Frosted Holiday Sugar Cookies

Sugar Snowflake Cookies copy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog. I know, I know – for shame! But hey, let’s not dwell on how lazy (or in this case, pregnant) I’ve been and just get right back to the baking, eh?

With the holiday season in full swing, and my due date only 7 weeks away, I’ve got cookies on my mind almost constantly. Craving cookies. Baking cookies. Eating cookies. Eating more cookies. Eating all.the.cookies.

And with these little beauties in the kitchen, who can blame me? These cut-out sugar cookies are the softest and most delicious I’ve ever made (or eaten), and best of all, they’re a snap to throw together for even a novice baker. While I spent a great deal of time, energy and effort on frosting and decorating these snowflakes – and admittedly made a pretty big mess in my dining room in the process, oops! – the frosting is actually easy for even the littlest of cookie decorators to mix and use. This is the perfect cookie recipe for a baking day with your kiddos any time of year!

Credit for these cookies, and for the delectable icing they’re smothered in, goes to Sally’s Baking Addiction and allrecipes.com, respectively. I’ve made this recipe on multiple occasions and have had great results each and every time!

 

FROSTED HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES

Yields: 18-20 cookies

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large fresh egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

To make cookies:

  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter (which should be slightly softened but not melted) until creamy and smooth – approximately 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combined, about 2 minutes, continuing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, add one tablespoon of flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  3. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (Note: Chilling is mandatory! If chilling for more than a couple of hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.)
  4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  5. Bake for 8-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. The secret to the soft, tender centers in these cookies is underbaking; remove from the oven as soon as they look “set” and are very lightly colored around the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  6. After the cookies have cooled, frost using the instructions below. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

To make frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food coloring to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush, and apply sprinkles or edible ornamentation as desired. Allow to set before eating or storing.

 

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Cadbury Crème Egg Ice Cream

Cadbury Ice Cream 001

Have you ever looked at your Easter haul of Cadbury Crème Eggs and thought to yourself, “These don’t contain quite enough sugar, fat and calories?”

No? Fair enough.

In all honesty, I haven’t either. I’ll be the first to admit that this ice cream isn’t healthy, or nutritious, or a good idea for diabetics. [It really, really isn’t.]

But if you like your desserts chocolate-y, creamy and sinfully rich – or you’re simply itching for a reason to bust out your ice cream maker just weeks into spring (becausesummerseemssofaraway) – this recipe is for you. Enjoy in moderation (think: a 1/2-cup serving every once in a blue moon – or better yet, share with friends!), then head outside, get active, and enjoy a beautiful new season!

{Note: I couldn’t track down miniature crème eggs in Germany, but it worked just fine to freeze the regular ones for 20 minutes (just to firm up) before chopping. They took a wee bit longer to melt down in the chocolate-cream mixture, but were well worth the extra effort!}

 

CADBURY CREME EGG ICE CREAM

Yields | 10 to 12 servings

Inspiration | Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

 

  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup finely granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 oz milk chocolate
  • 8 oz miniature Cadbury Crème Eggs (unwrapped, chopped and divided)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

 

  1. In a non-reactive sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together 2 cups cream, cocoa, sugar, corn syrup, and salt; mix until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup cream and cornstarch to make a slurry; set aside.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate and 4 ounces of the Cadbury eggs and whisk until completely smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the remaining cream, cornstarch slurry, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into a large Pyrex bowl, cover with Saran wrap, and refrigerate until mixture is chilled through (about 1 hour).
  6. Pour the ice cream base into ice cream maker and process (per the machine’s instructions) until thick and creamy.
  7. Pack the ice cream into a resealable container, sprinkle with remaining 4 ounces of Cadbury Crème Eggs, and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).

 

 

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes

Pineapple Carrot Cupcakes 000

Happy Easter, baking gods and goddesses!

So … I’m one day late on holiday wishes AND blog posts. In my defense, I was busy cooking, over-eating and laying around in a food-induced stupor. If you don’t consider that much of defense, take heart! Some things are better late than never, and these cupcakes are most definitely one of those things.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, many of the recipes featured on this blog – indeed, the blog itself – are inspired by and devoted to my late grandmother, Bonnie Jean. She loved food – shopping for it, cooking it, and of course, eating it – and centered every holiday around what inevitably became an epic family meal. If she were still here – and I swear sometimes she is! – she’d confirm that there’s no better end to an Easter meal than a giant slice of homemade carrot cake. THIS carrot cake.

You’re probably asking yourself: “But why pineapple?” Honestly, I have no idea. I have no idea why she put pineapple in her carrot cake. Or grape leaves in her homemade pickles. Or sour cream in her chocolate chip cookies. I just know they’re hands down the best carrot cake, pickles, and chocolate chip cookies ON THE PLANET. Maybe when I’m a grandmother, I’ll be let into their secret society of culinary sorcery. In the meantime, I don’t ask questions, and I add the damn pineapple. You should too!

{I made my grandmother’s recipe into cupcakes, but have also included the instructions for a sheet cake below.}

Enjoy!

 

PINEAPPLE CARROT CUPCAKES

Yields | 36 cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups finely granulated sugar
  • 5 medium fresh eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided

For the frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar

 

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 12-well cupcake pans with paper liners (if making a sheet cake, lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch cake pan). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat oil and granulated sugar on medium speed for 30 seconds. As motor runs, add eggs individually. After eggs are fully incorporated, remove bowl from mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir, by hand, into sugar-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla, carrots, pineapple and 1 cup chopped walnuts; stir well. Pour batter into prepared paper liners until each liner is 3/4 full (or into prepared cake pan, spread evenly to edges). Bake cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes (cake for approximately 1 hour), or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Remove cupcakes from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool thoroughly before frosting (cool cake in pan).

To make frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar (adjust powdered sugar to taste). Frost cupcakes (or cake) only when completely cooled. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts.

 

Glühwein

Gluhwein FINAL

Apologies to my faithful blog readers (hi Mum and Dad!) – as you may have noticed, I’ve been seriously MIA for the past several weeks. The hubs and I had a very sick puppy on our hands and I couldn’t bring myself to do much of anything besides melt down over his condition every five minutes. Could you abandon this face to get creative in the kitchen? No? I didn’t think so.

IMG_8067

The great news is that our wee boy has recovered 100% – and I can get back to cooking and baking just in time for the holidays!

One of our favorite things about living in Germany, particularly during Christmastime, is the delightfully ubiquitous presence of glühwein at virtually every party, festival, and weihnachtsmarkt around the country. For those outside of the German-speaking world, glühwein is a hot beverage of [typically] red wine mulled with sugar, citrus fruit, and a variety of spices, including cinnamon, cloves, anise and vanilla. There are few things more perfect on a cold winter’s night than a mug of steaming hot glühwein, followed by mug after mug of more glühwein.

I’ve been honing this recipe for years, and my husband (a true glühwein connoisseur) says it’s the best he’s ever had. Judge for yourself – enjoy responsibly!

Note: Vary the sugar content of this recipe per your individual taste, but do not exceed 3/4 cup. Glühwein is often made with port or claret, but substitute any robust red wine you prefer.

 

GLÜHWEIN

Yields | 6 servings

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 fresh orange
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 (750ml) bottle red wine

 

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  2. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange and place in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
  3. Strain sugar-water mixture through a fine sieve to remove pulp and solids. Return strained liquid to the saucepan.
  4. Add the wine to the saucepan and heat until hot, but not simmering. Serve hot in mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will shatter).