Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is irresistible to me, and I just love getting both flavors in one cookie. There are endless ways to put these two doughs together, and I’ll show you a few, but I’m sure you will come up with some fun ideas of your own.

Yes, you’ll have to make two different batches of cookie dough, but it really is a very easy dough to make, and it won’t take you long at all. If you’re wondering how many this will make, I just don’t know what to tell you. It depends on whether you’re making the three layer cookies or the chain cookies or . . .
Let’s just say it makes a generous amount, at least 4 dozen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread
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Two easy batches of shortbread cookie dough can be combined in countless ways to make creative and delicious cookies.
Ingredients
  • PEANUT BUTTER DOUGH:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon milk or water
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • CHOCOLATE COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 1½ cups butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon water or coffee
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • To decorate: your choice of chopped peanuts, sprinkles, chocolate icing or ganache
Instructions
  1. PEANUT BUTTER DOUGH:
  2. In a large mixing bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is best) beat butter, peanut butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk (or water) together well.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and cornstarch and beat on low until incorporated.
  4. Gradually add the flour. This is a very stiff dough! It will appear crumbly, but with thorough beating, should come together. If it doesn't, drizzle in a small amount of milk or water.
  5. Wrap and refrigerate dough. Scrape bowl out and use for the chocolate dough.
  6. CHOCOLATE COOKIE DOUGH
  7. In large bowl, beat butter, egg yolk, vanilla, and water (or coffee) together well.
  8. Add the powdered sugar and cornstarch and beat on low until incorporated.
  9. Combine the flour and cocoa and gradually add, mixing until dough forms. If necessary, drizzle in a very small amount of water or coffee.
  10. Wrap and refrigerate both doughs for 30 minutes. If you refrigerate the dough longer, it will become very stiff. If that happens, let it rest at room temperature until manageable.
  11. Heat oven to 350 F.
  12. Working with a small piece of one color at a time, roll ¼ inch thick on lightly floured surface or between sheets of parchment. Bake on ungreased baking sheet or on parchment for approximately 10 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your cookies. They should just be beginning brown on the bottom. Here are some ideas:
  13. Try using two different sizes of the same shape of cutter. If using hearts, cut large hearts out of both doughs, then use a smaller heart cutter in the center of half of the large hearts. Gently press a shape with the center removed onto a solid shape. Once baked, fill the center with chocolate ganache or peanut butter icing. You can also marble the colors, roll, and cut. Or try putting a small heart on a large one, topping with a dab of peanut butter, and covering with another large heart, creating a small raised heart in the center. Cover cooled cookie with icing or ganache. Or cut small hearts out of the center of large hearts to create heart "frames". cut one on the side, and slip the other through the cut. Press lighlty for a 2 heart "chain".

Some of the ideas I tried:

Triple layer cookies. (Okay, if you count the peanut butter I guess they’re quadruple layered.)

A layer of peanut butter dough, a small chocolate heart, a dollop of peanut butter, and top with another layer of peanut butter dough. Or reverse the colors.

See? This one was chocolate, a small peanut butter center, peanut butter, and chocolate.

Drizzle or cover with ganache or chocolate icing, and sprinkle with chopped peanuts

Or, these are fun!

A solid bottom with a cutout top. Once cool, fill with ganache or add a candy center

You can also link two cutout hearts together:

Or . . . the easiest idea of all is to simply combine the two doughs to create a marbled effect:

So many ways to play with this dough, and I’ll bet if you have littles in the kitchen, they will get very creative!

This is it for Valentine’s Day recipes for the year, and you know what that means, right? Everything green is coming your way soon.

Lorinda

Boozy Chocolate Cherry Sundae Cake

This rich, slightly boozy chocolate cake is paired with a light, slightly boozy whipped tart cherry buttercream filling. (Are you seeing a theme here?) And if that isn’t enough to make you put on your apron, it’s covered with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and you’d think you were eating a sundae…only better.

Boozy sundaes are the best!

Of course you don’t have to add alcohol. A little cherry flavoring in the cake would be fine. Ditto with the buttercream – just add more flavoring. Obviously you’d want to do this if you were planning to serve the cake to children, because contrary to what we have all been told, alcohol doesn’t always magically disappear when heated.

I used a 6-inch Wiltons heart pan. I sure wish I had two of them, because I had to bake one at a time, and this recipe makes four. It just took a little more time, but the batter held up very well at room temperature. Each cake was leveled and then sliced into two thin layers. I only used five layers for the finished cake, but wisely compensated for the “wonky” layers I knew I’d get. (I seem to be missing that gene. You know, the one where you can see if something is level. You should see the way pictures hang on my wall!)

Hubby happily ate the scraps.

This isn’t an inexpensive cake to make. The dried cherries are pricey, good ganache uses good chocolate, and of course you’ll need the chocolate cherry liqueur and the cherry brandy, but those two liqueurs are wonderful to have around. They are great in so many dishes…or just for sipping!

Seriously, if there’s any time to indulge in something completely decadent, it’s in February! You can use the excuse of Valentine’s Day, George Washington’s birthday (hellloooo…cherries) or a morale booster as winter begins to turn into a slushy, gray mess. Any or all of those reasons work for me.

Tips:

  • If you can’t find the dried cherries, by all means used canned sweet cherries – or frozen cherries – or even maraschino cherries. Just blot them well and skip the whole “soaking them in booze” step. I’m sure you’ll find something to do with that extra liqueur.
  • I just can’t be brutal and cut much off the top of the small cakes to level them. I take off what I must, but there is still a flat half and a slightly rounded half. I use the flat halves for layering, so they’ll stay somewhat level, and then one with a slightly rounded edge for the top. It looks pretty that way, and lets the ganache cascade off nicely.
  • Speaking of cascading, stop before you think you should. That stuff will keep working its way down and you don’t want huge puddles at the bottom. Hold off on the nuts until you’re sure the lava flow has stopped, otherwise they will be going along for the ride.
  • I used five of the eight baked layers, which was plenty tall. One tore, and two were a little out of level. If you trust your slicing skills better than I trust mine, just bake three of the cakes and make a few cupcakes with the remaining batter.

Do you know why this recipe looks so HUGE? There are three components, and I’m very wordy about how to do each – the cake, the filling, and the ganache. It’s not as scary as it looks! It all begins with a rich, tender, killer chocolate cake:

Boozy Chocolate Cherry Sundae Cake
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Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil (I use peanut or walnut oil - any light flavored oil will work)
  • 1 cup VERY strong coffee (see note at bottom of cake ingredient list)
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup Baileys Chocolate Cherry Liqueur (or substitute with milk plus 1 teaspoon cherry flavoring)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • NOTE: For best flavor, strong coffee can be made by bringing ½ cup ground coffee and 1½ cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain into measuring cup to equal 1 cup.
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup tart dried cherries, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cherry brandy, divided (or 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablepoon milk)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ teaspoon cherry flavoring (a little more if you aren't using the brandy)
  • 10 drops red food coloring
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • GANACHE:
  • 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • walnuts or sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour (or use an oil and flour spray like Baker's Joy) pans. A piece of parchment, cut to fit pan, can be put in the bottom for ease of release. For layered heart cake, use 6-inch heart pans. Cakes may be baked one at a time if only one pan is available. (Make sure pan is cooled and greased between cakes.) Two 9-inch round pans may be used instead.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and sugar.
  3. Add oil, coffee, milk, and Baileys (or milk and flavoring, if preferred). Beat for 1 minute on medium speed, scraping sides of bowl.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat 1 additional minute.
  5. Pour batter into pans: Fill the 6-inch heart pans half way, approximately 1½ cups of batter in each. Or divide evenly between 9-inch pans.
  6. Bake 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick. It should come out cleanly when inserted in the center of the cake.
  7. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto rack to cool completely. Chill for easiest handling! Cut a thin slice off of the top of each cake to level it, and then cut each cake into two equal layers.
  8. FILLING:
  9. In a small pan on medium heat, combine the dried cherries and 2 tablespoons cherry brandy (or water, if preferred). Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  10. In large bowl, beat the butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add remaining tablespoon of brandy (or milk, if preferred) cherry flavoring, and food coloring, and beat well.
  11. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until completely incorporated. Mixture will be thick.
  12. With beater on medium high speed, slowly add cream and continue to beat until stiff peaks form - approximately 3 minutes.
  13. Drain the cherries (keep the brandy they were soaking in for later) and stir into the filling.
  14. Spread between 5 cake layers, crumb coat the sides (this is a very thin coating to hold in the crumbs) and chill for about an hour to let the coating set.
  15. While the coating is setting, make the ganache.
  16. GANACHE:
  17. Place chopped chocolate into small bowl.
  18. In small pan on medium heat, bring the cream to a heavy simmer. It should be bubbly, but not at a boil. Remove from heat.
  19. Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 2 minutes. Stir gently with a rubber spatula.
  20. Return the cream to the stove and bring back to a simmer. Pour over chocolate mixture.
  21. Fold slowly until cream and chocolate are combined. Set aside, but stir occasionally.
  22. If you are using liqueur in this recipe, use a wooden skewer to poke holes in the top of the chilled cake, almost through the bottom layer. Carefully pour remaining brandy (from the cherries) into the holes. OR you can use a tablespoon or two of Baileys. Not too much or the cake will get mushy!
  23. Ice the cake, sides and top, with the remaining filling.
  24. If your ganache is thick but still pourable, it's ready to be spooned over the top of the cake. If it's still very thin, wait a little longer; it will thicken as it sets.
  25. Decorate with nuts or colored sprinkles.

 

 

Filled. I used the bottom half of each cake for the layers (they’re flatter) and then a more rounded top half for the top of the cake. This will allow the ganache to flow better.

Crumb coating.

Hot cream added to chopped chocolate…

…equals magic. Ganache!

Pouring ganache over iced cake.

Enjoy!

Lorinda

Peppermint Patty Cookies

peppermint-patty-cookies-the-rowdy-bakerIf you love peppermint patties, you will swoon over these holiday confections! With a crunchy cookie bottom, a thick layer of soft, creamy peppermint candy, and a firm, snappy coating of chocolate, the combination of textures is every bit as appealing as the flavors. Family and friends will take one bite and beg you to make more; I’ll bet they’ll be the first treats to disappear from your cookie platter.

There’s really nothing hard about making them, but they are a bit of a project. If you have young ones around, I know they’d love to help cut out the shapes and put the cookies and filling layers together. And you don’t have to do it all at once; bake the cookies one day and leave the filling and dipping for another time. The cookies freeze well, so you could get that part out of the way weeks before, if you’re the efficient type.

Frankly, though I love anything and everything dipped in chocolate, I hate doing the dipping. If there were anyone else here I could stick with that job, I’d do it. I don’t usually fuss about getting messy. Up to my elbows in dough? Great! Splattered wtih icing? Sweeeeet! Food coloring under my nails? No problem. But chocolate on my hands? Eeeeuw. Wash wash wash wash.

asparagus-choc

Okay, I lied; I don’t love EVERYTHING dipped in chocolate. This was a bad idea. Bad!

Still, totally worth it!

Of course I can’t just make something the way I imagined it; I have to play with variations. So…after the recipe and instructions, I’ll show you a few different ideas I tried.

If the chocolate cookie recipe looks familiar, that’s because it’s my go-to recipe when I want crunch. The cookie itself isn’t too sweet, which is perfect, because the patty filling certainly is! It’s basically what everyone’s aunt uses to make wedding mints, right? Put them together and dip the two layers in chocolate, and it just works perfectly together.

I originally considered topping the mint layer with a firm ganache before dipping, but my daughter talked me down from that craziness. She was right—these don’t need more chocolate. (Did I just say that?)

Peppermint Patty Cookies
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Makes about 3 dozen 2½-inch stars.
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a little more, if necessary)
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ***
  • PEPPERMINT PATTY
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ teaspoon clear vanilla (optional)
  • 8½ -9 cups powdered sugar
  • ***
  • COATING:
  • 18 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • Milk or white chocolate, or colored icing for decorating. Or just use sprinkles!
Instructions
  1. COOKIES:
  2. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the vanilla, milk, and egg, and beat well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients (slow down there, Tiger...the cocoa will fly everywhere! Beat it on low until it's incorporated) and mix together well. It should be very soft, but if it's too sticky to handle, add up to 3 tablespoons extra flour.
  6. For best results, roll out between two pieces of lightly floured parchment until it's about ¼" thick.
  7. Cut with a star shaped cookie cutter (mine was 2¾" wide) and place ½"-1" apart on ungreased bafking sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes. The cookies should be fairly firm. If they're still soft, give them another minute or two. They'll harden a bit as they cool.
  8. Allow the cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. FILLING:
  10. Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add peppermint extract and vanilla, if using, and mix well.
  11. Slowly add the powdered sugar, using a sturdy stand mixer and dough hook, if possible. If mixing by hand, stir in as much powdered sugar as possible, then place any remaining sugar on work surface and put the dough on top of it. Knead by hand until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if dough is too sticky to roll.
  12. Work with half of the dough at a time, keeping the reamaining half tightly wrapped in plastic. Roll out ¼-inch thick between sheets of parchment that have been dusted with powdered sugar.
  13. Cut with the same star cookie cutter you used for the cookies. Place one piece of peppermint dough on each cookie. Using a mini-roller or your hands, make sure the dough goes all the way to the edge of the cookie. Press gently around the edge to make it rounded and smooth all the way around.
  14. Chill for at least one hour.
  15. Melt chocolate and shortening in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring each time, or in a small pan on lowest heat, stirring frequently.
  16. Turn each cookie over and dip the peppermint side into the melted chocolate, making sure the chocolate completely covers the peppermint. You don't need to coat the bottom of the cookie.. Allow excess to drip off, and place (cookie side down) on waxed paper or parchment. Chill until chocolate is firm. (If you are using sprinkles, add them before the chocolate hardens)
  17. Or, once chocolate is firm, drizzle with a contrasting color, using milk or white chocolate or a colored icing.
  18. Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

cut-cookie-dough-into-star-shapes

Cut into star shapes. (My cookie cutter was 2 3/4-inches across.

 

Peppermint dough should be firm and easy to handle. If it isn't, knead in a little more powdered sugar.

Peppermint dough should be firm and easy to handle. If it isn’t, knead in a little more powdered sugar.

Press the dough onto cooled cookie, rounding the edges down to meet the cookie. You can use your hand...

Press the dough onto cooled cookie, rounding the edges down to meet the cookie. You can use your hand…

 

...but a mini roller really makes the job go quickly. You'll still have to press around the edges, but the top is so smooth!

…but a mini roller really makes the job go quickly. You’ll still have to press around the edges, but the top is so smooth!

 

smooth-the-edges-bringing-them-down-to-meet-the-cookie

I brought the peppermint down over the cookie. It will be covered with chocolate, so keeping the shape smooth is more important than how it looks.

You can use chocolate chips, but good dark chocolate is better!

You can use chocolate chips, but good dark chocolate is better!

Dip the chilled cookies in dark chocolate. (Eeeeuw.)

Dip the chilled cookies in dark chocolate. (Eeeeuw.)

Chill the cookies and then drizzle them with a contrasting color. White chocolate would be nice, too.

Chill the cookies and then drizzle them with a contrasting color. White chocolate would be nice, too.

The stars turned out so well, you’d think I would just leave well enough alone, huh? Pffft.

Here are some fun options:

  • I made little mini stars…one bite (okay, or two, if you’re dainty) poppers, but I added crushed peppermint puffs to the peppermint dough.
  • Wreaths look lovely too. Round cookie cutters – one large, one small, create a very nice wreath shape. I like to use the mint mixture with the crushed candy to give them a little texture.
  • After adding the peppermint layer to the larger stars, Add a few drops of water to a small amount of peppermint dough and use it to pipe designs on the cookies. Chill and dip.
  • I love using gold highlights on dark chocolate. You can order a small container online. Just mix the powder with a tiny bit of vodka and paint away!

 

Making wreaths.

Making wreaths.

Adding crushed candy cane or peppermint puffs give a little crunch.

Adding crushed candy cane or peppermint puffs give a little crunch.

Some fun decorating ideas.

Some fun decorating ideas.

The small stars highlighted with gold would make an elegant addition to each place setting at your holiday table, and would provide a refreshing finish to the meal.

Or hide them in an empty broccoli bag in your freezer and help yourself whenever you need a boost. ‘Tis the season to be sneaky!

Lorinda

Harvest Home Sweet Potato Casserole

harvest-home-sweet-potato-casserole-the-rowdy-bakerOh, you’re going to love this! This hearty casserole made with sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, bacon, and pecans is the ultimate side dish for Thanksgiving, guaranteed to win everyone’s heart around the holiday table. It’s also stellar as a rib-sticking breakfast.  Since it freezes well, I recommend that you make a double batch and tuck some away for Christmas, when things are wild and crazy and time is of the essence.

This will be the dish you are requested to bring to every function you attend, September through February. And not in that polite way: “Oh, Aunt Susie…we’re so glad (cough cough) you’re bringing your famous corn and oysters to Thanksgiving again this year”.

See how short this recipe is? It’s not one of my typical three-page-marathon recipes. You’ve just got to give it a whirl! This dish can be changed to suit your preferences, of course. Double the cranberries, omit the bacon (or try ham), substitute maple sugar for brown sugar, or walnuts for pecans. harvest-home-sweet-potato-casserole-from-the-rowdy-baker

If you plan on making this ahead and freezing it, it’s best to do so right after it’s put in the casserole dish, not after it’s baked. Be sure to bake it for at least an hour if your casserole is going straight from the freezer to the oven, and test to make sure the veggies are hot and fork tender.

Harvest Home Sweet Potato Casserole
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Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium apples, any kind
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped raw cranberries (frozen berries are fine, too)
  • 4 pieces of bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces (optional)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed firmly
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces. Place in medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a full boil and cook for 1 minute. Drain well.
  3. Peel and core apples. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. Place sweet potatoes and apples in a large bowl. Add melted butter and toss to coat.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients except for the marshmallows and toss.
  6. Place in a lightly greased 2½-quart casserole dish, leaving at least ½-inch of space at the top. If you don't have that size, the mixture can be pressed firmly into a 2-quart dish, (any extra can be put in a "bonus" ramekin) or a 3-quart casserole can be used, but it may not need as long in the oven.
  7. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. (30 if you are using a 3-quart casserole)
  8. Remove from oven, fluff lightly with a fork, and cover with marshmallows. Return to oven and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Here are some of the ingredients. I always use what the grocery stores call “yams” (they’re not, really), with the orange flesh. They really are sweet potatoes, but I believe they are more flavorful than the pale sweet potatoes. Your choice!

The pig wouldn’t cooperate and stay on the table, but bacon (or ham) really jazz up this dish.

harvest-casserole-ingredients

Peel and chunk the sweet potatoes. (I know, I know...call them "yams" if you must!)

Peel and chunk the sweet potatoes. (I know, I know…call them “yams” if you must!)

Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.

Cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.

 

Cut apples (whatever kind you like) into bite size pieces.

Cut apples (whatever kind you like) into bite size pieces.

If you’re doubling the recipe, use a HUGE bowl for the following step:

Toss apples and cooked potatoes in melted butter. Add cranberries and nuts...and everything else except the marshmallows.

Toss apples and cooked potatoes in melted butter. Add cranberries and nuts…and everything else except the marshmallows.

In the recipe I mentioned the different options for casserole dishes. A 2 1/2-quart dish is your best bet. I squeezed mine into a very deep pie pan (because it was so pretty) which was fine, but with less headspace, I couldn’t get too carried away with the marshmallows. Boo!

I used a deep pie pan.

I used a deep pie pan.

Using a 3-quart casserole means you’ll need to cut the baking time down to 30 minutes, since the ingredients are more spread out. The upside is, you can go crazy with the marshmallows!

In a 3-quart casserole.

In a 3-quart casserole.

If you really want to get fancy, and no—I haven’t tried this yet—spoon the mixture into lightly greased ramekins and let each person have their own mini-casserole.

If there ARE any leftovers, they won’t get pushed to the back of the refrigerator with the dressing and green bean casserole (and those nasty corn and oysters), I promise!

This recipe (tweaked slightly) made its debut in a column I wrote for Yummy Northwest a couple of years ago, showcasing “Bounceberry” recipes, (aka: cranberry recipes).
You may want to take a peek at the archived column for more fun holiday ideas.

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

Spicy Spider Bites

spicy-spider-bites-from-the-rowdy-bakerThese spicy molasses cookies are slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, just like a spider! Bwa ha ha.  I try to put aside my hatred of spiders when I decorate and eat these delightful, flavorful cookies, because at Halloween it’s kind of fun to enjoy the food, yet be grossed out at the presentation—sort of a “love to hate it” situation.

The dough is very soft and must be chilled before rolling and baking, so planning ahead is a good idea. If you wrap it well, you can actually make this dough several days ahead…if you’re the efficient, organized type. (I salute you!)

I made several batches of these a few years ago for a holiday bazaar, and they sold like crazy. It’s a horrible picture, but you can see how huge they were.spider-cookiesBut…not everyone wants a whole handful of cookie, so I improvised and made these cute little two-inch bites for this post.spicy-spider-bites-from-the-rowdy-baker

The dough is very quick to make; just leave yourself plenty of time to chill it properly. It also helps to roll it out between two sheets of lightly floured parchment. And even though I really don’t like using shortening, it’s important in this recipe. All butter will make the cookies spread more, and you don’t want that!

Spicy Spider Bites
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Makes about 8 dozen small (2-inch) cookies. You can make them larger or just lightly frost the rest when you get tired of making spiders!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, slightly softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • *****
  • Royal Icing - use your favorite recipe OR try mine:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder (I use Wiltons brand, available in the cake decorating section)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ******
  • Dark icing, melted chocolate, dark brown coated candy...whatever you want to use for the spider.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is helpful) beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar until well combined.
  2. Add eggs and beat until incorporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt, and baking powder.
  4. In a small bowl combine the molasses and sour cream. Whisk in the baking soda. It will foam up and lighten in color.
  5. At low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. When most of the flour is mixed in, add ⅓ of the molasses mixture. Repeat twice, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Do not overbeat!
  6. Chill dough for at least 2 hours. Overnight is better.
  7. Heat oven to 375.
  8. Roll out ¼ of the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the refrigerator. Dough should be about ¼-inch thick. Cut into circles and place on parchment covered baking sheet, 1 inch apart.
  9. Bake small circles for 8-9 minutes, larger circles for 9-10 minutes. Touch the top of one cookie gently. If your finger leaves a mark, give them another minute. For crispy cookies, add an extra minute or two.
  10. Cool on a rack.
  11. To make royal icing: Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until thick and fluffy.
  12. Using a pastry bag and small tip (or a heavy zipper bag with the tip cut off) pipe spider webbing onto cool cookies: make a straight line from top to bottom, then side to side. Then two more lines diagonally, like cutting a pie into 8 pieces. Pipe near the outer edge of the cookie, swooping from one line to the next. Do it again closer to the center. That's it!
  13. Hint: You can also coat the entire cookie in a thin layer of icing, let it dry, and then draw the web on with a food color pen like Wilton's FoodWriter.
  14. You can make the spider out of dark chocolate frosting (this is one of those times I'd encourage buying a can of frosting for simplicity), ganache, or by piping melted chocolate for the legs and head, and using a dark brown M&M for the body.

Beat butter and sugar, then add eggs. Mixture should be light and fluffy.

Beat butter and sugar, then add eggs. Mixture should be light and fluffy.

In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients

In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients

In a small bowl, whisk baking soda into molasses and sour cream.

In a small bowl, whisk baking soda into molasses and sour cream. It foams!

Alternate molasses and dry ingredients. Dry first, then wet. Repeat twice.

Alternate molasses and dry ingredients. Dry first, then wet. Repeat twice.

Cover dough and chill thoroughly.

Cover dough and chill thoroughly.

Cut circles and bake on parchment. Size is up to you!

Cut circles and bake on parchment. Size is up to you!

There are two decorating options I like:

draw-web-on-white-icing-with-food-color-pen

Wait for the icing to dry (see the center? I didn’t wait long enough) and draw the web onto cookie with a food marker. OR pipe it with black icing or melted chocolate.

or pipe royal icing webs on plain cookies.

or pipe royal icing webs on plain cookies. I think the spiders show up a little better this way.

To make the spiders, simply pipe on legs and a small head, using black icing or melted chocolate (I stir a tiny bit of corn syrup into the warm chocolate, just until it thickens a little) and top it with a dark brown M&M. You can find lots of different spider shapes on Google.

I had intended to go all out with these—make brown recluse and black widow spiders—but it creeped me out so badly I just couldn’t do it. If you are tougher than I am, go for it. Making these cookies was bad enough for this arachnophobe!spicy-spider-bite

This recipe makes a whopping 8 dozen small (2-inch) cookies. If you get tired of drawing webs and making spiders, you can always make them larger OR just lightly ice some of them with the crispy royal icing.

Happy Halloween!

Lorinda

Crispy Cornucopia Cookies

crispy-cornucopia-cookiesThese crisp vanilla cornucopias are filled with dark chocolate and sweet little fruits and vegetables—as delightful to look at as they are to eat!

If you don’t have cream horn molds, you’ll want to pick some up at your local kitchen store, or buy a dozen online for less than $10.00. You won’t be sorry!

You can fill these babies however you please. Marzipan fruits, little chocolate leaves…go where your imagination takes you! For those of you who are sissies reluctant to create your own little decorations, I’ll give you options ranging from “easy-peasy” to “seriously???” so you can pick your method. You know which one I prefer, of course…but then, I can’t resist playing with my food.

This is a basic sugar cookie recipe with just a little brown sugar to add color, and an extra egg white to add to the crisp factor. Think of the cornucopia as “sugar cone meets fortune cookie” and you will know what to expect. The chocolate coating just puts this cookie over the top!

Honestly? I loved the crunchy cookie and chocolate without any decorations at all. You’ll have a few that don’t come out pretty, so I’m sure you’ll be able to munch on one or two. Or three.

I’ll give you the cookie recipe and instructions first, then tell you how I made the decorations.

Crispy Cornucopia Cookies
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Author:
Makes 3½ - 4 dozen cookies. Dough must be chilled for at least 2 hours before rolling.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • Decorations, if desired: fruit shaped candy or fruit snacks, chocolate leaves, M&Ms, marzipan fruit, fruit and leaves made from candy clay, leaves made from fruit roll-ups or rolled candy corn.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is very helpful - this is a stiff dough!) combine brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Beat well until creamy.
  2. Add egg and egg white, vanilla, and milk. Beat well.
  3. Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mixture will look dry and crumbly, but will eventually come together into a stiff dough. If it doesnt, add a little milk or water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
  4. Cover dough and chill for at least 2 hours - overnight is fine.
  5. Create a template by cutting a piece of cardstock (or the middle of a paper plate) to fit exactly around a cream corn mold, leaving at least 1 inch of the large end of the mold uncovered. This helps to remove the mold after baking, and keeps the cookies from being too large. My template was approximately 3-1/2" by 3-1/2".
  6. VERY lightly coat the molds with butter. You shouldn't be able to see the butter!
  7. Heat oven to 350F. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Remove about ¼ of the dough from the refrigerator at a time. Roll out on generously floured surface to approximately ⅛-inch thickness.
  9. Using template, cut out shapes. With fork tines, press vertical and then horizontal lines to resemble basket weave.
  10. Lift each piece of dough with a flat spatula and lay over the mold with the mold seam to the back. There should be a small gap at the seam. Gently ease the dough together over the seam. Don't overlap, and make sure the dough is snug on the mold to avoid sagging as the cornucopias bake.
  11. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and move to cooling rack until cookies are cool enough to handle. Holding a cookie in one hand, gently squeeze the metal mold to loosen, and firmly pull cookie off of mold. Allow cookie to cool before filling with chocolate.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough. When finished, melt the chocolate: in the microwave, at 15 second increments, stirring each time, or in a small pan on the stove using the lowest heat, stirring often. With either method, heat JUST until most of the chunks are melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
  13. Lightly coat the inside of each cone with chocolate. I found it easiest to do by dipping a (clean!) finger in the warm chocolate, but you can use a paintbrush or pastry bag. Keep the coating fairly light so it doesn't seep through the cookie shell. Dip the opening in chocolate and place on waxed paper.
  14. Chocolate will remain soft for quite a while, so this is a good time to add any decorations you are using.

Make a template. Use card stock or the center of a paper plate. Leave an inch uncovered at the big end, and a small gap at the seam.

Make a template. Use card stock or the center of a paper plate. Leave an inch uncovered at the big end, and a small gap at the seam.

roll-out-on-generously-floured-surface

Roll out small portion of chilled dough on generously floured surface.

Cut out shape by cutting around template with sharp knife. Press fork tines in one direction...

Cut out shape by cutting around template with sharp knife. Press fork tines in one direction…

and then the other direction, creating a basket weave design.

and then the other direction, creating a basket weave design.

Lay dough over mold, leaving gap on the underside by the metal seam.

Lay dough over mold, leaving gap on the underside by the metal seam.

Then, gently ease it together. Dough should fit snugly on the mold. If it's loose, it will sag as it bakes.

Then, gently ease it together. Dough should fit snugly on the mold. If it’s loose, it will sag as it bakes.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven! I like to stretch and curl the tips a bit.

Lightly coat the inside of the cones with melted chocolate, then dip the outer opening.

Lightly coat the inside of the cones with melted chocolate, then dip the outer opening. If your decorations are ready, place them while the chocolate is still soft, so they’ll stick well.

Note here: I’ll admit, after using a teaspoon to pour chocolate in each cone and trying to swirl it around, I found that the easiest way was to just use my finger. Dip it in the chocolate and then swirl it in the cone. Hey…that finger was CLEAN! You can use a glove if you’d like, or maybe try a paintbrush or even a pastry bag.

TO MAKE THE FALL DECORATIONS:

sugar-cookie-cornucopias

This was before I decided to dip the opening in the chocolate too. Either way works!

I really like the flavor of candy clay (or molding chocolate) for the little fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t clash with the flavor of the cookie the way taffy, fruit leather, or hard candy does.But if time is of the essence, take the easy route and use store bought goodies; they’ll look cute either way.

Here is a link with instructions for making it out of candy melts: Wiltons Candy Clay.  I made a batch of clay using white candy melts, immediately split it up into small bowls and added food coloring before putting the pieces in sandwich bags to set until firm.

The corn in the picture above was made with yellow candy clay, wrapped with very thin green clay. The pumpkin was made with orange clay. The stem was a little piece of brown candy corn. Cocoa nibs look great too, if you have them. Bananas, grapes, oranges, apples…all from clay, molded individually. The grapes were kind of fun. Park yourself in front of the TV with purple candy clay, and start rolling tiny balls. Lots and lots of tiny purple (or green!) balls. Clump a group of them together, pressing just until they hold together.grapes

Some other options come already shaped, like hard candy fruits (Runts), fruit shaped fruit-snacks, marzipan, or fondant. You can also shape your own without the fuss of making the candy clay by using sturdy taffy (like Starburst) which molds very well. Red sixlets with little leaves on top would be perfect for apples.

Here are visuals of the various options.l-to-r-is-hardest-to-easiest

 

A comparison of different mediums - fruit rolls, candy corn (Harvest mix) and candy clay.

A comparison of different mediums – fruit rolls, candy corn (Harvest mix) and candy clay.

When making leaves, use:

  • fruit rolls for vibrant color and simplicity
  • thinly rolled candy corn for rich fall color. Relatively easy.
  • Candy clay. You create the colors – these are more subdued, but thin and realistic. And definitely more effort because you have to mix the clay ahead of time.

You could also use marzipan or fondant, or you could pipe leaves using melted chocolate or candy melts. I don’t recommend gum paste – you want these to be tasty!

Small leaf cutters are wonderful. I used one that came in a kit for gum paste. I used a small x-acto blade to cut out maple and oak leaves. You’ll notice there are a lot less of those! I didn’t think about this option until after I was finished and ready to post the recipe, but if you have small chocolate molds, you could MOLD the leaves instead of cutting them. They won’t be as thin, but the shape would be right and it would be very easy.

A WORD OF ADVICE:

Since this was fussy work, and pretty time-consuming, I’d recommend spreading your efforts over a couple of days so you don’t burn out. Make the little fruits, vegetables, and leaves one day (store them covered, at room temperature) and the cookies the next day. Maybe you can find some little helpers to help fashion some of the decorations.crispy-cornucopia-cookies-the-rowdy-baker

I’d love to see what you come up with. If you make these, post a picture on my Facebook page so I can enjoy your creativity!

Happy fall,

Lorinda

 

 

 

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust

 

Flags and Flowers Cherry Pie - The Rowdy BakerPick a filling, any filling! Cherry, apple…whatever says “Memorial Day” to you. What people will remember is the crust – flaky and delicious, and decorated with flags and flowers, with a star in the center to let steam out.

To have a generous portion of pie crust to work with (think thick, rustic crust and lots of dough to make shapes out of) I doubled my usual recipe.

Flags and Flowers Pie Crust
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Author:
A double recipe of pie crust will give you nice thick deep dish crusts, and plenty of extra dough for decorating..
Ingredients
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups shortening (chilled)
  • ½ cup cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or vinegar, if you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pie filling of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Cut shortening into the mixture (using a pastry blender or your fingertips) until there are no lumps bigger than a pea.
  4. Combine milk and vodka and add to the dry ingredients all at once.
  5. Use a fork or rubber spatula to lightly combine. Separate into two balls..
  6. Between two sheets of floured parchment, flatten one of the balls of dough and roll out to a size at least 2 inches bigger all the way around than your pie pan. Add a little flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the parchment. Remove top parchment and, using your pie pan as a guide, cut out a circle approximately 1 inch bigger around than the pie pan. Set aside the scraps for decorations.
  7. Slide a flat baking sheet under the bottom parchment and place your pie pan upside down in the center of the dough. With one hand under the baking sheet and one on the top of the pie pan, flip it over. Remove the baking sheet and gently peel back the parchment. Ease dough into the pan. Place in the refrigerator.
  8. Roll the second ball of dough the same size as the first, between sheets of floured parchment. Remove the top parchment and cut the circle of dough, saving the scraps, Using a cookie cutter, cut a star shape out of the middle. Slide a baking sheet under the bottom parchment and refrigerate while you work on the decorations.
  9. Combine all scraps and roll out thinly between parchment.
  10. Cut out 8 rectangles for flags. With a toothpick make guidelines for stripes and a large square in the upper left hand corner, poked with the toothpick for "stars". With a large sharp knife, cut thin strips to make stripes. Lay them on the rectangles, letting them fall over the edge, and press gently. Trim the excess dough from the sides.
  11. Make roses: Roll a small strip of dough to make the center. Cut round circles and overlap them around the center, pinching the outer edges to make them thin so they'll curl down a bit. Shape with your fingers. Holding the flower right below the petals, pinch off the excess dough from the bottom so the flowers will set neatly on the crust. Make 8 roses.
  12. Heat oven to 375 F.
  13. Remove crusts from the refrigerator.
  14. Fill the bottom crust and cover with the top, keeping the star centered. Crimp the edges.
  15. Arrange flags and roses around the outer edge.
  16. Place a baking sheet under the pie and bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the top crust is a rich golden brown.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough - let it fall of the sides for now. And crumbly areas can be cleaned with toothpick.

Mark lines with toothpick. Add thin strips of dough – let it fall of the sides for now.

Trim the edges.

Trim the edges.

I neglected to get rose-in-progress photos. But it’s easy, honest! Just roll a little strip of dough for a center. Cut small circles and overlap – pinching the dough on the top to thin it and make it curl nicely. Use your inner artist! Hold the rose loosely in one hand with fingers under the blossom, and pinch off the extra dough so it will sit pretty.

Arrange flags and flowers.

Arrange flags and flowers.

At this point, you could brush the pie with an egg wash, or sprinkle it with sugar – or even colored sugar. You could even paint the stars and stripes with food color. I wanted rustic, so I left it alone.

BAKE!

Flags and Flowers Piecrust from The Rowdy Baker

And of course, you are the kitchen artist here. Make all stars, one large flag, or sculpt an eagle. Use canned pie filling or make your own. Whatever you do, it will be wonderful! Have a good Memorial Day.

Lorinda

Macaron Topped Cookies

Macaron Topped Cookies - The Rowdy BakerThis crunchy chocolate cookie with a delicate, crispy/chewy topping baked right on is a unique way to enjoy a macaron without overwhelming your sweet tooth! The chocolate cookie is rich and dark – a perfect choice for complementing sugary meringue.

And…those crispy macaron shells are perfect for decorating. Sprinkle lightly with chocolate shavings or sprinkles just before baking, or paint them with food coloring or petal dust after they are baked and cooled! I used an old fashioned paintbrush, but I’ll bet food color markers would be a good choice if you want to add names. Just don’t press too hard!

Even when baked on a cookie, macarons have a little ruffle at the bottom (called feet), so I piped the macaron batter a bit inside of the cookie edge (the macaron may shrink slightly, too) and then decorated around the baked cookie with tiny royal icing dots, using a small round tip.

Pipe the meringue on thin cookie dough, just inside the edge.

Pipe the meringue on thin cookie dough, just inside the edge.

No, my cookie sheet isn’t dirty – it’s SEASONED! That’s my story. Seriously, folks – a seasoned cookie sheet is great; I rarely have to grease it. I love these DoughMaker sheets, but the third one I ordered refuses to season. It’s all shiny, and things do stick sometimes. So it’s mostly for photos!

The cookie dough is a snap to make, and once you get the hang of it, the macarons really don’t take that long either. You can make the cookie dough ahead of time – up to 3 days – but let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so before you try to roll it out.

I got all crazy and split one batch of macarons into three different colors. It worked, but only because I had everything ready before I started mixing the egg whites. Three bowls with food coloring (GEL OR POWDER ONLY) in them, piping bags with large round tips in a row. Yes, for once I was organized. Don’t expect to see that again any time soon.

Now for the recipe, and…a disclaimer: In a perfect world, the recipe will make 48 cookies and 48 macaron tops, but so many things can mess up this plan! The thickness of your cookie dough, size of your cookie cutter, or your exuberance with the macaron topping can leave you with a little extra of one thing or the other. They are both stand alone treats, so I’m sure you can live with a few strays.

I may have gotten a little carried away on this one. Whoops!

I may have gotten a little carried away on this one. Whoops! Um. Don’t do this.

Macaron Topped Cookies
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Author:
Makes approximately 48 cookies.
Ingredients
  • CHOCOLATE COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • MACARON TOPPING:
  • 210 grams (2½ cups) almond flour (use the lightest, finest flour you can find)
  • 380 grams (3½ cups) powdered sugar
  • 200 grams (6 whites) egg whites, room temperature or - better yet - aged *
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 90 grams (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
  • food coloring - gel or powdered only
  • Shaved chocolate, sprinkles, food colors or petal dust, royal icing (if desired for decorating.)
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla, milk, and egg, and beat well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (slow down there, Tiger...the cocoa will fly everywhere! Beat it on low until it's incorporated) and mix together well.
  4. If you're making this ahead, wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and chill for up to 3 days. Allow dough to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before rolling.
  5. Roll dough out (preferably between lightly floured pieces of parchment) very thin - between ⅛" and ¼". Cut with 3" egg-shaped cookie cutter.
  6. Place approximately 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Set aside while making macaron topping. (If you don't have enough sheets, arrange cookies on parchment and then slide the parchment onto a cooled sheet.)
  7. MACARON TOPPING:
  8. Weigh or measure the almond flour and powdered sugar. Sift together twice, discarding any large bits that won't go through your sifter, and set aside.
  9. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle a pinch of cream of tartar over the top and beat until soft peaks form.
  10. While beating, slowly add the superfine sugar. Continue to beat until meringue forms stiff peaks. If you are making just one color, add it now.
  11. Add the dry ingredients and carefully fold in, just until incorporated.
  12. (If you are dividing the topping to make several colors, do so now, before it is "lava" like or it will be over mixed by the time you blend in the coloring. Fold each color until thin enough to flow from your spoon slowly.)
  13. If you are making just one color, continue to fold until mixture will flow slowly from your spoon or spatula. It won't look smooth - it has almonds in it - but shouldn't be "gloppy". Drop a spoonful on a plate and tap the plate against the counter. The batter should smooth out. If there is still a peak on the top, stir a few more times.
  14. This is important: *The more you stir, the thinner it will get (not good), so don't over-stir!*
  15. Spoon into a large pastry bag equipped with a large round tip.
  16. Squeeze bag to pipe around each cookie shape, staying a little inside of the edge. Fill in the middle. If you get too close to the edge, run your finger along it to even it out.
  17. Drop the pan several times onto the counter to flatten out any tip left from piping and remove air bubbles. Pop any air bubbles that come to the surface with a toothpick right away.
  18. Let the pans of cookies sit and dry for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 F.
  19. If you are using shaved chocolate or sprinkles to decorate your cookies, do so just before they go in the oven.
  20. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, or until macarons are firm but not turning dark. Touch the edge of one - if it moves, give it another minute and check again.
  21. Cool cookies on wire racks.
  22. To paint cookies, thin gel or powdered coloring with a little vodka and let your artistic side take over!
Roll out dough nice and thin

Roll out dough nice and thin

Meringue is ready - either add coloring or separate for several colors.

Meringue is ready – either add coloring or separate for several colors.

Folding dry ingredients into beaten egg whites

Folding dry ingredients into beaten egg whites

If you are making several colors, separate topping into bowls and fold in colors until mixture flows slowly from spoon.

If you are making several colors, separate topping into bowls and fold in colors until mixture flows slowly from spoon.

Use your finger to create a clean edge around the cookie.

Use your finger to create a clean edge around the cookie.

Macaron Topped Cookies - The Rowdy BakerI think I may be through with all things macaron – at least until Christmas.

Wishing you the joy of spring –
Lorinda

Please, Bees…Bring Spring! Honey Lemon Cheesecake

Honey Lemon Cheesecake from The Rowdy BakerSweet little jelly bean bees usher in Spring with this honey and lemon cheesecake. Honey adds a mellow sweetness, and sour cream gives it a light tang – a perfect combination!

The cheesecake is easy; making the bees takes a bit of patience and fine motor skills. If you’re not up for that, they sell cute little pre-made bees and flowers too, and no one will judge you!

Bee factory!

Bee factory!

I’ve made gum paste bees before, and the wings stuck on them easily. With jelly beans? Not so much. I tried royal icing and candy melts, and those pesky wings just kept sliding off. Finally I found that the slices of jelly beans I used for wings would stick to the bean body as long as there was a sticky surface exposed. (So, cut a thin slice of jelly bean and then trim a little bit off one end so it STICKS!)

I made small bees using a yellow jelly bean, two slices for wings, and a small piece cut off one end of a jelly bean for the head. A black food color pen works really well for the stripes and eyes. I tried making a stinger out of dark chocolate, but frankly…it looked like the bee was pooping. Had a good laugh over that one. Tiny slices of black jelly beans kind of worked, but I wasn’t very happy with them. Next time I’ll buy some black licorice.

Just for grins, I also made some larger bees, using yellow peanut M&Ms. They looked more like big fat bumblebees…very cute. Those are around the base of the cake.

I found that toothpicks really helped hold the bees in place while I fussed with them and while they dried. (This obviously doesn’t work for the M&M bees – they just have to chill on the plate.) A piece of styrofoam is nice to stick the toothpicks into, but use your imagination. A small box or even a potato would work well, too!

I made the little violet flowers and the bee hive out of royal icing. (Make sure the icing is very stiff when you pipe the bee hive. or maybe you could make one out of half of a lemon?) I forgot to add leaves. Grrrr.  The green icing was sitting on the counter in a pastry bag with a leaf tip, and I forgot to use it! I think it would have looked a lot prettier with that touch of green.Honey Lemon Cheesecake the rowdy baker

The honey comb was made from melted white chocolate, with a little milk chocolate and a tiny bit of yellow candy coloring (a yellow candy melt would work too) to achieve a honey color. Spread it over bubble wrap and place in the freezer until hard, then just peel off and break into pieces.

And….here’s the recipe for the cheesecake!

Honey Lemon Cheesecake
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Author:
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • CHEESECAKE:
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • Juice and zest from one large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • drop of yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Prepare 9-inch springform pan by lightly buttering sides of ring. Place a 10-inch round of parchment over the bottom of the pan and set the ring over it. Hold the ring down firmly and close the clasp, trapping the parchment. You should be able to see a small "ruffle" from the outside. This gives your crust a smooth appearance all the way to the plate. It will ooze butter in the oven, so make sure you have a baking sheet or foil under it.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  4. Using a straight sided measuring cup, press crust firmly and evenly in pan. Using one hand to support the side of the pan, press firmly all the way around. Mixture doesn't have to go all the way to the top.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and white sugar until smooth. Add the honey, lemon juice and zest, flour, vanilla, and food coloring. Beat on medium until combined.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low just until incorporated. Do not over beat!
  7. Fold in sour cream and pour over crust, smoothing with a knife.
  8. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 70 minutes. Without opening oven door, turn oven off and let the cheesecake remain in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Test by shaking pan gently. The inside should jiggle a bit. This is exactly what you want. If the whole thing wobbles, close the door and leave it in there for another 30 minutes before removing.
  10. If your cheesecake extends over the top of the crust, run a knife gently around the edge, right down to the crust, to avoid cracks as it cools.
  11. Once completely cool, refrigerate until ready to decorate and serve.

Honey gives this cheesecake a lovely, mellow sweetness.

Honey gives this cheesecake a lovely, mellow sweetness.

Trap the parchment with the ring.

Trap the parchment with the ring.

There should be a cute little ruffle sticking out.

There should be a cute little ruffle sticking out.

I like the clean look I get when I do this with parchment. But…it will ooze butter, so make sure the cheesecake is setting on a baking pan – preferably lined with foil!

Really press to make sure the crust stays in place since it isn't pre-baked.

Really press to make sure the crust stays in place since it isn’t pre-baked.

Pour batter into crust and smooth with a knife.

Pour batter into crust and smooth with a knife.

 

Cooling on the counter

Cooling on the counter

Once your cheesecake is chilled, pipe whipped cream around the edge and decorate to suit your tastes. You might even want to drizzle a little honey on the top.Honey Lemon Cake Sliced

Dig in!

And here’s another version, using colored whipped topping for the pastel flowers.Easter Cheesecake

As much as I love winter, I’m so happy Spring is officially here! More Easter recipes to come.

Lorinda

Chocolate Cherry Tea Cookies

Leave it plain for a pretty hanging cookie.

Leave it plain for a pretty hanging cookie.

These tender little sugar cookies with bits of chocolate and maraschino cherries will delight anyone with a sweet tooth. Surprise co-workers, friends, and loved ones with homemade Valentine treats!

(Also, at the bottom of the blog you’ll find links to three more recipes from my amazing blogger friends – and you do not want to miss those, so read on!)

They’re versatile! Decorate with chocolate, use a special heart-shaped “cup hanger” cutter, make little two-bite hearts with chocolate centers or write names on larger hearts.Add color for a hot pink Valentine effect, or let the cherries give them just a hint of peachy pink.

Drizzle or dip - chocolate is always a good choice!

Drizzle or dip – chocolate is always a good choice!

Make a dainty hot pink cookie to go with a cup of tea.

Make a dainty hot pink cookie to go with a cup of tea.

I often use a variation on my basic shortbread cookie because I love the texture – and because the recipe is EASY!  They are a little fragile though, so make sure they’re cooked long enough (too soft and they’ll break, but bake them too long and the pink will turn an unattractive color) and handle and transport them with care.

This makes a lot of cookes – 6 dozen. The baked cookies freeze well, or you can always freeze the cut out shapes between layers of parchment in a zipper bag. Or you can just eat them with abandon!

 

Chocolate Cherry Tea Cookies
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, increase salt by ¼ teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon cherry flavoring
  • A few drops of pink or red food coloring, if desired
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 24 (to taste) maraschino cherries, finely chopped and lightly blotted with paper towels
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar and butter. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flavoring, food coloring if using, and egg yolks, and blend well. (If using a stand mixer, you may want to switch to the dough hook at this point!)
  4. Add the chocolate chips, cherries, flour, salt and cornstarch. Stir just until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Dough will be stiff! If you have a sturdy dough hook, let it do the work. If not, you might have to knead it together by hand.
  5. Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick between sheets of lightly floured parchment. Cut with cookie cutters of your choice.
  6. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 11-12 minutes, The bottom edges should just be turning golden brown. Watch the cookies carefully - if they get too dark the pink will turn an unattractive orange color!
  7. Move cookie sheet to a rack to cool for 1 to 2 minutes, then slide cookies onto rack to cool completely.

Your choice: natural or hot pink!

Your choice: natural or hot pink!

Chop and lightly blot cherries.

Chop and lightly blot cherries.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.

Add chips, cherries, and dry ingredients. Use a dough hook or lots of muscle!

Add chips, cherries, and dry ingredients. Use a dough hook or lots of muscle!

Roll and cut into your favorite shapes.

Roll and cut into your favorite shapes.

Another option.

Another option.

Chocolate Cherry Tea Cookies with chocolate hearts The Rowdy Baker

Well, this is officially my last Valentine’s post of the year. I still have half a gallon of cherries – which means I either need to freeze them or eat them. Hmmmm……freeze or eat? Freeze or eat?

Well, that was a no-brainer, wasn’t it?

Here are those wonderful recipes I told you about. Crumbs in My Mustachio created a “Tiramisu Cheesecake”, Moore or Less Cooking Blog brought “Fudgy Cherry Cheesecake Brownie Bars”, and Tampa Cake Girl baked an “I Love Chocolate Cake”. Hope you’ll stop by and visit their blogs!

broads valentine collage

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my Rowdy friends!   Lorinda