Tag Archives: Recipes

Vanilla & Thyme Cookies

When it comes to baking, I am one of those people who like to have immediate results; sure, it may take hours, but at the end of the day, you have a finished product. In order to make myself stretch a little as a baker (and as a person), I decided to try the recipe for Vanilla & Thyme Slice & Bake Cookies by A Beautiful Mess. Now the recipe says you can chill the cookies for a mere two hours, but since overnight was the optimal time, it seemed like the perfect place for me to start.

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for decorating
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. First, cream together the butter, sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. To remove them just slice the bean down the center, and then use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds out. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the thyme and egg and whisk together until well incorporated.
  2. Then stir in the flour and salt until a dough ball forms. You may need to use your (clean) hands to press the dough together here. Roll the dough into long cylinder, cover in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. You can keep this frozen in your freezer for at least a month (probably longer).
  3. When you are ready to make cookies, remove from the freezer and allow to sit out for a few minutes while your oven preheats. Then slice into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a cooling rack.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, then place back on the cooling rack to allow excess glaze to drip off (put some wax paper underneath for easy clean up). If you are feeling fancy (remember, we are going for real life Martha here), you can decorate the tops with a few thyme leaves as well.

Notes:

  • This recipe was a winner for me. Personally, I’d skip the glaze if I was making them for just myself, but if you are a big fan of sweet, the thin vanilla glaze really does give you that little something extra. Plus it makes for a prettier cookie if you top it with the fresh thyme leaves.
  • Texture-wise, these cookies are much more like a shortbread than your the average slice and bake you get from the grocery store. They also don’t bake up in the expected manner. It sounds strange, but they “dry out” rather than expand and bake. So you have to watch them a little more closely. I baked for the minimum recommended time and then checked on them every two minutes afterwards until they were done.

Very Vanilla Baked Donuts

I felt like doing a bit of baking the other day, but I wasn’t really feeling cakes, cupcakes, or really any of the things I usually make, so I decided to go back to something I play around with a bit last year, donuts. After a bit of Pinterest research I can up with a simple recipe for Vanilla Glazed Baked Donuts. Which seemed pretty straight up and perfect to me.

as;dlf

Ingredients

For the Donuts

  • For the Donuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup+1 1/2 tablespoon skim milk (full fat milk works too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste instead since I wanted a stronger punch of vanilla)

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
  • Optional: food coloring and sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until no flour bits remain and all the ingredients are well combined. Try not to over-mix the batter.
  6. Use a large ziplock bag, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cavity, filling 3 ∕ 4 of the way full.
  7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. While the donuts cool, make the glaze.
  10. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and whisk to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  12. Add food coloring if you wish.
  13. Once the donuts are completely cool, dip them into the vanilla glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving.

Notes:

  • These donuts were just solidly okay, well, I think they are only okay, Andy ate three and declared he’d eat the rest before letting me throw them away. I had the same issue with them as I had with the other donut recipes, they aren’t anywhere as good as what I can buy somewhere else. It’s a little disheartening. Is there some donut magic rule that I am missing?
  • As you can see in the “ingredients”, I substituted vanilla paste for the extract called for. I think the paste has a stronger richer flavor, and I think it added a bit more depth to the overall donut. I will probably use it in my glaze as well next time.
  • Be very careful not to over mix. I forgot the butter and had to add it in after the mix had come together and just those few extra stirs made for a noticeably more toothsome product.

Apple Pecan Cake

This past weekend I finally crossed of #8 on my 30 before 31 list! I completed my 12th recipe from cookbooks I already owned. It actually turned out to be a more difficult challenge than I’d anticipated: I am much more inclined to check out what is in my pantry then bake accordingly than I am to go buy all of the ingredients and then have a set bake day. Regardless, I did it, going out on one of my favorite recipes of this whole thing, a quick and easy Apple Pecan Cake.

Notes:

  • I made a couple of changes to the basic recipe to really bring this cake home. First of all, I used brown sugar instead of white for that rich molasses-y taste that pairs so well with apples. Next I cut out the allspice (since I don’t really care for it) and doubled the cinnamon. I also added a tablespoon of vanilla extract, I don’t know that it made much of a difference, but…..it’s what I did.
  • The mix was a bit unusual, so much apple! You couldn’t really pour it into the plan, you had to plop it out in chunks and press it as level as a possible so that it can bake evenly.
  • I bake pretty regularly, but this recipe got the most enthusiastic response out of Andy that I’ve seen in a while. He ate four pieces the day I baked it. Clearly I need to add this to my regular rotation.

I am putting in a little extra effort these days to get as many items crossed off as I can, although there will be a couple that I know I won’t be achieving. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I love watching recipe videos; I can spend hours on sites like Tasty or Delish. I think about how I could rediscover my passion for cooking, become the next Martha Steward and make all the things. This ambition inevitably gets derailed somewhere between watching the video and getting up to go to the grocery store. Christmas day my brother in law and his girlfriend came down to stay with Andy and I for a few days, and we agreed that we’d all enjoy a bit of holiday baking. When the idea of cheesecake came up, I hit Pinterest and quickly located the Death by Chocolate recipe I had pinned and Facebooked a couple of weeks ago. After watching the video, they agreed to give it a shot, and spoiler, we kind of killed it 🙂

Ingredients

Cookie Crust
  • 24 whole Oreo cookies
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt
Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 4 (8-oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Make crust: In a large Ziploc bag or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, crush or blend Oreos until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl and pour in melted butter. Add salt and stir until crumbs are completely coated and moist.
  3. Make cheesecake: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment), beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Add eggs one a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in melted chocolate.
  4. Coat a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray and press Oreo mixture into pan and 1/3 of the way up the sides, packing tightly. Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
  5. Bake until cheesecake is only slightly jiggly in the center, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. (If you want to use a water bath to ensure cheesecake top does not crack, wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Place on oven rack and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the pan. Follow baking instructions.) If using a water bath, remove pan from water and unwrap foil. Refrigerate cheesecake until totally chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  6. Make ganache: Place chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour the hot cream over chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth.
  7. Pour ganache on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Return to the refrigerate for about 10 more minutes to let the ganache set.

Notes:

  • I neglected to really read the actual recipe until after we’d already started baking, but I was a little annoyed with the “refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight” part. The video implies immediate cheesecake gratification, and we had to wait: so lame. Other than that, this is a really great recipe and I can’t think of a single thing I’d do differently. 9 out of 10 to be sure.

Cinnamon-Streusel Cider Muffins

I seem to always find myself at a loss when it comes to cooking breakfast for Christmas morning. I mean, I want it to be something special, but then again I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen while everyone else is hanging out and getting their Christmas on. First world problems, right? Since I have yet to come up with a brilliant solution to the dilemma this year, I have been browsing through my cookbooks and looking for something that looks good. After flipping through The Muffin Book, I noticed a recipe that was not only seasonally inspired, but that I already had the ingredients for. Win win, right?

Notes:

  • Be super careful not to over mix your batter; I got a bit carried away, and my muffins were a little more toothsome than I would have liked. You know, sometimes the holiday music moves you and you’re not paying attention the way you should be.
  • I did not have enough batter to complete my dozen muffins, I had to go back and make an additional half batch to fill my muffin tins to the desired level. So either take that dozen down to 8 or increase your batter recipe accordingly.
  • All in all, these were decent muffins. They puffed up and turned a lovely golden brown. For my personal taste, the next time I make these the batter will include cinnamon and maybe a splash of vanilla, just for funsies.

I haven’t decided whether this will be on the Christmas morning menu yet, but considering how easy it was to whip up I’d say with a few tweaks we definitely have a contender.