Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles

The more time you spend in the kitchen, the more you can tell just by reading a recipe that it will either be terrific or terrible. In this case, when Josh, one of my students, mentioned this recipe, I knew from the title — Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles – that I was going to be making magic by making these.

Pumpkin? Yes. Cheesecake? Definitely yes. Snickerdoodles? Hell to the yeah.cookiefilling

And , while you may think that these cookies will be teeth-achingly sweet, that’s not the case at all. Despite all of the sugar – sugar in the cookies, sugar in the filling and more sugar on the outside — they’re not too sweet. Really. I also was surprised by how light and fluffy these cookies are.

So, celebrate the coming of autumn with these delightfully delicious cookies. Or, if you know someone who has some culinary talents,  pass this recipe onto him or her.

You won’t be sorry.

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coating:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • Dash of allspice

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Set aside.
  2. Mix together the butter and sugars on medium high speed until fluffy about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Blend in pumpkin puree, beat in egg and then add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Cover and chill dough for an hour. You want the dough cold when you work with it. While the cookies were baking, I put the batter back in the refrigerator to stay cool.
  4. To make the cream cheese filling, blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Chill for an hour. You want the filling to stay cold as well, so when the cookies are in the oven, pop the bowl back in the refrigerator until you need to fill more.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices for the coating and set aside.
  6. To make the cookies, first, spray you hand with nonstick cooking spray. This will make it easier to manipulate the dough.
  7. Take about 1/8 of a cup of cookie batter. Flatten it like a pancake and place a 1/2 teaspoon of the cream cheese in center. Fold the cookie over at the top to cover up the filling completely and seal all the edges. Then roll it into a ball.
  8. Roll in the cinnamon sugar coating and place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  9. Gently press down on the cookie balls to flatten then slightly.cookiesbeforebaking
  10. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes or until the tops start to crack. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!

If you make these, let me know how much you loved them.bakedcookie

 

Black and white cake

So, what are you giving your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? (You do know it’s tomorrow, right?)

Sure, you could buy a big box of chocolates or a huge bouquet of flowers. Maybe some aftershave or a big honkin’ piece of jewelry. But what says “I love you” more than making something with your own two hands?

He Who Must Be Fed is getting this black and white cake, a recipe I found in the Food Network Magazine.  I happen to know he’ll love it. (I know because I made it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t like to take chances with Valentine’s Day, my friends.)

The cake was moist and just chocolate-y enough without being overbearing. The frosting was light and creamy, but had rich undertones of white chocolate. I think it’s the best white frosting I’ve ever tasted.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped, plus shaved chocolate for topping
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Shaved dark chocolate, for topping

Heat your oven to 325°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. Combine the butter, milk and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Transfer to a large bowl, add the cocoa powder and granulated sugar and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Whisking
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the cocoa mixture, then stir in the flour mixture in two additions until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few small lumps).Frosting

Divide the batter between the prepared pans; tap the pans against the counter to remove any air bubbles.BatterInPansBake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a rack to cool completely.
CakesCooling
For the frosting, put the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth, then let cool. Beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted white chocolate until combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and fluffy; beat in the vanilla. (Your frosting may be too soft to spread – mine was – so chill it about 15 minutes.)

MakingFrosting

Frost your cake and add shaved white and dark chocolate. Then present it to your sweetie and be prepared for an onslaught of love in appreciation.

FinishedCake

CakePiece

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know that January isn’t the best time to indulge in something deliciously decadent. So, if you’re one of those folks trying to refrain from excess in 2015, save this post for another time. However, if you’re one of my faithful foodie followers who says, “Bring it on,” then I have something wonderful for you.

I found it on BuzzFeed, in an article titled, “19 cookies with a life-changing secret.” C’mon. How can you not check out an article with that headline?  I double-dog dare you.

Anyway, there I found this amazingly decadent, naughty recipe for Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. What, you say? Oreos inside chocolate chip cookies?!?! Yes, my fingers didn’t slip on the keys. A delicious cookie within a delicious cookie.

Ingredients:

  •  2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10-to-12-oz bag chocolate chips
  • 1 package Oreo Cookies, I used the regular kind (but imagine the possibilities if you tried other flavors)

Preheat your oven to 350°. Cream you butter and sugars until well combined and fluffy. Add your eggs and vanilla until well combined.

In a separate bowl sift the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

You can use a cookie scoop, but I just used a generously filled tablespoon, to place dough both on the top and bottom of each Oreo. Seal the edges together by pressing and cupping in your hand until the Oreo is enclosed in the dough. OreoStuffedCookiesonTray

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies about two inches apart and bake for 11 to 15 minutes until the cookies are baked through. Let cool for five minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Pour yourself a big glass of milk and enjoy. Let that triple-cookie goodness wash over you like a warm, sweet blanket of love. (Keep in mind that one of these cookies is really like three, just in case you don’t want to totally overdue it in 2015.)OreoCookieCropped

 

Cream Cheese Crescent Dessert

I love social media. Well, I love the bright side of social media. (We all know social media has a dark, very dark side.) Anyway, one of the bright aspects of social media is the sharing of recipes. (Such as this blog, for example.)

The other day on Facebook someone had posted a recipe for an unnamed creation that caught my attention because it featured some of my favorite things: Cream cheese. Butter. Crescent rolls. Sugar and cinnamon.

And the recipe delivered. It was easy. Delicious. Decadent. And it went from an idea to our mouths in just a bit more than 30 minutes.

Try it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls (I used the seamless dough sheet, which was easier to use.)Crescents
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 cup butter, melted
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°. Unroll the crescent rolls (or seamless dough sheet) and cut in half. Spread half on the DoughandCreamCheesebottom of an 8×8 baking pan. Mix softened cream cheese, ½ cup sugar and vanilla. Spread over the dough. Top with the remaining half of dough and spread so it covers all of the cream cheese filling.

Melt your butter and pour over the top of the dough, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and slightly brown.BeforeOven

Drizzle with a little honey.

Let cool for at least five minutes so the cream cheese doesn’t ooze out when you cut them. I didn’t wait, and my cream cheese did a little oozing (but in a good way).

 

CheesecakeCrescentsDone

Peppermint Patty Brownies

Sometimes I use my friends as guinea pigs. Don’t tell them that, OK? I was having a holiday lunch with my friends Anne and Sandy, and I wanted to make them something I hadn’t made before. I saw this recipe for Peppermint Patty Brownies and thought they sounded just perfect. But, I had never made them before. Should I experiment on my friends? (It’s a rhetorical question, faithful food readers. 🙂 )

I made them, and they looked really awesome. But, did my friends like them? You betcha. Just ask them.

Ingredients:

For the brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup chocolate chips

For the peppermint layer

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
peppermint sugar sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter with sugar and vanilla extract, whisking until combined and almost smooth. Whisk in each egg one at a time, stirring until a smooth batter forms. (C’mon, work those biceps.) Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, stirring until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter in the 8×8 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Remove and let cool.

While brownies are cooling, add powdered sugar, butter, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour over brownies and spread in an even layer with a spoon or spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.

This recipe called for ganache to drizzle over top. However, I realized I didn’t buy any heavy cream at the store the week before because it was $4.38 a pint. I could have bought a gallon of milk for that price. (I know, it was probably mismarked, but I was in too much of a hurry to ask someone.) So, I had to think of something else to do.

Ever the food fixer, I melted a half cup of chocolate chips and drizzled that over the top then added  some peppermint sugar sprinkles to make them look pretty and super-festive.

PeppermintPattieBrownies

 

Chocolate peppermint fudge

I haven’t had great success with fudge in the past. As a kid, I watched my Aunt Edie make it with ease, but for some reason, I could never get into her fudge groove. (I bet she never even knew she had a fudge groove.)

But, now I’m fudge grooving, too, because I found some super-easy fudge recipes, like the one I shared earlier this week for cookies and cream fudge. Here’s another one: chocolate peppermint fudge from Ree Drummond of the Food Network.

It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s festive looking. What more could you want?

Ingredients:  

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Peppermint candy, crushed

Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

CrushingCandyCanesIn a plastic bag, add your peppermint (I used candy canes) and crush using a rolling pin or another heavy tool. A meat tenderizer will work as well. Be sure to seal the bag first. 🙂

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.ChocolateMelting

Pour into your pan. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint. Refrigerate for two hours.

Lift the foil out and peel it off the fudge. Cut into small (or big) squares.

Enjoy it along with your new fudge groove.

ChocolatePepperminFudgeDone

Cookies and Cream Fudge

As you can probably guess, I love holiday time. For me, it’s like the Food Olympics. I spend most of my free time in the kitchen, lifting heavy pots and pans (weight-lifting competition), wielding a chopping knife (fencing competition), racing to get everything made in time (marathon competition).

My goal is to make something delicious – at least I hope it’s delicious — for someone I care about.  I’m willing to put in the work, but it is awesome when I find a super-easy and super-yummy recipe.

A perfect example is this cookies and cream fudge recipe.

It’s so easy I’m almost embarrassed to share it with you. But, it’s so unbelievably good that I would be remiss in not sharing it with you.

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. white chocolate chips. (I recommend Hershey’s brand because they melt very well.)
  • 2½ cups Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Line an 8×8 pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

CrushingOreosPlace 2 ½ cups of Oreos into a plastic bag and seal it. Use a rolling pin, meat tenderizer or other heavy object to coarsely crush the cookies. Set aside.

Combine the white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until the chips are all melted. Your time will vary depending on the power of your microwave. Stir until the mixture is smooth. VanillaChipsMelting

Add the cookies to the melted chocolate and pour into the pan. Let cool at room temperature for at least two hours. Or, you can pop them in the refrigerator where they will cool faster. When cooled, cut into bit-sized pieces. (Or bigger pieces if that’s what your loved ones like.)

Scary good. That’s what these are. And they were so easy that you now have time to make something else. I made chocolate peppermint fudge. That recipe is coming next.

CookiesAndCreamFudgeDone

 

Pumpkin Scones

I love scones. I’m not sure why. There are certainly richer, more savagely delicious treats than scones. Perhaps, I just love the idea of scones, nibbling on one while sipping hot tea and perhaps reading a book or solving a mystery. (Can anyone say Miss Jane Marple?)

Regardless of the reason, they are tasty. And, unless you’re a food masochist, they’re easy to make. I made pumpkins scones after I saw this recipe from the Food Network little booklet of 50 canned pumpkin recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cubed
  • 2/3 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • ¾ cup cream

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Work in the cold butter with a pastry blender. In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin and cream then stir into the flour mixture.SconeSquare

Pat into an 8-inch square on a floured surface, then cut into 16 triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F, 20 minutes.

Full-recipe disclosure: I drizzled glaze and sprinkled cinnamon on mine to make them extra tasty and pretty.FinishedScone

Apple Slab Pie

Happy Black Friday. If you’re reading this, then you’re not battling the frenzied, bargain-seeking-consumed crowds who are weighted down with an assortment of packages and bags that can cause serious injury if wielded in just the right way.

Since I presume you’re in a much better place and you survived Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time to talk food, my friend.

Before T-giving Day, I experimented with apple pie. Now, I realize that apple pie is already great, but in my lifelong quest to find the tastiest of the tasty, I tried this apple slab pie recipe from King Arthur Flour. I was intrigued because making it in this form yields more pieces, which in my house is always a plus.

I loved this recipe because:

  • It was delicious.
  • I’m not adept at making pie crusts. (Yes, that’s my food confession.) So, if you have trouble rolling this out, which I did, you can cobble it together and it’ll still be OK. You can’t do that with a round pie.
  • The crust, while a bit troublesome for me, was de-licious.
  • It made so much I was able to share with my friends James and Cathy and their girls, so there was much apple pie happiness in our neighborhood.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder CulturedButtermilk
  • (I didn’t know what this was, but I found it in the grocery store in the bakery aisle. It’s kind of like powdered milk.)
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice water

 For the filling:

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or other coarse dry bread crumbs; or 1 cup coarsely crushed cornflakes
  • Apples8 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Cortland apples, about 3 1/4 pounds (8 to 10 medium) whole apples
  • 2/3 cup cinnamon sugar

For the optional glaze:

I did not make the glaze. After all, it’s optional. But I did brush some milk on the crust and sprinkled sparking sugar on it. Yum.

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cupboiled cider*
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon groundcinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon milk or cream, optional, if necessary to thin the glaze
  • *Substitute 1/3 cup honey, if desired; or 1/4 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate, or maple syrup.

Directions:

If you make this let me know how it turned out. Better yet, just bring me a piece. After all, you’ll have lots left over.

SlabPieslice

 

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats

Is there anyone who doesn’t love Rice Krispie treats? Seriously, anyone?

I’ve always found them addicting, perhaps because they’re not too sweet and are lighter than most treats. I haven’t made them in years, but was intrigued when I saw this recipe for cinnamon roll Rice Krispie treats, which I think I found on BuzzFeed. 

While I expected them to be delicious I thought I’d use the students in my class as guinea pigs. At the end of class, there was only one left — treats, not students — so I took it home to a grateful He Who Must Be Fed. Again, treats, not students.

ClassPhotoForRiceKrispieTreats

 

They’re quick and easy to make. And, they’re delicious.

Ingredients:

RiceKrisipeIngredientsFor the treats:

  • 1 10 oz. bag marshmallows,
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 1/2 cups Rice Krispies

 

For the cream cheese glaze:

  • 2 oz. softened cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

MeltingMarshmallowsIn a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt marshmallows, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together over medium-low heat and stir continuously. Once everything is completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Gently fold in Rice Krispies.RiceKrispies

Press into a lightly greased 9 X13 inch pan. To make the pressing easier, rub your hands with softened butter. That way, the treats won’t stick to your hands as you’re pressing them into the pan.

To make the glaze, whisk the cream cheese until creamy. Gently whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Then whisk in milk. Add more or less milk to get a glaze consistency that you can drizzle. If glaze seems too thick, heat in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.

I sprinkled about a teaspoon of cinnamon on top to add a bit more flavor and make them look pretty.

Drizzle with cream cheese and serve.

RiceKrispiesFrosted