Sunday, June 28, 2015


Russian Teacakes, or otherwise called Mexican Wedding Cookies have graced many a dessert table around the holiday season. Since it is a favorite, there are many recipes that spun off from the original. 

This particular cookie is just that, pulling in the flavors of butterscotch and rum. I know, a bag of butterscotch chips seem to be the remaining orphan at the grocery store. The ones that get all the attention are the chocolate chips, which are the first to go. Even though butterscotch may not be as popular as chocolate, these cookies are a reminder that this flavor can be just as delicious when the right recipe comes along.

So as you are walking down the baking aisle, please consider the butterscotch chips. All they need is a good home.

This recipe makes about 3 dz cookies.

adapted from Just a Pinch website

1 cup finely chopped pecans
6 oz butterscotch chips
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter

1 tsp rum extract
1/2 cup pecan pieces
3 powdered sugar
3-4 tbs milk or water

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the salt. Add the sugar blend to the bowl of a stand mixer. Then cut butter into cubes and drop cubes into sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Next, fold in the flour in increments until a dough is formed. Then add pecans and butterscotch chips, blending with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Take the dough and measure out into teaspoons. Shape each into a round ball and place on prepared cookie sheet. Since the cookies do not expand very much, they can be spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Bake in oven until lightly browned on the bottom, about 15-17 minutes. Do not let cookies turn brown on top, that is a sign they are over baked. 

Remove sheet from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. After all the cookies are baked and cooled, place cookies on a plate. Now it is time to start on the glaze.

Place a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack. Pull out a small bowl and add milk (or water) and extract. Whisk together. Take out a larger bowl and sift all of the powdered sugar into the bowl. Then mix the liquid mixture into the powdered sugar.

To glaze each of the cookies, dip the top into the glaze and swirl to let the excess drip back into the bowl. Place cookie back on rack and put a piece of pecan on the top. Repeat the process until all cookies are topped as stated. Let rest one hour for glaze to set up, then they are ready to enjoy.
                                         **LAST YEAR:Cherry Dr Pepper Cupcakes**


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pesto Potato Rolls

Homemade bread is something that we all enjoy.  However, the thought of making bread does bring to mind an all day project, with kneading and rising time. With most people's busy lifestyles, the time is just not there. There is an alternative. No, it is not the bread machine. Nothing against the bread machine, but the soft, loaf type bread is not always what we want. The alternative would be a no knead bread with not much rise time that is soft and flavorful, which brings me to this particular recipe.

The final result to my bread baking endeavor was fluffy, pull apart rolls with the flavor of butter and pesto - so it was a tasty ending! These rolls are perfect to serve with soup, salad or any Italian meal.

Pull apart bread is very popular and versatile. There are several savory as well as sweet recipes out there. I chose pesto because it happened to pair well with the dinner I was planning. The other thing that interested me about the recipe (outside of the no knead concept) is that it uses potato in the dough.

Now, let's get to the recipe.  This makes about 2 dozen rolls.

Pesto Potato Rolls
adapted from No Need to Knead

4 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbs quick rising yeast
pinch of black pepper
1- 11 or 12 oz russet potato (peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces)
6 tbs purchased pesto
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs melted unsalted butter (slightly cooled)
2 eggs

Begin by buttering the interior of two 9 inch round cake pans (about 1 1/2 inches deep) and set aside.

The next step is cooking the potatoes. Place 1 tsp salt, potatoes and 3 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir and then cover. The mixture should come to a slow boil. Let potatoes cook for about 20 minutes until done. When done, potato cubes should be able to be pierced with a fork with very little effort. Remove saucepan from heat and mash until all the lumps are gone. Your mixture will be very watery and pourable. Separate out 2 cups of the potato water in a heat proof bowl and discard the rest. Let the mixture cool to about 105 to 115 degrees.

Once the potato mixture has cooled, stir in yeast, pesto, pepper, sugar and other tsp of salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the two eggs together. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup melted butter into potato batter.  Blend until evenly distributed.

Prepare a bowl for rising by buttering the interior. Set aside. Using a wooden spoon, blend the flour into the batter in 1/2 cup increments. After the flour has been mixed in, you should have a smooth and sticky dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in prepared bowl. Turn once to coat each side. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Do not punch down dough after rise time.

Prepare a flat surface by lightly dusting with flour. Roll dough out into 1/3 inch thickness. Then cut out rounds with a 2 1/2 inch cutter.  Keep cutting and re-rolling until the dough has been formed into cut circles. At this point, set up an assembly line. The rounds will be next to the bowl of melted butter (remaining amount of 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and the pans will be next to the butter.

Dip or brush the top of each round with butter and fold in half. Place in pan with fold on the bottom, or fan side up. Continue to do this until each cake pan has 12 rolls in it. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

During the rising time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After the rising time is complete, place pans in oven and bake until golden brown on top. Bake time should be about 25 minutes. Let rolls cool in pans for about 20 minutes and invert twice, so golden tops of rolls are face up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips and Notes:

1. When you form the dough in the pans it will be slippery and soft. Dough rounds might not fill pan prior to rise time. Just place folded dough rounds in pan evenly spaced.

2. If you want quick results, you can plan ahead the day before, with the changes as follows:
Form the dough by using regular rise yeast and but only melt 1/2 cup of butter for use in creating the dough. Instead of the instructions for the first dough rise, cover the dough and place in refrigerator overnight. The next day, when you are ready to form the rolls, melt the remaining butter. Follow the same instructions above, starting with the information after the first rise. The rise time for chilled dough (after the rolls have been formed) is 30 minutes.
                                   **LAST YEAR: Virginia Blackberry Roll**         


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pecan Cream Cups

The blend of candy with cookies has always been an appealing idea. Twix is one of the better known brands that has done well by using this type of texture/flavor blend.

This recipe incorporates the same idea with very tasty results. The cup part of this treat is like a shortbread flavored with cinnamon. It is filled with a mixture of marscapone cheese and pecans and then baked. After the cups have cooled, the filling is covered with semi sweet chocolate.

One bite does have you enjoying the crunch of the cookies, then you move on to the creamy filling chock full of pecans. The filling makes me think of pecan pie or pralines, but without as much sweetness. Topping the filling with chocolate makes it more confectionary. Twix has the right idea, a cookie/candy combo is hard to resist. The little cups are great at parties and the texture/ flavor combo will have them coming back for seconds. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dz cups.

Pecan Cream Cups
by Flourtrader

1 1/2 cups marscapone (softened)
2/3 cup chopped and toasted pecans
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Use a non stick mini muffin pan or butter the inside and top edge of mini muffin cavities. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. In a separate
bowl, whisk the egg with the cinnamon. Add the cinnamon/egg mixture to the creamed butter and
sugar. Blend with mixer on medium speed until incorporated into batter. Set aside.

Using another bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Fold the sifted ingredients into the wet batter. Place 1 tbs of dough in each muffin cavity. Press each tablespoon of dough into a cup form in the cavity, the same manner as you would in making tart shells. The dough cup should come up to the rim. Trim off excess and blend back in with the rest of the dough for forming additional cups.

Once all the cavities of your muffin tin have a dough cup, start making the filling. Fold the pecans into the marscapone until evenly distributed. Fill the dough cups with the filling right below the top edge, reserving some room for the top layer of chocolate. Smooth the surface of the filling.

Place in oven to bake for about 9-12 minutes, or until the cookie shell turns a golden brown. Remove and place rack to cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Then remove from pans carefully place each on cooling rack. Let cool completely.

While the cups are cooling, set up a double boiler and fill the top pot with chocolate chips. Once the chips start melting, stir a few times. When all the chocolate is melted and the cups have completely cooled, smooth the chocolate on top of the cup filling. Make sure you do not get the chocolate on the cookie edges.

Let rest about 1 hour for the chocolate to set up. Then serve. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Tips and Notes:

1. Filling will rise while cooking and sink when cooling, consider this when filling.

2. The dough cups are a good shell to use as a base for filling with the item of your choice.                              

3. Evenly shaped dough in the cookies cup will insure even baking.
                      **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Angel food cake**

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I heard on the radio station the other day that it was National Donut day. I do like donuts quite a bit, but I feel that they could incorporate some fresh fruit into the flavors.  Jelly filled is actually fruit gel, not big chunks of fresh fruit. Donut makers should split a donut and fill it with fresh fruit once in a while, I think it would catch on.  I would definitely be a patron at that donut shop.

That brings me to this particular recipe. It has a blend of fresh fruit, cream cheese and almonds layered on top of sweet cake. The original recipe called for blueberries, but I decided that with almonds and cream cheese, strawberries is a better flavor match.

This breakfast treat is one that never got out of the house. Most of my desserts are brought to the work place or given to the neighbors. It is only test tasted with one serving before moving on.  However, my husband wanted this one for our household and he managed to make it disappear in a few days.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
adapted from Best Recipes from Country Inns and Bed and Breakfasts

1 cup fresh fruit (any type of summer fruit, with the exception of citrus, chopped if bigger than blueberries)
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 plus 1 eggs
1/4 cup apple juice
6 oz cream cheese
2 tsp water
1/2 cup butter
3/4 plus 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp cornstarch

Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a small saucepan with fruit and apple juice. Let come to a boil and then reduce heat and stir.  Simmer on low for about 3 minutes. Add the water and sift in the cornstarch.  Stir again and let simmer. The liquid should thicken up and reduce in a short amount of time. When ready, your saucepan contents should measure about a cup of the fruit/cornstarch mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare a food processor for use. Fill the processor bowl with 3/4 cup of sugar and flour. Then cut the butter into cubes and drop into bowl. Process until mixture resembles sandy coarse crumbs. Empty contents into large bowl.  Remove one cup of mixture and place in another bowl for a different use.

Sift together baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold into sugar mixture until distributed evenly.  In a separate bowl, place 2 eggs and the almond extract and whisk together. Add the yogurt and whisk again to blend. Pour into the flour/sugar batter and stir. Once blended, empty contents into prepared springform pan. The batter will be a bit sticky, but flatten on the bottom of pan and bring up the sides about a 1/4 of an inch. There should be a little bit of a well from the dough sides going down to the bottom of the dough.

Take out a medium size bowl and beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar and remaining egg until smooth. Fill the well of the dough with the cream cheese mixture and smooth the top. Then spread fruit mixture over top of cream cheese. Find the reserved crumb mixture and stir in sliced almonds. Sprinkle over the top of the coffee cake, making sure it is covered to the edge evenly.

Place in oven and bake until golden brown. This will take about 45 minutes and filling will be set when done. Cool in pan 15 minutes then remove the outer ring of the springform pan.

Tips and Notes:

1. Because of their size, blueberries yield more volume in a cup than chopped strawberries. Next time, I will up the amount of strawberries. The 1 cup turned out to be a little sparse on top.

2. Another good flavor match since this has almonds would be cherries.

3. Be careful when adding ingredients, the eggs as well as the sugar are used in 2 different components so they need to be added separately.

4. The instructions are to spread fruit over cream cheese.  Just to insure that you are not mixing the layers, it is better to drop by spoonfuls.
                         **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Almond Marsala Cookies**


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Pie

Do you sometimes want homemade but find that your lifestyle may just be too busy to fit in the time? Then the cookie pie is the answer. You can have all the taste of an oatmeal or chocolate chip cookie, but in the form of a cookie pie. After just one baking session, slice and eat!

This particular recipe yields the same chewy texture that you will find in regular sized oatmeal cookies. I have been contemplating changing out the raisins for chocolate chips and skipping the icing. In the end, we must satisfy what the tastebuds are craving. Whether it is grandma's tried and true oatmeal cookies or the updated chocolate chip version, the cookie pie is the quickest method. It makes for a tasty after dinner dessert with coffee as well as a good addition to a lunchbox.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Pie
adapted from Serious

Ingredients/Cookie Pie
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp and 1 tbs heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Grease the interior of a 10 inch springform pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take out a medium size bowl and sift together the ground cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour. Then stir in the oats and set aside.

Place both types of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend until evenly mixed. Cut the butter into cubes. Add butter to sugar and beat until smooth. This should take about 3 minutes.  With mixer still running, add the egg and vanilla extract.

Once all is evenly distributed, fold in the dry ingredients until no streaks remain.  Stir in the raisins. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the surface so all is even.

Bake until the batter turns a golden hue and is set in the middle, approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and then remove the outside ring of pan. Leave on the bottom of the springform pan and let cool completely.

Once cool, fill a small bowl with the heavy cream and then sift in the powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Take a zip lock bag and clip off a small part of of the corner. Fill bag with icing and drizzle on top of the cookie pie. Let icing set up prior to slicing and serving.

Tips and Notes:

1. You can also use a pie plate or 9 inch pan, but you will need to watch because the baking time will  vary.
2. The icing recipe can be doubled, which I did for more coverage.
                                       **LAST YEAR:Hawaiian Loaf*

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cannoli Cake Roll

I have never actually eaten a cannoli before. One of the reasons is that they are hard to find in the U.S.  Also, the cream and candied fruit filling does not really strike up a craving. Upon further research, I have found that chocolate chips can be used and that the fruit can be excluded. That discovery does make me a candidate to seek out and taste a cannoli. However, since they are so scarce here, I decided to have the same flavor in a different format.

This particular recipe puts a spin on traditional cannoli by replacing the cannoli shell with cake and forming a cake roll with the filling inside. This type of creativity has been going on for awhile.  After all, chocolate chip cookies have a countless number of spin offs. There are now versions of this in everything from pie to bar drinks.

For flavor notes, this cake roll uses cinnamon, chocolate chips and orange liqueur in the filling. The cake part is a vanilla sponge. The garnishing with pistachios and chocolate chips is optional, but very traditional.

This was fun and easy to make. It also yielded a stunning and tasty result. If you like the taste of cannoli and are looking for something special for a gathering, this recipe is well worth trying out. Be sure to plan for the 3 hours of cooling steps when you decide to make this. Now, it's time to have some fun in the kitchen with a sweet ending! "Questa torta รจ squisita!" as they say in Italian.

Cannoli Cake Roll
adapted from All Recipes Cookbook

3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Ingredients/Filling and Frosting
4 tbs orange liqueur, separated
1 tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs confectioners sugar
1 tbs white sugar
1/4 tsp gnd cinnamon
1/4 cup and 1 tbs mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pistachios (optional)

Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the cake, start with 2 bowls. Add egg yolks, vanilla and 1/4 cup of sugar to a large bowl.  Fill a second, medium size, bowl with egg whites, cream of tartar and salt.

Both of the mixtures need to be beaten. Start with the egg yolk mixture and beat for 5 minutes. It will thicken up and turn a light lemon, color. After beating, clean and dry your mixer beaters to use for the egg white mixture. Beat the egg white batter until it reaches a soft peak consistency. Continue to beat and sprinkle in 1/4 cup of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

Using a spatula, fold 1/3 of the egg white batter into the yolk mixture. Continue with 2 more intervals of adding and folding the egg white batter into the yolk batter. Lastly, fold in the flour in 1/4 cup increments until no dry streaks remain.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, making sure it is smooth and even. Place in oven and bake until cake springs back when lightly touched. Baking time is about 10 minutes.

During the bake time, place a clean towel on a flat surface and dust with confectioner's sugar. Then make a soak mixture by combining 2 tbs of orange liqueur, 1 tbs water and 2 tbs sugar in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave about 10 seconds. Remove and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Once the cake is done, remove from oven and invert pan onto prepared towel. Peel off parchment paper. Brush cake with soak mixture. The cake, with the towel, should be positioned with the longest side running horizontally in front of you. Then, using the beginning side of the cake closest to you, carfeully rolling it up with the towel to form a jellyroll. With the seam side down, transfer to a cooling rack. Cake will be need to be completely cooled prior to filling. This will take about 1 hour.

As the cake cools, make the filling with the use of a food processor. Fill the bowl of the processor with the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Blend on medium speed until smooth. Fold in 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Transfer to bowl and cover. Place in refrigerator until cake is completely cooled.

Carefully unroll cooled cake and take bowl of filling out of refrigerator. Empty filling onto the center of the cake. Smooth filling out over cake, leaving 1/4 inch border. Repeat the cake rolling process as done before, except without the towel. Remember to start with the same long side as you began with the first time you rolled the cake. Once rolled, transfer to platter seam side down. The platter will be the one that you intend to use for presentation before slicing and serving.

Now the cake needs to be frosted. For the frosting, add whipping cream and 3 tbs of confectioners sugar to bowl of stand mixer.  Beat ingredients together until you reach the soft peak stage.  Add two tablespoons of orange liqueur and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to the cream.  Using a spatula, fold the flavor additions into the whipping cream until evenly distributed. Spread frosting over cake, covering all surfaces, including ends and the curves that meet the platter.  If you choose, use a design blade to make designs in the frosting, being careful not to expose any cake as you drag along the sides.

Refrigerate cake for about 2 hours before serving.  Decorate with 1 tbs mini chocolate chips and finely chopped pistachios when ready to serve, if desired.

Tips and Notes:
1. Due to the different batters/components using a lot of the same ingredients, so be sure to use the noted amounts in the paragraphs when creating, not the listed ingredient amount.  The measure values are combined in the listing, instead of listing the same ingredient again with a different vallue. If the measurement it is not noted in the paragraphs, then refer to the ingredient list for the measurement.

2. I know that a lumpy filling can cause issues, however, I feel that there could have been a little bit more mini chocolate chips in the filling.

3. The garnish is missing in the picture, however, I do intend to use it once the cake is served. The missing slice is a taste test.  

4. The biggest flavor in the cake is the cinnamon and orange.  If those are not a favorite, try another liqueur and spice more to your liking.
                                            **LAST YEAR: Buckeye State Ice Cream*


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Brownies have become quite versatile these days. There are so many things that pair well with chocolate, it is hard not to add an additional flavor component to them.  Cream cheese, raspberry, wine, coffee-- and the list goes on.  However, we do not need to turn to the Food Bible to discover this particular flavor combination. Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic pairing that nearly all of us are familiar with.

These treats taste are as if someone took a large chocolate peanut butter cup and stacked it on top of  rich chocolate brownies. Not just plain brownies, but fudgy brownies choc-full of roasted, salted peanuts. Now that I have your attention, lets get right to the recipe.

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
adapted from Bon Appetit/Jan 2007

4 eggs
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts ( preferably roasted and salted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 or 1 stick butter (divided in half)
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup chunky style peanut butter (not natural or old fashioned)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp gnd nutmeg
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the interior of a 9x13 inch pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the long sides. Butter the face up side of the foil, covering all that is lining the interior of the pan.

The first step is to create and bake the brownie base. Set up a double boiler over medium heat. Let the water in the bottom part come to a simmer. Place other pot on top and fill with chocolate and butter. Stir occasionally as the ingredients melt.  Once completely melted, transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add sugar, vanilla extract and salt to the melted batter. Mix together until blended. Add one egg and whisk into the batter. Continue the same process with each egg, one by one. Stir in flour until no streaks remain.  Lastly, mix in peanuts.

Transfer batter to prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until tester comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool brownies completely in pan, placing pan on rack.

The first layer on top of the brownies is the peanut butter mixture.  Add peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter to mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until combined.  Sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg and beat again for about 30 seconds.  Sift in the powdered sugar and blend with mixer.  Beat in the milk and vanilla for another 30 seconds.  Spread mixture evenly over brownies and smoothing the top.

For the final layer, set up a double boiler again.  Fill top pot with chocolate and 1/4 cup of butter.  Stir occasionally as the mixture melts.  Once melted and smooth, drop by spoonfuls over the surface of the peanut butter layer.  Using a spatula, smooth out chocolate.  Make sure that the surface is covered evenly.  Place pan in refrigerator for about 1 1/2 hours.  This will give the top two layers time to set up.

To serve, pull sides of foil and lift brownies out of pan. Cut into squares while still cold. Let come to room temperature prior to serving.
                           **LAST YEAR: Pineapple Rum Trifle Cake**