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dessert

Food & Recipes

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

December 6, 2016

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cookies_3First, I need to say a big thank you to everyone who hung with me these last few weeks. I know that service on Espresso and Cream has been very spotty and the site completely crashed in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. But I’m happy to report that the site is now up and running on a brand new server that should be large enough to accommodate Espresso and Cream readers for a long time to come. Whew! 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is cookie baking. I know that there is an abundance of desserts this time of year, and baking goodies at home is hardly necessary, but I couldn’t make it through the month of December without doing at least a bit of baking.

This year Ainsley helped with her first Christmas cookie baking and it was SO fun! I mean, she mainly stuffed frosting into her mouth by the spoonful and only frosted a couple cookies before declaring that she was done, but seeing her participate in a tradition that will no doubt continue to happen for years on end was the sweetest.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about sugar cookies. Specifically how they can be so disappointing in flavor and texture. Some of the prettiest sugar cookies I’ve seen have been the most tasteless and some of the ugliest have been the yummiest. Isn’t there a happy middle ground? Yes, yes there is. These cookies, I like to think, strike a wonderful balance between downright tasty and pretty/cute/fun to decorate, too. Although Royal Icing always gets the best results in terms of looks, I find that it’s just plain gross to eat. And while the powdered sugar and milk combination might be temping because it’s so easy, I think we can all upgrade our game a little bit this year to something that requires just a tiny bit more effort.

The sugar cookies themselves don’t stand well on their own. They are from an old, old Southern Living Christmas cookie book that my mom and I both use every year. If I were making plain old sugar cookies I wouldn’t make these, but once they are topped with buttercream they have the perfect taste and consistency to pull the whole thing off. One tip: I always suggest erring on the side of under baking rather than over baking because I love a soft, chewy sugar cookie, so keep a close eye on these cookies while they bake as oven temps can vary!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting
 
The cookie recipe is "Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies" from the Southern Living Cookie Book. I couldn't find this old recipe anywhere online to link to, so I'm sharing it below!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cookies: Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (Silpat).
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars to the butter and beat 2 minutes more or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut into desired shapes and place cookies, 1 inch apart, on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just barely golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add in the vanilla and milk and beat until just combined. Beat in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is smooth and creamy. Frost cookies with frosting.

 

Food & Recipes

Pie of the Week #6 // Apple-Cran-Raspberry Pie

November 15, 2016

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This week’s pie of the week might not be for everyone. Whew. Okay, I feel like I just needed to get that out there before waxing poetic about how much I love this pie, because it’s true. It’s not a pie that everyone will love, but I certainly love it and will be making it more than once this holiday season.

Inspired by homemade cranberry sauce – the stuff you make with real, whole cranberries, not the stuff in a can – this pie is tart and tangy and nearly requires a heavy dollop of whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream to balance the tartness of the cranberries, raspberries and apples. The mix of three fruits produces a pie filling with great texture and interest, and while it might not be a home run that everyone can agree on, it’s certainly a pie that my little family can get behind.

I was inspired by recipes I’ve made in the past, and this recipe from Cooking Light, which I tweaked slightly to fit my flavor preferences and the ingredients I had on hand.

Pie of the Week #6 // Apple-Cran-Raspberry Pie
 
Ingredients
  • Pie crust for a 9-inch double crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples
  • 1½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • CRUSH WASH
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Coarse sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the filling ingredients until well combined.
  3. Roll out remaining crust and cut into strips. Use strips to form a lattice pattern on top of the crust, going over and under every other strip. Pinch edges of crust to seal together. Trim off excess crust around edges and roll/crimp crust edges to finish.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk and heavy cream. Brush mixture on lattice and edge dough and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour more, until filing is bubbly and crust is golden brown. If necessary, cover crust edges with a pie crust guard or aluminum foil to prevent over-browning.
  6. Cool completely before serving.

 

Food & Recipes

Pie of the Week #6 // S’Mores Pie

November 8, 2016

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Today’s pie of the week is a good one, my friends! Okay, if you’re my husband then you probably disagree – the man has a serious dislike of “fluffy” things including pudding and whipped cream, which is why I decided to gift this pie to my mom’s co-workers rather than keeping it in our house. That said, if I was left with this pie in the house it wouldn’t be long before I would eat the entire thing on my own!

Although this chilled pie would probably be better suited for summertime, I tend to think that the s’mores flavor profile is good any time of the year. In fact, I think you could easily bring this pie to the table during the holiday season and almost everyone would be pleased. The marshmallow flavor is quite subtle, but if you’re looking to boost that a bit, I would suggest adding some miniature marshmallows to the top of this pie when garnishing just to be sure the message and flavor comes across.

The pie can be kept in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for up to three days, if it lasts that long! Just be sure to top with the whipped cream right before serving for best results!

S'Mores Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Filling
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Topping
  • Whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the butter to the bowl and stir until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes; cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the ¾ cup heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and salt. Whisk until completely smooth. Cool.
  3. In a very small pan or saucepan over medium heat, heat the water. Sprinkle the gelatin over water and allow to dissolve. Whisk mixture together until gelatin dissolves completely, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium speed until very soft peaks begin to form. With the mixer running, slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the cream and continue to whisk on high speed 2 to 3 minutes more or until firm peaks form (the gelatin will prevent true stiff peaks from forming.) Slowly whisk in the marshmallow creme and vanilla until evenly combined and smooth.
  5. Stir together the marshmallow mixture and the semi-cooled chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours or until filling is set. Top with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate just before serving.

 

Food & Recipes

Pie of the Week #5 // Pumpkin Cream

October 31, 2016

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I’m a serious fan of pumpkin pie. It’s always the pie that I gravitate toward at the dessert table on Thanksgiving and the first pie I think of making when the calendar turns over to fall. So naturally, I’ve already made a handful of pies this fall, including a pumpkin pie of the more classic variety, but when I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for Pumpkin Cream Pie, I knew it had to be made and shared as well.

My little toddler helper assisted me in the making of this pie, so you’ll see her handiwork everywhere in the wonky edges of the crust, but it’s been so fun baking together and teaching her to enjoy time in the kitchen. Although it requires much more mess and time, I’m thankful to be starting traditions with her in the kitchen at a young age.

The original recipe called for a chocolate cookie crust, which would have, in my opinion, been perfection. But since we had some pie crust already made, I figured we would go the more traditional route. If you were to make this at home, I highly suggest a graham cracker crust or chocolate cookie crust instead to really take this dessert into the “decadent” category.

Pie of the Week #5 // Pumpkin Cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Crust for a 9-inch pie (crust of choice, see above)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Whipped cream for garnishing, if desired.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare crust as desired/directed and press into 9-inch pie plate.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour mixture into the crust and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the edges are completely set and center of the pie jiggles just slightly. Cool 2 hours. Top with whipped cream just before serving, if desired. Cut into slices to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

 

 

Food & Recipes

Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe’s 29th Birthday Cake

September 13, 2016

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Every year I make my husband a birthday cake, and every year Joe asks me to bake a chocolate cake. One of Joe’s favorite recipes of all time is a recipe I developed a couple years ago when I was working for Betty Crocker. Let’s be clear when I say that yes, this cake starts with boxed cake mix, but it’s anything but ordinary.

Actually, I should clarify that I have nothing against boxed cake mix in certain situations, including this one, where using boxed cake yields some of the best cake around.

This was my first attempt at baking this cake in layer format rather than in a bundt pan, and with a few adjustments and adaptations, it turned out really well! I would make this cake again and again, and you should, too, if you’re looking for a chocolate cake recipe that will blow your guests minds.

Plus, the leftovers taste pretty great, too. Not that I would know anything about eating leftovers after taking photographs in the middle of the day or anything. 😉

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Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe's 29th Birthday Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 slices
 
Ingredients
  • Cake
  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 box (4-serving) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cake layers:
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water and eggs and beat until smooth and well combined. Batter will be thick. Beat in the chocolate chips just until combined.
  4. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly in pans. Bake on the middle oven rack 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire cooling racks, about 1 hour.
  6. To Make Frosting:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and beat until well combined, about 1 minute more. Beat in the milk vanilla and salt, followed by the powdered sugar, beating about 2 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  8. To Assemble Cake:
  9. Place on cake layer on a cake plate or serving tray. Spread some of the frosting on the top of the cake evenly. Top with remaining layer. Use remaining frosting to frost top and sides of the cake. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Cake recipe adapted from One-Bowl Strawberry Bundt Cake 
Frosting recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook