Baked Goodies


strawberry sugar cookies Are you making

Are you making strawberry sugar cookies? Why, yes, I am! And you should be, too. What’s not to like about berry delicious little sugar cookies, loaded with vitamin C?

I halved the recipe from my mom’s handwritten version from the Women’s Home Companion Cookbook and dialed back the vanilla just a bit to let the strawberries shine through. These were originally roll-and-bake cookies. Now, they’re no-fuss little jeweled discs instead! Just take care not to let them fly off the baking sheet into the oven! Don’t ask why I mentioned, because stupid things never happen to me in the kitchen or anyplace else, ever. Really.

STRAWBERRY SUGAR COOKIES
Original recipe halved from the Women’s Home Companion Cookbook

1 3/4 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, well-beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2½ tablespoons freeze-dried strawberries, ground to a powder (you can buy the at Whole Foods and buzz them up in a food processor)
colored sanding sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat sugar and butter together until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat egg and vanilla in a separate bowl; add to butter mixture. Add strawberry powder.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to strawberry mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated into dough.

Use a small cookie scoop, roll dough into a walnut-sized ball, then roll in sugar. Lightly press each dough ball down to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees F for 6 minutes, then up-the-river-down-the-river: switch from top rack to bottom rack, back to front for another 6 minutes.

Pro-tip: be careful putting these little discs into the oven. In all my years of baking, I never recall anything flying off the baking sheet, but there’s a first time for everything! Yup, that was today.

strawberry sugar cookies

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Italian breakfast cookies

Is it because I share a birthday with my spirit monster, Cookie, that I’m such a cookie monster myself? Or is it simply the idea of eating cookies for breakfast that’s so appealing?

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Quite frankly, cookies don’t need a special time slot in my world. I happily dispense them as needed to brighten the day, provide a bit of sweetness, fill a gap between meals–or even to act as a meal when the need arises!

So, allow me to introduce to you, the sweet, delicious and lovable little treat–Italian breakfast cookies. They’re crispy outside, soft within, and have all the delicious flavors of an Italian bakery–or this kat’s kitchen!

ITALIAN BREAKFAST COOKIES

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more on the side for rolling)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup corn oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and sugar till light. Add milk, oil, lemon zest, juice and extracts; beat well. Add dry ingredients gradually to wet, stirring with a wooden spoon. The dough will be a bit sticky.

I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink) to portion the dough. You can roll it into balls or logs–I did both. Then roll in granulated sugar and bake for a total of 12 minutes. Swap the baking sheets at the 6-minute mark (top to bottom/front to back), then bake for 6 minutes more.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes to make it easier to move them from sheet to rack to cool. Makes enough cookies to fill a whole rack–lost count, busy eating! AHM GNAM GNAM GNAM!

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As promised, I made special oatmeal carrot cake cookies to celebrate Enzo’s homecoming. Now, oatmeal carrot cake cookies are freakinG delicious in and of themselves. But if you want to take them to next-level deliciousness, be sure to whip up some bourbon salted caramel frosting, too.

And, if you missed Enzo’s story, you’re welcome to catch up. He’s thriving, learning and loving his new life. He even has his own equine carrot cake cookies to enjoy!

KATTY’S OATMEAL CARROT CAKE COOKIES
to celebrate the homecoming of my special donkey and dear friend, Enzo Antonio

1 stick salted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quick, 1-minute oats, uncooked
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup tender flake coconut (sweetened)

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Why, yes–I am!

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until creamy.

Sift together flour, salt, soda and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture, blend well. Add oats and blend. Then add carrots and blend…then add coconut and pecans (and guess what? that’s right), blend.

I used my trusty Zeroll Universal EZ Disher scoop (#60, pink) to portion the dough.

Bake for a total of 13 minutes–swap the baking sheets at the 7-minute mark (top to bottom/front to back), then bake for 6 minutes more. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets about 5 minutes to make it easier to move them from sheet to rack to cool. Makes 36 delicious little cookies!

Now, these cookies are delicious naked, but add frosting and they’re absolutely in another galaxy. So, shall we frost?

BOURBON SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
First, make the salted caramel. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, whisk together:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
good pinch of salt

Continue to whisk till sugar dissolves, then cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the frosting together.

2 oz. cream cheese (I got away with Neufchâtel, so can you), softened
3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup powdered sugar

Cream together butter, cream cheese, bourbon and vanilla. Gradually blend in powdered sugar. Then blend in salted caramel. This makes plenty of frosting, so you can frost generously and should still have some extra frosting to enjoy on a spoon or your fingers!

Did someone say cookies?!
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“It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good.” –Nina Simone

“I feel just like that, too!” –Enzo Antonio Sciccareddu

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Here’s a coconut riff on my beloved CCCs (chocolate chip cookies) that’s everything you’d want in a sugar cookie with coconut to boot. Because C is for cookie. And coconut. And chomp! Crispy outside, chewy within–two more Cs. Treat yourself to a batch of these beauties today!

KATTY’S COCONUT SUGAR COOKIES

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (1 stick)
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup Baker’s Angel Flake coconut

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add lightly beaten egg, vanilla and almond extract; mix just till egg is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a separate bowl. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix only until combined: do not overmix. Fold in coconut with a spatula.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. I used my two-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough. Space the cookies two inches apart. Bake 7 minutes, then switch bottom to top/back to front for 7 more minutes, for a total of 14 minutes.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before moving them to racks to cool. This recipe yields 17 big coconutty cookies–plus one smaller runt of a cookie, if I’m being honest, and why would I be anything but?! Deeeelightful! Deeeelicious!

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Happy Lunar New Year 2018–the Year of the Dog! I wanted to make almond cookies to celebrate. So delicate, crispy and loaded with almond flavor, you’ll want to try them, too!

CHINESE ALMOND COOKIES

Cookie dough
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
slivered almonds

Egg wash
Whisk together:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk

In a large stand mixer, cream together Crisco, butter and sugar on medium speed till smooth. Beat in egg, almond flour and almond extract till well blended.

In a separate bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, mixing well. Dough will be fairly stiff.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Scoop dough into 1-inch balls–I used my Zeroll Pink #60 scoop. Place them two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, then flatten with a spatula, sprinkle with almonds (tap them in a bit to help them stay), and brush with egg wash. By the way, a whole almond in the center is traditional and certainly easier to manage, but I prefer thin almonds and think they look pretty (even if they’re a pain to deal with in these cookies!).

Bake until lightly golden, 15 minutes in my oven. If you’re baking two sheets at a time, halfway through baking time, swap from top to bottom, back to front. Transfer to racks to cool. I sprinkled just a bit of finely ground Himalayan salt over the top to make them extra nice-nice. Makes 45 delicious little cookies you’ll want to bake again and again!

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Do you love a pistachio muffin? I do, but those green things we’ve eaten in bakeries and cafeterias–though they hit the spot–aren’t remotely close to the real deal. Part of being small batch authentic is using the best ingredients and techniques in what I bake and cook. So, no green food coloring here. No pistachio pudding from a box. I took about half of an 8 oz. bag of pistachios, shelled them, measured them, chopped them and made these seven beautiful, naturally green-tinted muffins. If you’re a pistachio fan, you really must try them, too!

KATTY’S PISTACHIO MUFFINS
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios–¼ cup chopped fine, ¼ cup a bit more coarse
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½  a lemon, zested

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts; mix well. Add sour cream and milk. Combine dry ingredients including 1/4 cup of finely chopped pistachios; gradually add to creamed mixture, stir till moistened. Now stir in the more coarsely chopped pistachios and lemon zest.

I’m a big fan of my Wilton silicone baking cups for making muffins. Brush seven of them with melted butter, then spoon the batter to the fill line.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes seven of the most delicious pistachio muffins you’ve ever had!

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’tis the season for baking, staying cozy and being jolly. And what could possibly get the job done better than a spicy gingerbread bundt, lovingly painted with a bourbon brown sugar glaze?! Let’s make it happen!

KATTY’S GINGERBREAD BUNDT WITH BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
adapted liberally from King Arthur Flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

Using your mixer, beat together butter and sugar till fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add molasses and combine.

Add dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Start and end with flour. Mix till smooth.

Pour batter evenly into well-greased Bundt pan. I have a Nordic Ware heart shape I’m quite fond of.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Definitely check at 55–that’s all it took in my oven.

While the cake is in the oven, it’s time to make the glaze.

BOURBON BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

To finish:
2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together butter, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil for two minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat; add Maker’s Mark, cinnamon and ginger.

Once you’ve taken the cake out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then cover it with a rack and invert it to remove it.

While the cake is still warm, brush it generously with the glaze. Let it cool completely before serving. But we did enjoy giving each slice a quick go-round in the microwave to warm it, then served with Ashley’s vanilla ice cream.

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No Ashley’s near you? Froyo of Middletown always carries a dozen Ashley’s flavors. And Sweet Cream’s in Wallingford has a whole store of it.

This is one of those cakes that tastes good day one, better day two and potentially mindblowing day three, once all the flavors have a chance to soak in and meld. Hope you love it, too!

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