If you love hot chocolate, especially when it’s laced with a little something extra, you’ll love these Skrewballs. They’re a sweet peanut butter and cocoa confection (think soft truffle) lightly flavored with Buttershots and Skrewball Whiskey. This whiskey is deliciously peanut buttered flavored, and very, very sweet. I found it a bit syrupy for sipping, so I made these little flavor bombs that you drop right into your hot beverage. After much experimentation, my control group (aka: The Man) and I decided that hot milk was the tastiest choice Hot cocoa works well, too. Coffee was good, but a little extra cream was needed. Of course, my coffee could hold up a spoon. You might not need that cream if you make normal coffee!
Since the mixture is just lightly flavored with the alcohol, you’ll probably want to splash a little extra in your cup once you’ve dropped the Skrewball in the steaming hot milk and whisked thoroughly, and before you add the whipped cream.
This easy recipe makes about 12 little flavor bombs (9 if you use large mugs). The Skrewballs can hang out in a container in your fridge for weeks if they’re dipped in chocolate. If you decide to skip that step, I’d suggest you drop yours into a mug of hot cocoa instead of milk, to maintain the perfect balance of peanut butter and chocolate.
Peanut Butter Skrewballs (for an adult hot beverage)
Makes12 (9 larger screwballs if you use big mugs) flavor bombs to drop into hot milk or cocoa.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup powdered creamer (you can substitute whole milk powder if you wish)
2-3 tablespoons cocoa
pinch of salt (a little more if you used unsalted butter or unsalted peanut butter)
1 tablespoon butterscotch liqueur (I used Buttershots)
2 tablespoons peanut butter flavored whiskey (I used Skrewball)
1 package (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening
Beat together the butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, powdered creamer, cocoa, and salt until combined. It will be dry and crumbly.
Mix in the alcohol until mixture forms a thick batter.
Scoop onto a parchment lined platter or pan, dividing into 12 equal pieces. (A cookie scoop works well for this.) Roll with your hands to form smooth balls. If you use large mugs, make 9 bigger balls. (You can stop here and refrigerate them if you don't want to dip in chocolate.)
Place screwballs in the freezer while you gently melt the chocolate and shortening over low heat in a small pan. (Or microwave at 15 second increments, stirring often.)
Dip the balls in the chocolate. It will be thick; don't try to make a thin coating. The chocolate adds a lot of flavor to the hot drink.
Return to parchment and chill until firm. They're ready to drop into a cup of steaming hot milk. Whisk well, add a splash of whiskey, and top with whipped cream.
Pull off a branch of this Christmas tree and bite into tender bread layered with creamy dark chocolate and ground walnuts. I couldn’t resist adding maraschino cherries to make the bread even more festive. It’s rich without being too sweet, and the chocolate flavor really stands out.
This dough needs to chill overnight, so make it in the evening, let it rise, and then put it in the fridge until the next day.
I’m sure you’ve seen variations of this idea, often using puff pastry and hazelnut spread. (Check out YouTube for this option.) It would have been much easier, but I wanted to make things difficult, of course, preferring a soft, puffy 3-D appearance.
I’m posting this at the last moment, but inspiration just struck today and I had to bake this. If you’re too busy this Christmas, the strips of layered dough could easily be woven into a heart for Valentine’s Day. Or you could simply roll the dough out, spread with the chocolate mixture, roll up and slice, and bake like cinnamon rolls.
This is undeniably messy to make. You will get chocolate on your hands, on the counter, and on the bread itself. But your hands and the counter will wash, and the chocolate smears on the dough just makes the bread prettier, honest!
Since this is a last minute slam-dunk, I’ll dispense with my usual chit chat and just go right to the recipe!
10 ounces chocolate (I used semi-sweet mini chips)
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups ground walnuts (grind in a food processor for 10 seconds)
Maraschino cherries, if desired, blotted well with paper towel
Egg wash: 1 egg and 1 teaspoon milk or water, whisked together well
Powdered sugar and water glaze, if desired
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Allow to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes
In a small pan place 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Heat on medium until butter is melted. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot.
Pour warm milk mixture, yeast mixture, and eggs into large bowl. (A stand mixer with dough hook is recommended) and mix until combined.
Add flour and salt and mix well.
Add 2 tablespoons softened butter and knead by machine for 5 minutes. (Dough will be too soft to knead by hand. If you don't have a stand mixer, stir with a heavy spoon.)
Scrape dough into a generously greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double - about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
FILLING: The next day, in a medium pan on low heat, combine the cream, butter, and chocolate. Stir often until chocolate melts. Once the mixture is smooth, add the flour and ground nuts. Stir well and set aside. Mixture will need to set up a little. If you plan on starting the bread right away, place the pan in a cold water bath. (Put the pan of chocolate filling in a larger pan and add cold water to the bottom pan, bringing it halfway up the side of the pan of chocolate.) Stir occasionally until thickened.
ASSEMBLY: Place a sheet of parchment in a 12x17 rimmed baking pan. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop onto floured surface. Form a long roll, flatten, and roll into a 24-inch by 14-inch rectangle. Spread with the filling and cut into three 8x14-inch pieces. Roll each up from the long side, stretching slightly to create rolls that are 18 inches long.
Cut two of the rolls LENGTHWISE down the middle, exposing the chocolate layers. You will have 4 long skinny pieces and one whole piece (for the trunk).
Note: Remember that dough will rise as it bakes, If all of your branches touch the sides of the pan, the tree will look square. Only let the bottom, bigger branches touch the sides of the pan.
Pick up one of the cut pieces (yes, this will get messy) and twist it. Place it down in an upside-down 'V' shape, at the bottom (short end) of the pan. leaving room for a trunk. It will be too long; cut extra off with a scissors or knife.and set scrap aside. About an inch above the bottom branch, add another twisted piece, cutting off extra. This piece will be smaller, so the scrap will be larger. Repeat two more times, getting progressively smaller with each branch.
Using the palms of your hands, roll the uncut piece to make it longer and skinnier, tapering it at one end, and place it in the center of the branches, putting the skinny end at the top and going from top to bottom, creating a trunk. Cut off excess, and cut the scrap down the middle to use for branches.
Twist and stretch the remaining scraps to make them a little thinner, then fill in your tree, laying branches across the trunk. Pull and twist to shape the tree to your satisfaction. Cut some vertical lines down the trunk to look like bark.
If you're using maraschino cherries, tuck them into the branches. Cover bread with a towel and allow it to rise for 30 minutes..
Heat oven to 350 F. Brush bread with egg wash and bake for approximately 40 minutes. (Cover lightly with foil if bread is getting too dark.) Remove from oven and cool on rack.
Use glaze to add "snow" to the branches, if desired.
Hang up that mistletoe, because a kiss just doesn’t get any sweeter than this! Each chewy chocolate brownie is filled with a sweet surprise and topped with a crisp peppermint meringue rosette, creating a harmony of flavors and textures. These little two-bite treats are sure to brighten up a holiday cookie platter or buffet table. And make sure to put one next to Santa’s glass of milk to give him a break from all of those sugar cookies.
If you prefer cake brownies, well . . . move along; there’s nothing to see here! Nope, these are chewy with a crunchy edge, just the way I love them.
It took me a few tries to get this right. Okay, five. It took me five tries. My first attempt was with a chocolate cookie crust. They were delicious, but so messy. SO MESSY. Meringues crackle and crumble when you bite into them, which is expected, but add a crumbly crust that falls everywhere, and it simply wasn’t going to work. I could just see these being served at a tea and having to hand out bibs!
I tried baking the brownies for a bit first, and the final result was a dry, hard, brownie brick. Nope.
The third time I realized that they were hollow. The bottom of the meringues melted into the brownies, and the meringues puffed and were hollow (as meringues are) which would have been kind of neat, if the tops didn’t pop off so easily. I could see them filled with ganache, and almost went that direction (you can, if you wish) but ultimately tried, tried again.
On the fourth batch I went for a slower, shorter bake time. Goo. ‘Nuff said.
So . . . I tried an experiment, hoping to give the meringues something to hold onto besides brownie batter. Peppermint patties erupted in the oven, but the other three options—soft peppermint candy, chocolate kisses (point down) and peppermint kisses (point up)—all worked great. Whew. You have a choice!
Left to right: Soft peppermint puffs (give the best support), Chocolate kiss, and peppermint kiss.
And if you’d like to really add some bling, dip the tips of each kiss in a little melted white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy, grated chocolate, or sprinkles.
Here’s the recipe . . . tips and photos are below.
Makes 48 kisses. Ultra fine sugar is recommended for the meringue, but regular sugar can be used. It just may need a little more beating to dissolve properly.
½ cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used half regular, half special dark)
¼ cup grated or very finely chopped dark chocolate
¾ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Candy for filling - 48 each peppermint puffs or chocolate kisses)
4 egg whites (at room temperature)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup ultrafine sugar (Baker's Sugar)
¼ - ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
red food coloring (optional)
White chocolate melts, crushed candy cane, grated chocolate for decorating if desired
Heat oven to 250 F. Place 48 paper liners in mini muffin pans.
In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, cooking oil, and sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla until frothy, then add to large bowl and stir to combine.
Add cocoa powder, grated chocolate, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir just until combined. A few wisps of flour showing is just fine.
Using a pastry bag with large tube tip (or you can use a spoon) divide the brownie mixture between the 48 cavities - approximately 2 level teaspoons each.
Add a piece of candy to each cup, pressing down firmly. If using a chocolate kiss, place it point down. Set aside.
In a squeaky clean bowl, beat egg whites until thick and foamy, then sprinkle in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Trickle in the superfinen sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time, beating well before adding more. Take your time to ensure the sugar dissolves completely.
Once all sugar has been added, beat until mixture is at stiff peak stage and holds its shape. Depending on many factors (weather, size of eggs, etc.) this can take 5 or 6 minutes.
Add peppermint extract and beat until combined.
For striped meringues, use red paste food coloring to paint stripes up the inside of a large pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. (It's easiest to do this in two steps, folding down the top of the bag and painting from the tip up, then unfolding the bag and continuing the stripes.)
Pipe in a circular motion upwards. Leave a little edge of brownie showing to make them easier to handle. (Use up extra meringue mixture by piping on a baking sheet covered with parchment.)
Place pans in the oven (including extra meringues) and let them cook for 30 minutes, then WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, turn oven off and leave the kisses in there overnight.
If desired, dip the tip of each in melted white chocolate and sprinkle on crushed candy cane, grated chocolate, or chocolate jimmies.
Beat eggs and vanilla, and add to butter and sugar mixture.
Add the dry ingredients and stir JUST until combined.
Pipe (or spoon) into paper liners.
Add candy to support the meringue. (I could have just cropped out the peppermint patties, but I want to show you what happens if you use them!)
Perfect peaks on the meringue.
Paint red stripes in pastry bag OR just add a couple of drops of red coloring to meringue for pink rosettes.
Pipe on the meringue. Leave a little brownie edge to make them easier to remove from the pan.
Just say “no” to peppermint patties!
Start the day before, because these really should be left overnight in the oven.
When you wake up in the morning and remove the kisses from the oven, immediately place them in an airtight container.
Putting the chocolate kiss point down seemed to support the meringue better
Skip the stripes if you’d like. They’re pretty plain white or light pink, too.
Regardless of what you may have heard, meringues are simple to make, and unless you are in Florida and the humidity is ghastly, don’t sweat the weather. I made this batch while it was snowing like crazy outside.
You can skip the paper liners if you use a baking spray (like Baker’s Joy) in the cavities. Just use a table knife to pop the kisses out when they’re cool.
This recipe can easily be halved to make 24. (If you don’t have a 1/8 cup measure for the 3/8 cups of flour and superfine sugar, use 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons.)
I’m hoping to get one more Christmas post up, but things are crazier than usual around here, so just in case . . .
Hearty yet tender, these flavorful muffins are bursting with fresh cranberries, pears, and oatmeal. They get a zing of flavor from orange zest, and are topped with crunchy cinnamon streusel. I gilded the lily and drizzled a little orange glaze over the top. It makes them so pretty!
To be honest with you, I didn’t really expect to like these. In fact, I was kind of counting on that. (Stupid diet.) I’ve never been very fond of pears, and was worried that the cranberries would be too tart. Nope. Sweet, slightly tangy, and delightful. Nom nom.
What a sweet little breakfast these would be for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning.
The recipe makes 18 muffins. If you have extras, wrap them well and freeze them.
I admit this recipe will appeal to a very limited audience, but I happen to adore black licorice. I always chose licorice ice cream when we were taken to the ice cream parlor as a child, and remember fondly the bowls of orange and black jelly beans that were put out for our Halloween parties.
I couldn’t resist running with that theme!
Which means I made this a little harder than it needs to be, because I wanted to actually use jelly beans to flavor my cheesecake. I also hoped that the pectin (or whatever is used to make them gummy) would help thicken my cheesecake, because there’s nothing worse than a no-bake cheesecake that doesn’t set properly.
My hope of covering all the bases (flavor, color, texture) with jelly beans may have been slightly optimistic. I ended up adding a little additional color, and found that unless you prefer subtle flavoring (I don’t), you’ll probably need to boost that too. I added orange zest to the orange layer and mashed licorice sticks to the licorice. (Easy to do . . . you’ll see.)
And . . . licorice has a way of turning green. And purple. You’ll need some serious black food coloring for this job! A final deep gray color was acceptable.
I used vodka for soaking the beans, assuming it would dissolve them more quickly than water. I’m not a lush, honest! It’s just that there are such fun flavors available in the liquor store. Pernod would be great for the licorice layer, and Grand Marnier for the orange. Sadly, I had neither, so if you go that route, please let me know how it tasted.
For an alcohol-free version, substitute orange juice for the booze when you soak the orange jelly beans, and Stash Licorice Spice tea (or just plain water) for the black jelly beans.
And, of course, you can always skip the jelly beans altogether (though DO use some to decorate your cheesecake) and simply use anise flavoring and black food color for the licorice layer, and orange flavoring and orange food color for the orange layer.
Separate orange and black jelly beans into two small cups. Add 3 tablespoons vodka (or liquid of choice) to each. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
Chop up licorice twists and place in a small cup. Add water. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
Combine all ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl, mixing well. Press evenly into an 8-inch springform pan. Make sure you press it very firmly. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup for best results. Place in the refrigerator.
Drain the orange jelly beans, reserving the liquid and discarding any remaining jelly bean carcasses. Do the same with the black jelly beans. Set aside.Carefully drain the chopped licorice, but this time KEEP THE LICORICE and throw away the liquid. Mash licorice gently with a spoon and set aside. .
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and powdered sugar, and beat for 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice and mix well.
Remove 1⅓ cups of the batter and place in a separate medium bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of orange liquid to one of the bowls, and the orange zest. If you want to add orange coloring or flavoring, do so now. Stir well. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of black liquid to the other bowl, and the mashed licorice twists.
Mix well, then add black coloring until it is the desired shade. NOTE: Don't throw away the remaining orange and black liquid. It will be used to make a drizzle for the top of the cheesecake.
In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Divide between both bowls and fold in gently.
Remove springform pan from the refrigerator and carefully spread the licorice mixture into the pan, smoothing all the way to the edges.(Using an offset spatula helps.) Add the orange mixture to the top of the licorice layer and smooth evenly.
(Optional) In a small sauce pan, combine the remaining orange liquid and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens (about 1 minute). Hold the pan high over the cheesecake and drizzle the syrup over the top. Repeat with the licorice liquid.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours. (It can be made a day ahead.) Carefully run a sharp knife between the crust and the side of the pan.before releasing the outer ring. Decorate with whipped cream and jelly beans (maybe sprinkles, too?) right before serving.
This is delicious frozen, too. If you want to freeze it, wait until it is completely set, then wrap it well.
Surprisingly light, pleasantly spicy, and easy to make, this two-layer cake deserves a place on your table from now through Christmas. Brown sugar buttercream frosting complements it perfectly without overwhelming; it allows the flavor of the cake to shine through.
Oh . . . you may have noticed that I decorated this one for Halloween. A little gross, with a tipped over wheelbarrow that spilled its pumpkins on the ground, next to a trowel and straw hat that have been abandoned because the unlucky gardener—who had obviously gotten on the bad side of a huge garden spider—has been wrapped tightly in the spider’s silk. A lot of webs, a little blood . . . good times! You may not want to decorate your cake like this for Thanksgiving, but it’s a slam-dunk winner for a Halloween party.
This blog is about the cake and frosting, but I’ll also tell you what I used for Halloween decorations at the bottom of the post, in case you want to creep out your family and friends.
Makes two 9-inch round layers or 36-38 cupcakes (bake for approximately 18 minutes)
2½ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 cups sugar
1¼ cups cooking oil
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups butter - room temperature
½ cup shortening
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6-7 cups powdered sugar
Cream or milk (if needed)
CAKE: Heat oven to 350 F. Place rounds of parchment in two 9-inch round cake pans. Spray sides and parchment lightly with baking spray (like Baker's Joy). Or grease and flour the pans and place a parchment round in the bottom of each.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, and pumpkin well.
Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly and scraping the side of the bowl with each addition.
Combine buttermilk and vanilla.
Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat. Mix just until the batter is smooth.
Divide evenly between prepared pans. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly when inserted in the middle of one cake. Don't overbake or cake will be dry.
Cool for a few minutes on rack, then turn out of pans to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth. Add brown sugar and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Beat 2-3 minutes. To achieve a good spreading consistency, add a little cream or milk if too thick, or if mixture is too soft, add a little more powdered sugar. This frosting needs to be soft and easy to spread, because the cake is very light.
Place one cake on serving plate and cover the top with a generous amount of frosting. Place second cake on top (flattest side up) and press gently to level it. Cover entire cake with remaining frosting.
Decorate if desired with finely chopped nuts, sprinkles, or holiday candies.
Beat sugar, oil, and pumpkin (yes, it was colorful, but maybe not THIS red . . . ) then add eggs – one at a time. Seriously, take your time and beat well after each egg.
Add flour and liquids alternately.
Divide batter between two prepared 9-inch pans and bake.
Bake just until toothpick comes out clean . . . about 25 minutes.
This frosting is so good. Add liquid if necessary so it will spread easily. The cake is very light, and you don’t want to mash it!
There should be plenty of frosting for piping around the bottom. I left it plain because I was adding candy pumpkins. If you’re making this for an occasion other than Halloween, decorate the top with chopped nuts, candy, edible leaves . . . whatever you like.
So, stop here if you are making this cake for Thanksgiving or Christmas (or any other festive occasion). If you want to know how I made my Halloween decorations, read on.
The toppings on my cake were a mishmash of ideas.
When I frosted my cake I pressed “dirt” onto the top. (Chocolate and regular graham crackers, finely crushed and blended.)
The wheelbarrow was made from red fondant, with long cinnamon stick handles. The wheel was two candy melt discs stuck flat side together (heat one side briefly on a warm saucepan, then press together). wrapped in a strip of licorice to look like a tire. Use a little melted Isomalt (more about this stuff later) or melted candy melt as glue.If using Isomalt, be careful, and use gloves!A thin piece of cinnamon stick was pushed through the center of the candy melts to act as an axle, then both sides were stuck to the long handles. A little black licorice was also used as a trowel, with a handle made from a Kraft caramel.
I made a small batch of simple shortbread for the fence in the background. I have a fence cookie cutter, but you could just make posts. I also used the cookie dough to create the straw hat.
The poor gardener was made by wrapping cotton candy around a head, two arms, and two feet made from white chocolate. I added a little pink, orange, and brown to get a flesh color, but it could have used a bit more. I poured it into molds. What, doesn’t everyone have body part molds??? If not, you could use candy clay, fondant, or gum paste to create your own. Or just use cotton candy and let everyone imagine there is a person in it. (Oh, and I painted some hair and two eyes on the head with food coloring.)
I only ended up making one person on the cake, but had plenty of body parts to choose from 😀
They all looked a little too jolly to be victims, so I wrapped the cotton candy up over their mouths. Silenced!
There was some trial and error (and possibly some foul language) when it came to that spiderweb. I played with spun sugar with very limited success, and finally broke down and used Isomalt. If you’ve never used Isomalt, it’s similar to sugar but stays clear when heated, instead of amber, and is a little more forgiving. It’s hot hot HOT, so if you play with it, please be careful. I like to use it for windows in my gingerbread houses, so had some on hand. (I order the crystals through Amazon.) There are some wonderful videos online, but basically I just heated it until it melted, cooled it briefly, and when it thickened slightly I used a fork to drizzle/whisk it over the entire garden scene (not too much, just a hint of webbing) and then on a large piece of parchment. First I aimed at making “spokes”, then went in circles around and around. Dip, whisk. Once it cooled, I trimmed it to size carefully with scissors and placed it over my garden scene.
I used black fondant to shape the spider. (Hint: stick those legs on with a little water. They tend to drop off at inopportune times, otherwise.)
I bought the candy pumpkins. (I do have limits to my patience!) For the blood oozing out of the man’s mouth and down the side of the cake, I remelted the remaining isomalt and added a little red food coloring. Powdered food coloring is best, but I didn’t have any, so used paste. It thickens really quickly when you do that, so I had to work fast. Drizzle! (Or just buy a tube of red cake gel.)
Tender shortbread cookies filled with sweet apple pie filling may be a new fall tradition at your house. I’ve added these to my shortbread pie cookie collection, and I think this is (take a step back,“Chocolate Pie Shortbread Cookies”) now my very favorite variety.
Imagine biting into one of these and sinking your teeth into warm apple filling. It’s heavenly! Promise me you’ll try one before it’s cooled off entirely. Don’t get me wrong—they’re great the next day—but warm off the rack? Delightful.
Proper shortbread uses a lot of butter, so this is not an inexpensive or low- cal recipe, but when the cookie melts in your mouth you will forget cost, time, and calories. The cookies are that good. Oh, and speaking of time . . . these aren’t hard, but weaving the lattice tops takes a little patience. Plan on a few hours of baking bliss, or find a helper to make it go faster. Believe me, rushing through it just makes more work for you; the little strips of dough will sense your impatience and be less cooperative. Enjoy the process!
Hint: If you plan to make these for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, when you’ll be running around doing lots of last-minute things, make the cookies the week before and freeze them, assembled but unbaked. So easy that way, and if you’re serving right after the meal, they can go in when the rolls come out of the oven. (Make sure you set the timer; you know how crazy things get. Or is that just me?) They’ll still be warm when everyone is ready for dessert.
My husband, having a constant stream of goodies presented to him, has become a little hard to impress. His comment after eating one of these warm cookies? “This is somuch more than a cookie!” We won’t discuss how many he ate.
I know this recipe looks daunting, but that’s because it’s hard to explain how to make the lattice tops. It’s just wordy. I’m sure you could figure it out (I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to find the fastest method) but it’s all down in black and white for you!
Apples vary in juiciness, which is why I have you strain them so the amount of thickener is consistent. If you have leftover cooked juice, it’s wonderful in tea (or wine).
NOTE: Recipe was edited to change the size of the cookie cutters. (I need to learn to read a ruler correctly.) The large cutter was about 3 1/2 inches, and the small one was 3 inches. Even so, those are BIG cookies. Feel free to downsize.
FILLING: In a medium pan on medium heat, combine chopped apples, ¼ cup cider, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cook at a low boil (reduce heat if necessary) for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Strain apples, reserving the liquid.
In a small bowl or cup, combine 3 tablespoons cider with 3 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir well and set aside.
Return apples to the pan, along with 1 cup of the reserved liquid. (add apple cider to reach 1 cup of liquid, if necessary.)
Bring apple mixture back to a boil and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until thick - about 1 minute. Cool thoroughly.
DOUGH: In a large bowl (this is a heavy dough, so a sturdy mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine softened butter and powdered sugar. Beat well.
Add apple cider and egg yolks and beat until incorporated. (Reserve egg whites in small bowl.)
Add flour, salt, and nutmeg. Beat just until combined. Add cornstarch and beat until thoroughly combined. Dough will be stiff.
Heat oven to 350 F.
Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out to ¼-inch thickness. (A little thinner is fine, but don't go thicker.) For best results, roll between lightly floured sheets of parchment. Choose two round cutters, one slightly smaller than the other. My large cutter was 3½ inches and my small one was 3 inches.Cut dough into strips the width of your big cutter, and then from the short side, cut those strips into smaller strips a little less than ½-inch thick. (Each small strip would be 4½-inches by about ½-inch.)
Weave 6 pieces into lattice, leaving a little space between strips. (Lay one piece vertically, one horizontally, making a plus sign. Place two more vertical pieces, one on each side of vertical piece. Lift the top of the center piece and slide a strip under it horizontally, laying over the other two vertical pieces. Lift the bottom of the center piece and slide a strip under it horizontally, over the other two vertical pieces.)
Press lattice firmly with the palm of your hand. Center the small cutter over the lattice and cut out a round. Hold it down firmly with one hand while you remove the scraps and place them in a pile. SCRAPS WILL BE USED TO MAKE THE COOKIE BOTTOMS LATER.
With a thin spatula, move the cookie top to a piece of parchment or cutting board. Repeat until you have 24 lattice tops, using as much of the remaining dough in the bowl as necessary.
Whisk together the reserved egg whites and 1 tablespoon water. Brush lightly over lattice tops and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Gather all of the scraps and any remaining dough and roll out to a little less than ¼-inch thickness. Cut rounds with large cutter. Press around the edge of each with your finger to thin and enlarge the rounds slightly. Brush with egg white wash.
Heap 1 level tablespoon of apple mixture in the center of each round (a small scoop works well) and cover with one lattice top. Press the edge of the lattice top down firmly, then use your finger to flute the edge of the bottom round up, pressing firmly into the lattice layer. Place 1 inch apart on parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges are beginning to brown. Move to a rack to cool.
Tomato soup with a crisp, buttery grilled cheese sandwich has always been one of my favorite lunch combinations. True comfort food; a staple of the 60s. As strange as this may sound, I rolled the two flavors into one light, fluffy, killer loaf of bread. It’s tasty eaten plain, incredible toasted, and absolutely over the top when it’s grilled, with even more cheese. (After all, fall is here and big sweaters are back. Eat the cheese and pull the sweater down a little more. No one will notice, and I won’t tell.)
The tomato flavor is distinct, yet subtle. I experimented, using tomato soup (reconstituted from condensed) in one batch and spicy tomato vegetable juice in the other. The vegetable juice won the taste test hands down. I didn’t detect any heat from the spicy juice, but surprisingly it had more tomato tang than the soup.
Butter and sharp cheddar cheese add another layer of flavor. I used lots of grated cheese in this bread, but it was even better when I added some chopped chunks to the dough to create little gooey pockets. (Optional, of course.)
It’s so simple to make, it really is! And apparently the acid in the tomato juice gives it that fluffy, even texture—something that’s important in a sandwich bread. Wow, it slices up nicely.
1 cup tomato vegetable juice (I used the spicy variety)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup very warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
3¼ - 3½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil (or to taste)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Additional chopped cheese, up to ½ cup (optional)
Lightly grease (or use baking spray) a large bread pan. This makes a tall loaf of bread, so if your pan is on the small side, you may want to make a turn ¼ of the dough into a small personal-size round loaf or a couple of rolls. Form them on a small baking sheet. (Baking time will be shorter.)
Heat tomato juice and butter together on low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to lukewarm.
In a small bowl combine warm water , sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
Put lukewarm tomato mixture into a large bowl. (A stand mixer with dough hook is recommended.)
Add yeast mixture, 3 cups bread flour, salt, and basil. Beat for 1 minute. Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make dough come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Dough will be soft and slightly tacky, but should not be sticky. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on a lightly floured board for 7 minutes.
Knead in the cheese. Form a ball with the dough and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
Once risen, form into a loaf and place in prepared bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F. Bake bread in center of oven for approximately 45 minutes. Top will feel very firm and bread will sound hollow when turned out of pan and thumped on the bottom. Allow bread to cool before cutting.
Soft pumpkin cookies filled with rum-soaked raisins, pecans, white chocolate morsels, and Buttershots-spiked cream cheese will keep you warm and cozy this fall. They’re even brushed with a thin boozy glaze hot out of the oven, and then again once the cookies have cooled. It’s hard to get enough alcohol in cookie dough without compromising the texture, so it took a variety of approaches to pull it off.
Buy the kids some Oreos; these babies are for you!
4 tablespoons alcohol (I used a mixture of rum and Buttershots)
1 cup powdered sugar
Place raisins and ½ cup rum in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over med-low heat. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let raisins sit for at least 30 minutes, or until lukewarm. They should be plump and rum should be reduced.
Heat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
COOKIE DOUGH: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk. Beat well.
Add raisins (with the reduced rum), pumpkin, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pecans, and white chips. Mix until incorporated.
CREAM CHEESE SWIRL: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg white, butterscotch liqueur, flour, and baking powder until smooth.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the dough and fold it in just 6-7 times, leaving big white streaks. Then pull your cookie scoop or spoon through, aiming for a mixture with more dough than swirl. I like to gather a little cream cheese first, then scoop through dough, which puts the pretty swirl on top of the cookie as it bakes.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed. While cookies are baking, make glaze:
GLAZE: Whisk together the alcohol and powdered sugar until smooth. Brush it over hot cookies, then give them another light glaze once they've cooled.
Making this bread dough is a snap; it just doesn’t get any easier than this. If you are efficient, the dough can be ready to rise in 15 minutes flat. And with a few swipes of garlic butter, a sprinkle of cheese, and a couple of cuts and twists, you can make 16 incredible cheesy garlic knots that will make you very popular. (Disclaimer: I used a lot of garlic in this recipe. If you want to maintain that popularity, don’t breathe on anybody after eating one. Or maybe swish first with a lovely red wine . . .)
I made these three ways. The easiest—Cheesy Garlic Knots—is also my husband’s favorite, so that’s the recipe I’ll give you. Instructions for the other two variations (Saucy Salami, and Olive and Fig) will be at the bottom of the post . . . worth scrolling for!
Makes 16 knots. Use whatever kind of cheese you enjoy. I like to use cheddar and jack, with a little Parmesan and Asiago for a flavorful kick.
1½ cups very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package active-dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic salt
3½ cups bread flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups grated cheese, lightly packed
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow mixture to sit until slightly bubbly - about 5 minutes.
Add olive oil, salt, garlic salt, and bread flour. Mix well using a dough hook (or if mixing by hand, use a sturdy spoon) then knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 7 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
FILLING: Combine softened butter, olive oil, pressed garlic, and salt. Mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon for brushing over knots.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with one at a time, roll into a 12-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Spread ¼ of the garlic butter mixture over the dough. Cover with ¼ of the cheese. Beginning at long side, roll snugly. Cut the roll in half, creating two 6-inch pieces. Cut each of these in half LENGTHWISE, exposing the layers.
Stretch each piece gently while twisting until dough is approximately 9-10 inches long. Tie in a knot and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all of the dough, yielding 16 knots. Cover lightly with a towel and let the knots rise for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 F. Bake knots 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with reserved garlic butter mixture. Serve slightly warm.
Once yeast is bubbly, add oil, salt, and flour. Knead well and let rise until doubled.
Combine butter, oil, and garlic. (Make sure you save a little for brushing on hot knots.)
Spread one piece of dough with garlic butter and cover with a generous amount of grated cheese.
Roll snugly and cut in half.
Cut the halves in half, but LENGTHWISE this time to expose the layers. Twist and stretch, then tie in a knot
Cheesy Garlic Knots, ready to rise and bake.
Wait ’til you smell these! And if you think these are good, try one of the other variations below. Hint: don’t be too generous with the sauce or fig spread; it’ll make a big mess when you try to twist and knot!
Saucy Salami version: spread spaghetti sauce over garlic butter. Salami is added on top of the cheese. (Ignore the size; this was taken before I got smart and rolled the dough in smaller pieces.)
Saucy Salami: In addition to the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe above, you’ll need 1/2 cup spaghetti (or pizza) sauce, and 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian dry salami.
Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons per each piece of dough) spaghetti sauce. (Pizza sauce would be good, too.) Don’t use too much or the dough will be much harder to twist and knot. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian dry salami over cheese. Roll, cut, and bake as described in the Cheesy Garlic Knot recipe.
Olive and Fig version: Add store bought kalamata/fig spread. So good! (Yes, you can make your own olive/fig tapenade if you’d like. There are lots of lovely recipes for that on Google.)
Olive and Fig: You’ll need a jar of olive fig spread. I bought this jar of spread at the grocery store, but they have a lot of brands online.
Make knots as described in the recipe above, except after spreading the garlic butter, cover with a thin layer (about 1 tablespoon per each piece of dough) olive fig spread before adding the cheese. The kalamata olives are so flavorful, and figs add a touch of sweetness. Delightful!
These are dangerous – at least around here. I can’t stop at one, and I swear they’re even more flavorful the next day if they’re stored in an airtight container. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!