Buttery Cutouts with Buttercream and Jam Filling

Adapted from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible

These are an absolute favorite at our house.  In the picture, we made them as hearts for Valentines Day.  They can be made in a variety of shapes, circles, squares, etc.  The aroma as they bake is bliss!

2 cups flour

3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced

2/3 cups sugar

1 egg yolk

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup confectioners sugar

4-5 tbsp. strawberry jam

Place the flour and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yold and process until the mixture starts to form a dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheets.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out rounds (or whatever desired shape).  Re-roll the trimmings and continue until you have approx. 30-40 cookies.  Place half the cookies on a prepared baking sheet.  Using a smaller cutter, cut the centers of the remaining cookies. Place onto a baking sheet.  Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes until pale golden, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile make the buttercream –

Beat the butter and sugar together until very creamy and smooth.

To Assemble –

Using a small knife or spreader, spread a little buttercream on to each ‘whole’ cookie.  Spoon a little jam on to the buttercream in the center of the cookie, gently press the cut-out cookie on top so the jam fills the cut out center.

Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Adapted from The Brown-Eyed Baker

While there isn’t any salted caramel used directly in the cupcakes, there is one part of the process that creates a caramel-like flavor. Instead of beating together the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl as most recipes would call for, the butter and sugar are cooked slowly in a saucepan until the butter is completely melted. The result is a little bit of a mix between a nutty, caramel flavor and that of browned butter.

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard-size muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth, and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture, beating until smooth.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ingredients:
For the Malted Chocolate Frosting:
adapted from She Wears Many Hats
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup malted milk powder
  • 7 tablespoons milk
  1. In a mixer, beat butter and vanilla extract together until smooth.
  2. Add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, lightly mix.
  3. Gradually add in milk, one tablespoon at a time until smooth.

Mixed Berry Cake with Almond Cream Frosting

This cake has gorgeous presentation appeal for sure, but the texture and flavor are sure to win anyone over.

CAKE

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

5 large eggs, separated

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsps. grated lemon peel

1 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour two 9″ diameter cake pans with 2″ high sides.   Mix flour, 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup lukewarm water into the dry ingredients, beat in the oil, egg yolks, both extracts and peel.  Set aside.  Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar beating until stiff but not dry.  Gently fold the whites into the batter.  Spread evenly between the two cake pans.  Bake until tester inserted comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool and turn out onto racks to cool completely.

ALMOND CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

2 1/2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. almond extract

Assorted fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and extracts in a large bowl until smooth.

Assemble the cake – Spread raspberry preserves on one of the cake halves, place the other half on top.  Frost the top and sides evenly building the rim on the sides at the top up a bit to hold in the berries.  Mound the berries on top of the cake.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and garnish with mint or basil leaves.  Can be made 1 day ahead, just cover and chill.

Bee-Hive Cake

Pound Cake (from Paula Deen)

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups flour, plus more for pan

1/2 tsp.salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together.  Add sugar, a little at a time.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.  Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour.  Mix in vanilla.  Pour into a greased and floured tube pan (or as I have used here, a molded form.  Be sure to spray with a non-stick spray and dust with flour well).  If you are using a mold such as above, be sure to smooth the batter evenly.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*When using a mold as above, when the cake has cooled slightly, shake the mold to loosen.  When loose, turn over onto a cooling rack to cool.   Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.

My Mothers’ Favorite Linzer Torte

This recipe has truly become a family favorite. My parents are both from Holland.  Christmas in Europe is celebrated so very differently than in the U.S.  It is more subdued and religious, and very little emphasis on gifts.  I started making this recipe from a cookbook my mother bought back when I was just a pre-teener (Central European Cooking/ 1973).  My mother wasn’t a big baker, so when I started making this torte she was completely sold on it,  so I started making this every Christmas season.  Results?  A complete family and friend favorite!  The recipe is so very true to it’s roots, I urge you to try this one, it will not disappoint. Plus, it always reminds my mother of her youth celebrating Christmas in Holland – priceless!

Linzer Torte

For the dough:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup finely ground almonds

1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. finely ground cloves

1 tbsp. rum

1 egg

1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:

1 cup almond pie filling

1 cup raspberry preserves

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a food processor – mix until a smooth dough.  Chill the dough somewhat.  Spray a 9 inch springform pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Split the dough in half, (return the rest to chill) and spread the lightly chilled dough with the back of a spatula to cover the bottom and up the sides approx. 3/4 inch.

Spread the almond filling to cover the bottom, then top with the raspberry preserves.

Take the remaining chilled dough (it will be firm).  Divide the dough into small amounts and roll into log like sections. The dough may break and will be sticky.  Lay the sections on the preserves lightly and criss-cross into a lattice-like pattern.  Smooth lightly with a knive.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour, brushing with the beaten egg several times towards the end of baking time.  Cool completely before removing from pan.

*This cake can be made several days ahead, just wrap tightly and keep in a cool location.

 

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles

I found this recipe on a site called “love and olive oil”. I’ve tried them and can honestly say they are delicious and a new and different alternative to gingerbread cookies.

Yield: about 30 truffles

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsulphered molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces white-chocolate candy coating

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter, molasses, and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Stir in flour, spices, and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. If for some reason your dough is crumbly at this point, simply add milk or cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it comes together. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
  2. Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place sheets in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt candy coating in a double boiler or microwave according to package directions, being careful not to overheat it. Using a fork or dipping tool, dip truffles one at a time in candy coating to cover. Tap fork on the edge of the bowl to shake off excess coating, and return truffles to baking sheets. Quickly top with decorative sprinkles or edible glitter (if desired), before coating sets. Truffles will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 5 days

 

Holiday Biscotti

This is one of my go-to recipes at the holiday season. The name ‘red and green’ really pertains to the red dried cranberries and the green pistachios. Sure they’d be good anytime of year, but with the colored white chocolate – I like to keep them special to Christmas!

2 1/4 Cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 Cup unsalted butter – bring to room temperature

3/4 Cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Cup dried cranberries

3/4 Cup shelled pistachio nuts

Approx. 6 oz. each red and green white chocolate disks

Preheat oven to 325F.  Prepare two cookie baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beat well.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just blended.  Stir in the cranberries and nuts.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour coated surface.  Divide in half.  Roll each half into a log approx. 1 1/2 inches wide by approx. 15 inches long. Place both onto one of the baking sheets a few inches apart.  Pat down very lightly to form a “slightly flattened” log.  Bake until lightly firm to the touch, approx. 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place the logs one at a time on a cutting board and using a serrated knife with a light sawing motion, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices.  Lay the slices on their sides in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until slightly golden on top – about 5-7 minutes, turn over and repeat with other side.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate disks either over a double boiler or in the microwave.  IMPORTANT!  Melt very slowly.  If using the microwave, use the absolute lowest power setting (ie: defrost) and cook at 1 minute intervals, stirring between each minute.   Chocolate is ready when it is smooth and stirs easily and silky.

Line a counter or other work surface with wax paper.  Working quickly, dip one end of each biscotti in the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off, if the chocolate begins to ‘thicken’, just return to microwave and warm up – again – very low and slow.  Place on the wax paper and allow to cool.  The biscotti will release easily once the chocolate is hardened.  Place in a dry container between wax paper.   Makes about 3 dozen.

Apple Fritters

The absolute taste of fall – the apple fritter.  These are the ring variety, as opposed to the fritter that incorporates chopped apple pieces such as you would find in the doughnut variety.  Our local apple orchards serve these and they are decadent for sure.  They are best served right out of the fryer, covered in cinnamon sugar.  Be sure to have hungry customers at the ready!

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 cup flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp baking powder

dash of salt

6 large apples, peeled cored and sliced into 1/2″ thick slices

vegetable oil for fryer

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Using a deep-fat fryer, fill with recommended amount of oil, set the heat to 375F.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Beat together egg, milk and 1 tsp. vegetable oil.  Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, stir until smooth.  Dip a few apple rings into the batter at a time, then gently drop into the fryer, again, a few at a time.  Fry until golden, drain on paper towels.  Toss into the cinnamon sugar to coat.  Serve warm.

Simple Free Form Strawberry/Blueberry Tart

This is a favorite recipe of mine, because of it’s simplicity and quick preparation.  I have used strawberries and blueberries here because of our huge harvest at the strawberry patch!

1 package of pie crust mix

approx. 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix the pie crust mix according to directions.   Roll out to about 10 or more inches in diameter.  Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, just do not let the dough get too thin. Lift carefully and place on a non-stick baking sheet or one lined with parchment or a silpat mat.  Mix the fruit, flour and sugar together and spoon into the center of the pie crust. Spread the fruit mixture to a few inches from the edges.  Fold the crust in a free-form up and over the fruit.  Use a little brushed water to keep the edges folded over and stuck to each other if necessary .  Sprinkle the top of the fruit with a little extra sugar if desired and bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is golden.  Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a platter.

Coconut Cake with option for lemon filling

Of all the things in this world, diet or not, I find a great coconut cake irrisistable.  I can’t tell you what it is, the flavor, the texture or just the plain big, tall, fluff of white.  Coconut cake is heaven on a pedestal!  There are so many versions and each one is delicious.  I haven’t run across a bad one yet!  Here is a recipe that I have found close to perfection.  If you feel inclined I haved included a lemon filling recipe.  You can put this between the layers instead of the frosting for an extra indulgent finish.

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (396g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups well shaken canned coconut milk, at room temperature*
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 5 cups (596g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper, butter parchment paper and set pans aside.
  • Sift cake flour into a large mixing bowl, then add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture for 20 seconds. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, butter and canola oil on medium speed until well combined. Add in egg yolks one at a time and mix until combined after each addition (reserve 2 egg whites), then mix in coconut and vanilla extracts. Working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, alternating with 1/2 of the coconut milk and mixing just until combined after each addition (if you don’t have the paddle attachment that scrapes the sides of the bowl, stop mixer and scrape sides and bottom occasionally).
  • In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 6 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time and fold just combined after each addition (don’t over-mix and deflate egg whites). Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Spread batter into an even layer and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 19 – 22 minutes. Allow to cool in cake pan 5 – 10 minutes then run a knife along edges of cakes and invert each onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely the cut tops to even as needed.
  • Frost top of one layer, add another layer and frost then top with last layer and frost top and sides. Place cake stand over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cake evenly with shredded coconut (pressing gently on sides to adhere. I just did it over a rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up – not a must). Store in an airtight container.

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix in coconut extract. Add powdered sugar and whip on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Chill as needed if frosting seems runny (slightly runny is fine, once you get it frosted the coconut will help it stay in place).
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Lemon Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan. Stir in egg yolks and water with a whisk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in lemon juice and butter until well blended.  Cool completely.