Monday, September 26, 2011

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Hubs tells me all the time that I like to do things the hard way. He says this when I choose to make something rather than buy it or make do with what I have rather than buy something new. Even if that something new would make my life easier. Usually it's because I'm being cheap thrifty. However sometimes it's because I get an idea and just want to see if it will work. That's how these cookies came about. I was wasting time doing important research on Pinterest. In the interest of public safety, I feel I must warn those that don't already know about Pinterest. I'm not sure what happens, maybe a quantum time leap, or perhaps it's in its own time zone or something. All I know is that when you visit Pinterest, what feels like 5 minutes in Pinterest time is actually an hour in real time. Consider yourselves warned! Anyhooo, back to the cookies, so I saw some cute candy corn shaped sugar cookies while surfing around Pinterest. I liked that they looked like candy corn but didn't have to be decorated. They looked easy, a departure from my usual way of doing things. This was a week or two ago and I didn't pin the picture, which I realize kind of defeats the purpose of Pinterest. I couldn't find the picture again so I decided I'd just wing it and see if I could make some cookies like the ones I had seen. I have since seen other ways to make candy corn cookies but I like how these came out and they really are easy to make.

These are perfect for when you need a fun Fall/Halloween dessert, like school parties. You could go super easy and use store bought sugar cookie dough to make these cookies. No judgement here! However this recipe for sugar cookies is simple to make and tastes delicious. The dough doesn't need to be chilled before using, so it's quick to make as well.

Easy No-Chill Sugar Cookies
Source: submitted by Chef.Jules
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

orange and yellow gel food coloring
candy corn cookie cutter (or you could cut out triangles)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Divide dough into two balls.

To make Candy Corn Cookies:
Divide your cookie dough into three equal pieces. Knead orange gel food coloring into one piece and yellow into another. Leave the third piece white. Roll the dough into logs about 1 inch wide and 6-8 inches long. Put each of the logs side-by-side and slightly push them together like in the picture below.

Roll the cookie dough out approximately 12" wide and about 1/8" thick and cut out with a candy corn shaped cookie cutter. If you don't have a candy corn cutter you can just cut out triangles.
Kind of has a 70's vibe going!

I sprinkled some with sanding sugar and left some plain.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6 - 7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. I line my pans with parchment paper or a silpat for easy cookie removal.

I didn't waste the leftover pieces of cookie dough. I gathered them all together, added more orange gel coloring, rolled out the dough again and cut out pumpkins.

I got a little over a dozen candy corn cookies. I made small and large pumpkins and had a dozen pumpkin cookies when I was done.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chewy Pumpkin Granola Bars

With the first day of Fall just around the corner, I'm so ready to break out the pumpkin and spices! I was in the grocery store a few days ago and noticed that Kashi has pumpkin granola bars. I like Kashi products and considered buying the bars but at over $4.00 for 6 bars, I put the box back on the shelf. Making granola is fun and super easy so I decided I'd try to make my own pumpkin granola. When I got home I decided to adapt the recipe from the Silver Palate for Outrageous Granola that I've made countless times but I wasn't sure what I wanted to use to bind the granola so that I could cut it into bars. I Googled pumpkin granola bars and sure enough some of my fellow bloggers had already beaten me to the pumpkin granola idea. Several linked back to this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod. I sort of used a combination of the two recipes and threw in some toasted wheat germ to up the healthfulness of the bars. I used things I already had in my pantry to make these bars but they are easily adapted so feel free to use any combination nuts, chocolate chips, or dried fruit that want. 

Chewy Pumpkin Granola Bars

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce cup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 by 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix oats, spices, salt, and wheat germ (if using), together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. Stir in chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, and almonds.
Evenly press oat mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The pumpkin and applesauce add a lot of moisture to the bars so bake them until they are golden and set or they will be too soft. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Remove from pan and cool completely. 
The pumpkin keeps the bars very moist for several days if kept sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Recipe adapted: Two Peas and their Pod and Silver Palate Outrageous Granola 
Pumpkin and spice!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apple-Butterscotch Blondies

with praline frosting.

I thought about calling these stress relief bars. Not because they have any magical stress relieving ingredients or powers. They don't. Although they taste so good, you might momentarily forget about your worries. No, while the blondies themselves are not stress relieving, the act of making them is, at least for me. I'd have to say, and I'm sure those that know me would agree, I inherited  more traits from my father then my mother. I look more like my dad than I do my mother but I also, for better or worse, share more of his personality traits. He would say that's a good thing but the jury is still out on that one.
One thing that I most definitely inherited from mother was my love of baking. Mom is a great cook, but baking is her true love. Growing up there was always some freshly baked good being made or consumed in our home. Mom bakes all the time, but if life ever gets a little stressful or she's really worried about something, look out. She turns into a baking maniac. We laughingly joke that we can gauge moms stress level by how much baking she's done. If only one pie is being made, it's okay, she's fine. During one particularly stressful time several years ago, my sister called and said that she knew mom was stressed out because she'd made two loaves of fresh bread, two pies and a pan of cinnamon buns. Another time when a hurricane was headed our way, she was in the kitchen furiously whipping up a batch of cookies. When asked why she was making cookies, she said that they were "emergency cookies".  Just in case, you never know the power might go out, hence the emergency cookies. Mom has always said baking makes her feel better. Baking is about more than just the end product, for me as well. Don't get me wrong, I love a good (emergency) cookie, but many times I enjoy the act of making the cookies almost as much as eating them...almost!
 Life has thrown us for quite a loop in the past couple of weeks. I know things will work out in the end, but change is rarely easy. So lately I, like mom, find myself wanting to measure, chop, and stir. Perhaps its being in control of that little bit of life that makes it so satisfying. I don't know what it is but I do know it's a lot cheaper than going to a therapist, so hand me a whisk!

The original recipe was just the blondies but when they came out of the oven they looked a little plain jane so  I added the praline frosting. I'm sure they are good without the frosting but they are superb with the frosting!

Apple Butterscotch Blondies with Praline Frosting
Printable recipe
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced  (about 2 cups)

Praline Frosting:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
Toffee pieces, optional

Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Stir together brown sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla.
In a separate mixing bowl, stir together flour and next 2 ingredients; add to brown sugar mixture, and stir until blended. Stir in apples and pecans. Pour mixture into a greased and floured or foil lined, 8-by-8-inch pan; spread in an even layer.
I line my brownie/blondie pan with foil with about an inch overhang. It makes getting them out of the pan a snap. When cool simply lift them out and cut.

Bake at 350º for 40 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour).
To prepare frosting:
Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisk constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled blondie. Top with more toasted pecans and toffee.

Source: Southern Living
September 2011 (Adapted)