Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

“take that, Girl Scouts of America.”

O.  M.  G. if you do not own a cookie press, stop what you are doing and run out to the store right now. they are sooo much fun. each press comes with these interchangeable discs that allow you to make different shaped cookies called spritz cookies. with so many different recipes out there, i decided to do a very simple, plain jane butter cookie.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup crisco

1 egg

1 1/2  teaspoon vanilla


cookie press

cookie sheets

dipping chocolate to garnish

preheat your oven to 375 degrees

in a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. cut your crisco into your mixture until it begins to create crumbles.

in a measuring cup, crack your egg and add water until you reach 1/4 cup. i didn’t have to add but probably a tablespoon. then add your vanilla to the egg/water and beat together. mix into your crumbles to form the dough.

now the fun part. put your dough into your cookie press, pick out the shape you want and apply the disc. in three clicks you will have the cutest little cookies! line up your cookie sheet with these and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

if you don’t already have a cookie press, check out Wilton‘s. i have Marha Stewart’s, but can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere. but, there are a lot of cookie presses out there, i don’t think you can really go wrong.

happy monday and happy baking!



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i’ve been inspired by the Chocolate Adventure Contest

so i’m working on my cupcakes….learning new tricks & tips and trying out new ingredients. these little buddies will be the base of some experimenting.  more to come!


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sneak peek wednesday!

what goes with thanksgiving….and marshmallows?!?! stay tuned to see!

but until then you can get started on your marshmallows…it may be too cold for campfires….but it’s cold enough for hot cocoa!


3 1/2 packages of unflavored gelatin (found with jello mixes at the store)
1 cup of cold water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
about a cup of confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
flavoring to taste….up to you – i used vanilla….but almost all of the extracts would be yummy as marshmallows: mint, coffee, almond?!?! go crazy!

start by greasing up a 9 x 13 in. metal pan…bottom and sides and then coating it with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

mix half a cup of your cold water with gelatin in your stand mixer or heat safe bowl and let sit to dissolve.

in a medium sauce pan mix together granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining cold water. time for you to bust out your candy thermometer again! clip thermometer to side of sauce pan and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. once sugar is completely dissolved increase heat to medium and bring to a boil without stirring. once mixture reaches 240°F (soft ball stage) remove from heat and add to water/gelatin mixture. mix on medium to high-speed until mixture has tripled in volume.

in a separate bowl mix egg whites till they form stiff peaks. (let me just say, my hand mixer lost its mixers in the moving catastrophe 2010 so i had to beat those suckers by hand….which gave me a deep appreciation for old school bakers – pre-technology) once you have stiff peaks add in to your fluffy mixture with flavoring and coloring of your choice and mix until just combined.

pour out your sticky fluffy mixture into metal pan and spread to edges – by picking up your pan and shifting it from side to side. your rubber spatula won’t want to help you out much…as the sticky fluffy mixture will stick to everything you touch it to…fingers included.  sift 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar over the top. transfer to fridge to chill for at least 3 hours – 1 day.

once mallows have set, you can remove from pan pretty easily. use a knife to run around the edges of the pan and starting with one corner lift and let the block of mallows drop out of pan on to a cutting board. cut into 1 inch squares…or smaller if you prefer and you’re done! plop into some hot cocoa or invite yourself over to a friend’s house who owns a fire pit and enjoy!

OR stay tuned for friday’s post for an even better idea!


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“oh, yeah”

this month is thanksgiving shout out month so we’re paying respect to traditional thanksgiving sides or desserts. this week is a side spruced up and sugared up…and turned into a dessert….the cranberry. i’m starting to look obsessed…but smitten kitchen is again the blog to thank for this recipe.

cranberries are a side that i pass on when it comes to thanksgiving dinner….however….in the form of a coffee cake…”please pass the cranberries!” i was pleasantly surprised with how tasty this crumbly cake was…just the right amount of bitter to contrast the right amount of sweet-fluffy-crumble….add a little vanilla bean…even better! (unless you’re on a tight budget….then ax the vanilla bean…those little guys are pricey!)

1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups fresh or thawed cranberries
1 3/4 cup sugar – this will be divided read recipe carefully
2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
confectioners sugar for dusting

9 in circle cake pan
food processor
parchment paper

gulp….as i wrote down the ingredients….i got that sinking feeling…that realization that i actually messed up my measurements. sigh. well….i’ll tell you what i did wrong in a second….but let the record show, that even with my goofs….it turned out mighty tasty….so maybe happy accidents?!?!

the “correct” instructions

start by preheating your oven to 375°F. generously butter your cake pan. add parchment paper to the bottom to the pan and butter as well. set aside.

split vanilla bean lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a paring knife. add to food processor with sugar and pulse until vanilla bean seeds are mixed through all of the sugar. transfer to bowl and set mixture aside.

pulse cranberries with half a cup of the sugar/vanilla mixture until cranberries are finely chopped…be careful not to purée this mixture.

sift together 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. beat 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of sugar/vanilla mix (remember to leave 1/4 cup aside for crumble top) beat until fluffy. add in eggs one at a time. at a low-speed alternate mixing in flour and milk until all ingredients are combined.

pour out half the batter into pan and spread evenly. scoop out cranberry mixture onto batter, leaving about a half-inch border. scoop out remaining batter and spread out (carefully) to edges.

mix your remaining sugar/vanilla with tablespoon of butter and flour until mixture has formed small balls, crumble over top of cake.

bake cake for about 40-50 minutes until toothpick can be inserted and come out clean (except for that cranberry filling). the top should begin to brown and the edges will begin to pull away from pan. cool in pan for 30 minutes on top of a wire. remove from pan and cool completely, with crumb side up.

“happy accident” instructions

• forget to set aside that last 1/4 cup of sugar (for crumble top) and add it all to batter. which means ultimately you will need another 1/4 cup for crumble top
• use a whole cup of milk instead of a half cup….i really have no excuse for this mistake….i had the instructions right in front of me and somehow completely misread it. however, other bloggers complained about the batter being a little too thick….and i didn’t have that problem (obviously) so this mistake worked out for me and the cake tasted great.
• i also forgot the confectioners sugar dusting. as i was drifting off to sleep i remembered that i forgot….and almost set a reminder on my phone to do it in the morning….but didn’t….so there you go….if i don’t write it down…it doesn’t happen.

all in all i thought this was a success. as someone who isn’t wild about cranberries….i am very happy with how this treat turned out…and i may have even scooped out all the filling that stayed behind in the pan…with my finger….instead of sending it to the sink….maybe i do like cranberries?!

next time i would probably use the whole vanilla bean as the vanilla wasn’t a prominent taste and a little extra vanilla is usually a good idea. but…vanilla beans are also quite pricey….so maybe i would just add vanilla extract to the batter.

happy turkey month friends! enjoy!


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