Archive | December, 2014

Day 23: Christmas Sugar Donuts with Cranberry Jam

23 Dec

Day 22: 12 Days of Baking – Brie and Cranberry Pops

22 Dec


12 Days of Baking – Day 9: Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

21 Dec

Nailed it! The thought of making a bûche de noël (or Yule Log) use to scare the heebie jeebies out of me.  Seriously. I was scared of this cake …. like nightmare on Elm street scared. Like, there’s a spider on me scared. Like, clowns at a kids party scared. Ok. I being a bit dramatic, but this cake totally intimated me. Until, I discovered the secret…….time and patience. Yep. All you need is a little patience and a couple of hours and you too can be a culinary genius.  The trick with this recipe is to do it in steps. First, make your sponge cake. Second, make your cream filling. Third, make your buttercream frosting. It’s a lot of work but results are deliciously beautiful! Time to get in the kitchen and show this bûche de noël who’s boss!



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Sponge Cake

6 eggs separated
1 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of  pure Vanilla
3/4 cup of cake flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt


  1. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease baking pan and parchment paper. Seperate egg whites from egg yolk into separate bowls. Make sure eggs are at room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add flour to egg yolk mixture until well blended.  Set aside. (Do not over blend)
  3. Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add 1/4 salt ; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth of the egg whites, into egg yolk mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
  4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
  6. In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark. Yield: 12 servings.


Chocolate Cream Filling

1 1/2 cup heaving whipping cream
3 tablespoons of white sugar
2 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder (60% cocoa)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla flavoring


  1. In a small bowl combine sugar and cocoa powder mix together. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of whipping cream to the cocoa mixter and blend together forming a paste. Making a paste will help with the cocoa dissolving into the whipping cream. Once you have a paste, add it to the remaining whipping cream. While on high until cream, add in vanilla flavoring and continue blending.
  2. Cover and set aside until cake has cooled.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

12 tablespoons of unsalted butter (softened)
3 cups of powdered sugar (sifted)
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
8 tablespoons of whole milk (room temp)
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla flavoring


  1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy and very pale in color, about 3-5 minutes. Start with the mixer on low and move it up to about medium-high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the cocoa powder. Beat well to combine. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Turn the mixer off and add the vanilla extract. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, add about one half cup powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Then add about 1-2 tablespoons of milk and mix until combined. Continue to add the sugar and milk alternately. Beat thoroughly after each addition.
  5. Once all of the sugar and milk have been added, check for sweetness and add more powdered sugar if desired, but be sure to sift it first to avoid lumps. Beat for about 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy or desired consistency. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the frosting, to keep moist, until ready to use. If the frosting is exposed to the air for too long, it can become dry and form a crust, which will ruin its texture for spreading or piping.
  6. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container, with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on the frosting to block any air, for up to two weeks. You can also freeze the frosting for a couple of months. Either way, when you’re ready to use it, let it soften to room temperature and then beat it with the mixer to fluff it back up again. Enjoy!
  7. Notes: Frosting is soft at room temperature and firm when refrigerated. If frosting becomes too warm and soft to work with, cover frosting with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface and refrigerate until piping consistency. Place frosted desserts in refrigerator, until about 30 minutes before serving, so frosting has a chance to soften.
  1. In a small bowl combine sugar and cocoa powder mix together. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of whipping cream to the cocoa mixter and blend together forming a paste. Making a paste will help with the cocoa dissolving into the whipping cream. Once you have a paste, add it to the remaining whipping cream. While on high until cream, add in vanilla flavoring and continue blending.
  2. Cover and set aside until cake has cooled.



12 Days of Baking – Day 8: Peppermint Marshmallows

20 Dec

Marth Stewart ain’t got nothing on me (well maybe a few millions). I got in my kitchen and made my own marshmallows. I’m talking real marshmallows. Fancy ones! The kind you lust over  at William and Sonoma. These marshmallows were super easy to make and only took me 30mins (not including setting time). This will be my go to recipe for all things fancy for the holidays. I wonder if my fancy marshmallows inspired Iggy Azalea’s hit song “Fancy”.





RECIPE: Peppermint Marshmallows

3 packs of unflavored gelatin  (.75-oz in each pack)
3/4 cup water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
red gel food coloring (unflavored red food coloring)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T cornstarch

Lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.  Line with parchment paper and grease that as well. Set to the side.

In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer if you have one), sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water and allow it to dissolve for about 5-10 minutes.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a very  hard boil and cook for one minute (no need for a candy thermometer).  Make sure you stir it frequently, and be careful – this mixture is very hot!

Pour the boiling syrup on top of the gelatin and begin whisking on high.  A stand mixer will make this job much easier, though I’ve used a hand mixer with no problem.  Just be aware it’s possible that you could burn up your mixer using it on high for this long!

Add the salt and whisk on high for about 10 minutes.  At about 8 minutes in, I begin dipping my finger into the mixture and dropping a small dollop on the counter to test how close it is to “done”.  If you drop a dollop on the counter and within 30-60 seconds, it starts to firm up like you would imagine a marshmallow would, you can probably stop whipping.  Ten minutes is usually enough; you can go as long as 12 if you’re unsure.

At the end of the mixing, add the vanilla and peppermint extract (if using).  Pour half of the marshmallow mixture into the pan, then swirl around a few drops of red food coloring (if making peppermint marshmallows).  Pour the rest of the mixture on top, then swirl in a little more food coloring.

Allow the marshmallows to set until firm – usually about 4-5 hours.

Once firm, combine 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 T cornstarch in a bowl.  Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the marshmallows into cubes.  It helps prevent sticking if you dip your scissors in the powdered sugar mixture between each cut.

Toss each marshmallow in the powdered sugar mixture and that’s it – you’re done!  Store in a semi-airtight container.  I’ve found that if they are in a completely airtight container, they tend to get a little soggy; so we usually leave the lid just barely cracked.

12 Days of Baking – Day 7: Gingerbread Madeleines w/ Maple Glaze

19 Dec

I love me a little cake! These gingerbread Madeleine are divine. They’re spicy, sweet, and full of flavor. The maple glaze is the prefect compliments to the dense moist cake. The hardest part about this recipe is not eating them all while watching your favorite movie (my being Pride & Prejudice). Make these babies and take them to work, church, or give them to a neighbors. Make sure you give them away after making them, or you’ll be sorry. And by sorry, I mean, your hips will be sorry because you’ve eaten them all. You’ve been warned.




Recipe: Adapted from Bakers Royale


9 tablespoons (1 stick plus a tablespoon) unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup white sugar

1 large pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4  cup of flour (plus extra for dusting trays )

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoons ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon double acting baking powder


1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons milk


Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for 5 minutes until pale and thickened.

Whisk together the flour, spices, and baking powder. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour as you sprinkle it over the batter. Drizzle the browned butter into the batter, a little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)

To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing ingredients until smooth.

Plop enough batter in the center of each mold that you think will fill it by 3/4′s (it’s about a tablespoon and a half on my trays). Do not spread it.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until the cakes just feel set, (press the cakes lightly with your finger and if it bounces back they’re done. If it stays indented, give it another minute in the oven). While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, molasses, milk, until smooth.

Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with your finger. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.

Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered and eaten as soon as possible after they’re baked.

12 Days of Baking – Day 6: Peppermint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

18 Dec

Mic drop! These cookies are legit. They are hands down my favorite holiday cookie. Rich gooey dark chocolate center, crispy peppermint outside, rolled into a winter wonderland of powdered sugar. Yaaaaaasssssss! Honey!

If I had kids and they believed in Santa I would NOT let them put these cookies out for old Saint Nick. Nope. These cookies would be reserved for baker and family only. Santa can have an apple or a salad…..all that cookie eating isn’t good for his waistline anyway.

Enough talking. Let’s get in the kitchen and make it rain cookies.


Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from Bakers Royale

Yields 2 dozen cookies


  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm, not hot
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of peppermint extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. In a medium bowl, beat together well the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 15 seconds more and stir; set aside.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together 2 1/2 cups of the sugar, the oil, butter and corn syrup to blend. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract. Then on low, beat in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and beat in on low speed. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bakesheet with parchment. Take out about one-quarter of the dough at a time to shape. Roll the dough into 3 inch balls. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar into one bowl and the confectioners’ sugar in another bowl. Roll each cookie dough ball lightly in granulated sugar first, then very heavily in confectioners’ sugar. (By rolling in plain sugar first, the confectioners’ sugar does not soak in so much and stays on the surface better).
  4. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the foil. For crisp cookies, bake 12 to 14 minutes. For a chewier cookie, bake 10-12 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time. Allow cookies to cool for 1-2 minutes, the press flat with a spatula.

12 Days of Baking – Day 5: Butter & Jam Thumbprint Cookies

17 Dec

Folks, the struggle is real! I’m on day 6 and all I want to do is throw my kitchen aid out the window. I know. I know, I did this to myself. This baking every night is a REAL challenge. No doubt.

This recipe is an oldie but goodie! I love butter cookies and I’m obsessed with jam. Put these two together and I’m a happy girl. The recipe is easy to follow and the results are delicious. Small confession, I really am obsessed with jam. I currently have 20 jars in my fridge. I can’t stop buying jam. It’s a real problem! Every time I visit a new city, I need to buy a jar of jam…it’s like a sickness or something. I will go to the local grocery store, make my way down the jam isle (pretending I’m looking for something else) BAM…..jam is in my basket. I need help. I really do. I’m going to get help right after I organize my 20 jars of jam. Let’s get in the kitchen and make some magic!






Butter-Jam CookiesIngredients:1 Cup butter, softened
2/3 Cup of sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups of sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
jam (strawberry, raspberry and apricot)Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg.  Add the flour, salt and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Form the batter into a ball.  Wrap the ball in wax paper and put in a plastic bag.  Refrigerate the dough for several hours.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out an even number of cookies.  For each cookie you will need two rounds – a solid one for the bottom and a cutout one for the top.

Place the solid cookies on the baking sheet.  Top each of these with a small spoonful of jam;  then, put cutout cookies on top and press to seal edges.  Bake 11-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack.

12 Days of Baking – Day 4: Rugelach

16 Dec

My first attempt at making this delicious Jewish treat was a success! It’s day 4 of my 12 Days of Baking and I decided to make rugelach in honor of Hanukkah. This recipe is from Ina Gartner (my fave) and is so simple to follow. I divided my dough up into 4 sections and made different flavors, cherry, chocolate, walnut and apricot preserves. The cherry was brilliant, a tart-sweet fruity experience wrapped up in a pillowy soft dough. Genius!








8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

  1. 1/2 -pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    3/4 cup raisins
    1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
    1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
    1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg washDirectionsCream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

    Read more at:

12 Days of Baking – Day 3: Chocolate Peppermint Rice Krispie Treats

15 Dec

I love me a rice krispie treat. They’re sweet, sticky, and buttery. They’re perfect just the way they are. However, when you want to step up your rice krispie game, I suggest dipping them in chocolate and adding some crushed candy canes. Can you say epic holiday treat. Winning


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • 6 cups rice krispies cereal
  • 11/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 6 candy canes (crushed)
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a large pot. Once melted stir in vanilla and add marshmallows. Continue stirring until marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat.
  2. Add in rice krispies cereal and stir until well coated.
  3. Butter your hands and press mixture into an 8×8 non-stick pan. Add sprinkles to the top and press again lightly so the sprinkles stick.
  4. Once cooled, cut into square (whatever size you would like) and set on wax paper.
  5. In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 20 second intervals stirring each time until chocolate is completely melted. If chocolate seems gloopy, add about 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening until it becomes running. Dip rice krispie treats in chocolate, shaking off excess chocolate, then add sprinkle to the top.
  6. Let chocolate set up and serve

12 Days of Baking – Day 2: Peppermint Candy Sugar Cookies

14 Dec

I love baking and cooking, it relaxes me. I really love it! That’s my mantra… relaxes me. What have I gotten myself into? I’m only into my second day of baking and I’m already regretting this challenge. The challenge here is that I work full-time and I do my best cooking and baking in the morning. Getting up at the crack of down like a run a bakery, is getting on my last nerve. The upside, I’m 100% positive that I don’t want to work or own a bakery. No.








  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 salt 
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1.5 inch round cutter


  • 8 tablespoons of cup meringue powder
  • 3 tablespoons of warm water
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • gel food coloring


For the cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extracts mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture one cup at a time, mixing on low until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. After the last addition, the mixture will look thick and crumbly.
  4. Now you’re ready to roll. Line rolling surface with wax paper. Dust surface and coat your rolling pin with flour. Roll a portion of the dough on the flour-coated surface and knead it together until smooth. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Dip the round cutter in flour and cut as many circles out of the dough as you can. Remove scraps, re-knead and repeat. Make sure to reflour the work surface too.
  5. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet. (You can easily lift them as the dough is sturdy.) You can also roll directly on to parchment paper, remove scraps and transfer the parchment paper to the cookie sheet.
  6. Place cookies in freezer for about 10 minutes. Then bake for 9-12 minutes. Remove from oven when done and let cool for a couple of minutes on the baking tray. Use the cookie cutter again to trim cookies to size if desired. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing

  1. When cool, mix royal icing in the large bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix together meringue powder, peppermint extract (optional) and water until foamy and combined.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar, add the corn syrup and mix on low until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 5 minutes on medium-low. Increase to medium-high and continue beating just until icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. Tint a small portion of the royal icing pink. If you like add a few drops of white gel color to the remaining white icing.
  3. With a squeeze bottle, pipe and outline the cookies in white. Then thin the icing to create a flood consistency. Add a few drops of water at a time to the white icing until it is the consistency of thick syrup. Repeat with the pink icing. Use the squeeze bottle to fill the center of the outlined cookie with white flood icing. Pipe dots of pink around the perimeter and use a toothpick to pull the pink toward the center of the cookie to create the peppermint design. (See photos above). Repeat with the remaining cookies and let dry for 24 hours. (Note: If the pink icing sits on the surface of the white without sinking in, then thin the icings a bit more.

adapted from


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