Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2012

 

Egg Nog Cake

Happy New Year!!

It’s been said that layer cakes may be one of the food trends in 2012 and with that in mind Anna at Cookie Madness put together a list of favorite layer cakes, and provided a link to another list of her favorite chocolate cakes. Her list is better than any magazine spread I’ve seen in awhile. With all of that layer cake love and inspiration I realized that I could make a layer cake a month in 2012 without making the same cake twice!

There is a cake on that list that I can’t wait to get to, but with some eggnog in the refrigerator needing to be used up I decided to start with the eggnog cake. I buy organic eggnog to make cinnamon eggnog scones at Christmas time. I love those scones! The only problem is that no one in my family likes to drink eggnog and I always end up with leftovers that most often get thrown out. We like the flavor but the glugginess is a turn off.

So on New Year’s day after a week plus of eating too much sugar and eating too much in general there I was in my kitchen making cake! I only had enough eggnog to make a half recipe and I only own nine inch round pans so I made one layer of cake, cut it in half and layered it.

We like this cake quite a bit. It has a slightly course texture, but is moist without being wet. It’s very easy to make. We both liked it on day one but we like it even better on day two. The nutmeg and eggnog make this cake very flavorful and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those flavors. The frosting is that old fashioned frosting where you make a roux and then incorporate it into a creamed butter and sugar mixture. It sounds funky but is actually quite good and a good technique for making frosting when you realize you don’t have any powdered sugar in the pantry. There is a chance that the roux will have lumps in it, but I didn’t have any problems with lumps using the microwave method and the frosting was super smooth.

I’m retyping the recipe in the half batch version and including instructions for making the roux in the microwave. For the full version and stovetop instructions for making the roux you will find the recipe here.

Julia Waldbaum’s Festive Eggnog Cake

1 cup all purpose flour (4.5 oz.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 rounded tsp.nutmeg (I used already ground nutmeg even though the recipe notes to use fresh and that it’s worth it to use fresh)
2 ounces unsalted butter softened
1 large egg + 1.5 T. egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup eggnog

Frosting
2 T. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup eggnog
1/3 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one 8 or 9 inch round metal cake pan with cooking spray and coat with flour.

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add softened butter and stir it in, mashing it into the dry ingredients and coating them with butter. When the mixture is moist with butter, add the eggs, vanilla and eggnog. With a spoon or lowest speed of electric mixer, beat until mixed. Turn speed to medium high and blend for about a minute. Pour batter into cake pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Flip and cool completely.

In a microwave bowl, whisk together flour and salt and about 2 T. of the eggnog. Continue adding the egg nog 2 T. at a time and whisk each addition until all lumps disappear. Microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes stirring once. Remove from microwave and whisk again. I didn’t have any lumps.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour mixture and continue beating on high with an electric mixer for about 8 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the icing isn’t grainy. (It only took me 5-6 minutes to get to the non grainy stage. Beat in the vanilla. Ice the cake.

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My first post in the New Year

January 2, 2011

Christmas Spice Rollout Cookies

It seems a little odd to post this recipe for Christmas cookies in the New Year, but I want the recipe and the post here so next year I remember that not all roll out cookies have to be regular sugar cookies. Not that there is anything wrong with regular sugar cookies, but we had some bucking tradition at our house this year and this recipe was my little way of reacting to change. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes it isn’t as bad as we fear it will be, but this post isn’t about all of that. It’s about cookies.

These cookies get their flavor from ground nuts, cloves, ginger allspice and cinnamon. They also make your house smell great while they’re baking. They have the added bonus of not needing to be frosted. I love the look of frosted Christmas cookies, and I enjoy frosting them with my family, but doing it by myself is a real drag so I love that these are festive and attractive with nothing more than a sprinkle with some colored sugar.

I should also add that if you’re not a big fan of honey, neither am I. The spices balance out the honey flavor so that you don’t get that ‘honey’ flavor on your palate.

Christmas Spice Rollout Cookies

1/2 c. toasted pecans
2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. room temperature butter
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. honey
1 egg
colored sugars for decorating

Grind the nuts until they’re fine using a food processor, blender, or a hand held rotary grater. Add 1/4 c. flour, and 1/4 c. brown sugar and grind to a powder. Set this mixture aside.

Whisk together the remaining flour, spices, and baking soda and set aside.

Using a mixer cream together the butter, vanilla and remaining brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the honey and the egg. Stir in the the flour spice mixture and the nut mixture and mix just until everything is incorporated. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally butter baking sheets. Flour disk and place between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters and transfer them to the buttered cookie sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.

Gather the scraps and chill. Repeat with the other disk, and then gather together all of the scraps repeat with the scraps.

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Basically Blissful

December 31, 2010

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

A few years ago Cranberry Bliss bars were being discussed on various blogs. I was intrigued, but not enough to make a special trip to try one at my local Starbucks. Since I don’t drink coffee I rarely go to Starbucks. When I meet friends for “coffee” they usually prefer our local coffee shop and so here we are several years later and I still haven’t had one. Recently I found myself at a Starbucks and I was pleasantly surprised to find out they still make these bars and I had to have one. I can certainly understand why people wait all year long for these seasonal treats to make an appearance! I ate mine very slowly and thoughtfully hoping I’d be able to make them myself.

Mine are a little thicker than Starbucks’ but that’s okay with me. If I make them again I will put some oil or shortening in with the white chocolate chips so that when I cut the bars the white chocolate won’t shatter. We loved these bars. My husband thinks they’re “awesome”. I can’t remember the adjectives my daughter used, but she made it clear she liked them a lot.

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

1 1/2 cups ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
1 bag white chocolate chips (divided use)
1 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (divided use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined.

Fold in the diced ginger, half of the white chocolate chips, and 1/2 c. dried cranberries, and turn the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely. Frost with the frosting, sprinkle with more chopped cranberries and drizzle with melted white chocolate as indicated below.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese softened
2.5 T. butter softened
1 1/2 t. orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar

Beat together the first three ingredients until very smooth. Stir in the zest and powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Spread on top of the bars. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries evenly on top of the bars.

Using 50% power melt the remaining chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave at 1 minute intervals. Stir after every minute until completely melted and then drizzle over the cranberries

Cut the bars into large squares, and then cut once diagonally to make triangles.


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