into the cream. Immediately start up your ice cream maker and add the juice-cream mixture to the canister; churn until it has the consistency of soft serve ice cream, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer the sherbet to an airtight storage container; press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.  The sherbet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week.  To serve, let the sherbet sit at room temperature until slightly softened and an instant read thermometer reads 12 to 15 degrees.

Source: The New Best Recipe

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Okay, so I have quite a few chocolate cookie recipes on my blog.  But, really, can one have too many?  I say no. 😀  And, though they are all chocolate cookies, each recipe is very different.  While most chocolate cookies are like cakey brownies, this one is more like a chewy chocolate sugar cookie.  The cakey texture of other cookies comes from melting chocolate into the dough, which is softened by the fat in whole chocolate.  So, dutch processed cocoa powder replaces melted chocolate in this recipe.  An egg white instead of a whole egg gives the cookie structure and the dark corn syrup contributes to the chewiness.   America’s Test Kitchen always figures this stuff out just right.  What you end up with is an intensely chocolate sugar cookie, studded with big chunks of semisweet chocolate, with a sweet crunch from the sugar that glitters across the top.  Could a chocolate cookie get much better than this?  I’m gonna go ahead and say no.  Am I wrong?  I don’t think so, but you might have to try it and find out…

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/3 cup (2 1/3 oz) granulated sugar

1 1/2 cup (7 1/2 oz) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) dutch processed cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4tsp + 1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1 large egg white

1 tsp vanilla

12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup ( 2 1/3 oz) packed dark brown sugar

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces    I used Callebaut semisweet

1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar for rolling

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 375°.  (I always bake cookies 1 sheet at a time in the middle).  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate; and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as needed. Give dough a final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain and the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to firm slightly. The dough will still be soft.

Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate.  Remove dough from fridge.  Divide dough into 16 equal portions (about 2 Tbsp, or 50g if you are a nerd like me); roll between hands into balls. Roll half of the dough balls in sugar to coat.  Place dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Bake until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone),  10 to 11 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Do not over bake.

Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Blueberry Swirl Streusel Muffins

When I was at the grocery store Monday night, I bought a bunch of blueberries because they were buy one pint get one free.  The kids love them and ate a bunch, but I wanted to bake something with them too.  The problem is, my kids won’t eat anything with cooked blueberries in it.  But, I saw these blueberry swirl muffins in Cook’s Illustrated and I really wanted to make them.  The recipe makes 12 muffins, too many for just me to eat (though I would give it a valiant effort :D) and too few for Justin to bring to school.  Shoot.  But, then I remembered that on Wednesday, my parents were coming over to have a picnic in the park with the kids and me.  Perfect.  I could unload some of my muffins on them.  A peace offering of sorts.

These blueberry muffins bake up to look the way I always hoped they would.  Just perfect.  Honestly, they look and taste straight from the bakery.  But, they do require a few steps.  First you make a quick blueberry jam.  That may sound hard, but I promise, it isn’t at all.  You just simmer and reduce down some blueberries and sugar until it is thick.  Then you make an easy muffin batter, mixed by hand, that serves as a base for the fresh blueberries and jam.  Next, you make a 5 ingredient streusel, mixed together in a bowl with a fork.  Finally, you scoop the batter in the cupcake wells, swirl some jam on top with a skewer, top generously with streusel, and bake.   In the end, you get this delicious muffin that you are going to look at, eat and then say, “Wow, I can’t believe I made this”.  I love when that happens.

Blueberry Swirl Muffins with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Streusel

Yield: 12 muffins

2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups (7 3/4 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar   divided
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup vegetable oil    I used canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the muffins: 

Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat to 425F.   Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with your spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.  Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined.  Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining 1 cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. Batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour.  Do not overmix or your muffins will be dense.

Use ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).  Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter.  Using a chopstick or skewer, even a toothpick, gently swirl the berry filling into the batter using a figure eight motion.  Make streusel topping, recipe below, and pile evenly onto muffins.  Or, prepare the alternative topping, lemon sugar, recipe below, and sprinkle onto muffins.

Bake until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

For the streusel topping:

Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, pinch of salt, and ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour in small bowl. Drizzle with 5 tablespoons warm, melted unsalted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea sized pieces throughout.  Sprinkle streusel topping over muffins before baking.

Alternative topping, Lemon sugar:

1/3 cup (2 1/3 oz) sugar

1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Stir together the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl until well combined.  Set aside.  The sugar is sprinkled on top of the muffins just before baking (on top of the swirled jam).

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook 

Cook’s Illustrated Individual Coffeecakes

My kids just love those little Hostess Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cakes.  I have to admit, I kind of love them too. 😀  When I saw this recipe for individual coffeecakes in The Quick Recipe, that’s exactly what it reminded me of.  You get the same soft, fluffy little cakes perfectly complemented by a sweet, cinnamon streusel ribbon.  So good.  I just love that you can have warm coffee cake muffins on the table in a mere 45 minutes!!  I also love that you can just grab one and go and not make a total mess because the streusel is contained on the inside.  You should see my kids faces after they eat, well, just about anything. So, that’s always a plus for me.

My son, Jack, for the first time in his 6 years of life, slept until 9am!  I was upstairs with a hot pad on my aching back from carrying around my little butterball baby, Alex, all the time.  So I didn’t get to see him eat one.  Later, when I asked him if he liked the muffins, he said they were so good.  Who made them?  Come on silly, Jack.  Who do you think made them?  They must be pretty delicious because usually when I try to make a homemade replica of something I buy in the store, my kids don’t like it.  It’s just not the same.  Heck no it isn’t the same….it’s better.  But, they never see it that way.  In this case, I’m sure the chocolate chips and the glaze tipped the scales in my favor.  Sorry, Hostess.

Cook’s Illustrated Individual Coffeecakes

Yield:  12 cakes

1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour   DIVIDED

1/2 cup  packed (3.5oz) dark brown sugar    DIVIDED    I used light

1 cup (7oz) granulated sugar

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1 inch cubes

3 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

semisweet chocolate chips- (to sprinkle on top of the streusel)   optional

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350F.  Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and all of the granulated sugar in the work bowl of a food processor.  Combine the mixture in five 1 second pulses.  Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and place it in a medium bowl.  Add to it the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and the cinnamon, mix to combine, set aside.

Add the remaining 1 cup flour to the mixture remaining in the food processor work bowl along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Combine the mixture in five 1 second pulses.  Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture breaks down into small pebbly pieces that resemble wet sand, about ten one second pulses.  Add the eggs and sour cream and process the mixture until it is well combined and thick, about eight 1 second pulses.

Place enough batter (about 2 TBSP) into each muffin cup to cover the bottom surface of the cup, but rise no more than 1/2 inch up the sides.  Sprinkle with about 1 1/2 Tbsp streusel mixture over the batter.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if using.  I used mini chocolate chips for half the batch.  I didn’t use all the streusel.  Cover with an additional 1 to 2 Tbsp of batter, or enough to fill the cup to 3/4 full.  Bake until light golden brown and the cake feels firm, but springs back when touched, 20 to 24 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time.  Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool 5 minutes.  Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with Quick Confectioners’ Sugar Icing below..Serve immediately.

Quick Confectioners’ Sugar Icing:

1 cup (4 oz) confectioners’ sugar

2 Tbsp water

I added a splash of vanilla

Whisk the powdered sugar, water and vanilla together (if using) in a medium bowl until smooth.  Place a piece of wax paper underneath the wire rack of cakes. Spoon about 2 tsp glaze on top of each upside down cake (narrow end facing up).  Make an X in the glaze so it runs down the sides of the cake in 4 places.  I prefer to drizzle the glaze on top.

Source The Quick Recipe

Snickerdoodles

My husband’s favorite cookie has always been the snickerdoodle.  I never really got them.  Aren’t they just sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar?  I guess that’s how most are made, but according to the culinary gods at America’s Test Kitchen, that isn’t how they are supposed to be.  What you should be looking for in a good snickerdoodle is a chewy texture, a slightly tangy flavor, and a crinkly cinnamon coated surface.  The cream of tartar gives the cookie its tang and in combination with baking soda, helps the cookie to rise and fall, giving the cookie its signature crinkles.  I usually try to avoid shortening in lieu of butter in cookie recipes, well, because it just tastes better.  But apparently it is included to prevent some spreading and to give the cookie its characteristic chew.  So, at least this time, shortening will stay.  So, there you have it.  The chemistry behind the perfect snickerdoodle.  Chewy? Check. Tangy? Check.  Cinnamony (is that a word?)? Check. Crinkled? Check.  Oh, and now let’s not forget totally delicious. 😀

Snickerdoodles

Yield:  24 cookies

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2oz) all purpose flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

8 Tbsp vegetable shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

Adjust rack to middle and preheat oven to 375F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow dish or pie plate.  Whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Using a stand mixer, beat butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups of sugar together on medium until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

Reduce the speed to low, slowly add flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.  Give dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Working with 2 Tbsp of dough at a time, roll into balls.  Working in batches, roll half of the dough balls in cinnamon sugar to coat and set upon prepared baking sheet spaced 2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Bake 1 sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.  (Cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone).  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Food Magazine

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