Browsing Tag


Toasted Pecan Shortbread

November 28, 2011

Nothing like getting a jump on December cooking making, right? I was sitting on the couch with some of my cookbooks last week when I stumbled upon a shortbread recipe in Gourmet Today. There wasn’t anything different about the recipe. In fact, it was pretty simple. Straightforward and to the point is how I like my recipes.

What really got me hooked on the idea of making this shortbread was the idea that it could be a blank canvas for almost any holiday flavor my heart desired. So instead of leaving it plain, as the recipe suggested, I tossed some chopped pecans with ground cinnamon and salt for a little play on the sweet and salty.

When this cookie first came out of the oven, before I cut it into wedges, Joey was quite skeptical. However, after serving one up with a glass of milk, he was a believer. Upon first bite, he demanded they make an appearance on the blog as well as at family Christmas.

Toasted Pecan Shortbread
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Today

*1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 stick unsalted butter, softened
*1/3 cup sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 cup all-purpose flour

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
*In a small bowl combine the pecans, cinnamon and salt. Toss together to coat. Spread nuts on an ungreased baking pan and toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until pecans are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from oven to cool.
*Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add in the flour and worth together with your hands until evenly incorporated. Mixture will be slightly crumbly. Transfer dough onto prepared baking sheet and press mixture into a disc about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Spread the toasted nut mixture atop the dough and press lightly with your hands to get the nuts to adhere to the dough.
*Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and the dough is puffed up. Cool on wire rack. Cut cooled cookie into wedges to serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Happy Baking!

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Truffles

November 15, 2010

Happy Monday everyone! Since I ended last week on a healthy note, I thought it was a good idea to start this week off with something a little more decadent. Something you could serve to loved ones over the holidays, or just make on a Monday night and eat yourself.
I’ve made versions of these truffles before, with peanut butter and Oreo filling, which are both delicious, but I was looking for something a little different. So when Walkers Shortbread sent me some of their products to sample, I was more than a little excited. Here’s a little information on Walkers:

Walkers have been baking shortbread in the Scottish Highlands since 1898. They still use only the finest pure ingredients with no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives. Suitable for vegetarians and certified Kosher OU-D.

Of course, when it came to special sweets, you knew I was going to make something with pumpkin, didn’t you? And man oh man do I love these Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Truffles. Which isn’t all that hard to imagine, when you’re combining pumpkin butter, cream cheese, chocolate and buttery shortbread. It’s pretty much a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Truffles
(Printable Recipe)

*14 oz. shortbread cookies (I used Walkers)
*4 oz. cream cheese
*1 Tbsp. pumpkin butter (I would guess using pupmkin pie filling would work, too)
*1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
*1 package chocolate almond bark
*1 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil 
Chocolate sprinkles (optional)

*In the bowl of a food processor,  place the shortbread cookies and pulse until a fine meal forms. Add in the cream cheese, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin pie spice. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
*In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate almond bark according to package instructions. Stir in oil. Scoop shortbread mixture by rounded tablespoons and roll between your hands to form a ball. Dip into melted almond bark and transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Sprinkle dipped truffles with chocolate sprinkles.
*Refrigerate the truffles for at least 30 minutes or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Happy Baking!


Confession and Cookies Time: Alfajores

October 15, 2010

Working as an editor makes writing as a blogger absolutely maddening at times. Throughout the day, I’m constantly thinking about editorial direction and cohesive themes to the pieces and recipes I’m putting into place. There’s a rhyme and a reason for everything, and every recipe serves a purpose.

But life as a blogger isn’t nearly as cut and dried. Blogs by their very nature are extensions of the people who write them, and just like people are multi-dimensional, so are their blogs. And as those people change, their blogs come along for the ride, since at its core a blog is really nothing more than a journal or sorts.

As my blog grows, I’ve been wrestling with the direction of Espresso and Cream, and to be honest it’s got me feeling a little bit lost. Some of my favorite blogs are those that paint a bright, vivid picture of the bloggers behind the scenes – their lives, loves, daily routines, and adventures – like The Front Burner, Eat Live Run, Kath Eats, and Carrots ‘n Cake. They’re the girls you feel as if you already know because they share a part of themselves in each and every post.

On the other side of the coin, there are the food bloggers I revere and admire for their jaw-droppingly beautiful photos, inventive recipes and beautiful prose: Smitten Kitchen, Orangette, Tartelette, and 101Cookbooks to name a few. You want them to mentor you, and teach you their brilliant secrets with cameras, food styling, and Photoshop.

As it is, I feel only a small potion of myself is shared here on Espresso and Cream. And just as I’d like to get to know you, the readers who make this whole thing worthwhile, I’d also like to share more of me on these pages but have hesitated for fear my blog will lose its direction, voice and personality. What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure. Just bear with me as I try to sort it all out. What I can guarantee is that the recipes will keep on coming, and maybe a few extras, too.

Do any other bloggers out there have the same feelings from time to time?

Adapted from Gourmet Today
(Printable Recipe)

*1/3 cup cornstarch
*3/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1/4 tsp. baking powder
*1/8 tsp. salt
*8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

*1/4 cup granulated sugar
*1 large egg yolk
*1 Tbsp. Amaretto liquor
*1/2 tsp. almond extract
Caramel sauce, dulce de leche, or raspberry preserves

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
*Whisk together cornstarch, flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
*Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, Amaretto, and almond extract. Stir in flour mixture until combined, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour if dough is sticky. (Dough should be soft)
*Form dough into a disk. Roll out into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out 18 to 22 rounds with a circle cookie cutter. Transfer to baking sheet, arranging rounds 1/2 inch apart.
*Bake until firm and pale golden around edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
*Spread about 1/2 teaspoon homemade caramel sauce or dulce de leche on flat sides of half the cookies and top with remaining cookies.

Happy Baking!


Spiced Cranberry Shortbread

January 10, 2010

Settled in to life in the new apartment? Check. Job started and life in full-swing? Check. Living budget established? Check. Mastering the art of grocery shopping on a budget while being a foodie? Well, let’s just say I’m working on it. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are many great things about growing up, graduating, and living on my own, but one thing I’m really going to miss? The charge account at our grocery store back home, billed directly to mom. Long grocery lists for whatever recipe that struck me as delicious accounted for a pretty hefty monthly grocery bill, I’m sure. If nothing else, my mom deserves credit for teaching me how to cook since she played the role of financier. 

What I really love, if you can’t tell by now, are simple recipes. So simple that after making them a couple times you remember them by heart and feel comfortable enough to mix it up to suit your tastes, or whatever might be in the pantry. Another perk of simple recipes? They usually end up being inexpensive, allowing you to create something sinfully delicious with ordinary ingredients. Case in point? Spiced Cranberry Shortbread. If you don’t have dried cranberries, skip them or substitute something else like nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips. What I won’t try to do is health-ify this up. It’s flour, sugar, a few spices, and lots of butter. Embrace the butter, and enjoy in moderation. Trust me, it’s more difficult that it sounds. 

Pre-baked shortbread 

Cooling shortbread 

*2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 cup dried cranberries 
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp. ground allspice
*2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened 

*Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 10-inch tart pan (you can use an 8-inch cake pan if needed, just increase the baking time by 5 minutes).
*In bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients, except the butter. Stir until dry ingredients are well-combined. Add in butter and beat until coarse crumbs form. (mixture will not form a ball or combine completely) 
*Pour mixture into pan. Press dough with your fingertips into the pan, paying close attention to the edges. 
*Bake shortbread for 30 minutes or until sides of the shortbread are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack (or, if you’re me, balance the pan on a coffee cup!) for 30 minutes. Cut shortbread into pizza-shaped wedges. 

Happy baking!


Outstanding Christmas Butter Cookies

December 22, 2009

I didn’t intend to leave the blog unintended over the past week, what with it being the peak of Christmas cookie season and all, but this past week has left practically no time for baking, and almost everything I’ve eaten has been take-out, from a restaurant, or a box of cereal. Hardly worth blogging about. What has been keeping me so busy? A little thing called graduation and all that goes with it: family visiting from Florida and moving into a new apartment! After an exhausting week of settling into a new place I was more than ready to bake, listen to Christmas music, and to present to you the most delicious Christmas cookie recipe I’ve found in quite some time.

With Dad and my little sister, Taylor

Mom and me at graduation

This entire Christmas season, I’ve been struggling to find a cookie recipe that was inspiring. Typically, I spend an entire day in full cookie production, baking anywhere from 6 to 12 different kinds of cookies. But this year I was in search of one perfect cookie. One perfect cookie enough to surpass a dozen average ones. Where did I turn? The lovely Deb of Smitten Kitchen, a beautiful blog full of recipes that always deliver.

Of course, I thought it necessary to make a few changes of my own. Using the base recipe provided by Dorie Greenspan via Smitten Kitchen, I tossed in a half a cup of dried cranberries and a teaspoon of cinnamon. In the second batch, since my mom always taught me to double every batch of Christmas cookies, I tossed in 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 1/2 cup toffee bits, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.

Light and mildly sweet, these cookies are not your average Christmas cookie. They sing of sophistication and simplicity, begging to be eaten with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, perfect for when friends drop by, or for sending in the mail to those you love, since they are sure to bring a smile to the face of everyone who receives them.

Happy Baking!