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Chocolate Covered Raspberry Marshmallows

8 Feb

A happy day in middle school–nobody failed their Chapter 2 test! This is particularly celebration-worthy because of the dismal results of the Chapter 1 test. I wanted the kiddos to know how (very) impressed I was, so I whipped them up a little treat.

I reinvented the marshmallow recipe that I used for the Hot Cocoa on a Stick recipe. The raspberry marshmallows are unexpected surprise inside the chocolate coating and the little size makes them a perfect little gift. You could use a heart-shaped cookie cutter instead for a cute Valentine’s day snack for your sweeties.

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Marshmallows

Printable Recipe

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cold water

2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon raspberry extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 drops red food coloring

2 packages (12 oz. each) Wilton candy melts, light cocoa flavor

Grease sides and bottom of a 8″x8″ baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Dust with powdered sugar.

Pour cold water into bowl of a mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit.

In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water over low heat. Stir constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and heat the syrup to boiling. Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240° on a candy thermometer. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and, with the mixer running on low, pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the gelatin.  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat until the mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume–about 8-1o minutes.

Add the extracts and food coloring and mix about a minute more to combine.

Pour marshmallows into prepared pan and allow to sit at least one hour to let them dry out a little bit.

Once they have set, carefully run a knife around the outside edges and lift the marshmallows in a single sheet onto a piece of parchment paper. Dip your cookie cutter in water and cut out the marshmallow shapes. Marshmallows have a sort of self-healing tendency, so the cutting of the shapes will require some tenacity on your part. Don’t lose heart!

In a metal bowl set over boiling water, melt the candy melts. Dip each marshmallow in the candy, using two forks to lift them in and out and scrape off any excess. Set on parchment paper to harden. Package each star in a cellophane treat bag.

Lemon Layer Coffee Cake

27 Jan

Well here’s the bad news: it’s still winter. But the good news is that This storm brought a snow day our way. I’m pretty sure I love snow days even more than my students–teachers like to sleep in too! And on a Friday? It couldn’t get any better. I guess winter does come with a few perks.

I continue to be obsessed with lemon. I’m taking any chance I get to double or even triple up on the flavor–in hopes of chasing away the grimness of a rainy winter day with bright citrus.

This coffee cake affords just that sort of opportunity: fresh zest in the dough, filling, and frosting. It is a beautiful and unique pastry, perfect for a special occasion–even if your occasion is just an unexpected three day weekend.

Lemon Layer Coffee Cake

Adapted from Radishes and Rhubarb

Printable Recipe

Dough

2 3/4 cups flour, divided

1/4 cup sugar

1 package yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup water

zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan combine milk and butter, heating on low until butter is just melted. Remove from heat and add water. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then add lemon zest and vanilla. Once the mixture has cooled, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is moistened evenly. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until just combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.

Generously flour a work surface and turn the dough out. Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, about one minute. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and allow to rise 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Lemon Filling

3/4 cups sugar

zest of 2 lemons

zest of an orange

1/4 cup butter, melted

While the dough is rising, mix together the sugar and the zests. Set aside until ready for use.

Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle. Brush liberally with the melted butter. Cut the large rectangle into five 4″ x 12″ strips. Top each strip with about 2 tablespoons of the sugar and zest mixture and cut them lengthwise into five smaller rectangles, each about 2 1/2″ x 4″. Stack the small rectangles on top of each other and layer them into the prepared pan. Repeat until all the dough has been cut and stacked into the pan. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-50 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350.

Once the dough has risen a second time, bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Cream Cheese Glaze

4 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice into a glaze. Carefully remove the cake from the loaf pan and place on a wire rack. Pour on glaze, allowing it to run over the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lemon Loaf

17 Jan

We are in the middle of a deep freeze up here in the North. I’ve driven over a mountain and through the snow and slush and blizzards and freezing rain and I’m seriously craving spring.

Nothing says spring to me like lemons. I love every sort of citrus dessert there is, but lemon holds a special spot in my heart. I became smitten with loaf cakes working in the corporate coffee world–it’s a staple of the food case. Those cakes are packed with oil and preservatives but they are so tasty. Homemade could only be better, right?

These loaves are dense, moist, and are soaked in lemon syrup and topped with lemon glaze. Triple lemon–that’s enough lemon to beat away even the deepest of winter blues.

Lemon Loaf

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Printable Recipe

Loaves

3 cups flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup sugar

8 eggs

1/4 cup lemon zest (about 4 lemons)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lemon Syrup

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1/3 cup sugar

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9″x5″ loaf pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, mix sugar and eggs until well combined. With the mixer running, pour the melted butter down the feed tube until combined. Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and pulse a few more times to incorporate.

Pour the wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture in three parts, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Let cool about 15 minutes and then carefully remove from pans and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In the meantime, heat the ingredients for the syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly while you poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves with a skewer. Brush on the syrup and allow it to soak into the loaves, until you’ve used it all up. Allow loaves to cool thoroughly.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until the glaze is a pourable consistency. Pour the glaze over the loaves, allowing it to run over the sides.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

15 Jan

It was a good week in Spanish 2. The discovery of only grades of 90% and above on a grammar pop quiz made this señorita very happy. These results were cause for serious celebration and maybe even a reward. Naturally I turned to baking.

They did ask me to buy them something at the store, but they clearly have no idea who I am. Buy something at the store? Por favor. Their class is in the morning so I knew I would need to strike the right balance between a morning-time snack and something sweet and I knew it would have to be better than store-bought.

And then I happened across these beauties. They are muffins so they fit into my “breakfast food” requirement. And they are “frosted” in sugar, so they were definitely sweet enough for teenagers. As far as better than store-bought, you might just need to try them for yourself. But I can tell you they were quite well received in Room 205.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

Adapted from On Anna’s Plate

Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray or butter a muffin tin.

Mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, 3/4 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Once you pull the muffins out of the oven, start melting the butter. Put the remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Dip the tops of the still hot muffins into the melted butter and then into the sugar. Let cool completely.

Candy Cane Macarons

28 Dec

The holiday rush has come to an end, which means I have a chance now to mention all my holiday baking! I’ve been admiring French macarons from afar for quite some time: I’m always amazed at how perfect they look in photographs and how many flavor combinations there are to use. But I was intimidated by “aged egg whites” and the fact that everything was measured in grams. And I had heard rumors that this was a “finicky” cookie–a rumor which I proved to be true, with a previous less than successful attempt–a lemon macaron that did taste delicious (I must give credit where credit is due) but left something to be desired in the looks category.

However, I wanted something for a co-worker gift that would impress and amaze–so I laid it all on the line and went for it. The night before I wanted to deliver my goodies. With no plan B. So, I had left my macarons no choice but to turn out beautifully. Otherwise it was a handful of Hershey’s Kisses for all, and honestly that’s a mighty poor showing for someone who calls herself a baker.

A brief warning or two: these cookies are not for the faint of heart. They are not hard, but you must sally forth with confidence into the world of macarons. Based on my experience, I think it’s fair to say they can sense fear. Also, I did age my egg whites uncovered overnight at room temperature (the amount of planning that went into these treats was insane) but then at the last minute added three more un-aged whites to double the recipe (sooo…not that much planning after all).

Candy Cane Macarons

Adapted from Cake & Allie

Printable Recipe

220 grams almond flour

6 egg whites (aged 3-5 days, covered, in the fridge or overnight, uncovered, at room temperature)

50 grams granulated sugar

400 grams powdered sugar

Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I traced a 1 1/2″ circle in pencil on one side of the parchment and then turned the sheet over so I would have a consistent cookie size–but if you’re confident in your eyeballing abilities, this step is not necessary.

Using a mixer, beat egg whites to a foam. Once it starts to look like a bubble bath, add the granulated sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks are just beginning to form. Check it often so it does not become over-mixed.

Carefully add the almond / powdered sugar mixture to the egg whites and fold to combine. The combining should not take more than 50 strokes with the spatula. You want the mixture to be thick enough to pipe (without running all over the place) but thin enough to flatten out on its own. You can test the batter by spooning a small amount on to a plate–if it melts into itself its ready, if it doesn’t give it a few more stirs.

Place the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe small circles (1″-1 1/2″ in diameter) onto the prepared baking sheets. Lift each baking sheet about 6″ off the work surface and let it drop. This is what helps the characteristic “feet” form. Let the macarons rest for 45 minutes to an hour to let a hard shell develop.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300°. Bake each baking sheet separately for 9-11 minutes or until the macarons are set but not browned. Let cool completely before filling.

Peppermint Buttercream Filling

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Once you can no longer hear the sound of the sugar against the bowl when you whisk, remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Beat the hot egg whites until stiff peaks form–about 10 minutes.

With the mixer set at medium speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, letting it mix in completely before adding another piece. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until the buttercream comes together. Once it is smooth, add the peppermint extract and mix on low speed until it is incorporated. Place the buttercream into a pastry bag and pipe a small amount onto a macaron shell. Top it with another shell and squeeze together gently. Roll the edges in crushed candy cane to garnish.

I put four in a treat box and then tied them up with Christmas-y ribbon to give as gifts.

Sweet Holiday Gift Idea: Hot Cocoa on a Stick

28 Nov

I’m already starting to think about holiday baked goods–after all, Christmas is only 27 days away! The holidays can sometimes seem overwhelming, but this is an easy, cute, and unique gift that you can make weeks in advance!

Hot Cocoa

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup heavy cream

14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, chopped

25 lollipop sticks

Prepare an 8×8″ pan by spraying it lightly with cooking spray. Place the chocolate chips and chopped baker’s chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl.

Over medium-high heat, mix the heavy cream and the sweetened condensed milk together in a medium saucepan.

Bring a mixture to a simmer, whisking to make sure it doesn’t scorch. Once the liquid is simmering, pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a moment to warm the chocolate.

Stir the cream and the chocolate together, until the mixture is shiny and smooth. It will be quite thick.

Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Allow this to firm up overnight or 3-4 hours in the refrigerator.

Once the chocolate has set, use a large knife to cut the block into 1 1/2″ squares. For the smoothest cuts, rinse the knife with hot water and dry it between each cut. I set my chocolate in the freezer after I cut it to allow it to firm up a little more before popping them out of the pan.

Peppermint Marshmallows

This was my first attempt at making marshmallows–and I was completely unprepared for the stickiness! Make sure you have plenty of powdered sugar on hand to keep things from getting out of hand.

Adapted from The Nerd’s Wife

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cold water

2 1/2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

red food coloring

Grease sides and bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with butter. Dust with powdered sugar really well.

Pour cold water into bowl of a mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit.

In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water over low heat. Stir constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and heat the syrup to boiling. Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240° on a candy thermometer. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes–be patient!

Remove from heat and, with the mixer running on low, pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the gelatin.  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat until the mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume–about 8-1o minutes.

Add peppermint extract and beat to incorporate–about 15 seconds more on the mixer.

Remove from the mixer and add 4 drops of food coloring. Fold by hand 3-4 times to swirl color. Don’t mix too much or you’ll end up with pink marshmallows.

Pour marshmallows into prepared pan. Drop food coloring randomly on the surface of the marshmallows and drag the color through the mixture with a butter knife or toothpick. Again, don’t mix too much! Let the marshmallows sit, uncovered, for at least 4 hours.

After the marshmallows have set, sprinkle your work surface with powdered sugar. Place 1/3 cup powdered sugar in a bowl or shallow dish. Loosen the marshmallows in the pan by running a knife around the edges and gently transfer them, all in one piece, to the prepared work area. (That step sounds easier than it is; I would suggest using a large spatula dusted in powdered sugar to assist, and if you can find them, maybe even an extra pair of hands. Thanks, Mom!) The marshmallows will be extremely sticky–immediately dust the exposed sides and top with powdered sugar to prevent any grief while you’re working.

Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cut marshmallows into 1 1/2″ squares. Dust all sides of the marshmallow by dipping them in the bowl of powdered sugar.

To assemble, skewer a marshmallow and a piece of cocoa fudge on a lollipop stick. I would suggest putting the marshmallow on first, followed by the fudge underneath it, otherwise the marshmallow will leave the stick all gooey.

Wrap in a cellophane treat bag and tie with a holiday ribbon.

If you are making these in advance, you can store the fudge up to a month in an airtight container in the freezer (one week at room temperature) and the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 weeks.

To enjoy the hot cocoa: Remove marshmallow from stick. Heat a mug of milk (not water!) and submerge chocolate block. Allow it to soften for a moment and stir vigorously to dissolve. Top with the marshmallow and enjoy!