If you are looking for a nice hostess gift or an tasty addition to your holiday dessert table look no further than these delicious Rum Balls. Unlike most rum ball recipes that use store-bought cookies as a base, this recipe uses a homemade, rich chocolate brownie-like cake for a base. The recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate but I used a 60% bittersweet chocolate for a richer, less sweet chocolate flavor. To enhance the chocolate I included a teaspoon of instant espresso to the melted chocolate and to the batter I added a teaspoon of rum extract. Place the finished rum balls in individual mini cupcake papers to package up for gift giving. For best consistency, keep the rum balls chilled before serving. Here is how you can make your own:
You can find the entire recipe here. Start by lining a 12" x 17" rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. The parchment paper keeps the cake from sticking to the pan and makes clean up a breeze. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a double boiler or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter, and chocolate (I used 60% bittersweet chocolate and I added 1 teaspoon of espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor). Set melted chocolate mixture aside. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, (i added a teaspoon of rum extract too), and salt. Stir in slightly cooled chocolate mixture and fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with off-set spatula. Bake for around 10 minutes or until top of cake is shiny and a few crumbs come off on a toothpick. Let cake cool completely on a wire rack.
When cake is completely cooled, break into small pieces and put into the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. With machine on low speed add the rum and mix until a dough comes together. Shape dough into 1 inch balls using a #100 scoop (you can make larger balls using a #70 scoop).
Roll balls in sparkling sugar and transfer to a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Chill balls for 2 hours. Serve balls chilled or at room temperature. Store rum balls in an air tight container in refrigerator. If giving as a gift, place individual balls in mini cupcake papers and place in bag or gift box.
This years gingerbread house is a Christmas Bakery complete with a working fireplace! The bakery stands around 24" tall , 18" wide, 12" deep. The bottom windows are see thru to the bakery confections, Christmas tree and presents, and the brick fireplace with stocking hanging.
The bright red gumpaste sleigh out front is filled with presents and a little gingerbread boy and girl. The topiaries are made of gumballs and the planters are made of gingerbread.
Here is a look inside the main front window. The glass is made from gelatin sheets. The tables are set with various gumpaste cakes and cookies. The fireplace in background is made of gingerbread, with cinnamon stick logs and small flickering nightlight representing the flame. The mantle is adorned with gumpaste stockings filled with treats!
Here's a detail shot of the fabulous fireplace that my dad designed and constructed! Isn't it amazing? I think its the best thing about the gingerbread bakery! The fireplace is made of gingerbread, the bricks are made by scoring the gingerbread and washing over it with royal icing. The logs are cinnamon sticks and the stocking are made from gumpaste (similar to fondant but dries harder) and various candy sprinkles are used to fill.
Here you can see the early design and the eventual lighting with the wooden dowels used to support the large pieces of gingerbread. When making a gingerbread structure of this size you must have supports or the gingerbread will collapse. The paper templates are taped up to the support to see if the final gingerbread will fit correctly.
It's that time of year again: Gingerbread House Time! I received this terrific Gingerbread House Bundt Cake Pan as a gift last year and thought now would be a perfect time to try it out. Basically you fill the pan with batter and voila, you have a gingerbread house ready to display and eat!
What could be easier and what a lovely dessert to end a holiday meal. I used the entire recipe of Parisian Gingerbread recipe from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, but there is also a handy recipe that comes along with the bundt pan. Mix up a small batch of royal icing to decorate your cake or use some store bought frosting. It's really simple and delicious. Here is how you can make your own pretty gingerbread house bundt cake.
The most important thing is to liberally spray the inside of the pan with Pam for Baking. Do not use regular Pam on the pan or you will ruin the finish. After you spray the pan, use a pastry brush to work the spray into all the crevices of the pan. Make sure there is no spray pooling in any parts of the pan. Next, make your cake recipe and pour into pan.
I placed the pan on a baking sheet before baking in the oven just incase there was some overflow (there wasn't). Bake for the recommended time for your cake recipe then place on wire rack in upright position to cool. When cool, use a serrated knife to trim the top (actually bottom!) of cake so that it will lay flat. Invert on to platter or cake round and decorate with royal icing and candies if you wish. Happy Holidays!
These super cute Halloween Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are so easy to make and would be a ghoulishly great goodie to serve at your Halloween get together! Use your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe (this is my favorite) and roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (or use a #70 scoop) and bake for around 10 minutes. Take the cookies out of the oven and allow to slightly cool for around 3 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, take two malted milk balls and gently press them into the warm cookie. Let cool completely. Melt some milk or semi sweet chocolate chips and place in a small piping bag. Pipe four legs on each side of the spider. Next, pipe a bead of chocolate where the two malted milk balls come together to complete the spiders body. Add a dab of melted chocolate to the back of the candy eyes and stick to the head of the spider. If you don't have any candy eyes you could also use melted white chocolate to pipe eyes. Let cool. Then pipe on the pupil with milk or semi sweet chocolate. Let chocolate set completely before serving. Enjoy!
These Bittersweet Chocolate Raspberry French Macarons were my second try at these tricky little cookies! My first attempt was at a french macaron making class at Sur La Table.
If you haven't taken any baking or cooking classes there I highly recommend! The classes are hands on and around 16 people total so its lots of fun and you learn a lot too. When i made the macarons in class they were cracked on top! Ugh!
I was so disappointed! So I went home and studied the recipe thorougly and gave them another try! I think they came out pretty good. So if you at first don't succeed with these cookies, give em another shot! Here are some tips for making your own macarons:
Mise en Place: The best advice I can give on making these cookies is to prep everything in advance. I prepped everything the night before so that in the morning I could concentrate on creating the actual cookies. Weigh all your ingredients! This is really the only way to get a good result.
The dry ingredients need to go thru the food processor and then thru a sieve several times. Make yourself a template of circles to place on your cookie sheet under your silpat (Sur La Table also sells a silpat with the circles already on it!). This is one case in baking where the silpat works much better than parchment paper.
The egg whites need to be strained thru a sieve and weighed then left on the counter overnight (or in the fridge) to "age" before using. Also make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before whisking. Clean mixing bowl and whisk with apple cider vinegar before using. This ensures there is no grease or fat that could interfere with the meringue process. Whisk egg whites until firm and glossy.
Probably the most important step in macaron making is the mixing or the "macronnage". You have to mix the batter enough so that it flows off the spatula like lava.
When the consistency is right, pipe even circle using the template as your guide.
Once the batter is piped, rap the tray on the counter to dispense any air bubbles and let sit for around 48 minutes before baking. The batter must sit at room temperature to create a firm skin over the tops in order to get a smooth top and little feet on the bottom.
Let the baked macarons cool completely before trying to remove from the silpat. When they are completely cool they should come off cleanly and easily.
Here is close up of the "feet" or ruffled edge on the macaron. Once the cookies are completely cooled go thru and match up tops and bottoms. I decorated the tops of mine with gold luster dust.
Pipe your desired filling on one cookie and carefully top with a second cookie. Chill finished cookies in an airtight container in the fridge overnight or up to 3 days. You can also wrap each cookie in plastic wrap, place in zip lock baggie and freeze for up to a month. Let frozen cookies thaw then come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
These Soft and Thick Snickerdoodles really live up to their name! Unlike many snickerdoodles that bake up crunchy and hard these cookies are pillowy and soft with an even, moist, tender crumb. The flavor is like cinnamon-sugar toast! Lots of spicy sweet goodness here and they really hold up nicely to a cold glass of milk. The cream of tartar gives the cookies a slight tart flavor that adds an unexpected edge to all the sweetness. Here is how you can make your own:
You can find the entire recipe here. Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment or silpat and set aside. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter on medium speed for 1 minute.
While the mixer is running slowly add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, around 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides. Add the flour mixture in three parts, beating to incorporate between each addition.
I placed the dough in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes while I preheated the oven to 375 degrees. When the oven is preheated, scoop out 2 Tablespoons of dough.
Roll into a ball and coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes or until just set. Don't over bake or cookies will be dry and hard. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies will stay soft and fresh for 7 days in an air tight container at room temperature. This recipe will make around 2 dozen cookies.
For some people its all about the frosting! There are many different kinds of frosting and a lot of them are very sugary sweet. This Whipped Frosting is partially cooked with a combination of flour, milk and butter to make a rich, decadent but not overly sweet frosting.
I made my frosting lemon flavored to go with my lemon cake and kept everything simple to let the texture and flavor of the frosting really shine. Because part of the frosting is cooked and cooled it takes a little longer to make that a traditional butter cream but I think the texture and less sugary flavor make it worth the time. This a great frosting to have in your baking arsenal. Here is how you can make your own.
The original recipe can be found here. Start by baking and cooling an 8 inch, 2 layer round cake.
This frosting works best with Super Fine Sugar. I have found the easiest and best way to do this is to place regular granulated sugar into a blender and blend on high until it becomes an almost powder-like consistency. This super fine sugar will dissolve into the finished frosting and leave no gritty texture.
In a saucepan over medium low heat whisk together the milk and flour until it becomes thick like mashed potatoes, around 12-15 minutes. I found that using a hand-held electric beater instead of a whisk helped to create a smooth, lump-free mixture. When super thick, add your flavoring and mix until combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl and press plastic wrap on the surface. Let cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip together the butter and super fine sugar until lightened and fluffy with no graininess left from the sugar. Add the cooled flour mixture and whip until it becomes fluffy and light, around 5 minutes. Makes sure to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl really well so that the flour mixture is completely incorporated. Frost your two cake layers then keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve.