Monday, November 25, 2013

Maple & Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

My neighbor Linda, lost her husband a little over a year ago and she has been so sweet ever since finding out about my Geoffrey.  Every so often she calls to check up on me. 

A few weeks ago she called to make sure that I wasn't spending Thanksgiving alone, inviting me to her house for the holiday.  I thought that was so nice of her.  These are a little treat for her and her guests.  I baked them two days ago and my house still smells like maple.


RECIPE
(adapted from Lulu the Baker)

1 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups) at room temperature
1/2 cup maple sugar (I got mine from Mount Mansfield Maple Products)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if you use salted butter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars until just combined.  Add vanilla and maple flavoring and mix.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt, then add to the butter mixture.  Mix on low speed just until dough comes together.  Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/4-1/2 inch and cut into individual cookies.  My cutter was about 3 inches.  Place cookies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes then bake for 18 minutes until the edges just begin to turn brown.  Let cool for several minutes then transfer to a wire rack. 

*I left my cookies out overnight on the rack so they get a little crisper, the butter settles and they are not too greasy. 

Happy Thanksgiving
Sheila

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Applesauce Spice Cake {Muffins}

A few weeks ago I joined a group of other bakers from The Cake Slice who bake once a month from the same book.  They were just starting a new book, Great Cakes by Carole Walterso my timing was perfect. The recipes are top secret until we all post on the same day. 

My reason for joining was twofold.  1) I got to meet some wonderful bakers and 2) keeping me busy with something to do on the upcoming winter days. 

This cake recipe called for a fluted pan but I chose to make large muffins.  My changes to the baking time are at the end of the recipe below. 

However you make your recipe, cake or muffins, DO NOT leave off the glaze.  It's fabulous!!



This should definitely be on your baking list for the upcoming holidays, whether it's a cake for dessert or muffins for breakfast. 

RECIPE

2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped medium-fine
2/3 stick butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 medium tart green apple such as Granny Smith peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened applesauce

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 9 inch fluted tube pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Set aside.

Cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in mixer bowl and beat on low speed until softened.  Add lemon rind .  Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute.  Add shortening and mix 1 minute longer. 

Add granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 3-4 minutes to blend well.  Add light brown sugar over an additional 3-4 minutes.  Scrape bowl occasionally.

Add eggs, 1 at a time at 1 minute intervals.  Reduce speed to medium low and add apple and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternating in three additions with applesauce in two additions, starting and ending with flour.  Beat until incorporated scraping bowl occasionally.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Center pan in oven and back approximately 40-50 minutes or until cake begins to leave sides of the pan and toothpick comes out dry. 

Remove from oven.  Let cool on rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto rack.  While still warm, you may want to pour Brown Sugar Glaze over the top letting it drip down the sides naturally.  Garnish with chopped pecans if you wish.


BROWN SUGAR GLAZE

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In small saucepan, melt butter and sugar together over low heat.  Stir in heavy cream and cook slowly until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.  Simmer 1-2 minutes.

Take pan off the heat and gradually add confectioner's sugar in three additions, whisking until smooth.  Blend in vanilla.  The icing should be pourable.  If too thick, thin with drops of extra cream. 

*As you can see from my picture I chose to make large muffins.  The recipe made 12.  Cooking time varied from 25-28 minutes.  Check at 25 and add a minute or two or three until cake tester comes out clean.   

Enjoy!
Sheila

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wedding Planner Gift

A few weeks ago I made some wedding favor cookies in purple and orange (because that's what you do when the bride likes one color and the groom likes another). 


They liked them so much, they ordered cookies as a thank you gift for their wedding planner. 
I guess they were happy with both of us, plus it gave me an excuse to make some pretty fall cookies.



Sheila
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