Cinnamon Pumpkin Bites

cinnamonpumpkinbitesAhh, fall baking. Time for some of my favorite  flavors, like pumpkin, maple, cinnamon, and ginger. Interesting ingredients like cinnamon chips, which I used in my maple cinnamon scones. But what does one do with leftover cinnamon chips? Whatever she wants…including stirring them into pumpkin cookies.

This recipe is one I’ve made before with butterscotch chips (which was absolutely delicious), and you could use semisweet or dark chocolate chips as well. The end result is a very tender, almost cake-like cookie with great flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Batter will be clumpy, but this is normal.

Add flour mixture in two batches and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Stir in cinnamon chips.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes; cookies may look slightly underdone, but they will continue baking as they cool. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days; as these cookies are so cakey, they’ll start to get too soft after a few days. Makes about 3 dozen.

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Maple Cinnamon Scones

maplecinnamonsconesMy obsession with England is profound. I love British baking, novels, weather, accents, movies, tea, television shows, royals (especially Camilla, but that’s a story for another day), universal health care…I could go on an on. When Mike and I traveled there in 2007, I wanted to stay. So in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s passing after an epic 70-year reign, I decided to bake a British treat with an American twist this weekend: maple cinnamon scones.

Here’s the thing about scones: it’s much easier to just cut them with a knife than a fluted cutter, lest they start out looking amazing and end up looking like some scruffy, down-on-its-luck cousin of an apple fritter. My first cuts turned out beautifully, like the front scone in the photo here. But as I gently pulled my scraps together and made my second and third cuts, things got ugly. Fortunately they all taste the same – a lovely blend of fall flavors made even more delicious by the addition of cinnamon chips. If you’re not sure where to find them, try your local Target and their seasonal section; that’s where I found these Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Measure out buttermilk and add maple syrup; set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine flour, maple sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl, then cut in butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Pour mixture into a large bowl; add cinnamon chips, then add buttermilk/syrup mixture and stir to combine, taking care not to over-mix.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4-5 times. Pat into a circle about 7-8 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut using a fluted cutter; gently bring scraps together and re-cut. Alternatively, cut your circle into 8 wedges.

Place scones on your prepared baking sheet and make your egg wash; lightly beat your egg and add heavy cream. Brush the tops of each scone, then bake for 18-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center(s) comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack; store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 8-10, depending on whether you use cutters or just cut them with a knife.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

pumpkinchochipbiscottiYou know those people who love fall? Who put up autumn wreaths on September 1, buy orange mums and pumpkins for their porches even though it’s still 80 degrees outside, and cannot wait until it turns colder so they can put on an infinity scarf and drink hot apple cider? Hi there. I’m one of those people.

I enjoy all seasons, but fall and winter are my favorites. I welcome the cooler temperatures, the colorful leaves, the holidays, and the opportunity to beg my husband to make his absolutely delicious beef stew whenever the temperature drops below 60 degrees. I also welcome the chance to bake with fall flavors, like pumpkin, maple, and various warming spices – though truth be told I bake with those year-round anyway. These pumpkin chocolate chip biscotti are my offering to Mother Nature in the hope she ushers in some cooler temps quickly because I’m more than ready to put on that infinity scarf.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, and sugar; beat on low speed until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix again to fully combine, then stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon dough onto the prepared baking sheet and, using a spatula, form it into a log of even thickness. Take care not to make your log too wide to start – this batter spreads a fair amount when baking, so a slimmer log is preferable (or so I found out the hard way).

Bake for 50 minutes; remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Transfer the log to a cutting board and slice into wedges about 1/2 inch thick; you may need a second baking sheet lined with parchment to accommodate all of the wedges.

Return wedges to the oven and bake for 25 minutes; flip each wedge over and bake another 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack; store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Biscotti are quite dry, so they’ll last a while. Makes about 20 pieces, depending on the length of your log.

Citrus Pound Cake

citruspoundcakeI’m a fairly frugal baker, searching for uses for leftover ingredients whenever I can. I learned to make fudge with the leftover evaporated milk from my pumpkin pie recipe, various curds and pastry creams with the leftover yolks from my egg whites from white cake, and meringues from the leftover whites from those various curds and pastry creams. This week’s walnut torte left me with about two and a half tablespoons of orange zest, so I put some of it into orange shortbread cookies and used the remaining portion and juice for this pound cake.

Full disclosure, while this tastes delicious and its texture is exactly what I’d hoped for except for a few larger air holes (see the photo here), it’s not nearly as citrusy as I wanted it to be. Next time I make this – and there will absolutely be a next time – I’m going to include much more zest so the orange and lemon flavors really come through.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

For the orange glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice

Preparation

Let butter, eggs, and sour cream stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and lightly flour an 8x4x2 loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar and continue beating on medium or medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 7 minutes, scraping your bowl a few times. Beat in zests and extracts to fully combine, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, along with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and beat for 1 minute after each; scrape the bowl well before adding your next egg. Add remaining flour mixture and sour cream alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating after each until ingredients are just combined.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 30 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice. Add remaining juice about 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring to a pourable consistency. Pour over cooled cake; let set before serving. Store cake at room temperature in an airtight container or well wrapped in plastic wrap. Makes about 10 servings.

Orange Shortbread

orangeshortbreadTo me, a basic shortbread recipe is like a blank canvas: you can add whatever you like to create your masterpiece. I’ve adapted the Essential Shortbread recipe from King Arthur Baking countless times, adding citrus zests, chocolate chips, toasted pecans, maple extract, almond extract, whatever struck me as a good idea. This week’s treat is a simple orange shortbread made with about a teaspoon of the leftover orange zest from the walnut torte I baked on Monday. Citrus zest will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days before losing its flavor, so you can make the most of your zests when you only need a small amount for a recipe.

Rather than baking this in a round tin as I usually do, I chose to scoop out my portions and roll them into balls, then roll them in sugar and press them down using the pretty pattern on the bottom of a glass. They remind me a bit of the kind of cookie you might see at a wedding or other special event, something simple but elegant that tastes great and makes you want the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 5 ounces flour (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)
  • Sugar for rolling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sugar for rolling in a small bowl and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add flour and mix to completely combine. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, then roll in sugar. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and press down using the bottom of a glass – I used a pretty crystal highball-style glass from a set my mom brought back for us from her trip to Ireland many years ago.

Bake for 30-32 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 16.

Walnut Torte

walnuttorteAre a torte and a cake the same? Sort of. Various sources on the internet report that tortes originated in central or eastern Europe; they are richer than a typical butter-and-flour-based cake, relying on ground nuts or breadcrumbs as a key ingredient. Some tortes are completely flourless, while others use just a small amount of flour.

This torte recipe comes from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, that trusty volume tucked between a red and white plaid cover that my mom gave me more than 22 years ago. As with most BH&G recipes, this one turned out incredibly well – I delivered it to my dear friend Diana this morning and we had a slice together. The orange flavor really lifts the walnut, and the chocolate buttercream pairs beautifully with both. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Ingredients

For the torte

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups walnuts

For the buttercream

  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • About 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the candied walnuts

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 8-inch baking tins. Combine flour, baking powder, and orange zest in a small bowl; set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Add walnuts and process for about 1 minute, until nearly smooth. Add dry mixture and pulse to just combine.

Divide batter evenly between cake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool in tins about 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake bakes, make your candied walnuts: combine walnuts, sugar, and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar and butter caramelize and coat the walnuts. Pour onto a sheet of parchment and separate the nuts using two spatulas; allow to cool completely.

For buttercream, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute; add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk, beating on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add additional milk; you want a spreadable consistency, but the frosting shouldn’t be runny.

To frost, place one cake on your cake plate and cover with a layer of buttercream; top with the second cake and frost the top of that cake, leaving the sides bare. Place candied walnuts in the center. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Makes about 12 servings, depending on how big your slices are.

Sparkling Under the Sea Cookies

sparklingundertheseacookiesDo cookies ship well? I certainly hope so. I send them around the country to various friends and family members, and I sincerely hope they all arrive in one piece. Some cookies, like sugar cut-outs, are more conducive to shipping if you coat them in sugar instead of frosting them. Especially in summer, I wouldn’t trust frosted cookies to fare well through the mail.

These treats are for Mike’s friend Jackie, who lives in Maryland and has been perusing my blog with her little boys. Enjoy, Jackie and family!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • White, aqua, light blue, dark blue, and orange colored sugar
  • Miniature chocolate chips, for eyes

Preparation

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.

Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.

Knead just slightly until dough sticks together, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes – I used crabs, whales, sharks, octopuses, and starfish and chilled my dough a second time after I cut my shapes, because it’s quite humid here today and the dough was more fragile than usual.

Place colored sugar on a plate and carefully dip each cookie into the sugar, pressing so the sugar sticks (this provides better coverage than sprinkling the sugar on top, but you could do that too if you prefer). I used dark blue for the crabs, light blue and white for the whales, aqua for the sharks, and blended aqua and light blue for the octopuses. Carefully place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and add chocolate chip eyes.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for about 4-5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Quantity varies based on the size of your cutter; this batch yielded about 24 cookies because the crab, whale, and shark cutters are fairy large. I also recommend baking similar-shaped cookies on each baking sheet – for example, crabs on one, whales and sharks on another, starfish on another – to keep them from browning at different rates.

Campfire Cupcakes

campfire cupcakesDespite absolutely loving the woods, I’ve never been camping. Shocking? Perhaps. But seriously, I think I’d be more of a glamper than a camper, retreating to a cozy cabin for my woodland excursions. In any case, I absolutely love a campfire, and have wanted to make these campfire cupcakes for some time.

A word about the frosting: I cannot imagine how many calories or grams of sugar there are in this combination of butter, marshmallow fluff, and powdered sugar – so make sure you include the kosher salt. It’s not quite as sweet as you might imagine, especially when paired with the dark chocolate of these cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

For the frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Red, orange, and golden yellow food coloring
  • Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, cut into small “logs”

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; this makes 13 cupcakes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well-blended, then make three wells for the wet ingredients.

Place vinegar, vanilla, and vegetable oil into the wells; add water and mix until the batter is smooth. The mixture will bubble up slightly when you add the water, so just keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency in the batter, which will be fairly thin.

Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, scoop batter into cupcake wells, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove from cupcake pans; cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make frosting, beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute, then add 1 cup powdered sugar. Beat until all of the sugar is incorporated, scrape down the bowl, and add the second cup powdered sugar. Beat again, then add marshmallow fluff and beat to combine. Add remaining powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and kosher salt and beat to completely combine.

Divide frosting into three portions and tint red, orange, and golden yellow. Place a piece of plastic wrap (about 20 inches long) on our counter; dollop yellow frosting in a straight line, then orange, then red so you have three parallel lines of frosting on your plastic wrap. Roll up and twist both ends, then snip off one end and insert it into an 18-inch piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M large open star tip. Pipe a few trial blobs to make sure all three colors come out at once.

Pipe flame-shaped blobs of frosting onto each cupcake and add three cookie “logs.” If desired, pipe a few more blobs of frosting to cover the ends of the logs. Store in an airtight container in the fridge; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 13.

Maple Cinnamon Pecan Sandies

maplecinnamonpecansandiesMost baking books include a recipe for pecan sandies, sometimes called sand tarts, a lovely shortbread-type cookie made with chopped pecans. Because I love to experiment with flavors, I wondered what would happen when a pecan sandie met a maple cinnamon shortbread. The end result is absolutely delicious, something I know I’ll make again.

I used maple sugar in this recipe, and you can likely buy at Whole Foods and from many retailers online. I typically buy mine from High Country Creamery & Market in Granstville, Maryland, just a short trip from Deep Creek. The market features local maple sugar and maple syrup, and I pick up a package whenever we visit. If you don’t have maple sugar, you can use regular and just add a bit more maple flavoring to make up for the taste. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract/flavoring
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, and finely chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, salt, maple sugar, and maple extract until fluffy. Add flour and mix to combine, then stir in pecans.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets; you should have 10 cookies per sheet. Flatten slightly with your hand. 

Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets, then place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Makes 20.

Chocolate Walnut Cookies

chocolatewalnutcookieInterested in a cookie that tastes like a brownie? Look no further than these treats, which reminded me so much of a brownie I almost called them brownie cookies.

The original recipe from King Arthur Baking was called Mocha Walnuts, but to me, they’re far more chocolate than mocha – the espresso powder adds depth to the chocolate flavor without really making these taste of coffee. I adapted the original recipe to use mini chocolate chips, finely chopped walnuts, and just a one-inch cookie scoop for my treats, yielding a batch of about just about three dozen. The end result has a lovely brownie-like flavor and nice crunchy edge with a soft center, one of my favorite types of cookie textures.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line four baking sheets with parchment.

Melt 1/2 cup of the miniature chocolate chips; set aside. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars, baking soda, and salt until very light and fluffy. Add egg and beat to combine, then add melted chocolate and espresso powder. Stir in flour, walnuts, and remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are just set and tops are still puffy. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 36.