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Happy Holidays

Christmas cards I had made

I want to take this opportunity to wish each of you a very Happy Holiday whether it’s Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanza I hope you have a day filled with love and that you and your families and friends are able to enjoy this most wonderful of holiday’s together. On this day I have to pause and count my blessings for wonderful family and friends, a warm home, food, a job that I love and for all of you that have followed me on this journey for the past almost 5 years. It saddens my heart to think that there are so many that are not as blessed we are. You all know that a passion of mine is rescuing and placement of pets and right now I am working with Mollie Frugal Haus Frau to place a puggle with a seizure disorder that is in Maryland.  We are hoping for a Christmas miracle,  that someone will step up and take this little dog into their heart and home.

I saw this video on my friend’s site and thought I would share it with you, I love this song, we lost Leonard Cohen in November of 2016 and although I have never heard of this group I think they did an excellent rendition with a little modern twist. I hope you enjoy and again Happy Holidays.

A Guest Post- Ten Times Tea

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A few months back I was thrilled when Laurie whose gorgeous blog Ten Times Tea agreed to do a guest post. Her timing is impeccable because this loaf just screams holidays. She is uber talented with such creativity,  I love her photographs and her no nonsense writing style. Thank you so much Laurie for doing this post for me and wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. I love the way Laurie experiments and even though she may not admit it I think her results are outstanding, she loves to use whole grains  giving her baked goods a healthy twist. Can’t wait to try this, thank you for your kind words and take it away Laurie…..

Suzanne’s experience, attention to flavour, and warm style comes through in everything she makes and blogs about. And, unlike some food bloggers that I tend to admire from afar, Suzanne’s blog demands a pause, taking time to comment and marvel and laugh and sometimes even commiserate.
I was so happy to be to have the opportunity to put together a guest post. Though I was also a bit conflicted: what makes us quite different is that Suzanne’s recipes simply ooze with experience and certainty, exactly what my recipes typically lack. My blog is all about the baking (unfortunately or otherwise), and frankly, leans more towards a “log” of what disasters and otherwise I’ve been baking, rather than a reliable source of recipes. But despite this, Suzanne has been so supportive of my experiments and even the most dismal failures.

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I wasn’t sure I would be able to make anything worthy of a guest post…but then, enter this cake. This cake is fabulous. I’m still in awe. It’s based on the brown butter and vanilla weekend cake in one of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking Chez Moi. Would you expect anything else from Dorie?

The cake is unabashedly rich, the crumb possessing a buttery sheen, and is incredibly fragrant due to an incredible quantity of vanilla extract and browned butter. I’ve made merely superficial changes, but I highly advocate them. The prunes and chestnuts, which are two of my favourite things, are homely and warm, while still somehow glamorous in my vague imagination of 20th century whiskey glasses and pâté and feather boas. (Ah, this imagination sometimes.) They simply fit perfectly into the backdrop of a dense and vanilla-heady cake, such that even a friend who does not at all subscribe to my obsession with prunes admitted that really, they did seem to work quite well.

I also made a couple more characteristic changes, reducing the sugar and using part whole spelt flour. I wanted to use these changes to transition into writing about some general themes in baking and my approach. As Suzanne recently wrote about, lately she’s switched her eating focus. It made me think a bit about this whole baking thing—what choices I make, what I minimize and maximize, and why. But after writing it, I looked back and felt so pretentious, with these meanderings on sugar and whole grains.

The thing is, I find there are many valid perspectives when it comes to baking. And thus many valid styles of baking, which result in many, many delicious baked goods. I enjoy them all. There is nothing superior about any approach over others. Some days call for Smarties-dotted blondies just as much as other days call for raw vegan coconut oil and date squares. So I hope everything here can be taken with several grains of salt—it’s one vague approach to baking. I guess I like it so I seem to advocate for my view, but it doesn’t mean I always stick to it.

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Sugar

Sugar is something I do not try to eliminate, but I find I can typically reduce the sugar content of baked goods with little consequence. This isn’t to validate desserts or bolster excuses for eating more (well, at least I try not to do that…). But I do occasionally bake for some diabetics, and in general, if I can reduce the sugar, I think I may as well.

In fact, I do think that most desserts don’t require too much sweetness for it to still taste like dessert. I’m a bit of a cake-person as opposed to a candy-person (a very important dichotomy), where I like more moderate sweetness padded with plenty of substance and textures and other flavours. Better yet, baking can quite often fit into that ambiguous breakfast/tea sort of category as well, which entails the same richness and decadence with noticeably less sweetness. Another trick is to use sweet-associated flavours like warm spices, or plenty of fresh fruit.

I find it’s worthwhile to experiment! A 25-50% reduction in the sugar is a good place to start, at least in cases where the sugar is not a structural necessity (I’ve tried to push it unsuccessfully with meringues and buttercreams). However, in the end you may just find that sugar reductions compromise golden crusts or perfect textures. It always depends on what you’re looking for, and reductions may not be worth it.

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Whole grains

Recently I made a cake that used only white flour, and I was surprised—it tasted bland all of a sudden. I suppose it’s because in recent years, whole wheat and spelt flour have become my go-to, some somehow now taste rather “neutral.”

I refrain from using this idea of whole grains as a gateway to a certified healthy label. It’s a bit of a false rhetoric because 1) we are still talking dessert and 2) I don’t push the envelope very far. The whole grains are primarily for flavour, and I like to prioritize structure as well. (On this note, I admire the ingenuity, innovation and persistence of gluten-free bakers!) Thus, something may be only a quarter whole spelt flour, but it will taste nutty and warm and complement spices or dried fruit. Whole wheat flour is very suitable for crumbles and oatmeal cookies. I find buttery and salted whole wheat pastry perfect for tarts, and while scones have been a perpetual struggle for me, I recently made some fluffy scones with half whole wheat pastry flour.

As far as pastry-type experimentation goes (bread is a bit iffier), I think whole wheat flour can be successfully subbed for 50-100%. Spelt flour, I would normally not go above 50% due to the lower gluten content. Buckwheat and rye I usually try at 25-20% due to their low gluten content and stronger flavours. In the end, though, it does depend on what you’re making. Sometimes white flour is the best.

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This cake is a rich and buttery and sugary glory, and in no way do my changes make it at all healthy…but I like the cake even more for the changes I did make. It is only moderately sweet, with spelt flour to complement the prunes and pick up on the warm notes of the roasted chestnuts and browned butter.

So happy baking! With the approaching holidays, I’m sure there will be plenty of baking going on.

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prune and chestnut vanilla loaf cake
Based on Dorie Greenspan’s brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake in Baking Chez Moi. Instead of part vanilla bean and part vanilla extract, you can use either: 1 whole vanilla bean or 4 tsp vanilla extract as detailed by the original recipe. I would also consider increasing the quantity of prunes and chestnuts to 150 g each.
1 stick butter
100 g whole spelt flour
138 g all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
175 g granulated sugar
3-cm length of vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c (80 mL) heavy cream
1 capful dark rum
100 g dried prunes
100 g roasted and peeled chestnuts, whole and broken into rough pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and line with a sling of parchment paper.
Brown the butter in a small saucepan, cooking until deep golden and nutty, and then set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out into the sugar and rub in. Add the split vanilla bean and rub in the sugar as well to remove any excess seeds (this can then be placed in the sugar bowl for vanilla sugar and the like). Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined. Follow with vanilla extract, the heavy cream and rum, whisking until combined.
Add the dry ingredients in two additions, folding in with a rubber spatula. Next, fold in the butter in three additions. Lastly, mix in the chestnuts and prunes. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.
Let cool on a wire rack.

 

Classic Snickerdoodles

A classic and delicious recipe for Snickerdoodles. Those cookies look wonderful and would be a great addition to your holiday baking.

ravenhawks' magazine

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes.

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Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt . Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.In Medium bowl mix flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour mixture. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In…

View original post 50 more words

Stollen

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You saw the dough and mention of Stollen in my last post so here is the finished product and this is a fantastic recipe. I will be honest, I had my doubts, the dough doesn’t get puffy, it feels quite heavy and dense and struggles to double in bulk but the end product is wonderfully light, rich with butter and egg, just the right amount of boozy fruit and nuts, it’s a keeper,  almost too easy, when we make bread it can be laborious, lots of steps well this bread is so easy to make so few steps and result is amazing. I made a few changes to the recipe and explained in some detail what to expect, there are no clues or hints in the recipe on Food52 and I really didn’t know what to expect. The original recipe calls for candied fruit soaked in booze, I used the leftover dried fruit soaked in port ( don’t like candied fruit), I added salt, there was no mention of salt. I also used my food processor to break up the butter into the flour and that made it quicker and easier. Instead of the glaze that Chef June uses I dusted with powdered sugar. Thats it, easy peasy, delicious and so festive.

Because this bread just screams the Holidays I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #150 and the co hosts this week are Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Tânia @ Iwanttobeacook

Stollen

From Food52  by Chef June

Makes 2 large loaves or 8 mini loafs

1 heaping cup assorted dried fruit that has had a good soak in booze ( I used the same fruit for the fruitcakes I made)

4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) unsalted cold butter cut into pieces

1 tbs yeast (I used instant yeast, SAF)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup cold whole milk

3 tbs granulated sugar

3 large or extra large eggs beaten

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)

soft butter, sugar and cinnamon for the filling

Add flour, salt and butter to the food processor and pulse until it resembles crumbs. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined and the flour is completely incorporated. The dough will be very soft and shaggy, thats ok, you don’t need to knead it, just gather it with your hands into a ball and put it in a greased bowl, turn it over once so the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in the refirigerator where it will rise overnight. Note: I mixed everything by hand, no stand mixer with dough attachment, no kneading.

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

The next morning remove the dough and cut in half or quarters depending on the shape and size you want your bread. I divided into quarters and let it rise in mini loaf pans. Roll out or pat out the dough into a rectangle spread it out thinly. Brush with soft butter and a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (you also can put marzipan or almond paste if you like) roll it like you would a jelly roll or cinnamon rolls. Pinch any seams so it’s sealed. My dough was divided into quarters, each quarter made 2 mini loaves. I rolled, cut in half and pinched the seams and ends. Sprayed mini loaf pans with cooking spray and placed the dough seam side down in the pans. Cover loosely with plastic and a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk. (It took almost 3 hours in my cold kitchen and remember you are starting with dough straight from the refrigerator so be patient). Heat oven to 350 degree’s and bake until browned, and when tapped sounds hollow (approximately 20 minutes for mini loaves. For a larger loaf 30-35 minutes

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Yesterday I saw a recipe (if you can call it that) for a Earl Grey Vanilla Latte. That sounded really good mainly because Earl Grey or Lady Grey is my favorite tea. I decided to give it a go, the recipe called for almond or coconut milk but I used regular whole milk, strong brewed earl grey tea and a little vanilla bean paste in the milk that I frothed with this really cool gadget. Hot milk is frothed in seconds so you can enjoy a cappucino or latte any time. (This is not a promotion for this gadget I just think it’s cool)

frother

frother

earl grey vanilla latte

earl grey vanilla latte

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Loaf Part II And Stollen

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This is a different loaf than the one I made before, although I liked that loaf it was quite heavy and more bread like than I wanted. I try different recipes and although they turn out good there is something about it that just doesn’t sit right with me,  I almost always end up going back to my old stand by’s, the tried and true always good recipes that I use over over. The banana bread recipe is one of those, I substitute other fruits like apples and pears for the banana and in this case I used pumpkin. The change I made was adding spice, cinnamon, ginger and allspice along with pecans. These loaves are sweeter than the other but I am ok with that, they have the lighter texture and moist crumb that I wanted. I like the other recipe but my favorite way to serve is making mini muffins dipped in melted butter and rolled in a spice sugar mixture. For a loaf I like this recipe though, they are very light, moist and delicious.

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

I made my fruitcakes and have quite a bit of leftover boozy fruit and it’s been years since I’ve made Stollen, a German slightly sweet and absolutely delicious holiday bread. I had saved a recipe on Food52 years ago by Chef June and decided this year I would try it. The recipe is vintage and the directions are a bit vague so I decided to wing it. If it turns out I will post the recipe, well even if it doesn’t I might. The dough is super easy to put together, no kneading at least the directions don’t call for it so we will see. The butter is broken into the flour like a pie crust, I did it in the food processor then you add the rest of the ingredients and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.  I have a feeling it’s going to be wonderful, rich and buttery and eggy. Fingers crossed. More to come…..

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Loaf

makes 1 9×5 loaf or 3 mini loaves

1 cup flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

4 oz or 1 stick butter room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

approximately 1/2 cup chopped pecans

demerara sugar mixed with cinnamon, allspice and ginger to sprinkle on top of loaf

Heat oven to 35o and butter or oil your loaf pan or pans. Put flours, baking soda, salt and spices in small bowl and whisk together.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Fold in the pecans and spoon into prepared pan or pans, smooth out the top, sprinkle with chopped pecans and sprinkle with sugar spice mixture and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until golden brown and tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then using a small flexible offset spatula or butter knife loosen the edges running it around the loaf. Turn out onto cooling rack and let cool completely before wrapping. This loaf freezes well, wrap in plastic and place in ziplock bag before freezing.

 

More Holiday Cookies- Crinkle Cookies And Chocolate Thumbprints

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Baking for the Holidays is work but fun at the same time. Both of these recipes were included in my boxes last year and this year as well. The recipe for the Crinkle cookies is from Fida at Sweet and Savory Pursuits. The chocolate thumbprint cookies came from my archive of recipes and I don’t know who penned the original. They are really good and I like putting a white chocolate striped Hershey’s kiss right in the middle.

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Holiday Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Fida- Sweet and savory pursuits

Makes 36-44 depending on size

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. instant espresso powder optional
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl combine the all purpose-flour, espresso powder (if using), baking power, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and vegetable oil, blend until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and blend.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and mix until well blended, being careful not to to overmix the batter.

  6. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours or more. If pressed for time, place covered bowl in the freezer and freeze for approximately an hour and a half. Note: I like leaving the dough overnight in the refrigerator, and refrigerate or put in the freezer between batches. It is a sticky dough and needs to be cold when handling.
  7. When ready to roll the cookies, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350ºF.

  8. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop a ball of dough out, roll it in your hands and then roll the ball into the granulated sugar before rolling it a second time in powdered sugar.

  10. Place balls of cookie dough about two inches apart on the baking sheet and repeat process until the sheet is full.

  11. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will look uncooked between the cracks but that is ok, they will set as they cool on the baking sheet. Please see note for explanation on determining time needed for baking cookies.

Recipe Notes

1. If dough sticks to your hands when rolling, just powder your hands with the icing sugar, the dough shouldn’t stick anymore.
2. If dough is still too sticky then you should return it to the freezer or fridge for additional chilling time.
3. At 10 minutes you should have cookies that are still very fudgy inside. If you prefer them more done, leave them in the oven for an extra minute. I found that the cookies I left in for 12 minutes kept a perfectly domed shaped. Those at 10 min sunk in just slightly in the middle. Note: I baked for exactly 11 minutes and they kept the dome shape and were soft and totally delicious.
I recommend baking a few on a tray to see how you like them and what the perfect time is for you before baking the entire batch of cookies.

Itty bitty thumbprint cookies

Itty bitty thumbprint cookies

Chocolate Thumbprints

Makes 36-48 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter room temperature (soft)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar in bowl to roll cookies in.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.  If you do not use all of the cookie dough refrigerate but bring to room temperature before baking. Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s. Use a small scoop (so they are uniform in size) and roll in your hands into a ball, place dough in the bowl of sugar and make sure its completely covered, place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Using your thumb make an indent on top of each ball. You can fit 1 dozen on a baking sheet, cookies should be at least an inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes no longer please, it really depends on your oven, when you remove them they will be soft,my first batch I kept in almost 10 minutes the second batch 8 minutes, I like them better when left in for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes on baking sheet and then place a kiss in the center of each cookies. Place on cooling rack. The kiss will soften but should retain it’s shape.

Another gift box ready to mail

Another gift box ready to mail

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

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I found this recipe on Food52 and it looked so good and got great reviews that I decided to make it and include it in my gift boxes this year. Trying new recipes is great especially if the results are good, this loaf did not disappoint, the combination of spices and pumpkin and molasses is delicious and even better it’s not overly sweet. If you do want a sweeter loaf you can tightly pack the brown sugar. The loaf is hearty, rustic, moist and makes a great addition to my gift boxes.

The recipe made two mini loaves that rose high above the pan and with the batter that was left I made some mini muffins that I rolled in melted butter and then in spiced sugar and I think next time I make this I will just make mini muffins, they are really good!!

This loaf and mini muffins are heading to the party, Fiesta Friday #149 and our co-hosts this week are Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Sandhya @ Indfused

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 9×5 loaf or 2 mini loaves plus 6 mini muffins

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed) Tightly pack for a slightly sweeter loaf

2 tbs melted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup buttermilk (full fat)

1/4 cup molasses

1 tbs chopped (minced) fresh ginger

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on top of loaf)

1 tsp cinnamon (to sprinkle on top of loaf)

Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s

butter or use spray like PAM a 9×5 or 2 mini loaf pan (s)

In large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk together egg, pumpkin,molasses, brown sugar, butter, oil, buttermilk until well combined. Add the fresh ginger and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined careful not to overmix. Pour into prepared loaf pan or pans and mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Bake 40 minutes for a 9×5 pan and 20-25 minute for mini loaves. Toothpick or tester should come out clean when inserted into center of loaf. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack and allow to cool completely before cutting. NOTE: I went a step further and after removing from the oven I brushed the top of the loaf with melted butter and sprinkled a combination of sugar, ginger and cinnamon on top.

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Chocolate, Orange And Hazelnut Biscotti

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I am working on gift boxes, I have sent off several but still have a lot to go, it’s a labor of love and quite a lot of work, the planning, shopping, baking is labor intensive but packaging and sending takes time as well, carefully packaging is so important as you don’t want your baked goods to arrive in pieces. Putting together a box or basket to give as a gift takes planning and careful thought. You want to send things that travel well, items that can withstand a few days in transit without going stale and you must carefully pack so that when the carrier jostles it around it will stay intact. I always send 2-3 day priority mail and tell them it’s “perishable” asking them to stamp that all over the box. So far I have been lucky and everything I have sent arrives in good shape. Knock on wood!!

A work in progress

A work in progress this is going to New Mexico to the winning bidder in a charity auction for a sick pup

Every year I make biscotti, being Italian I grew up on these delightful cookies, they are best when dipped in coffee, milk or Vin Santo or sweet dessert wine. This recipe is from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen, I changed the ingredients just slightly, Marisa’s biscotti have anise seed or extract which I would have loved and thought I had but did not so I left out the anise, and added chopped hazelnuts, other than that I followed the recipe exactly. This recipe caught my months ago and I saved it knowing I would be making biscotti for the holidays, I was looking for a biscotti that is not to hard, light and tender and looking at her recipe I thought that would be what I was looking for, and that is exactly how they turned out. They are delicious, I think adding the almond flour gives them a light as air, crunchy and delicate texture. They are wonderful and thank you Marisa for a great recipe.

Chocolate, Orange And Hazelnut Biscotti

 adapted from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen

1 3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbs orange zest

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup melted butter

1 egg white beaten with fork (to brush on the logs)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s and line a baking sheet with parchment

slightly uneven logs ready for the oven

slightly uneven logs ready for the oven

In large bowl add flours, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine, add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and stir so that the chocolate and nuts are covered with flour. In a small bowl beat the egg, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon stir until it’s a cohesive dough (the dough will be a little sticky, don’t add more flour thats the way it should be) Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Divide into 4 equal portions and form each into a log that is between 8-10 inches long. Transfer the logs to the baking sheet, brush with egg white and bake for 20 minutes turning pan halfway through. After 20 minutes remove from the oven and sit the baking sheet on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Place a log on a cutting board and slice diagonally into about 3/4 inch slices with a sharp serrated knife and place back on baking sheet standing upright for more even baking.

standing upright for even baking

standing upright for even baking

Place back in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes on the pan and then remove to cooling rack. NOTE: Timing is important. I baked them for exactly the time outlined in the recipe and I think to achieve these results you have to. I am not one to stick to an exact baking time, I tend to wing it, but with a few recipes I make I have to and this is one of them. 

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Pumpkin Molasses Dog Cookies

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Counting down the weeks before Christmas and this year I am making lots of gift boxes, for charity auction winners, family, friends and clients. I go through a huge amount of ingredients, flour, butter, sugar, dried fruit, chocolate etc… I don’t really care to calculate how much goes into this because I’m afraid I would scare myself.

When making gift boxes or baskets I will always include dog treats if the recipient is a pet parent. I posted a recipe for dog biscuits with peanut butter and fruit,  but for the holidays I wanted to do something with more holiday flavors and pumpkin, molasses and a dash of warm spice just screams holidays, at least to me. Why shouldn’t our fur babies have something a little different, special and holidayish.  After doing a little research I determined that molasses in small amounts is not bad for our canine companions and we all know that pumpkin is very very good for them, I didn’t go grain free  for these cookies, but used whole wheat pastry flour which given as a treat and not in large amounts is fine. I found a recipe online for pumpkin molasses dog treats and proceeded to put my own spin on it.

Pumpkin Molasses Dog Cookies

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup coconut oil

6 tbs water (more if needed a tbs at a time)

1 large egg

5 cups whole wheat flour or comination of whole grain flours

1/2 tsp baking soda (optional)

4 tsp dried milk

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Optional- sprinkle a little coconut palm sugar mixed with cinnamon and ginger on top before baking.

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Heat oven to 350 degree’s. In small bowl mix together the wet ingredients, pumpkin, molasses, egg, oil and water. In large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, dry, baking soda and spices. Add the wet ingredients and combine until it is a cohesive dough, if you need to add more water do so in small amounts 1 tbs at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool on rack.

Percy ate it but liked the bite of ginger molasses cookies for humans better

Percy ate it but liked the bite of ginger molasses cookies for humans better

 

Best Damn Fruitcake The Start Of Holiday Baking

Festive

Festive

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything, things have been kind of crazy and time has gotten past me. Cooking has not been a priority except what I need to sustain myself. I am going to make a concerted effort to post more, cook more, develop recipes, it’s my passion that frankly has taken a back seat to other things and I feel like I am unbalanced. I need to get back in the groove so to speak and am hoping that all the cooking that I am doing will help me to get my mojo back. In January my blog will be 5 years old, thats a long time and I am proud of how this site has evolved and also saddened that I have let it slip away lately. It has taken me a while to get some balance after the passing of Nando and Izzy. Percy is helping me and is such a good boy, he has brought joy back into my life. I am so thankful for that.

The Holidays are upon us, for me that means a lot of time in the kitchen baking. Cookies, mini loaves, cakes and pies, it’s a very important part of the holidays for me and this year will be no exception. The title of this recipe may sound kind of funny but that’s actually what they called it in Pure Wow which is where I first found this recipe. I have changed it considerably from the ingredients to the baking time and temperature. That said this is the BEST fruitcake I have ever had. A far cry from the commercially prepared and dreaded Christmas gifts that many of us grew up on. No green and red candied or fake fruit, there is actually noticable cake with a balanced amount of fruit and nuts. I make this every year and although these photo’s are from last year as I have not started my baking yet it will be made this year many times over, it is included in my gift baskets for friends and family who all agree that it really is The Best Damn Fruitcake.

fruit cakes

fruit cakes after a good soaking and brushed with a little plum jam

Best Damn Fruitcake

Makes one 9 inch loaf or 3 mini loaves

1 1/2 cups dried fruit of your choice- I used cherries, cranberries, apricots, pears and golden raisins. Use however much you like of each so that you have a total of 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups nuts chopped- I used pecans, hazelnuts, pistachio’s and almonds. Use whatever you like, however much of each so that it equals 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cup booze or fruit juice like apple cider- (I have used cognac, bourbon, port, also have thrown in some Poire William), heated on stove top or in microwave until hot not boiling .

12 tbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1 tbs orange or tangerine zest

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 tbs retained liquid from fruit

Demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

Pre heat oven to 325 and prepare your loaf pan or pans. Butter or spray with cooking spray.

Pour the hot booze or juice over the fruit and let sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer the fruit sits in the liquid the better it is in my opinion, the recipe only has the fruit macerate for 10 minutes, but it can easily sit overnight or 48 hours.

Drain the fruit but retain the liquid, you will need it later so don’t discard.

Place the drained fruit and chopped nuts in a bowl and set aside.

In your mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes. It should be light and fluffy, scrape sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time beating well between additions and scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and beat only until combined adding 1 tbs of retained liquid from the fruit. Remove the bowl from your mixer and add the fruit and nuts and fold in until combined. Add the batter to the pan or pans, smooth the top and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake with the rack in the middle of the oven. If you are making one loaf for about 90 minutes or more (watch carefully) or until tester comes out clean. If mini loaves approximately 40-50 minutes. They will be golden brown. Remove from the oven and spoon some of the retained liquid on the loaf or loaves and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack, spoon some more liquid on them and wrap in plastic or cheese cloth and store in air tight tin, These are best served 48+ hours after baking. Over the next couple of days continue to spoon more of the retained liquid on the loaf re wrapping and storing in the airtight container until you are ready to serve.

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