Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A little lemony love - Cookie #94

While I was recently browsing the internet for cookie inspiration, I came across this fantastic idea of imprinting a sugar cookie with a cookie cutter before baking.  The resulting cookie would have the imprint of the shape of the cutter and give you a nice, neat little template to ice/decorate. 

Unfortunately, I don't remember where I saw this idea

Normally, I'm pretty good about saving ideas to my favorites, but for some reason I didn't.  Boo.
As one who shares some original ideas via a blog, I understand how important it is to give credit where credit is due.  I spent quite a length of time searching pages upon pages of images on Google, with no luck. 
So, to that fellow blogger, I want to give you credit for the idea - really I do - I just can't remember who you are.  If anyone has seen this idea on another blog, please shoot me an email or commentI'll gladly add the link to the post, ASAP.  :)

Now, onto the idea.  If I remember correctly, the original recipe used a plain sugar cookie.  I decided to jazz things up a bit.  I had some Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in my pantry that needed to be used.  I also had a lemon in my fridge that was just about beyond it's time - that had to go, too.
Perfect pairing. 
My original idea was to roll the cookie into a log, freeze, then slice into 1/4" rounds before baking.  Instead, I dropped rounded tablespoons full on the cookie sheet and smooshed them with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.  The sugar added some much needed sweetness to the cookie.  I think without it, it would've been a bit too tart.  Both my Trusty Taste Testers loved them as well as my Junior Taste Testers. 
I then pressed a small (1.5"ish) heart cookie cutter into the dough, being careful not to cut all the way through. 
Don't they look all pretty and sugary?

In the spirit of "workin' with what I got," I used some canned (gasp!) frosting I had left over from some cupcakes I baked last week.  Since I didn't have very much, I only outlined the hearts, rather than filling them in.  Please note the missing of my Trusty Taste Testers just couldn't wait...

Lemony Sugar Cookies

1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix (prepared as directed on package)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
Icing for decorating, if desired

Prepare sugar cookie mix as directed on the package, adding in the zest and juice of the lemon.  Drop by rounded tablespoons full onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Dip a glass with a smooth bottom into sugar (wet it first to help the sugar stick the first time) and then flatten the cookie to about 1/4" thick.  Press a small cookie cutter into the surface of teh cookie, being careful not to cut all the way through (though I don't think that would be that big a deal if you did). 
Make as directed.  Mine took about 9 minutes at 350 degrees F. 
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Decroate with icing of choice if desired. 



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An angelic bonus recipe.

I was introduced to a recipe recently that can only be described as divine. 



Angel Lush Cake. 

Have you heard of it?  It's apparently a pretty popular recipe, which makes me wonder: "Where the h-e-double hockey sticks have I been?" 

After I was served a slice of this heavenly creation, I asked for the recipe and couldn't wait to get home and recreate it.  It's so simple and I think that contributes to it's divinity. Angel food cake topped and filled with a mixture of pineapple, vanilla pudding mix and Cool Whip and garnished with fresh raspberries.

Of course, I couldn't just go home and make it as originally described.  I had to make it MY way.  Rather than initially tamper with the ingredients (if it ain't broke, right?), I decided to alter the form.  Rather than choosing a traditional angel food cake pan i went with everybody's favorite:  cupcakes!

Unfortunately, fresh raspberries in northeastern Pennsylvania can set you back a small fortune this time of year, so I opted to leave them out.  I couldn't bring myself to spend the same amount on the garnish as I did for all the ingredients combined.   Plus, I already had all the other ingredients on hand.

Here's the scoop:

Angel Lush Cupcakes

1 package angel food cake mix (prepared according to package directions)
1 package (3 oz-ish) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 8-oz cans crushed pineapple in juice
1 cup Cool Whip
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare angel food cake according to package directions.  Fill 24 paper lined muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden and appears dry.  Cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  Mix together the pineapple and pudding mix.  Fold in Cool Whip until well combined.  Frost the cupcakes with the mixture (if you don't eat the entire bowl first).  Garnish with fresh raspberries (if you're not too cheap). 
Some notes:
1.  Keep these puppies in the fridge.  Not only for the topping, but to keep the cake from drying out. 
2.  These really are better the next day.  At first, I was quite disappointed with how the cake stuck to the cupcake wrappers.  I vowed the next time I make them I'd use foil wrappers or no wrappers at all.  When I noshed on one the next day, the wrapper slipped off the cool cupcake easily - no problemo!  I was also impressed by how the pineapple flavor was even more pronounce and seemed to almost seep into the nooks and crannies of the cake...

3.  Some changes I've been toying with:  using pineapple juice in place of the water (or some of the water) in the cake mix, adding a raspberry filling, adding Chambord to the cake.  Maybe I'll try these ideas.  Maybe not.  These cakes are really so good the way they are, I don't want to mess with greatness, kwim?

4.  One word:  trifle.  I definitely plan on this one this summer.  Picture it:  layers of angel food cake, the luscious topping, raspberries and Cool Whip.  I'm excited.  (squee!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

When hoarding can be a GOOD thing - Cookie #93: PB&J Bars

In a past life I was a coupon-er.  I loved the thrill of clipping dozens of coupons from two different Sunday papers and matching them up with local grocery ads.  It was such a rush watching the total on my bill drop as the cashier scanned coupon after coupon after coupon.  Even the impatient stares of the customers behind me in line couldn't take away the euphoric feeling of saving almost 75%.

This brings me to the story of the peanut butter.  Peanut butter went on sale.  There was a coupon.  A really good coupon.  Actually several really good coupons which I hoarded in my pink coupon pouch.  I think I ended up getting the peanut butter for around 25 cents a jar. 

The problem?  I ended up with SEVEN jars of peanut butter.  At the time it was just my husband, myself and a non-peanut butter eating newborn in our home.  What on EARTH could we do with seven jars of peanut butter?  I immediately started trying out recipes. 

Peanut butter cake. 
Peanut butter frosting. 
Peanut butter fudge. 
Peanut sauce for chicken satay. 
Peanut butter cookies. 

I remembered having this awesome peanut butter bar cookie at a craft fair earlier that year and I decided I'd try to recreate it.  The cookie itself was vegan, but since at the time I knew little of vegan cooking, I chose to make them the "regular" way  (regular to me that is).  The bar cookie I remember consisted of this creamy peanut butter base.  The sweetness stuck to the roof of your mouth.  It was topped with a strawberry jam - and a good, homemade strawberry jam, at that. I could taste the chunks of fruit.  The whole thing was topped with an oatmeal crumble that was divine. 

So, armed with my seven jars of peanut butter, I got to baking. 

I was quite pleased with the results.  I opted to use plain old Welch's grape jelly instead of making my own strawberry jam.  Partly because I love grape jelly with peanut butter (currant jelly, too!) but, mostly because I was too lazy.  I had a newborn, remember?

So, here they are in all they're glory - rich, peanut buttery and oh so delicious. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut up into chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 - 1 cup grape jelly (or your jelly of choice)
1/4 cup chopped, roasted/salted peanuts

Combine all ingredients, except jelly, in a large bowl until well incorporated.
Press half the mixture into a buttered 13x9" pan.
Spread jelly over the top until even.
Sprinkle with remaining dough mixture & chopped peanuts.
Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
Let cool before slicing into bars.

PS - I have a picture of these scrumptious treats but realized it's saved on my office computer - not my laptop.  I'll update with a yummy photo tomorrow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do blondes really have more fun? - Cookie #92

I've lived my life as a brunette.  The closest I've ever come to blond was when I had highlights done about 5 years ago.  After seeing pictures of myself, I realized blond was NOT for me.  I quickly went back to my "natural" brown. 
I don't really think blondies classify as a cookie.  Snickerdoodles do, though.  Enter:  Snickerdoodle Blondies.
Part cookie.
Part blondie.
All awesome.

These are by far the BEST blondies I've ever eaten.  They get this most fabulous crunchy coating on the top from the cinnamon sugar.  The middle is soft and squishy.  I could seriously sit down and eat an entire pan if it wouldn't make me deathly ill. 

I adapted this recipe from several I've found in my travels.  I hope you enjoy.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugars together until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla until well combined.
Sift flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Spread batter into a lightly greased 13x9" pan.
Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are lightly brown and blondies are set.
Cool completely in the pan before slicing into bars.