The Sunday Recipe: Soft Molasses & Buttermilk Spice Cookies

Soft Molasses & Buttermilk Spice Cookies

This is a recipe from my great, great-grandmother via my mother, with a couple changes of hers, then a couple of mine. This is actually one quarter of the original recipe and makes a nice dozen cookies. I use the same recipe every year to roll out for ginger bread men as well.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoons ginger
  • 1 ½ cups flour (wheat or gluten free)

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  2. Mix in the molasses.
  3. Stir in the buttermilk, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  4. Measure in the flour and baking soda then stir.
  5. Dump out onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  6. Form into a log and roll up then twist the ends.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour. (You can refrigerate overnight, or even freeze for a month or so before using.)
  8. Preheat oven to 350.
  9. Prepare a pan with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Slice roll of cookie dough into 12 equal portions and lay out on a prepared pan.
  11. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
  12. Cool and enjoy. (Note: the gluten free flour may make them a little drier but they will soften up overnight in a container.)

The Sunday Recipe: Buchta Loaves (Polish Nut Roll)

Buchta is a traditional Christmas breakfast in our house, along with oranges or apples and homemade eggnog. We usually make it in one large spiral, this recipe will make two, but I turned the batch of dough into four loaves this year — easier to share that way. Either one works, rising times and baking times are the same. It’s also very easy to halve the dough recipe, make one filling, and get two loaves. Each filling will fill one large round buchta or two loaves. I always make the fillings first.

Ingredients for dough

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter.
  • 2 cups of flour plus 4 cups of flour and some for kneading.
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. Heat the milk for about a minute and 45 seconds in the microwave to scald. You can also do this on the stove top. You know it’s ready when steaming and a skin forms on the top.
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and melt in the hot milk. (Best if the butter is straight from the fridge. If it isn’t, you may want to let the milk set for five minutes after putting butter in before adding to yeast or it could kill the yeast.)
  3. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons of salt.
  4. Stir in the yeast.
  5. Add the brown sugar and stir in milk/butter mixture using a whisk.
  6. Set aside until bubbles form, about ten minutes.
  7. Beat in 2 eggs and 4 cups of flour.
  8. Mix well then knead for 10 minutes, or about 5 minutes using a dough hook in a stand mixer.
  9. Cover dough and let rise in a warm, draft free location for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Prepare two cookie sheets or 4 loaf pans with grease/shortening or cooking spray and parchment paper.
  11. Divide into 2 or 4 and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.
  12. Spread with filling and roll up, Try to pinch dough together at seams and end. (It can be hard to do and a little leakage during baking is not abnormal.)
  13. If making large round ones, wrap the roll around one end, like a snail shell.
  14. Rise another 1 1/2 hours.
  15. Bake at 325 for 60 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Pecan Filling

  • 1/2 pound pecans, picked over for shells and ground or processed
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Just mix to combine and chill to stiffen before spreading on dough.

Cranberry Orange Filling

  • 1/2 cup dried craisins (I used 50% reduced sugar ones.)
  • Orange juice to cover, about 1/2 cup.

Directions: Combine and microwave for one minute. Stir and let sit for 2 hours. Process in blender or food processer until fairly smooth.

The Sunday Recipe: Eggnog Bread

Eggnog Bread

If you’ve never made an eggnog bread, I highly recommend you give this a try before the eggnog is gone. It’s a great holiday treat. Don’t be intimidated by the 2 teaspoons of rum extract. You’ll miss it if it isn’t there. This is adapted from a recipe at The Recipe Critic –  https://therecipecritic.com/eggnog-quickbread-eggnog-glaze/  If you want a recipe that uses regular flour and sugar, follow the link.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg white
  • ¾ cups maple syrup
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups of Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking mix, or 2 cups white rice flour with 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional glaze: 1 cup sifted powdered sugar well mixed with 3 tablespoons eggnog

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a loaf pan, or spray with cooking spray and create a parchment sling.
  3. Cut the butter into tablespoons and melt in a microwave proof mug or bowl on 50% power, approximately 1 minute. (If there are chunks, stir so they dissolve instead of microwaving more to keep the butter at lower temp.)
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
  5. Whisk in the maple syrup, eggnog, rum extract, and vanilla.
  6. Add the melted butter in a thin stream, whisking continuously.
  7. Stir in the baking mix, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon just until combined.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool ten minutes before removing from pan.
  10. Cool completely before glazing, if using glaze.

This bread is best served cut into thin slices to get the full effect of the flavors. I cut the slices in half so they can be easily picked up, particularly when serving with other Christmas cookies.

*This year I had made vanilla buttercream frosting for molasses cookies so I just heated a half cup in the microwave for 45 seconds and poured it over the top of the second half of the loaf on Christmas Day. It worked great.

Simple Sliced Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Simple Sliced Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Okay, I admit it, these are based on Betty Crocker’s Russian Teacakes that my mom always makes for Christmas. Main differences are — one, I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking flour, two, I rolled and sliced, and three, I dusted with powdered sugar instead of rolling in it. Christmas simplified. I’ll be making more on Christmas Eve.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free flour blend
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  2. Add the vanilla and salt
  3. Mix in the chopped pecans
  4. Stir in the flour
  5. Shape into a 1 ½ to 2-inch diameter log.
  6. Wrap log in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
  7. Heat oven to 400
  8. Slice the log into 12 equal pieces by slicing in the center first, then slicing the two halves in half, then slicing each section into 3 slices. (This doesn’t have to be perfect.)
  9. Place on a prepared baking tin. (I like to use parchment paper these days, makes clean up WAY easier.)
  10. Bake for 12 minutes.
  11. Dust with powdered sugar and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Simple Fruitcake

I wanted to try making this recipe with gluten free flour and maple syrup this year. When it came time, I thought I either had apples or applesauce in the freezer. Turns out I had only a couple apples, so I pulled out some peaches and made peach applesauce. It turned out just fine.

Simple Fruitcake

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups applesauce
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup butter (light tasting olive oil or coconut oil should work fine for vegan)
  • 2 ¼ cup flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Blend)
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark raisins
  • 8 ounces broken pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Pick over pecans to remove any shell pieces in grooves and break up into 6 or 8 pieces each.
  2. Boil together applesauce and maple syrup for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the butter, pecans, and vanilla then set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  5. Prepare a 12 cup Bundt pan, or two loaf pans, or a mini Bundt pan tin.
  6. In a large bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  7. Add raisins to flour mixture.
  8. Stir the liquid ingredients in thoroughly.
  9. Pour into prepared tins and bake, about 40 minutes for the smaller ones or up to 2 hours for the large cake, or until a thin knife inserted in center comes out mostly clean.
  10. This cake is best aged a bit, at least a few days.
  11. For the adults – I decided to try soaking and aging a half of the mini fruitcakes with blackberry brandy this year. The directions I found say to simply poke holes all over with a toothpick then brush with the alcohol and wrap. Reapply alcohol each week. We’ll see what happens.

The Sunday Recipe: Homemade Eggnog

delicious eggnog cocktail on round wooden boards near spruce branches and cinnamon sticks on blue textured background

Homemade Eggnog

My mom always made the best eggnog at Christmas – thick, creamy, and rich. To me, it was similar to melted vanilla ice cream. It’s kind of amazing no one ever seemed to get sick from salmonella even though we were using raw eggs. However, after a bout of salmonella this summer when I made an ice cream recipe that called for raw eggs, I started thinking about how one could pasteurize a homemade eggnog recipe. I realized that the recipes for eggnog and vanilla ice cream were very similar so why not heat it the same way to kill the bacteria? Hence this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy or “whipping” cream
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or 6 tablespoons light brown sugar)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: rum flavoring or nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a saucepot over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer (steaming and little bubbles around the edge) then remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and maple syrup or brown sugar.
  3. Whisk a quarter cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture, pouring it in slowly as you whisk continuously.
  4. Do that 2 more times, to temper the egg yolks.
  5. Now stir the egg yolk mixture into the saucepot.
  6. Heat over medium heat until the custard mixture steams again, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
  7. Remove from heat and chill thoroughly.
  8. When ready to serve, blend in the cream, salt, and vanilla. Using a blender is a great way to give it an extra froth. You can also whip the cream before stirring in the chilled custard.
  9. Enjoy

The Sunday Recipe: Glorified Rice

Glorified Rice

This is a simple gluten free dessert my grandmother used to make from just a few ingredients. I’ve even made it from leftover Chinese takeout rice. You can even add mini marshmallows, if you like, but I’m not a big fan of marshmallows.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Drain as much juice from the crushed pineapple as you can.
  2. In a small dish, combine the rice and crushed pineapple.
  3. Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the rice and pineapple combination.
  5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  6. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Rustic Apple Tart – Trial and Error

Rustic Apple Tart: Trial and Error

I’m determined to get this one right.

I started by making the recipe from Once Upon a Chef (OUaC). https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/rustic-french-apple-tart.html  I didn’t love it. Partially because I have different tastes and partially because I did a few things wrong. There may be a slight problem with the recipe. Mine leaked egregiously. Then I tried the McCormick Gourmet (MG) recipe https://www.mccormick.com/gourmet/recipes/dessert/rustic-apple-tart  and that worked better for me. Again, not perfect, but I was getting closer. Here were the issues I encountered and the improvements on the second try.

Apples — OUaC called for 3 large apples, but also said you should have 4 cups of sliced apples. I don’t know how she was measuring or how big the apples would have to be to get 4 cups of sliced from 3 apples, but I think I overloaded the apples and ended up with too much juice from them. Looking back at her pictures, I wouldn’t call what she used 4 cups of sliced apples. McCormick’s called for 4 Granny Smith apples. I took it easy on the amount the second time around.

Flour — OUaC called for sprinkling a tablespoon of flour on the dough before putting the apples on, which doesn’t help to thicken the sauce much. MG called for stirring the spices with the flour then tossing with the apples. My tart barely leaked at all this time.

Dough Thickness — I rolled the dough out a bit thinner on the OUaC recipe and that could have contributed to the dough thinning and leaking in baking though it seemed like there were actual holes in the dough after baking. I was careful to only roll the dough out to 14 inches the second time around.

Refrigeration — OUaC has you refrigerate the dough while you prepared the filling then again for 15 to 20 minutes after you assemble the tart. I refrigerated it while I prepared the filling but only did 10 minutes before baking. That might have had an impact. MG has you refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling it out. That does make it a big harder to work with but probably helps it not leak in the oven. Either way, I think you want to try to refrigerate it for an hour total before baking.

Temperature — OUaC called for baking the tart at 350 for an hour. I was concerned about that to start with because I know from baking scones that you need a higher heat to get the butter and flour to poof. I wasn’t shocked when it seemed like the butter melted and things leaked. With the MG recipe, it was crisper and only leaked about a teaspoon to a tablespoon.

Spices — OUaC called for a teaspoon of cinnamon. I think that was okay, but the night I made it we had spicy chicken wings just before we ate the tart and it tasted bland. The second day it tasted very pleasant to me. The MG recipe called for 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of ginger. I couldn’t taste the ginger and the cinnamon was just too much, it overpowered the apples. I’m definitely going with the teaspoon of cinnamon this time.

Sugar — The first time I used sugar with the OUaC recipe, the second time I used maple syrup.  It worked fine in terms of sweetening but was overpowered by the cinnamon so we didn’t even get a hint of ginger or even really taste the apples. Both of the recipes called for more sugar on the crust than I would ever use. The OUaC called for dusting the crust with 2 tablespoons then the top of the filling with 2 tablespoons. The MG recipe called for 1 tablespoon. Still too much for me. I used one teaspoon.

Egg Wash — Finally, both called for doing an egg wash on the outside of the crust, but a recipe for cobbler I use, calls for brushing the dough with cream then sprinkling with sugar so I went that route. Next time I’ll try the egg wash, I think.

Next time I intend to use the crust recipe, refrigerate well for at least an hour in total, roll it out to no more than 14 inches, use just 3 good sized or 4 medium apples, toss the flour with the apples, and use just a teaspoon of cinnamon. I’m not sure whether I’ll be baking at 400 degrees instead of 350 though. I kind of liked the softer dough from the lower cooking temp though my husband said he liked the crust on the second one a lot better. I guess that’s a matter of taste. I think being more careful about time in the fridge, size of dough, and tossing with flour might be enough to make it not leak so much.

I also intend to try one more time with a gluten free crust. I tried switching out the flour with white rice flour and tapioca when I tried to make puff pastry but it didn’t work very well. Oh, it tasted fine, but it didn’t puff well, so I’m a little leery. I see a really nice-looking crust recipe and it calls very specifically for one of two types of flour. I’ve ordered Bob’s Red Mill gluten free 1:1 baking blend and look forward to trying it.

The Sunday Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake

I had a terrible craving for cinnamon rolls but trying to stay gluten free, and not wanting to spend the time, I looked for a cinnamon roll cake I could make gluten free. I found this fabulous Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Cake from The Recipe Critic https://therecipecritic.com/cinnabon-cinnamon-roll-cake/ and proceeded to make the changes.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups white rice flour
  • 3 Tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Directions

  1. Spray or grease a 9 by 9 pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Combine the first 8 ingredients, through the vanilla, and blend or whisk to a nice batter.
  4. Stir in the melted butter.
  5. Pour into your prepared pan.
  6. Mis the last three ingredients together and spoon onto the cake batter in dollops.
  7. Use a knife to swirl the cinnamon/butter/syrup combo into the cake.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Top with cream cheese frosting or eat as is.

I topped this immediately with a little leftover cream cheese frosting from making the macarons a couple days before. The cream cheese frosting melted onto it perfectly. Cream cheese frosting is just equal parts butter and cream cheese with a little milk or cream, vanilla, and some powdered sugar to stiffen it up. Martha Stewart’s recipe is my go to recipe. https://www.marthastewart.com/964331/cream-cheese-frosting

The Sunday Recipe: Mincemeat or Pumpkin Butter Macarons

Mincemeat or Pumpkin Butter Macarons

I’ve been wanting to try making French macaron sandwich cookies for a while now, but cooking shows made it sound a little intimidating. Finally, I decided to take it as a challenge for myself on my birthday. It’s actually incredibly simple. So, today is an amalgamation of recipes really.

This recipe is adapted from Beth’s Foolproof Macarons from Entertaining with Beth. She offers a Raspberry Butter Cream recipe as well as many other recipes on her site. I highly recommend checking it out.  

Vanilla Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup white granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 cup almond flour (120 grams)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white vinegar (or cream of tartar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Homemade Mincemeat Recipe for filling.

And/Or

Homemade Pumpkin Butter Recipe for filling.

Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Frosting (Just make half a batch.)

Directions

  1. Beat the egg whites until beginning to froth. (A minute or so on 6 on my KitchenAid stand mixer.)
  2. Add the granulated sugar, white vinegar, and salt.
  3. Beat on 6, or medium high, for 10 minutes, until stiff peaks are formed.
  4. In the meantime, sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together.
  5. Add the vanilla and fold the almond flour and sugar mixture into the egg whites until you can get a long ribbon off your spatula that will make a figure 8.
  6. Pipe or spoon the mixture into little dollops on parchment paper covered cookie tins. (I used a plastic bag with the corner cut out the first time, and an iced tea spoon the second time. That’s not an “iced teaspoon” it really is the long handled smaller spoon called an “iced tea spoon” for stirring iced tea.)
  7. Allow the tins to set at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes before baking.
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes per tin.
  9. Cool thoroughly before filling.
  10. Pipe cream cheese frosting in a circle around the inside of one side of the macaron.
  11. Place a generous dollop of fruit filling in center.
  12. Sandwich cookies together gently.

Sadly, do not eat. These must go in a container and go in the fridge for 24 hours in order for the marshmallow like magic to occur. If you do eat one immediately, they will seem incredibly lackluster. You’ll quickly decide they weren’t worth it and you’ll never make them again.

However, if you make these and refrigerate them for a day, they will undertake a magical transformation, not unlike a caterpillar going into a chrysalis and transforming into a butterfly. They will explode in your mouth with flavor! The mincemeat one was like taking a bite of Christmas.

Enjoy!

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