Monthly Archives: December 2012

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

Happy New Year’s Eve!!!  I won’t be posting NYE recipes until mid-January.  I hope everyone has a healthy and happy New Year!  More importantly, I hope every has a safe and fun filled night.

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

Now, you may be asking yourself why I’m still posting Christmas cookie recipes a week after after Christmas.  As a Catholic I’ve always learned about the 12 days of Christmas, which occur AFTER December 25. So really I am 100% completely still in the Christmas season!  Technically Christmas doesn’t end until January 6, which is fine by me.  I’m going to rock the Christmas Cookie series for as long as I can.  I hope you don’t mind!

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

I made the Santa cookies two years ago and I loved them!  I don’t know why I didn’t make them last year, they are the absolute cutest.  The idea was completely inspired by Bakerella, baking genius, hopefully I did them justice.  These cookies are not as difficult as they look, they just require some planning and time, and the kids love them.

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

Chocolate sugar cookies are delightful!  The rich cocoa flavor is nicely offset by the sweet royal icing.  A chocolate sugar offers a nice alternative to the traditional sugar cookie.  These cookies hold their shape perfectly and stay moist and fresh for days and days.  For this batch I made the Santas, candy canes, and ornaments.  By the time I started decorating the ornaments, I was exhausted, and they were ugly, hence no pictures.

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Cut-out Cookies
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Yield ~ 50 cookies based on size

6 cups flour
1 1/4 cups dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugars until pale yellow in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the eggs and beat together until well combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowing add the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
  5. Add in the vanilla and mix together.
  6. Divide the dough in half and gently knead each half into a ball.  Wrap each half in plastic and press into a disk about two inches thick.  Wrap the dough well in plastic.
  7. Chill the dough for at least 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper until 1/4-inch thick.  Cut with your cookie cutters.  Place your cookie filled baking sheets in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.  Cool on a wire rack.
  11. Once cooled completely, I stack mine and freeze until I’m ready to decorate.

Royal Icing
Adapted from The Decorated Cookie

1/2 cup meringue powder
1 cup warm water
10 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
Americolor gel Bright White + desired colors

  1. Whip the meringue powder and water with the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for several minutes until stiff peaks form.
  2. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, shortening, and corn syrup until you reach a piping consistency.  Add a squirt of Americolor Bright White and mix in.
  3. Divide into bowl and color as desired.  Use drops of water to thin the icing into flooding consistency
  4. Decorate the cookies and let dry uncovered overnight before stacking and storing.

Note – This is a thinner royal icing, add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency.

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas // Pale Yellow

And this is why I make cookies! (Stacey’s niece with permission from Stacey’s sister – Isn’t she adorable!?!?)

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Gingerbread Snowflakes

Gingerbread Snowflakes // Pale Yellow

Gingerbread is such a classic holiday flavor, yet I can’t always decide if I like the flavor or not.  I guess I am just neutral when it comes to gingerbread.  I enjoy the gingerbread flavor, especially the spiciness, but it is definitely not my favorite.  However, gingerbread cookies still feel like a requirement on the classic Christmas cookie tray.

Gingerbread Snowflakes // Pale Yellow

This past week in Michigan has been fantastic!  I’ve eaten, drank, shopped, met up with plenty of old friends, and held so many adorable milk filled babies.  I’ve even ice skated, something I haven’t done in years.  Guess what?  I didn’t fall once!

Gingerbread Snowflakes // Pale Yellow

Whenever I am back in Michigan I become a bit nostalgic but I also remember why I love Brooklyn.  Michigan will always be the place place I grew up, but it’s no longer the place I live, I’ve made a new home for myself.  Regardless, I love coming back to hang out and visit.

Gingerbread Snowflakes // Pale Yellow

So about the sprinkles on these cookies.  I bought some really cool chunky gold sprinkles but there was so much dust from the gold sprinkles the entire cookie became coated in gold dust.  Cool look, but not exactly what I was going for.  I wanted a mostly naked gingerbread cookie with some gold sparkles.  Even though the final product wasn’t exactly what I wanted, the variety of yellow, gold, and gingerbread was pretty cool!

Gingerbread Snowflakes // Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Sweetopia
Yield ~ 36 cookies

1 cup (250 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
3 1/3 cups (800 grams) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed.
  2. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, eggs, and molasses.  Beat on low and then increase the speed to combine.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt onto wax paper.  Add to the mixer and beat until just combined.
  4. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper to 1/4-inch thick.  Cut with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets.
  7. Place the cookie sheets in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Royal Icing
Adapted from The Decorated Cookie

1/2 cup meringue powder
1 cup warm water
10 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
Americolor gel Bright White + desired colors

  1. Whip the meringue powder and water with the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for several minutes until stiff peaks form.
  2. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, shortening, and corn syrup until you reach a piping consistency.  Add a squirt of Americolor Bright White and mix in.
  3. Divide into bowl and color as desired.  Use drops of water to thin the icing into flooding consistency
  4. Decorate the cookies and let dry uncovered overnight before stacking and storing.

Note – This is a thinner royal icing, add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency.

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Sugar Cookie Trees & Wreaths

Sugar Cookie Wreaths // Pale Yellow

Decorated sugar cookies are the reason I got into food blogging.  I was amazed by the talent I found out in the world and I wanted to start creating my own cookies.  Unfortunately, it is hard, really hard!

Sugar Cookie Wreaths // Pale Yellow

I’ve been decorating sugar cookies irregularly for about three years and I still don’t feel super confident in my technique or decorating skill.  I try to remember simple is best, but more often than not I get carried away.  The wreathes are adorable – simple and sweet.  I need to focus all my effort on creating designs that are simple and well executed.

Sugar Cookie Wreaths // Pale Yellow

Trust me, these sugar cookies are as delicious as they look!  The royal icing keeps the cookies fresh and soft for several weeks and softens the cookies so they stay moist.  The actual cookie isn’t overly sweet so the icing is a pleasant addition.  Yes it takes a lot of time to create lovely sugar cookies, but they are just so pretty and look great on your cookie platter!

Sugar Cookie Wreaths // Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Sugar Cut-out Cookies
Adapted from The Decorated Cookie
Yield ~ 40-60 cookies based on size

5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Sift together the flour and the salt onto wax paper, set aside.
  2. Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until pale yellow in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat together until well combined.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowing add the flour.  Mix until just combined.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 balls and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Briefly knead and roll out one ball of dough at a time.  Roll to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with your favorite cookie cutter.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.  Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Once cooled completely, I stack mine and freeze until I’m ready to decorate.

Royal Icing
Also adapted from The Decorated Cookie

1/2 cup meringue powder
1 cup warm water
10 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
Americolor gel Bright White + desired colors

  1. Whip the meringue powder and water with the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment for several minutes until stiff peaks form.
  2. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, shortening, and corn syrup until you reach a piping consistency.  Add a squirt of Americolor Bright White and mix in.
  3. Divide into bowl and color as desired.  Use drops of water to thin the icing into flooding consistency
  4. Decorate the cookies and let dry uncovered overnight before stacking and storing.

Note – This is a thinner royal icing, add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency.Sugar Cookie Wreaths // Pale Yellow

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Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

Merry Christmas!! Many of you have seen these cupcakes before, but few of you have had the opportunity to eat them.  I made these cupcakes not for a birthday or holiday party, but to use for my Christmas card this year.

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

This is the card I sent out to my friends and family, cheesy and awesome all in one!  Everyone sends out cards with their adorable children on the front, so I thought I would send out a card with my blog baby.  Kind of not the same thing, but I think it’s hysterical!

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

These cupcakes are quite tasty!  I used my favorite dark, rich, and moist chocolate cupcake recipe.  I only made 9 cupcakes because I didn’t want there to be waste, double the recipe as needed.

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

The frosting uses my favorite – Swiss meringue buttercream – as a base with melted white chocolate and plenty of peppermint extract.  I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but there are occasions when white chocolate is the right choice, this is one of them.  The buttercream is silky smooth with delicate flavor from the white chocolate and the minty glow from the peppermint extract.  This is one of best frostings I have made, perfectly creamy and not to sweet.

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

Altogether, the cupcake is a Christmas miracle in every bite!  It may be too late to make these for your holiday get together, but save the recipe for next year.

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

No worries, this is only a short break from the cookie marathon!  This week and next week will feature the rest of the cookies I’ve made for cookie platters.  If you missed the previous cookie posts, here they are: Pumpkin Truffles, Candy Cane Truffles, Peppermint Blossoms, Eggnog Cookies, and Pecan Bark.

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

I would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!  I hope the next few days are filled with delicious food, family, friends, joy, and lots of love!

Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield – 9 cupcakes
Adapted from Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa, I used Hershey’s Dark
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup hot water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix together on low with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and milk in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.  Turn on the mixer and add the hot water slowly until well combined.
  5. Fill 9 cupcakes liners with a basic ice cream scoop and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

White Chocolate Peppermint Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Brave Tart

2 1/2 ounces egg whites
2 1/2 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
optional – red food coloring, green sprinkles

  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Place the mixing bowl in a double boiler.  The pot only needs to have a thin layer of simmering water.
  2. Whisk the egg whites frequently while they heat.  Cook until the mixture is no longer gritty.
  3. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whisk on high speed for 6-10 minutes or until the bowl is cool to the touch.  The egg whites should have whipped into a stiff, shiny, meringue.
  4. Add the white chocolate to a bowl and place over the pot of simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate chips are melted.  Allow to cool.
  5. With the mixer still going on medium speed, add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.  The frosting may get a little loose, but just keep beating, it will all come together and get stiff.
  6. Pour in the cooled, melted chocolate and the peppermint extract, beat until combined and smooth.
  7. Add streaks of red food coloring to the inside of a piping bag using a paint brush.  Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow
  8. Carefully add the frosting inside and pipe on top of the cupcakes.  Add green sprinkles and decorate as desired.Chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate peppermint buttercream // pale yellow

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Peppermint Blossoms

Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

Wednesday’s post was a little uninspired, which is sad, because those cookies are phenomenal.  So ignore the words and go straight to the recipe.  This cookie is equally phenomenal, but in a different sort of way.  Eggnog cookies are simple, sophisticated, and delicate while peppermint blossoms are in your face messy and minty.

Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

I need a balance of messy and sophisticated in my life and more importantly on my cookie platter.  It has been said often during this past week of cookie recipes, but I’ll say it again, I like to include all the holiday flavors when baking Christmas cookies.  To me this includes peppermint, gingerbread, fall spices, eggnog, chocolate, and vanilla.  I believe I do a pretty good job of being inclusive!

Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

Let’s take a pause to discuss something super exciting that is about to happen – I’m getting on a plane and flying to Michigan tonight!!  It’s winter break time!  Eleven glorious days of vacation, eating, drinking, spending time with friends and family, and reverting back to my 16 year old stuff.  There is nothing better to help get into the holiday spirit than fighting with your dad over the remote.  It’s time to go back to the mitten.

Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

These cookies are good, really good.  They are essentially a riff on the classic peanut butter blossom but the cookie is chocolate and the kiss is minty.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  The cookie has a deep, dark chocolate flavor and it’s perfectly coated with powdered sugar.  The candy cane Hershey’s kiss on top ends up permeating the entire cookie so you are left with lots of minty goodness.  This is a cookie I will definitely be making again next Christmas!

Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Peppermint Blossoms
Adapted from Bake at 350
Yield – 48 cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
48 candy cane kisses

  1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow.  Beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract.  Beat until well combined and scrape the bowl as needed.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.  The dough is very soft.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Use a 1 tablespoon scoop to portion the dough.  Place each ball of dough on a plate with the powdered sugar.  Roll the dough in the powdered sugar and then place on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookie is soft, but set.  Unwrap the kisses.
  7. Place a kiss on top of each cookie as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  8. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet so the kisses can re-harden before packaging.Peppermint Blossoms // Pale Yellow

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Eggnog Cookies

Eggnog Cookies // Pale Yellow

These cookies were a late addition to the Christmas platter.  Great decision!  If you look at the original recipe, you can see how the dough was cut into stripes, weaved, and then cut into circles.  Gorgeous.  I made three successfully and decided it was too much work.

Eggnog Cookies // Pale Yellow

What you’re left with is simple, brown-spectaled yellow disks full of delightful eggnog flavor.  I was surprised how eggnoggy these cookies tasted without any actual eggnog, but I guess the dark rum and nutmeg do the trick.

Eggnog Cookies // Pale Yellow

Sometimes a cookie tray needs simpler cookies without all the frosting, peppermint, nuts, and flavor.  This is the cookie.  It’s like shortbread-like but softer.  Like I said earlier, the eggnog flavor is right-on, very enjoyable!

Eggnog Cookies // Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Eggnog Cookies
Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Yield – 48 small cutout cookies

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon dark rum
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated mixed together

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Beat until pale yellow.
  4. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and rum until well combined, scrape the bowl as needed.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
  6. Knead the dough together and roll out onto a floured surface.
  7. Cut the dough into your desired shapes.
  8. Melt the butter and brush on top of the cookies and then sprinkle the nutmeg-sugar on top.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies just begin to brown.
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack.Eggnog Cookies // Pale Yellow

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Pumpkin Truffles

Pumpkin Truffles // Pale Yellow

After work on Fridays I usually do one of three things: happy hour “data meetings” with some co-workers, a little run at the gym (base case scenario), or I try to catch up on life.  This past Friday, like most of America, I sat in front of t.v. in disbelief.  I remember doing the same thing 14 years ago as a high school student watching the events of Columbine unfold.  As a 28 year old teacher I cannot begin to fathom what those teachers, children, and school have experienced.  Words escape me.  My thoughts and prayers are with those children, teachers, their families, and the Newtown community.  Bridget and Callye wrote some beautiful words on their blogs.

Pumpkin Truffles // Pale Yellow

I ruined an entire box of these truffles because they got wet and the white chocolate softened.  Many friends will not be able to taste the pumpkin truffles this year.  That is unfortunate because these are amazing!  Pumpkin truffles are my favorite Christmas cookie, a last little reminder of fall before the doom and gloom of winter.

Pumpkin Truffles // Pale Yellow

Even though I am a chocolate person, I understand not everyone is, so I try to include non-chocolate cookies on my cookie platter.  White chocolate is not technically chocolate anyway.  This cookie takes my favorite pumpkin bread recipe, mashes it up with cream cheese and dips it in white chocolate.  There is no way this can turn out badly.

Pumpkin Truffles // Pale Yellow

To make things simpler I made the pumpkin bread a few days before, let the bread cool completely, and then wrapped snugly in plastic wrap.  I tore the bread apart and threw the pieces in the mixer with softened cream cheese.  Mixing for about a minute on low perfectly mixes the bread the cream cheese for easy scooping.  A little bit of rolling, refrigerating, and dipping gives you a delightfully delicious treat!  Sprinkle some ground gingersnaps on top and you’re done, delicious!

Print the Recipe!

Pumpkin Truffles
Adapted from Pumpkin Muffins
Inspired by How Sweet it is
Yield ~ 70

2 eggs
3/4 sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
15 ounce pumpkin, just the pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (1/3 fat)
24 ounces white candy melts
shortening
10 gingersnaps, crushed

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined.  Whisk in the oil, applesauce, and vanilla until mixed together.  Finally, whisk in the pumpkin.
  3. Sift together the flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves onto wax paper.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour into a 9″ loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean. Do not overbake!
  6. Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Wrap in plastic until you’re ready to make the truffle portion.
  7. Break the bread into pieces and add to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix on low until the bread is broken into small pieces.  Add in the cream cheese and mix until well combined.
  8. Use a 1 tablespoon scoop to portion the truffles.  Roll the into balls and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  9. Add the candy melts to bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir often and add shortening until the melted chocolate reaches the desired consistency, thinner is better.
  10. Sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps and set on wax paper to harden.

 

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