Frosted Sugar Cookies

If you’re a fan of soft (almost doughy) frosted sugar cookies, then this recipe is for you.  I decided to make these with a soft buttercream frosting since we were going all the way anyway and I seemed to coincidentally have an abundance of butter on hand…

Click here for the recipe featured on my own website!

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Devil Dog Cupcakes

I’m not ashamed to admit that my favorite childhood treat was (and still is) Devil Dogs.  So when I heard that Hostess (which also owns Drake’s) was filing Chapter 11 – I panicked.  I needed to find a replacement just in case they were really going to be gone forever.  The result is even better than the original, mainly because it’s not so dry you need a drink of water after each bite.  I recommend this recipe for any Devil Dog fan.   

Click here for the recipe featured on my own website!

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Armenian Easter Bread (Choreg)

This light and fluffy sweet bread is a staple in our home around Easter.  It’s definitely worth the effort and you can make it ahead of time and freeze it for the breakfast on Easter morning.  The spice mahleb gives this bread its signature taste – so don’t leave it out.  You won’t regret making the extra effort to find it in a Middle Eastern market.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed (I used about 8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground mahleb (make sure this is finely ground, you do NOT want chunks!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp cream

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. Heat until butter is melted, but do not let it boil. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved, then set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve 2 tsp of sugar in warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface, and let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  • Crack the eggs into a large bowl, and stir a little to break up the yolks. Slowly pour in the heated milk mixture while whisking constantly, so as to temper the eggs and not cook them. Add the yeast mixture and vanilla, and stir just until blended.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, mahleb, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the wet mixture and the vegetable shortening. (Alternatively, if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, put the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and slowly add in the wet ingredients and then the shortening) Stir until it forms a sticky dough. Pour onto a floured surface, and knead in additional flour as needed to make a more substantial dough.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, and set in a warm place to rise for about 3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Separate the dough into 5 even portions, then separate each of those into thirds. Roll each of those into ropes about 12 inches long. Braid sets of three ropes together, pinching the ends to seal, and tucking them under for a better presentation.  (You can also make smaller loaves but you will have to adjust the bake time.)
  • Place the loaves onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  •  Brush the loaves with beaten egg and cream
  • Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely golden brown all over

Rainbow Cake

The minute I came across this recipe on Whisk Kid’s blog, I just had to try it.  I also had the perfect occasion to do so – Charlie’s 1st Birthday!  Not only does the cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting taste amazing, but it’s also such a fun cake!  The professional photos are courtesy of super talented photographer, Beth Ludwig of Ludwig Photography, who took Charlie’s 1 year photos.  She did an unbelievable job capturing his little personality.  I really felt like I had accomplished something with this cake, and hope that Charlie likes it enough to want it on his birthday every year!

*You could definitely try to do this with boxed white cake and store-bought frosting, however, I think that the density of this particular cake and most definitely the frosting is what gives it its structural integrity and makes it look so perfect.  With that said, I won’t judge…

INGREDIENTS

CAKE

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 5 egg whites, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed for 30 seconds in microwave to bring to room temp
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring
    • Liquid will not be vibrant enough!
FROSTING
To fill and crumb coat:

  • 9 egg whites
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used the artificial clear vanilla extract to be sure the frosting stayed as white as possible)

To frost:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

HOW TO MAKE IT

CAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have four and I just reused them)
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time.
  • Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.
  • Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (it’s about 1 cup each)
  • Whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl
    • Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter.
  • Pour into the pans and bake for approximately 15 minutes each
  • When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, wrap in plastic wrap, and stash them in the freezer to cool quickly

FROSTING

  • Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has reached 160°F
  • The sugar should be completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done)
  • Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp.
  • Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next (count to 10 in between each piece)
  • After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes
  • Add the extract, beat briefly and then use
    • If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.
    • Here are Whisk Kid’s step-by-step directions for making this frosting, I strongly recommend reading this over thoroughly before attempting it!

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…

  • Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake – make sure you have a good amount of frosting in between each layer so you get the right visual effect
  • Once frosted, the cake can be left on the counter without any problems, but you can also refrigerate it.
  • Just be sure that the cake is at room temperature when serving or the frosting will be hard, not smooth

 

Egg Biscuits

I’m a huge fan of egg biscuits anytime of year – but especially around Easter.  I’m pretty sure that eating light, fluffy cookies topped with pastel sprinkles puts anyone                       in a good mood.

INGREDIENTS

BISCUIT

    • 4 cups flour
    • 4 tbsp baking powder
    • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
GLAZE
  • Approximately 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp anise extract (you could also use lemon or vanilla extract)
  • Milk

HOW TO MAKE IT

BISCUIT

    • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar
    • In your mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, milk and vanilla extract
    • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
    • The dough will be VERY sticky!  DO NOT add more flour
    • Dip your fingers in flour and roll the dough into balls of desired size – these will grow, so keep it close to the size of a walnut
    • Place on a greased or parchment paper lined pan and bake at 375°F for approximately 7-10 minutes
      • The tops will be white and the bottoms will be golden brown
GLAZE
  • Place the confectioners sugar in a small mixing bowl and add milk to the sugar 1 tbsp at a time
  • Whisk the milk and sugar together until you reach your desired consistency
    • You don’t want the glaze to be too runny, but you also don’t want it to be thick – somewhere in the middle is just right
  • While the cookies are still warm, dip them into the glaze – store the cookies in an airtight container (this will get them to be moist)

Maple Cinnamon Granola

I’d never really thought I was the type to make my own granola; but when I came across a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and realized that I had all of the ingredients in my pantry – I figured, why not?  I’m sure it’s way cheaper to make your own and it actually tastes much better – plus, you can adjust the flavors, dried fruits and nuts to be exactly what you want.  I have a feeling I just stumbled upon a new addiction…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/6 cup real maple syrup (sorry, Aunt Jemima)
  • 1/6 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats (do NOT use quick oats)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup raisins

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla extract – whisk well
  • Pour in the oats and almonds and mix until everything is well coated with the sugar mixture
  • Spread the oat mixture out into a thick layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet – press it down with the back of a spatula until is compacted
  • Bake at 325°F for approximately 25-30 minutes (rotate the pan 180° halfway through)
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 45 minutes, then break it apart into chunks of desired size, toss in the the raisins and mix well

Raspberry Thumbprints

These cookies are always a favorite of mine around the holidays.  They’re light but so flavorful – just the right sweet thing to eat when you feel “to full” for dessert.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Approximately 1/2 a jar of seedless raspberry jam (you could also use strawberry or cherry, if you desire)

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Sift the flour baking powder and salt together into a bowl
  • In another bowl, whip the butter and sugar until fluffy
  • Beat the egg and vanilla into the fluffy butter until just combined
  • Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated
  • Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar
  • Place about 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined or greased baking sheet
  • Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball, about 1/2 inch deep (I like to use the back of my 1/2 tsp measuring spoon it makes a perfectly round indent)
  • To fill each cookie with jam, you can either try to carefully spoon it into each indent or you can use a pastry bag or what I do is spoon the jam into a ziplock bag and cut a small piece of the corner off and then squeeze it through the hole – this makes the jam filling process much easier and less messy!
  • Bake cookies at 350°F for approximately 8 minutes or until the bottoms and the edges are golden brown (the tops will remain white)