Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cornmeal Lime Cookies

Difficulty: easy
Time consuming: no

Cinco de Mayo was almost a month ago, and was the perfect reason to make cornmeal lime cookies with a sweet lime glaze.  I meant to get these posted the week of Cinco, but then the number of IEP's and ETR's I had to write for school EXPLODED and unfortunately, posting was put on the back burner.  So sorry, y'all. Anyways, I first read about the recipe in the book Flour.  It sounded unusual but had a really intriguing description.  The cookie is soft and cake like, and just a little bit chewy.  The edges are crispy.  The lime flavor is tangy and front stage, but not over powering.

For a "margarita"-style cookie, substitute tequila for the water in the glaze.  Tequila and I have not gotten along since I was 19 and studying abroad in London.  A friend of mine was hitting on this middle age British man who kept buying us shots of tequila.  To say that was a bad night would be an understatement.  But really, if you don't hate tequila or if you like margaritas, that subtle change in the glaze is just enough to make the cookie a little more festive.

I brought these cookies to share with some teachers I saw on Cinco while we practiced for this awesome flashmob we did at Prom (I know, the coolest chaperones, lol) and they were devoured.  The little cookies got mad praises.  The link to the FlashMob video goes to Facebook, so you'll have to be logged in to see it.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime zest (from 2-4 limes)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar
juice from 1 lime
zest from 1 small lime
+/- 1 teaspoon water or tequila


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the lime zest and mix to combine.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

3.  Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix until just combined.  (Note: my dough was pretty sticky at this time, but I just let it be)

4.  Roll cookie dough into 1" balls (I used my 1-tablespoon-sized cookie scoop) and place 1-2" apart on baking sheet.  Gently press each ball with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly.

5.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, until the bottoms are golden and mottled brown, and the tops are still pale.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.  Let cool on the sheet pan for 15 minutes (this helps maintain a chewier texture), then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

6.  In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, lime zest, and lime juice.  Add water or tequila 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach a consistency you want (for me this was only 1 teaspoon of water).  The glaze should be thin enough to spread over the cookies.

7.  Place a spoonful of glaze over the cookies and let it run down the sides.  (Note: I put wax paper under my cooling rack and glazed the cookies on that).  Let the glaze harden before serving (I gave it about 1 hour)

Cookies taste great day of, but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days (if they even last that long).

From Completely Delicous

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Difficult: no
Time consuming: yes - there are 4 different components that are completely homemade, but you can make it less time consuming by using some store bought items.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!!  The teachers in my district are some of the most hardworking people and definitely deserve some appreciation.  I thought I'd contribute to the day by making some caramel apple cupcakes - it's my take on "apples for the teacher."

The cake is a cinnamon cupcake adapted from Annie's Eats.  It has a delicate, light texture and is seasoned with just enough spice to make the apples in the filling shine.  The cakes are cored and filled with homemade cooked apples and vanilla bean caramel sauce.  Either of these components could be purchased already made from the store, but just make sure that the apples are diced finely enough to stuff into the little cake.  The cupcakes are then topped with a caramel swiss meringue buttercream.  One bite into these explode into caramel apple deliciousness that make you roll your eyes and savor the moment.

The cupcakes have a lot of components to them, and I wanted to make them homemade.  In part because I like to do things 100% homemade, but also I really wanted to go above and beyond to make these treats special for the teachers.  That made this a two day project.  On day one, I made the caramel sauce, the apple filling, and the cupcakes.  On day two, I made the frosting and put the whole sha-bang together.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
makes about 2 cups (but you only need about 1/2 - 1 cup)
from Not Without Salt

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean 
1 cup sweetened, condensed milk

1.  Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan.  Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water (use a pastry brush).  Heat over medium-high and bring to a boil.  DO NOT STIR.  Let the mixture cook and boil.  When it starts to even slightly turn brown, pop in your candy thermometer and continue to heat until it reaches 300 degrees.

2.  Remove from heat, let the bubbles slow, and whisk in heavy cream.  Scrape the caviar from the vanilla bean and add to the caramel.  Then add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk.  Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees.

3.  Let mixture cool to room temperature before using in cupcakes.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Apple Filling
makes about 2 cups
from the Craving Chronicles

1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used 2 large honeycrisp because I like their texture best), finely diced (~1/4" cubes)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1.  Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan.  Add apples, lemon juice, white and brown sugars, and cinnamon.  Mix over medium-low heat, until the apples become soft and release their juices.

3.  When you see a good amount of juice in the pan, add the slurry, mix and continue to cook over low heat until thickened.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  Store extra in an airtight container in the fridge.

Cinnamon Cupcakes
 makes 24-26 cupcakes
adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

2. Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

3.  Beat eggs and sugar using a paddle in the stand mixer until thick ribbons form (about 5 minutes).  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix to combine.  Add 1/2 the milk mixture, mix.  Then 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix.  Then the rest of the milk and the vanilla, mix.  Then finish by adding the last 1/3 of flour mixture, and stir until just combined.

4.  Place just over 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake liner (filling about 2/3 of the way full).  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  The tops will still look sticky but a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel (Apple*) Swiss Meringue Buttercream
yields enough to generously top 26 cupcakes and still have over a cup leftover
adapted from Flour Child

6 large egg whites (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1/2 cup Vanilla Bean Caramel sauce (above), cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(*if you have leftover apple filling, you can puree it until smooth - I added about 3/8 cup pureed apples)

1.  Create a double boiler by placing a saucepan with about 2 inches of water over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites, sugar and salt. Place bowl over pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until mixture reads 160°F on an instant read or candy thermometer. (Note: the sugar will be dissolved and mixture will start to resemble loose marshmallow fluff.)

3.  Remove the bowl from the heat and attach it to the stand mixer.  Beat with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form and the bowl feels neutral (not too warm) to the touch - about 10 minutes.  Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment.

4.  Slowly add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding the next tablespoon.  Once all the butter is added, slowly add the caramel (which should not be warmer than room temperature - if it's too warm, it will melt the butter).  If you are adding pureed apples, do that now and mix until well blended and the mixture resembles frosting.

(Note: my buttercream was very loose and soupy, so I popped the bowl into the fridge for 20 minutes, then returned to the mixer and beat on a low speed.  I stared at it for awhile and it was still loose, and while I was googling how to fix it, I turned around and it completely came together beautifully.  Lesson of the story: just keep mixing and it will come together eventually.  If after 5 minutes it doesn't come together, return to fridge for 10 minutes, then mix.  Repeat as needed).

To make the cupcakes:

1.  Core the cupcakes with a cupcake plunger or a paring knife.  Save cupcake holes if you want to make lids.

2.  In a small bowl, mix a quarter cup or so of caramel sauce with about 3/4 of the apples.

3.  Fill each cupcake with a heaping teaspoon of caramel apples. Trim cupcake holes to lids and close each cupcake.

4.  Frost cupcakes (I used a Wilton 2D) and drizzle with caramel sauce.

See more of the same at The Craving Chronicles where adapted the recipe from.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Raspberry and Chips Cookies

Difficulty: No
Time consuming: No, I made these from start to finish in under 2 hours, and most of that was because I was socializing with a friend.

The staff at my school is super cool.  So cool I can't even tell you about it for a few weeks, or else I might ruin the surprise.  But let's just say it's epic, and when I can, I'll post a video.  But while practicing all this super cool and super secret awesomeness,  I made these cookies to share.  They are apparently the cookies that are sold at Disneyland near Splash Mountain.  Since I was around 6 the last time I was there, I couldn't tell you.  But regardless, they are amazing.

The cookies are packed full of white and semisweet chocolate chips and swirled with raspberry jam.  The flavors just party together and taste amazing.  The cookies end up soft and chewy, and just a little crispy on the edges.  Basically the perfect cookie that can satisfy just about anybody.

But as a side note, these may not be the best cookies for kids. Based on meticulous research (aka polling 3 students Friday morning), these cookies got a 0/3 vote with 5th graders (they were in favor of s'more brownies). And one child tester did not care for the cookie. However, adults loved them! Even my super picky, I-dont-like-sweets-but-if-I-do-they-better be-soft-Thin-Mints (wtf?) husband likes these cookies.

I can also imagine these cookies with chopped, toasted almonds in place of (or in addition to) the chocolate chips for a more sophisticated cookie.

Yields around 40 small cookies (made with a standard tablespoon sized scoop), or 13ish extra large, bakery style cookies (made with an ice cream scoop)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons raspberry jam (More or less to taste)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (about half the bag)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (about half the bag)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and powder, cream of tartar, and salt), set aside.

2. Using an electric or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (note: mine never became "fluffy," just mixed together). Add the egg and egg yolk, continue to mix (note: at this point, my mixture started to look a little better, so I creamed for a minute or two). Add and mix in both the vanilla and almond extracts.

3. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Make sure to scrape down the bowl as necessary (note: my cookie dough was fairly dry at this point, but I just kept on with the recipe and it turned out ok). Gently mix in the white and chocolate chips.

4. Portion about 1/4 of the dough into a small bowl. Add around a tablespoon of jam and cut it into the dough with a butter knife. Do not over mix, you want solid stripes and chunks of jam.

5. Scoop and place on cookies on parchment lined sheets. Bake for 12-17 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie (note: my small cookies took 12 minutes, I rotated the pan after 7 minutes, and when they came out, the bottoms were golden brown and the tops were still pale and their centers still soft). Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes (this helps maintain the chewy texture, if you want a harder cookie, move to a cooling rack as soon as the cookies aren't too soft).

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all the dough has been jammed and baked.

These cookies are amazing warm from the oven or with a glass of milk. While baking, my friend and I may have eaten 5. You know, strictly for scientific purposes to make sure they were good enough to share with the other teachers.

Recipe from My Baker Lady. Her pics of these cookies are really pretty, go check them out.