Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies The Rowdy BakerWith a soft, chewy texture that lies somewhere between a cookie and a brownie, this explosion of dark chocolate and maraschino cherry will satisfy you right down to your toes. And yes, I get a little bit passionate about cherries!

 

The Rowdy Baker loves her some cherries!

The Rowdy Baker loves her some cherries!

This recipe is a little fussier than a normal cookie recipe – more ingredients, a few extra steps – but it’s well worth the effort, especially for a holiday like Valentine’s Day.

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies
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Makes 4-5 dozen These cookies get softer and more flavorful after 24 hours!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 3½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts - more if desired
  • 1 10-oz jar maraschino cherries
  • ICING:
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice or ¼ teaspoon cherry flavoring (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • decorate with maraschino cherries, sprinkles, chopped nuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two baking sheets (or cover with parchment)
  2. Drain cherries, reserving 2 tablespoons for icing, if desired. Chop cherries into small pieces and set aside. (Don't press or dry the chopped cherries...a little juice is fine.)
  3. In a medium pan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together on low heat. Stir frequently. When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and stir.
  4. Add white sugar and brown sugar to the butter mixture and stir well.
  5. Add vanilla and buttermilk, stirring until combined.
  6. Put mixture into a large bowl. Add eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
  7. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
  8. Add chocolate chips, walnuts, and chopped cherries.
  9. With cookie scoop or by rounded tablespoon, drop dough at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. (Don't chill this dough. Bake the cookies right away, or scoop onto baking sheets and freeze for later.)3-4 minutes before moving to the rack to cool completely. Ice and decorate cookies.
  10. ICING:
  11. In a medium pan, heat the cream, chocolate, and cherry juice on low, stirring frequently until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and stir well, until completely smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Let icing sit, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread without dripping...about 1 hour. (This will vary, depending on the temperature of your house.)

Note: Bake these right away. If you let the dough sit too long or put it in the fridge, it will set up like soft fudge!  If you don’t want to bake them all, I suggest scooping the dough onto baking sheets and freezing for later.

Chop those cherries!

Chop those cherries!

Melt the butter and chocolate.

Melt the butter and chocolate.

Add the sugars and stir like crazy!

Add the sugars and stir like crazy!

Stirring in the chocolate chips, nuts, and cherries.

Stirring in the chocolate chips, nuts, and cherries.

Scoop onto prepared sheet - parchment for this batch.

Scoop onto prepared baking sheet – parchment for this batch.

Baked. Aren't they pretty?

Baked. Aren’t they pretty?

And now, for the icing!

Gently melt the chocolate and cream (and maybe a little cherry juice) for the icing.

Gently melt the chocolate and cream (and maybe a little cherry juice) for the icing.

Whisk in the powdered sugar until it's velvety smooth.

Whisk in the powdered sugar until it’s velvety smooth.

Dollop (best for cherries) or spread (best for sprinkles) the icing.

Dollop (best for cherries) or spread (best for sprinkles) the icing.

Admire your creations before they disappear!

Admire your creations before they disappear!

Here’s another idea: Buy some glass candle holders from the dollar store and serve individual cookies at each place setting. Pretty classy, huh?Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies individually served The Rowdy Baker

So many cherries, so little time. I’m not sure why I bought a gallon of the things…guess I forgot the advice to “never shop hungry”!

Lorinda

Play Review – Winning Super Bowl Dishes!

 

Game Day Collage 2016

I put my four favorite football party recipes together into this quick post with links to all of the recipes. Enjoy!

An easy cheese ball and some delicious, crispy rye crackers are perfect for a crowd. You’ll find the recipe for both here: Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

football rye crackers and cheeseball watermarked

 

Salmon dip in a crusty football-shaped bread bowl is a lot more fun and imaginative than little smokies or chips and salsa! It uses one of my easiest bread recipes, and the salmon dip is a snap to throw together. Find it here: Succulent Salmon Dip (in a crunchy football bowl!)

salmon dip bowl from The Rowdy Baker

 

Little soft pretzels stuffed with ham and cheese will make everyone cheer! Get the recipe here: Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bombs

 

ham and cheese pretzel bombs

And my favorite of all, a football shaped meatloaf made with ground pork and ham, and coated with a tangy glaze…a true “pigskin” for those chest-beating guys. Come and get it: Game Day Glazed Meatloaf

Game Day Glazed Meatloaf from The Rowdy Baker

 

PARTY ON!

Lorinda

Ice Cream Cupcake Surprise

Ice Cream Cupcake Surprise The Rowdy BakerIf this dessert doesn’t make your Valentine worship you, nothing will! Inside the chocolate coating is a serving of rich chocolate cake, cherry vanilla ice cream, and…(surprise) a chocolate covered cherry.

To make this extra-easy, by all means, use a cake mix and store bought chocolate shell! You could even (*gasp!*) buy a dozen cupcakes and scrape the icing off. But you know me; I have to play with my food…so I’ll give you my recipe for rich chocolate cake and homemade chocolate shell, just in case you choose to go all out and create these desserts from scratch.

You’ll need:

  • One 1.5 quart container of ice cream. (Don’t get me started on the shrinking ice-cream container conspiracy.) I used Cherry Vanilla. Yum!
  • 12 chocolate covered cherries
  • 12 chocolate cupcakes
  • 2 bottles (7.25 ounces each) of chocolate shell (or Magic Shell), usually found in the ice cream aisle. OR you can make your own – I’ll give you the recipe below.
  • sprinkles, if desired

 

It’s important not to overfill the cupcake liners, because a high dome won’t hold the ice cream well. Fill them just a tiny bit over half full. But if they dome too much, you can always level them later…and eat the scraps, of course.

Start with chocolate cupcakes. (And yes...the cake on the right has too much of a dome.) I shall have to operate!

Start with chocolate cupcakes. (And yes…the cake on the right has too much of a dome.) I shall have to operate!

This chocolate cake recipe makes 12 cupcakes. You may have a tiny bit of batter left, but not much.

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes
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This is a small recipe, making approximately 12 cupcakes. You can easily double it. If you do, use 3 eggs.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups cake flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup oil (I use avocado or peanut oil)
  • ½ cup strong coffee
  • ½ cup buttermilk (I prefer a thick, Bulgarian buttermilk for this)
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Place liners in cupcake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, coffee, and buttermilk.
  4. Gradually beat the liquids into the dry ingredients. Beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the egg and beat just until it is completely incorporated.
  6. Fill cupcake liners just a little more than half full.
  7. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of one cupcake.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, and then lift them out onto the rack to finish cooling.

 

Cake ingredients

Cake ingredients

Fill liners just a little more than half full.

Fill liners just a little more than half full.

Remember, we're going for a subtle dome!

Remember, we’re going for a subtle dome!

Now – to assemble the cupcakes:

Slice a thin piece off the top of each cupcake, to level it.

Let your ice cream soften a bit, and then press a chocolate covered cherry round side down into a scoop of softened ice cream. If the ice cream is too firm, you can use a spoon to make a hole for the candy.

Sink a cherry into softened ice cream, round side down.

Sink a cherry into softened ice cream, round side down.

Drop scoops of ice cream (and embedded cherry) onto frozen cupcakes and smooth with a table knife.

Drop ice cream onto cupcake and smooth with a knife.

Drop ice cream onto cupcake and smooth with a knife.

Place cupcakes in the freezer for at least 3 hours.

You saw that, right? Don’t skip that step, or your ice cream will fall off into the coating!

Shake one bottle of chocolate shell thoroughly and pour contents into a small bowl. One by one, dip the cupcakes into the chocolate, all the way to the wrapper. Allow excess to drip off, place on a tray or baking sheet, and decorate with sprinkles.

You’ll need one whole bottle and part of the second. Or…if you want to make your own shell:

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE SHELL:
10 ounces of good quality dark chocolate
2 level tablespoons coconut oil (I use expeller pressed so it doesn’t taste like coconut.)

Break chocolate into small pieces. In a cup or small bowl in the microwave (or in small pan on the stove) slowly melt chocolate and coconut oil together. It’s important to melt it very slowly at low heat. Stir well.

Dip frozen cupcakes and ice cream into chocolate shell mixture.

Dip frozen cupcakes and ice cream into chocolate shell mixture.

 

frozen goodness!

Once the coating has hardened, pop the cupcakes back into the freezer until ready to serve. If you will be keeping them in the freezer for more than a few hours, cover them with foil.

Ice Cream Cupcake Surprise The Rowdy Baker

This would be such an easy recipe to adapt for other holidays. Exchange the cherry for a mint truffle and mint ice cream for St. Patrick’s Day, or a peppermint truffle and peppermint ice cream for Christmas. I’d suggest a small Cadbury Cream Egg for Easter, but….euwwww. Anyhow, you get the idea.

Everyone loves ice cream cakes, but they’re awfully messy to cut and serve. Individual cakes are the way to go!

Lorinda

 

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread The Rowdy BakerWe love our morning porridge, and have switched from our 7-grain rolled cereal to our new favorite – Scottish Oatmeal. Scottish oatmeal is ground, and the flavor and texture is incredible. Of course, once I dump a little bit of brown sugar, a handful of toasted pecans and an ocean of milk on it, it’s maybe a wee bit less healthy…but so satisfying!

And did I mention it is EASY??? It really is!

I finally broke down and bought a 25 pound bag of the stuff, and then felt obligated to use it in a recipe. Cookies turned out kind of “meh”. I’ll have to work on that idea. But the bread? It’s wonderful; hearty, dense, flavorful. Best of all, it doesn’t crumble when you slice it. And toasted? Mmmmm.Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread and tea The Rowdy Baker

Braw Scottish Oatmeal Bread
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Makes 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 2½ cup very warm water, divided
  • big pinch of sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups Scottish oatmeal (this is a ground oatmeal, not rolled)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white bread flour
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I use avocado or peanut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup warm water with pinch of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let mixture sit for approximately 5 minutes (or until bubbly and foamy).
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with dough hook works best) combine the oatmeal, wheat flour, and bread flour.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the remaining 2 cups warm water, yeast mixture, honey, oil, and salt.
  4. Continue to knead using the dough hook for 4-5 minutes. If kneading by hand, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Prepare two bread pans by spraying with a flour and oil mixture (like Baker's Joy) or greasing pans with shortening.
  7. Punch down dough and separate into 2 equal pieces. Form into loaves and place in pans. Cover and allow dough to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  8. Heat oven to 375F.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Bread should be a rich brown color, and when tipped out of the pan onto a cooling rack, the bottom of the loaves should be light brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  10. Brush the top of the loaves with butter, if desired.
  11. Allow loaves to cool before slicing....if you have that kind of willpower!

 

You'll need this...and a pinch of sugar!

You’ll need this…and a pinch of sugar!

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Whole wheat flour (left) and Scottish oats (right)

Whole wheat flour (left) and Scottish oats (right)

Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl

Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl

Place dough in a greased bowl to rise

Place dough in a greased bowl to rise

Doubled! Ready to form into loaves and place in pans.

Doubled! Ready to form into loaves and place in pans.

Tried one standard loaf pan and one slightly larger. Small pan yielded a taller loaf, as expected.

Tried one standard loaf pan and one slightly larger. Small pan yielded a taller loaf, as expected.

Looking good. Time to preheat the oven.

Looking good. Time to preheat the oven.

Perfect! The bottom of the loaf should be lightly browned and hollow sounding when tapped

Perfect! The bottom of the loaf should be lightly browned and hollow sounding when tapped

"Allow bread to cool before slicing" Hah! We fight over the warm heels in this house.

“Allow bread to cool before slicing” Hah! We fight over the warm heels in this house.

Okay, this was my nod to “almost healthy”. Now…on to Valentine’s Day and all things chocolate!

Lorinda

Game Day Glazed Meatloaf

Game Day Glazed Meatloaf from The Rowdy BakerThis beautiful glazed football really is a meatloaf; just not the kind you’re used to.

Instead of using beef, I combined ground ham and pork and held it together with ground oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, for a scrumptious, gluten-free entree.

You won’t be tossing this pigskin around – you’ll be dipping chunks into glaze or slapping a slice of it on a crusty piece of bread and chowing down!Game Day Glazed Football sandwich

The idea for this meatloaf came from an old Taste of Home recipe for Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls, which my family loves. I made a lot of changes, so it’s a loose adaption, but credit definitely has to go to them for the idea!Glazed Game Day Meatloaf The Rowdy Baker

My first attempt was prettier. The football was baby-butt smooth and flawless. But after I took photos and we ate half of it, I realized I’d forgotten to add the cheese “laces”. I also decided that I wanted less filler. I am not a fan of frozen meatballs; they always seem spongy to me. My first meatloaf had excellent flavor, but was kind of spongy…reminiscent of (dare I use this word in my blog?) Spam. I wanted meaty!

So I cut the ground oats and egg in half, and we absolutely loved the second recipe. It had a little bit more flavor, and much better texture, though it wasn’t quite as pretty. Don’t get me wrong – the first meatloaf was very, very tasty – but if I have to choose, I’ll go with substance over beauty any day!

Here’s how smooth the first one was – just in case you LIKE a smoother texture, and/or want it to look perfect:pigskin ready to cut

I ground a pork shoulder roast and a nice butt portion ham for my meatloaf. You don’t have to do this (see TIPS, below), but I wanted to play with my new grinder. ham and pork

No grinder? Find ground pork at the grocery store, and grind the ham in a food processor.

No grinder? Find ground pork at the grocery store, and grind the ham in a food processor.

Serve your meatloaf with dark rye bread or crusty French bread for hearty sandwiches, or just dip chunks of the meat in small bowls of the glaze. Delish!Game Day Glazed Meatloaf, dipped in glaze TRB

I’ve been pouting all week because the Seattle Seahawks didn’t make it to the Superbowl, and in a fit of petulance I almost decided to hold out and wait to post this blog until next year – when they will certainly be going all the way. But I love you guys, and respect your right to root for an obviously inferior the team of your choice. I’ll be a good sport and post the recipe now.

TIPS:

  • If you don’t have a meat grinder, you should be able to buy ground pork (NOT sausage!) at the grocery store. You may even be able to coax a butcher into grinding a ham for you, but if you have a food processor, I recommend you do it yourself. A butcher is not going to take the time to cut all the tough skin off the ham, and you really don’t want that in your meat mixture.
  • When the football is cooked and the meat thermometer is removed, let your meatloaf sit for 10 minutes before adding the cheese, because meat juice will probably bubble out of the hole for a few minutes, so the cheese wouldn’t stick.
  • I use an old coffee grinder for grinding my oatmeal. A food processor or blender will work too. Grind it fairly fine, but not into flour!
  • If you plan to provide glaze for dipping or drizzling, you might want to increase the glaze recipe. You’ll have a good cup of glaze left over, but…it’s so good! (I like a little meat with my glaze.)
  • If your glaze gets too thick, reheat it gently on low. It will turn liquid again.
  • Use good brown sugar – pure cane. It can make the difference between smooth glaze and grainy glaze!

 

Game Day Glazed Meatloaf
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Ingredients
  • MEATLOAF:
  • 1½ pounds ground pork
  • 1½ pounds ground ham (Easy to do in a food processor!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • ½ cup grated onion (or you can chop VERY finely)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely ground quick oats (Grind in food processor, blender, or coffee/spice grinder.)
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon maple flavoring (like Mapleine) - OPTIONAL
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine all of the meatloaf ingredients together well. (A stand mixer and dough hook is the easiest way to go.)
  3. Press into a ball and place in a medium size casserole dish. With damp hands, mold into a football shape. Take your time and make it as smooth as possible. This meatloaf is very lean and won't shrink much, so what you see is what you will get!
  4. Insert meat thermometer and place in oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. When the 40 minutes are almost up, make your glaze:
  6. Combine all glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well.
  7. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add maple flavoring if desired.
  8. Remove meat from oven. Brush generously with glaze.
  9. Return to oven for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove and glaze meat again.
  11. Return to oven for 20 minutes, or until meat thermometer says 165.
  12. Remove from oven. Brush lightly with glaze and place on serving platter.
  13. Allow meatloaf to sit for 10 minutes, then place thin strips of mozzarella cheese on top to look like laces.
  14. Serve with sauce for dipping or drizzling.

Meatloaf ingredients

Meatloaf ingredients

I coarse-grated the onion for a smoother texture.

I coarse-grated the onion for a smoother texture. I used the finer side to grate the garlic too.

Adding ground oats.

Adding ground oats.

Smooth meatloaf with dampened hands.

Smooth meatloaf with dampened hands.

This is the second glazing.

This is the second glazing.

Slice and serve!

Slice and serve!

Whether you’ll be screaming your heart out or just watching the commercials, this succulent meatloaf will be the real winner on Game Day!

Lorinda

My Big Fat Molasses Buttermilk Cookies!

my big fat molasses cookies titledYou might need to find a locking cookie jar for these flavorful molasses cookies, because even though they are huge, one is not enough; at the very least, you need one for each hand!handful

These are very similar to the “Grandma Cookies” I adored in my younger days, though Grandma used sour cream instead of buttermilk, and was a little more frugal with the spices. I like to add the brilliant flavor of fresh ginger, too. They’re still milder than a gingersnap – closer to gingerbread. If you love spicy cookies, bump up the amount of spices a bit.

Glaze is mandatory, in case you were wondering.my big fat molasses buttermilk cookies The Rowdy Baker

I know this makes a large batch of dough, but since the cookies are so big, a regular-sized batch would only make something like 8 cookies – or a bunch of wimpy, sissy cookies. Pffft.

Make a pile of these – you won’t be sorry! Here’s what you’ll need:ingredients

TIPS:

  • Peel ginger before grating. The easiest way to do this is to scrape it with a spoon or the back of a table knife. Grate the juicy flesh, but stop when it gets too stringy.
  • If you don’t have fresh ginger, ground ginger is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
  • I don’t like to use shortening either, but in this case I make an exception. You can use all butter, but the cookies will flatten out more.
  • Make sure you thoroughly chill the dough before rolling, and use plenty of flour (I dump flour on a piece of parchment) for rolling.
  • Hate to roll out dough?  You can use a large cookie scoop instead, though the resulting cookies might not be quite as pretty.
  • When you cut the cookies out, plan your cookie cutter placement with engineering precision – then move the scraps to a separate pile as you work. When the “first run” cookies are cut out, roll all of the scraps at once. Each time you roll out the dough, the cookies will get a little drier…and you don’t want that! (Though extra glaze can hide any flaws.)
  • If possible, treat the dough like biscuit dough – lift the cookie cutter straight up instead of twisting it. This will make it easier for the cookies to puff up.
My Big, Fat, Molasses Buttermilk Cookies!
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Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated (or add 1 teaspoon ground ginger with dry ingredients)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup heavy buttermilk (I use Bulgarian)
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 7 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • GLAZE:
  • 1½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder (optional - makes a more brittle icing)
  • Water (3-4 tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and ginger well.
  2. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. In a medium bowl (mixture will expand) combine molasses and buttermilk, mixing until completely blended. Stir in the baking soda.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and spices.
  5. Beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the wet ingredients, add alternately (approximately ⅓ at a time) to mixture in the bowl, beating and scraping the bowl down after each addition.
  6. Chill dough for at least 3 hours - overnight is even better.
  7. Heat oven to 375 F.
  8. Place half the dough on a very heavily floured surface, turning the dough to coat with flour and forming into a ball.
  9. Roll dough out to about ⅓-inch thick. Cut into circles, using a 3-inch cookie cutter.
  10. With a spatula, lift each round one at a time, placing in the palm of your hand. Lightly flip the cookie from one hand to the other, dusting off extra flour, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
  11. Bake for approximately 10-11 minutes. Cookies should be starting to brown on the bottom but will still feel soft on top. Place baking sheet on a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
  12. FOR GLAZE: Place powdered sugar and meringue powder in a small bowl. Drizzle water into dry ingredients a little at a time, whisking continuously until it creates a thin glaze.
  13. Brush over cooled cookies and allow to dry completely before storing.
Grate some juicy, fresh ginger. (Yes, yes...you can use powdered instead.)

Grate some juicy, fresh ginger. (Yes, yes…you can use powdered instead.)

Beat butter, shortening, sugar, ginger. Add eggs and beat until light.

Beat butter, shortening, sugar, ginger. Add eggs and beat until light.

Stir baking soda into molasses and buttermilk. Add alternately with dry ingredients.

Stir baking soda into molasses and buttermilk. Add alternately with dry ingredients.

Coat chilled dough with flour and roll out to about 1/3-inch.

Coat chilled dough with flour and roll out to about 1/3-inch.

Flip dough from hand to hand to dust off extra flour.

Flip dough from hand to hand to dust off extra flour.

Bake and glaze.

Bake and glaze.

ENJOY!

ENJOY!

I’m not much of a cookie dunker, but I didn’t want to waste the cookies that were being dunked and photographed, so I heroically ate them. Oh, man. I’ve got to tell you: these cookies are flat MADE for dunking!

One bite and I’m back in Grandma’s kitchen, wiping clean dishes and bowls while the cookies baked. Heaven. Pure heaven!

Lorinda

 

Football Rye Crackers and Cheese Ball

football rye crackers and cheese ball The Rowdy BakerBring this dish to any football party and be a hero! A smooth, velvety, football-shaped cheese ball is surrounded by sturdy, homemade rye crackers…also shaped like footballs, because – well – football!

After a couple of attempts that yielded hard, very crunchy crackers, I finally got the knack for these.  Add more flavoring if you wish – I kept this pretty basic, preferring to let the flavor of the caraway seeds predominate . These are delicious warm out of the oven…you’ll see!

I tried two different methods for adding the lacing to the crackers. I like the appearance of the little dough laces best, but cutting out all those tiny pieces and pressing them carefully and firmly on each cracker takes a lot of time, so I won’t blame you one little bit if you go the easy route and just press the designs onto the crackers with a table knife – Especially when you consider the crackers will probably be consumed by people jumping and screaming at the TV, and not paying close attention to the detail on each cracker!

This dough is really very easy to roll out, especially if you roll it between sheets of floured parchment. If you want to skip the football shapes, simply use a pizza cutter to cut the crackers into strips and put them, parchment and all, straight onto your baking sheet.

And…in case you’re wondering, they’re delicious with peanut butter slathered on them.

You probably have your own recipe for a cheese ball, right? If not, I’ll tell you how I made mine at the bottom of the post.

Here’s my easy recipe for rye crackers.

Rye Cracker Footballs
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The crackers can also be cut into strips on the parchment, and then lifted (without separating them) parchment and all onto an ungreased baking sheet. Follow instructions for baking.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon caraway seeds (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, buttermilk, water, and molasses.
  4. Stir in all-purpose flour, rye flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, garlic salt, onion powder, and caraway seeds. Mixture should be thick, and slightly sticky. If it's very sticky, add a little more flour.
  5. Lightly flour a large piece of parchment.
  6. Place dough on parchment, sprinkle lightly with a little more flour, cover with another piece of parchment, and roll very thin...about the size of a baking sheet. Thin dough makes light, crunchy crackers!
  7. Cut out shapes using a football cookie cutter, and place closely together on the prepared baking sheet. It's best to work with just one pan of crackers at a time, so wrap remaining dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for now.
  8. There are two ways to create "laces". You can firmly press thin strips of slightly moistened dough onto each cracker, or simple press the lace design into the cracker with a table knife.
  9. Put crackers in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with melted butter (if you make "laces" on football shapes, you may have to gently pat the butter on the surface to avoid dislodging the laces) and sprinkle with coarse salt. Turn oven OFF. Open oven door for 30 seconds (count it: one-chimpanzee, two-chimpanzee...), place pan of crackers back in the oven, close the door and leave them alone for one hour. Don't peek - it will let out the residual heat.
  10. Move crackers to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  11. If you choose to do all of the crackers at once, test a cracker from each pan. If they aren't completely crunchy, return them to the warm oven for 15 more minutes.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Flatten lightly floured dough and cover with a sheet of parchment.

Roll the dough thinly.

Roll the dough thinly.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

Dough must be VERY thin for light, crisp crackers.

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!

If you lack the patience for gluing tiny laces on each cracker, use a knife and just press in the design!

Baked!

Baked! Both option for laces are shown here.

Here’s how I made my cheese ball:

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 cups of your favorite cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar and white cheddar.)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped green onions
Optional: a few drops of hickory smoke flavoring, garlic powder, hot sauce.
1 cup finely chopped TOASTED pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped crisp-cooked bacon

Mix together the cheeses and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. I like to use my stand mixer with the dough hook.
Add green onions and additional seasoning, if desired.
TASTE! Between the Worcestershire sauce and the cheese, you probably don’t need to add salt, but now is the time to give it a flavor test.
With damp hands, press the cheese mixture into the shape of a football.
Combine the pecans and bacon. Press onto cheese ball, covering completely.
Transfer to a platter and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – then surround with lovely rye crackers!

Since I have you here, and you’re actually reading this, may I just say:

GO SEAHAWKS!!!

Lorinda

 

Maple Streusel Rollups

Maple Streusel Rollups from The Rowdy BakerI guess it’s time to admit it: I think I need an intervention. This maple addiction has gotten completely out of control. I’ve replaced a lot of my processed sugar with maple sugar, and have developed a love affair (in moderation, of course) with maple whiskey. Pure maple syrup is my go-to sweetener for cereal and tea, though I add a little Mapleine to it for  more maple kick. Yep…I have it BAD!

Today I made Maple Streusel Rollups, which my husband said were “the best thing I’ve made in a long time”. There you have it, folks. You just have to make these!

I started with the recipe that I use for Maple Bars and Cinnamon Rolls,  but made it a wee bit richer with the addition of butter and buttermilk, and sprinkled maple sugar on the dough before rolling. Then I covered the raised rolls with streusel and drizzled the baked rolls with rich maple icing.

Do I have your attention yet?  If not, just look at THIS!roll

 

Light, fluffy, sweet and mapley (I’m pretty sure that’s a real word), and topped with a crunch pecan streusel, drizzled with a serious maple icing.

Oh.My.Word.

Here you go:

Maple Streusel Rollups
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Author:
Makes 24 rolls.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup very warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 5½ cups all-purpose flour
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup very soft butter (almost melted)
  • ½ cup maple sugar (or ½ cup white sugar plus ½ teaspoon maple extract)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • STREUSEL TOPPING:
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans (I toast mine first, but you don't have to)
  • ICING:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons maple extract (I use Mapleine)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (more if necessary)
Instructions
  1. In a small pan on medium low heat, combine the milk, shortening, butter and cinnamon. Heat until shortening and butter are melted. Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the warm water, yeast, and ½ teaspoon sugar. Allow the mixture to sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, preferably using a stand mixer, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and ⅓ cup sugar. If using a stand mixer, switch to a dough hook.
  4. Slowly add flour and salt and knead by beating on low for 5 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from sides of bowl, but still be slightly sticky. (If kneading by hand, knead for 7 minutes on floured surface.)
  5. Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
  6. Prepare a large 11x15-inch pan by either lining with parchment or spraying with an oil/flour mixture like Baker's Joy.
  7. Punch down dough and divide in half.
  8. Working with one half at a time, roll out on parchment (or lightly floured surface) to a 15x9-inch rectangle, with the long side facing you.
  9. Spread half of the butter (1/4 cup) on surface of dough and sprinkle with half of the sugar. Roll snugly.
  10. Cut roll into 12 pieces. and place in prepared pan, filling half of the pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  11. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to rise until almost double.
  12. Heat oven to 400 F.
  13. Combine the streusel ingredients in a small bowl. Taste a spoonful (optional...just thought you might want permission to indulge) and sprinkle over the raised rolls.
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the streusel is a browned - then remove from oven and place on rack to cool.
  15. While slightly warm, combine the ingredients for the icing in a small bowl and spoon icing into a piping bag or a plastic zipper bag with one corner snipped off. Drizzle over the top of the streusel.
  16. Serve!

Add buttermilk to heated mixture.

Add buttermilk to heated mixture.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

Yeast mixture should be bubbly.

The dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, but is still slightly sticky.

The dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, but is still slightly sticky.

Punch down the dough.

Punch down the dough.

Add maple sweetness and roll!

Add maple sweetness and roll!

Slice...

Slice…

Sprinkle risen rolls with streusel.

Sprinkle risen rolls with streusel.

Drizzle the baked rolls with icing.

Drizzle the baked rolls with icing.

This is where I should tell you I’m through with maple recipes for a while…but I’m not. I have another idea I’ve been playing with – not with great success – but it’s given me an idea. A mapley idea.

Oh, and if maple isn’t your thing, I AM working on a savory, hearty dish for the Super Bowl. Come back – please come back.

Lorinda

Rye Party Bread

Rye party bread from The Rowdy BakerEverything can’t be sweet, right?

When social media bombards me with visions of sugarplums, I start craving something hearty, salty, savory- and rye bread with its pungent little caraway seeds is exactly what I need.

This recipe will make two small-ish round loaves of swirled rye bread, but with just a little extra effort, you can produce beautiful canape bread for a buffet – or just for snacking! (I love, love, love them broiled in the oven until crispy and topped with a little peanut butter.)

Serve on a platter with bowls of your favorite spreads. Salmon is wonderful, as is ham, tuna, or chicken salad.Rye party bread with spread

I use a very strange ingredient in mine to get a little darker color for the contrast dough: Kitchen Bouquet (yes, that stuff our mothers darkened gravy with), which looks like it would be beef flavored, but is not. If you taste a tiny bit, it’s actually mild and fairly sweet. This is completely optional, of course.

I tried kneading the cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet in by hand. I recommend a mixer!

I tried kneading the cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet in by hand. I recommend a mixer!

Note: I recently read an article claiming active dry yeast no longer needs to be softened in liquid, and was skeptical, but after experimenting, I totally agree. You’ll see that I skipped that procedure in this recipe. Rye bread is slower to rise, and won’t rise as high as regular bread, but it rose just as expected – with one less step.

Rye Party Bread
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Author:
Makes enough dough for 3 canape pans, or two small round loaves.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup strong, hot coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (regular or special dark)
  • ½ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (or substitute coffee or water)
Instructions
  1. In large bowl (stand mixer works best) combine hot coffee, oil, molasses, and buttermilk.
  2. Add rye flour and yeast. Mix until combined.
  3. Add salt, bread flour (begin with 1¾ cups) and caraway seeds. Using a dough hook, knead for approximately 5 minutes (7 minutes by hand). Dough should come cleanly away from the side of the bowl. If it doesn't, or is very sticky (slightly sticky is expected), add additional bread flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is the correct consistency.
  4. Remove half of the dough and place it into a greased bowl.
  5. To the remaining half, add cocoa and Kitchen Bouquet (or other liquid). Continue to knead until incorporated. Don't worry if the color isn't completely blended - a little marbling is fine.
  6. Place the darker dough in the same bowl with the lighter dough. Cover and let rise until almost doubled - at least one hour.
  7. Spray the inside of three canape pans thoroughly with an oil/flour spray (like Baker's Joy) and cover one end of each pan tightly with foil. Set aside.
  8. Divide each color into thirds. (*Instructions for making round loaves are at the end of the recipe.)
  9. Roll all six pieces into 6x8-inch rectangles. They will be thin. For each loaf, place a light piece and a dark piece together with the 6-inch side facing you, and roll up firmly, pinching the edges to seal. Give it a little roll back and forth with your hands to make it about 7-inches long, and slide into prepared canape pan, centering dough as much as possible. Set the pan upright on a baking sheet, with the foil covered end down. (This will ensure equal rising all the way around.) There should be about 1 inch of space at the top of the pan.
  10. Place a towel or plastic wrap over the tops of the canape pans and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until it has filled out into the shape of the pans.
  11. Heat oven to 375 F.
  12. Lay the canape pans down on the baking sheet (I leave the foil on), place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. As soon as you are able to handle the pans, slide the bread out to cool completely. You may need to give it a little shake and prod, but it should come out cleanly.Slice into thin, decorative slices.
  13. *To make round loaves, divide each color of dough into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece to roughly the same shape, stack a dark piece and a light piece, and then fold into a ball, creating a marbled effect, "Scooch" the ball along a flat surface to create a smooth round loaf. Cut a criss-cross on the top and cover. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled. Bake on lightly greased baking sheet for 25 minutes at 375 F. Brush hot bread lightly with butter for a shiny appearance.

Bread flour, rye flour, and caraway seeds.

Bread flour, rye flour, and caraway seeds.

Add rye flour and yeast to liquids.

Add rye flour and yeast to liquids.

Knead well! (A stand mixer is recommended.) Dough should come cleanly from sides of bowl.

Knead well! (A stand mixer is recommended.) Dough should come cleanly from sides of bowl.

Dough after one hour. Almost doubled - ready to roll.

Dough after one hour. Almost doubled – ready to roll.

Use an oil/flour spray inside the pan.

Use an oil/flour spray inside the pan.

Roll each piece out to 6x8"

Roll each piece out to 6×8″

Roll dark and light dough together.

Roll dark and light dough together.

Slide dough into pan.

Slide dough into pan.

Risen and ready for the oven.

Risen and ready for the oven.

Rye Party Bread stars from the Rowdy Baker

If you don’t want to fuss with the canape pans, just separate the dough into two pieces of light, and two pieces of dark. Smoosh a dark and light together and form into a ball. Cut the top and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet for 25 minutes. So simple!

Marbled Rye Bread from The Rowdy Baker

And now…back to my regularly scheduled sweet holiday treats!

Lorinda

Pinecone Rolls

Pinecone Rolls buttered The Rowdy BakerI just love to play with dough, and today’s creation was a batch of pinecone-shaped dinner rolls – just in time for Thanksgiving! Even with whole wheat flour in the recipe, the addition of buttermilk makes them very light and tender, and the molasses adds a hint of sweetness.

They take a little longer than most rolls because you have to cut the petals (that sounds better than “scales”, right?) before baking. Make them ahead and freeze them, and then just reheat them in foil before serving dinner…OR, if there’s some family member who drives you nuts trying to help in the kitchen, hand them the scissors and bowl of dough. Evil but effective.

Seriously, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to whip the rolls out pretty quickly.

The easiest and fastest way I’ve found to make the cone shapes is to form the dough into balls first. I pull the sides up to the top several times (looks a little bit like a Chinese dumpling), flip it over, and then “scooch” it along the counter to create a smooth ball, then press and roll on one side to make a pointy cone shape.

Bring the edges up, then flip and "scooch" it on a hard surface to form a ball.

Bring the edges up, then flip and “scooch” it on a hard surface to form a ball.

An inexpensive pair of cuticle scissors resides in my cake decorating tub for just this type of situation, and was perfect for the task. Start snipping at the base of the cone with wide cuts, and then make shorter, deeper cuts as you get to the pointed end.

Cut increasingly smaller "petals"

;. Cut increasingly smaller “petals”

Start with wide, flat snips...

Start with wide, flat snips…

...and end with small snips.

…and end with small snips.

You’ll figure out what works best for you. I preferred cutting while the roll was flat, but you might want to hold it by the end and cut in the air.

The recipe makes 24 rolls. I will warn you, though – they can be a little…er…pokey when you’re eating them. Think of it as a way of making people slow down and enjoy their food. It didn’t stop the guys around here from eating a half-dozen each, that’s for sure!

Pinecone Rolls
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Author:
Makes 24 rolls
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups very warm water
  • 2 packets of active-dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • 2½ -3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Melted butter (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it bubbles. (If it doesn't bubble, check the expiration date on your yeast and try again!)
  2. In the microwave or in a pan on low heat, combine the butter and molasses together. Heat until butter is completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Beat the buttermilk and egg together, and add to the molasses mixture. Stir until well combined.
  4. With mixer on low (I start right out with my dough hook), slowly add the warm mixture to the yeast mixture.
  5. When combined, add the cocoa and bread flour. Beat on medium low for 2 minutes.
  6. Add 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and the salt, beating until the flour is incorporated. Gradually add as much of the remaining flour as needed to create a dough that is still a little sticky, but comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl.
  7. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or 7 minutes by hand.
  8. Place dough in greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise until double, about 1 hour.
  9. Separate dough into 24 equal pieces, approximately 2-1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball and then roll one end with your fingers to make a cone shape.
  10. With small sharp scissors, beginning at the base of the cone, snip "petals". You don't need to go all the way around...just the top that will show when the pinecone is laying on its side. Make larger snips around the bottom, smaller near the top, staggering the petals like bricks.
  11. HEAT OVEN TO 375 F.
  12. Place 12 on each cookie sheet and allow the cones to rise for 30 minutes.
  13. Bake for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown. Set baking sheets on racks to cool for a few minutes before serving. Brush warm rolls with melted butter if desired.

Pinecone Rolls from The Rowdy Baker

From my family to yours, best wishes for a warm and love-filled Thanksgiving!

Lorinda