Thursday, November 20, 2014

White Chocolate Cake with a Cranberry Swirl (just in time for Thanksgiving)

Over the Summer I made White Chocolate Raspberry Cake. And I loved it. I made it every time raspberries were on sale. Then I made Dark Chocolate Blackberry Cake. And I loved that. I love this White Chocolate Cake recipe so much, that I designed a Holiday version - with a Cranberry Swirl on top, made from Cranberry Sauce.

My Grandmother asked me if it was cheesecake, because it's so soft and rich. But it's not. It's White Chocolate Cake with a Cranberry Swirl. And it's AWESOME.

White Chocolate Cake with a Cranberry Swirl

2/3 cup white chocolate chips, 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup cranberry sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a glass pie dish (or a round cake pan) with parchment paper and lightly coat the sides with cooking spray. Melt 2/3 cup white chocolate chips with 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, in a double boiler, over low heat; let it cool. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour with 1/4 baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Then add the chocolate-butter mix to the sugar mix, just until combined. Then add the flour mix, just folding it in. Place the cake batter into your prepared baking dish, gently using a spoon to spread it flat. Place dollops of 1/2 cup cranberry sauce on top of the cake batter. Use a knife to make swirls. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sides are lightly browned and the middle does not jiggle. Allow your cake to cool, before slicing it.

This Cake is perfect for Thanksgiving - and even Christmas. It's great with a cup of coffee...

and the Macy's Day Parade. Who says you can't eat Cake for Breakfast?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Butter Cookies with Espresso Icing (or Little Turkeys)

These Little Turkeys are packed with flavor; the Butter Cookies are more shortbread than sugar cookie, with hints of lemon and vanilla, while the Icing has sweet espresso (Cafecito!) mixed into it. With the Cinnamon-Sugar, Chocolate and Candy Corn "Sprinkles" - these Little Turkeys are far from being your average cut-out cookies. 

I made Turkeys for Thanksgiving, but you can make any shape you like - all year long; the peak of cut-out cookie season is just weeks away!

Butter Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons salted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 and 3/4 cup flour (plus 1/3 cup for rolling), 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder.

Let your butter come to room temperature, preheat the oven to 375, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. In another large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth. Then add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Then add the extracts, egg, and milk, beating just until combined. Add the flour mix in 2 to 3 parts, just until the dough forms. Sprinkle a clean, flat surface (table or countertop) with a bit of flour. (A 1/3 cup of flour is all you'll need for the rolling process.) Rub your rolling pin with flour, as well. Take about half of the dough and roll it out by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough ball and then rolling out; you do not need to press down hard. Roll your dough out until it is about 1/2 an inch thick. (These cookies are meant to be thick.) Use the cookie cutter(s) of your choice to make shapes. Use a spatula to move your cut-outs onto the prepared baking sheets, placing them an inch away from one another and the sides of the pan. Bake your cookies for 6 to 8 minutes - just until the edges are lightly browned. Repeat this process until you have no dough leftover. (You may blend the cut-out "scraps" together over and over, without worry; think of it as Play-Doh.) Allow your cookies to cool completely before icing them.

Espresso Icing

1 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons salted butter, 2 tablespoons milk, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Cafecito (or sweetened, strong espresso).

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, milk, and Cafecito until smooth. Add 1 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar in 3 parts, beating until smooth after each addition. 

How to: Decorate!

Apply a thin layer to your Butter Cookies, using a spoon. Apply the Sprinkles of your choice before the Icing sets. I like to use crushed nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, cinnamon-sugar, and even candy - like candy corn!

The Icing will take a few hours to dry completely; you may leave the cookies out (covered) or in the fridge, before you stack them. This will ensure beautiful cut-out cookies for you to show off! 

My Little Turkey loved his first Butter Cookie. He has no idea what's coming at the end of the month; turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie... oh, YES!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Black and White (Mini) Cheesecakes

I am a Big Fan of the Black and White Cookie. I am also a Big Fan of my too easy, very popular Mini Cheesecake recipe. Since Baby, I am short on time in the kitchen, and decided to substitute an Oreo crust (instead of homemade graham cracker crust) for these lovely Minis.

Heads or Tails Oreos, Classic Vanilla Cheesecake, Milk Chocolate, and White Chocolate... sounds like a balanced breakfast to me!

Mini Black and White Cheesecakes, with Heads or Tails Oreos

12 Heads or Tails Oreos; 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a dash of kosher salt; 1 egg.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill a standard cupcake pan with liners and place the 12 Heads or Tails Oreos into each cup - easy! In a medium sized mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese first, adding each additional ingredient one at a time, mixing until combined; mix the 1 egg in last. There is enough batter for 12 "cupcakes," so using a spoon, evenly place the batter into each cup. They will not rise much, so don't worry about overfilling the cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops just begin to crack. Place about 6 milk chocolate chips (the Black) and 4 white chocolate chips (the White) on top of each Mini Cheesecake, right when they come out of the oven.

I enjoy these lovely Minis with my morning coffee - but they are of course perfect for the impending Holiday Season - when you need to bring a dish to a festive gathering. Everyone will remember (and rave about) these Mini Black and White Cheesecakes.

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