Confetti Sugar Cookies

Confetti Sugar Cookies

I was scrolling through pins on Pinterest and a photo from Deliciously Sprinkled caught my eye.  While the Funfetti cake looked absolutely delicious, I was really drawn to the color of the sprinkles she used. The colors were just so vibrant, with every color of the rainbow.  Most importantly, they don’t have any brown sprinkles which I don’t like the look or taste of.  In the post, Jenn said she bought them in bulk from Nuts.com. I haven’t heard of Nuts.com before, but I certainly had to check out these sprinkles.  Not only are they beautiful in color but they are only $2.99/pound!  I also like that these jimmies have more of a crunchy texture rather than a waxy texture like other sprinkles. I know they are only sprinkles and it’s probably silly how I talk about them like I am in love or something. But, I can’t help but get excited about new baking product finds and I had to share. I immediately ordered 2 pounds of the rainbow jimmies, a pound of nonpareils, a bunch of dried fruit and nuts. My kids especially loved the dried strawberries, dried berry mix and dark chocolate covered almonds.  There are so many things I still need to try.

So, now that I had 2 pounds of rainbow jimmies, I had to find something to make with them. I really didn’t feel like making cake or cupcakes. Instead, I decided to make these confetti cookies and they were exactly what I was looking for.  I like that there aren’t many ingredients; it’s all stuff you probably have on hand. The dough comes together easily and quickly and in no time, you have about 3 dozen delicious buttery sugar cookies. The texture of these cookies is really soft, which is a nice contrast to the sugar crust on the outside.  Sadly (embarrassingly?), we tore through all these cookies in only 2 days. And in 2 weeks, I went through a whole pound of rainbow jimmies between these confetti cookies and another super delicious frosted sugar cookie recipe that I hope to share soon.

Confetti Sugar Cookies

Yield: ~36 cookies (I got 34)

1 1/3 cup butter @ room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract   I used vanilla bean paste

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sprinkles   Jimmies don’t bleed like nonpareils (the beads)

granulated sugar for the top of the cookies   (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat

In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, beat together the softened butter and sugar with the paddle attachment. Continue to beat until light and fluffy ~ 3 minutes.

Beat in the 2 eggs and vanilla until completely combined.

In a small bowl, with a whisk, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until combined and the dough comes together.

Gently fold in the sprinkles with a spatula to prevent the colors from bleeding.

With a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart.

Optional step: Place about a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll just the top of each dough ball into the sugar  (this makes them sparkle and gives them a sweet crust)

Bake for ~11 minutes or until edges are just starting to turn golden. (Turn the cookie tray around at about 6 min). The tops will look just slightly underdone.

Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source:  Buns In My Oven adapted from allrecipes.com

Note: I don’t have any affiliation with Nuts.com, nor was I paid at all for this post. I just really like their products and wanted to share.
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Soft Red Velvet Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft red velvet sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting

February is my month to host the group, What’s Baking.  With Valentine’s Day and all, I thought red velvet would be appropriate.  I don’t think I have ever made anything red velvet. I’m really not sure why. But, it’s been on my baking to do list for a long time, so let’s cross this one off.

I had a hard time figuring out what to bake. Brownies, cookies, cake, cupcakes?  So, many to choose from. But, if you’ve been here before, you know my family’s love for soft, frosted sugar cookies. You know, the Lofthouse style ones? I finally came across these red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting and immediately knew they were it.  Have you ever visited the blog Cooking Classy?  If not, you totally should.  Jaclyn’s pictures are just beautiful and everything she bakes looks amazing.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve pinned.  Now, I just need to find the time…

These cookies were easy enough to make.  But, I think I should have used regular cocoa versus the Dutch processed.  The color would have been more red and a bit less muddled. But, I guess that’s just aesthetics and I need to get over it. For Jaclyn’s cookies, it looks like she frosted them by hand. I can never make my cookies look nice that way, so I chose to pipe them instead.  I pulled out like 10 different colors of sprinkles, but I loved the white against the white frosting.  Then, I decided white sprinkles weren’t enough, so I added some disco dust for sparkle. Disco dust…say what?  I have never heard of it before either. It’s edible glitter and it will make your cookies look beautiful.

The verdict? My husband and kids absolutely loved them. I had 21 cookies yesterday and only 4 today.  These cookies are really soft, with just a hint of chocolate which pairs perfectly with the sweet cream cheese frosting.  If you haven’t made anything red velvet, or you have and you’re crazy for it, make these cookies. You’ll love them. Promise.  Another keeper for me.

Stay tuned for the round up of all the yummy red velvet desserts….I can’t wait to see what everyone made!

Whats Baking Badge

Soft Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield:  16 cookies ( I got 21)

Cookies:

2 1/4 cups cake flour

3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder    I used Valrhona Dutched

2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening  I like Crisco sticks- more accurate and less mess

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract   (I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp vanilla paste)

1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

Red food coloring   I used ~ 1.5 tsp of AmeriColor Super Red Gel Paste

Sprinkles,  if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted and added a pinch of salt)

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt until well combined.  Although the directions didn’t say, I sifted the mixture because my cocoa was lumpy. Set aside the flour mixture.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, blend the butter, shortening and sugar with the paddle attachment until light-colored and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes.  Mix in the egg, then the egg white, vanilla, vinegar (or lemon juice) and food coloring.

With your mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure every last bit is incorporated.

Cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Chill x 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Shape the dough into ~ 3 Tbsp balls. I got 8 cookies per sheet. Grease or lightly wet your hands and press the dough down to about 1/2-inch high.

Bake ~9 to 11 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through the bake time.  Remove the sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on the baking sheet ~2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

In the bowl of your KitchenAid, with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter until light-colored and fluffy.  Blend in the vanilla. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, blending until well combined and fluffy. I added about 1 tsp half and half to thin the frosting out a bit to make piping easier. 

Source:  Cooking Classy

Soft red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

Sprinkles Cookies

Sprinkle cookies

Hello!  I’m sorry to have been gone so long.  I’ve really missed you and my blog….and I just had to share these sprinkles cookies from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  I was scanning through Pinterest and the cuteness of these cookies caught my eye.  You know I’m always a sucker for sprinkles. Reading through the recipe, I was intrigued by the buttery sweet dough emulsion it called for.  Have you ever heard of this?  No?  Me neither.  Kristan said you could find it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, but I could not.  And, while she said the ingredient was optional, it was not going to be for me.  I get my mind set on something and that’s it, it’s happening.  So, I just ordered it on Amazon and thank goodness with Prime I only had to wait 2 days.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  I loved the flavor it gave the cookies.  It’s the flavor of bakery cookies, you know the one you just can’t put your finger on and can’t seem to replicate? This is it.

At first, I thought these cookies were too sweet and I was disappointed. But, I swear, overnight some magical transformation took place and they were just perfect.  The cookie is buttery and soft.  The glaze hardens, adding sweetness and serving as glue for all those crunchy sprinkles.  My kids and husband went crazy for these, eating a fistful at a time.  I got about 50 adorable cookies, but that was not nearly enough. These cookies barely made it a day in this sugar-cookie-loving house.  Note to self: double recipe next time, okay?

Sprinkles Cookies

Yield: ~ 3 dozen ( I got 50)

Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp buttery sweet dough emulsion  optional

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Glaze:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract  – clear if you want white glaze

3 oz jar rainbow nonpareils

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

In the bowl of your Kitchenaid, beat butter and sugar, on medium, until light and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttery sweet dough emulsion, if using. Beat until combined.

On low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until a smooth dough forms.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour minimum.  I took the dough out of the bowl, shaped it into a thick rectangle and wrapped it in Saran Wrap.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured counter or pastry mat. I found this dough to be crazy sticky- be liberal with the flour.  

Cut using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter. I used a 2 1/4 inch scalloped cutter.  Place on baking sheet ~1 inch apart. They don’t spread so you can fit a lot of cookies on a sheet.

Bake for 6 minutes. Watch carefully. There should be little to no color.  Remove and let cool completely on wire rack.

For the glaze:

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth.  You may need to add water to get the glaze consistency you want.

Dip the cookies in the glaze face down, letting the excess drip off.

Place the dipped cookies on a wire rack set over wax paper and sprinkle liberally. Let set for about an hour before serving.

Source:  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Sprinkles cookies

What’s Baking November Round-Up- Oh My, It’s Pie!

I am so excited to be hosting November’s round-up for What’s Baking.   I was trying to think up a theme and decided it would be a good idea to try to incorporate Thanksgiving.  When I think of Thanksgiving, besides spending time with family, the turkey and all the fixings, I can’t help but think of dessert.  And, dessert for Thanksgiving always seems to include pumpkin pie.  But it doesn’t have to be pumpkin, does it?  There are so many different delicious kinds of pie. So, let’s ditch the pumpkin and make pie the theme!

My good friend, Eva of Eva Bakes, recreated the old-fashioned Southern sweet potato pie that was the perfect ending to a real barbecue meal on a recent trip back to her Southern college town.  For this pie to be authentic, a recipe with pumpkin pie spice would just not do.  It was not easy, but Eva found the perfect recipe, without the spice, that allowed the sweetness of the potato to come through.  My husband is crazy about sweet potatoes.  He would totally love this pie!

sweet potato pie

After scoring a bunch of peaches at the farmer’s market this summer, Heather Lynn at Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, made and jarred peach jam.  Luckily she had enough fruit to make this delicious peach pie filling too.  Heather Lynn had a mini-Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and all she had to do for dessert was make a pie crust for the sweet, spicy and juicy peach filling she already made.  Now, that’s easy entertaining. Ina would be proud!

peach pie1

Part of what Jenna from Jenna’s Cooking Journey likes about What’s Baking is that she spends a lot of time reading through blogs, looking for the perfect recipe.  She has found some great new blogs this way, including Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. where this blueberry cheesecake pie caught her eye.  Mel’s is one of my favorite blogs, too.  Mmmm…cheesecake with fresh blueberry topping? Sign me up!

blueberry cheesecake pie

Yudith, from Blissfully Delicious, didn’t really like coconut cream pie until she tasted this one that she made special for her mother’s visit.  This pie sounds delicious with a chocolate wafer crust, coconut pudding, sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut.  And, congratulations to Yudith and her family on a new addition due this May. How exciting!

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Ange, from The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen, likes to steer clear of pumpkin pie for the holidays and do something different. This time she decided to give sugar cream pie a try. Although it smelled good while it baked, Ange was disappointed with the consistency and sweetness.  I’m sorry Ange, I have had more than my share of baking disappointments.

Sugar Cream Pie

Joanna, from Kosher Kitchen, decided to make chocolate pecan pie with homemade pie crust.  Although she was nervous at first, thankfully, it was easier than she thought.  The pie was well received at her Thanksgiving dinner.  After eating it, her second cousin declared Joanna’s husband a lucky man.  Her husband couldn’t help but agree, for this pie and a list of many other things. 😀

chocolate pecan pie

Sandra, of She Cooks and Bakes, just had a baby (congratulations) and was hosting Thanksgiving, so she needed a quick and easy dessert.  This peanut butter icebox pie fit the bill.  Peanut butter and chocolate just happens to be my favorite flavor combination.  In fact, I am eating mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s as I type this. They are so good and I am now sad that they are almost gone.  Now, I have to buy more and make this pie!

Peanut butter icebox pie

Cookie Dough Cream Pie, say what?  Carrie from Carrie’s Sweet Life made this pie from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook, which I own. I have made several recipes from the book and they have all been wonderful. Honestly, I don’t know how I missed this recipe because it looks and sounds delicious.

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Stephanie, at Brownies and Blondies, was talking to her fiancée about his mom’s coconut cream pie recently and decided to make it for What’s Baking.  But, it seemed too summery, so she decided to add cranberries.  And then what the heck, throw in some white chocolate because it goes so well with cranberries.  And that is how this white chocolate coconut cranberry pie was born!

pie

Nicole, from Seven Ate Nine, decided to make Paleo Pie because her husband and his dad are on the Whole 30 Program, which doesn’t allow for anything in a dessert pie. So, she made an egg “crust” and filled it with eggs, sausage, peppers and onions to make a quiche of sorts.  I never think of savory pies, but we love eggs in my house.

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And, I made French silk pie. It has always been a favorite of mine and apparently it is now Jack’s and Sammie’s favorite too. Of course baby Alex loved it, but really that is no feat, he eats everything.  The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to worry about raw eggs.  ATK found a way around it and the filling is actually cooked. So now it is safe for small children and it is still delicious.  Really, crazy delicious!

ATK French silk pie pie

Carrie, from Carrie’s Sweet Life, is the December hostess for What’s Baking.  So, at the end of next month, make sure to head over to her blog for a round-up of some delicious peppermint recipes!

November WB collagePM

Homemade Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

I have to say, I am glad summer is almost over. It has been so crazy hot here in Chicago, it was really hard to do anything outdoors.  With the end of summer, of course, comes the kids going back to school.  My daughter Sammie was excited to start kindergarten (okay, excited to ride the bus) and my son Jack, just started 2nd grade.  Jack is not a big fan of hot lunch, probably because he is so darn picky.  Since he won’t eat most of what I make, he sure isn’t going to eat cafeteria food.  So, Jack brings the same plain old turkey sandwich (no cheese, can this really be my son?) everyday, a bag of chips and a dessert. When I saw these cookies on Pink Parsley, I knew it would be a fun dessert that he would love and maybe for a second, know that I was thinking of him as he ate it.

The dough is like the usual sugar cookie recipe, but the addition of cake flour makes these cookies a bit softer.  The dough is pretty sticky, so you’ll have to allow at least one half hour of refrigeration before scooping and baking the cookies.  Once the cookies cool, you make a delicious butter cream that you can either spread on with a knife or pipe on.  Personally, I find piping to be much easier and it’s prettier too. When Jack got home from school, he couldn’t wait until tomorrow. He just had to try a cookie now. I think I counted a dozen Mmmms before I stopped counting.  And, I can’t forget my Sammie. She loved them too, especially the pink frosting.  Since she is in kindergarten, we get to have lunch together everyday, usually Rice-A-Roni at her request.  Well, besides her company, at least now I have dessert to look forward to.

Homemade Funfetti Sandwich Cookies

Yield: I got 48 cookies, 24 sandwiches

The cookie:

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened to room temperature

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp melted butter

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 cups cake flour

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup colored sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and the sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the vanilla, melted butter, whole egg and yolk. Mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low until just combined.  Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.  Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake 10-12 minutes (rotating the pans halfway through) until they are just starting to brown on the bottom and are barely firm on top.  Cool the cookies 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Yammy’s Noshery

The frosting:

1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted   I didn’t sift and it was fine

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp heavy cream

1/3 cup colored sprinkles  I omitted and chose to color the frosting pink instead

Food coloring  optional   I used Americolor Deep Pink

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and beat on low until just combined and then increase the speed to medium for about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla and heavy cream.  Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the sprinkles if using and/or the food coloring.

To assemble the cookies, match pairs based on size and shape before frosting.  Pipe or spread icing onto one half, then gently but firmly close the cookie.  Press lightly to spread the icing to the edges so it lo0ks pretty.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: Pink Parsley, originally from Cooks Illustrated.  Frosting color and piping with a star tip inspired by Gingerbread Bagel

Sprinkle Cookies

We were meeting some of Sammie’s friends at the zoo and I wanted to make some fun, easy to transport cookies for the kids to share after lunch.  I meant to make them the night before, but I got caught up with other things, namely the Olympics.  So, there I was, at 6AM the day of, baking cookies, when my husband stopped in the kitchen before leaving for work to ask if I was crazy.  We have been together for 20 years this November, since we were seniors in high school, so he knows the answer to this question is yes, maybe just a little bit. 😀

Kids love sprinkles, so I thought these would be perfect.  This dough is so easy to put together, you can even make it half asleep.  Trust me, I tested it.  The dough is a bit sticky, but if you use a cookie scoop you can just use the trigger to release the dough right into the bowl of the sprinkles.  Reading the recipe, I thought these would taste like sugar cookies.  But to me, the texture was more of a cross between a cake and a cookie.  The cookies taste mostly of butter and vanilla, as any good sugar cookie should.  The kids (and their moms) really loved these soft, cakey sugar cookies covered in sprinkles.  Come on, what’s not to love?

Sprinkle Cookies

Yield: 24 large cookies (I got 22)

2 1⁄2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1⁄2 cup multicolor sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour the sprinkles in a small bowl. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it between your palms to form a ball. I used a medium cookie scoop because it was sticky. Roll the top half of each ball in the sprinkles. Place the balls, sprinkle side up, on a parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie.  I got 9 cookies per sheet.  Bake the cookies until they are pale golden around the edges but still soft on top, about 10 minutes. Let them stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove them with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely.

To freeze dough:  Cookies may be placed next to each other on parchment-lined baking sheets, frozen, transferred to zipper-lock plastic freezer bags, and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Frozen cookies may be placed in the oven directly from the freezer and baked as directed.  You may need to bake a minute or two longer.

Sprinkle Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

Source:  slightly adapted from Stephanie Cooks,  originally from Parenting.com (Lauren Chattman)

Sugar Cookies

When I was in college at University of Illinois, one of my roommates, Dawn, used to get care packages from her boyfriend’s mom (now mother-in-law).  In the box, there were always some of these super delicious sugar cookies.  Dawn was nice enough to share with us and I loved them!  I made sure to get the recipe.  Although I’m not sure why because I didn’t really bake back then.  It was probably so my mom could make them for me.  I totally forgot about those cookies until Alex pulled an old (okay, really old) binder off the bookshelf and a bunch of recipes fell out of it.  As I was cleaning up the mess, I saw this recipe and I couldn’t wait to make them.  I haven’t had these cookies in probably 15 years! Geez, now I have dated myself.  I had to double check the recipe with Dawn because the baking time and temperature was cut off.  And, I remember leaving out the cream of tartar from the ingredient list, because at the time, I didn’t know what it was.  It must not be important then, right?  She emailed me a photo of the original recipe and I was surprised that it didn’t have any vanilla or salt.  So, I decided to add them.  I also chose to use butter rather than margarine, because, well, it’s butter.  Enough said.

So, how were they?  Mmmm…just as good as I remembered.  The cookies are really buttery, not really chewy but very soft.  They are versatile in that you can change the color of the sanding sugar to coordinate with any holiday.  Or, even school colors would be cute.  Since there isn’t a holiday right now, we decided to go with Sammie’s favorite color, which for at least today, is rainbow.  I guess I could have coordinated with the colors of the Olympic rings or support Team USA with red, white and blue sugars.  But, of course, I didn’t think of that until now.  Oh, well.  Rainbow sugar tasted just fine. 😀

Old-fashioned sugar cookies

Yield: I got 29 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature   the original recipe calls for margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for rolling)

1 cup of canola oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Sprinkles optional

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, sugar and powdered sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well until combined.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt with a spoon.  Sift the flour mixture into another bowl or onto wax paper.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly.  Beat just until combined.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.  The dough is very soft, but will firm up quite a bit with refrigeration.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put about 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Roll the dough loosely into balls (I used a medium sized cookie scoop) and then roll completely in granulated sugar.   Place balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press down gently with a flat bottomed glass dipped in sugar (it should be thick if you want a chewy cookie).  Store the bowl of dough in the fridge between batches.  Sprinkle on colored sugar if you wish.  Bake at 350 for 10 – 12 minutes.  You want to pull them out when they look set.  There should be almost no browning.  They should be very white.

They freeze well in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Source:  Adapted from Lois Curran ( My friend Steve’s mom)

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

Downtown Bakery and Creamery Donut Muffins: 4 New Flavors

I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl when it comes to menu planning.  So, early Sunday morning, I decided I need to quickly think of a special breakfast to make my family for Easter.  I thought the donut muffins from Downtown Bakery and Creamery would be a great choice.  But then I remembered that my daughter, Sammie, didn’t like the cinnamon sugar very much.  What’s not to like about cinnamon sugar?  I can’t say I get it, but I know she loves chocolate like me.  So, I decided to make some with chocolate glaze.  Then as long as I was making chocolate glaze, I might as well make vanilla glaze for my husband too.  Oh, but wait, how about vanilla bean sugar?  And regular powdered sugar?  So, very quickly plain cinnamon sugar donut muffins spiraled into 5 different flavors.  All the toppings are easy to do, but it does end up dirtying a bunch of dishes.  I always have cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar and powdered sugar on hand, so those were ready to go.  Then, I was able to make the two glazes while the muffins baked.  So, while it seems like a lot of work to make all those toppings, it really wasn’t.  Jack and Sammie both said “Wow!” when they saw all the flavors (especially the sprinkles!) and they each inhaled 4 muffins.  Well, Sammie ate the tops off of 4 muffins.  😀 What better way to start off Easter than with a super delicious breakfast, followed by searching for baskets, hunting for eggs and spending the day with the people I love more than anything?  For me, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Downtown Bakery and Creamery Donut muffins 5 ways:

Donut muffin recipe:

  • Again I made half of the original recipe and baked them in a mini muffin pan.  This time I got 36 muffins and I baked them for 15 to 18 minutes.

5 Toppings:

Cinnamon Sugar: (the original)

Cinnamon Sugar

melted butter- 2 sticks for original recipe, 1 stick for half a recipe (1/2 stick if you are doing multiple flavors)

Brush the warm muffins with melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar.

Vanilla Bean Sugar:

Vanilla bean sugar

melted butter- 2 sticks for original recipe, 1 stick for half recipe (1/2 stick if you are doing multiple flavors)

Brush the warm muffins with melted butter and roll in vanilla bean sugar.

Powdered Sugar:

about 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl

Roll warm muffins in powdered sugar

Chocolate glaze:  (This is the original recipe, I made half and still had lots left over.)

5 Tbs. unsalted butter

4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

sprinkles optional

Fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In the top pan of the double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate chips. I melted the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and hot water until combined. Set the top pan over the simmering water and keep the glaze warm until ready to use.  Dip the doughnuts, one at a time, into the warm glaze, covering the top half of each doughnut with glaze. Immediately add sprinkles if desired.  Place the doughnuts, glazed side up, on the wire rack and let the glaze set for 10 minutes

Vanilla glaze:  This is the original recipe, I made half and still had lots left over.

Follow the instructions for preparing the chocolate glaze, omitting the chocolate chips and decreasing the hot water to 3 Tbs.

Sources:  Fine Cooking for the donut muffins.  Williams-Sonoma for the chocolate and vanilla glaze.  Better Homes and Gardens for the vanilla bean sugar.

Note:  You will need to use your judgment to adjust the amount of topping depending on whether you make the original recipe or half recipe, regular sized muffins or mini, and the number of flavors you decide to make.

Lemonade Sugar Cookies

The winters in Chicago can be pretty brutal.  But, this year we have had an unseasonally warm winter and for that, I am very thankful.  I really do not like cold weather and snow.  This past week, we have had temperatures in the 80s!!  So, I decided it was time to change the kids winter clothes from their drawers for their summer clothes.  I knew I should have waited because March weather can change in a instant.  And, of course, it did.   Now, the temperature has fallen to the 50s and 60s.  Luckily, I just put the clothes in boxes under the kids’ beds, so I can easily pull them back out.  But, I am sorry fellow Chicagoans…this cool weather is probably my fault. 😀  Next time I promise to wait to do my seasonal clothes exchange until June.

Before it got cold, I made these delicious lemonade sugar cookies because it was feeling like summer.  These are super soft and chewy sugar cookies, with a crisp bottom and a sugary crust.  The lemon tang comes from the combination of lemon juice and lemon zest.  I don’t think there is a drink much more refreshing than an ice cold glass of lemonade and this cookie captures the flavor perfectly.  So, if you are experiencing cold weather, this cookie will bring you a taste of summer.  If you already have warm weather (I’m jealous :D) then I suggest sitting outside and enjoying it with a plate of lemonade sugar cookies and of course, a tall glass of lemonade to wash them down.

Lemonade Sugar Cookies

Yield:  3 dozen

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

grated zest of 2 lemons  I used a microplane

8 Tbsp (4oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

additional granulated sugar to roll the dough in

optional yellow coarse sanding sugar

Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the grated lemon zest with the soft butter.  Blend until smooth and add the vegetable oil.  Add the sugar and mix to blend.  Add the eggs, scraping the sides occasionally, and mix to blend.  Add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Add the reserved dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The dough will be fairly loose.

Chill the dough for several hours (or overnight) before forming and baking the cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll tablespoon sized scoops of dough into round balls, roll in sugar (or sugar mixed with yellow sprinkles if desired- I like how it looks like lemon zest on the outside of the cookies), and place on parchment lined sheets.  The cookies will spread, so leave several inches between them.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the cookies feel “just firm” when gently pressed.  Somehow, mine only took about 10 minutes, so I would start checking at about 8 or 9 minutes.  The bottoms turn a light golden brown, but the tops should stay pale in color.

Source: Sweet Stuff:  Karen Barker’s American Desserts

Helpful Hints:

  • The author suggests substituting lime or orange flavorings if you prefer.  These sound delicious as well.
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