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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Almond, tahini, and honey cookies

The fall is upon us, and while the fall may be synonymous with everything pumpkin spice for most, to me it means that the Jewish holidays are coming.  Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) starts on Wednesday, September 20th this year, and so I've started in on my holiday baking today.


First up were these almond, tehini, and honey cookies.  Honey is used in a lot of Rosh Hasahanah treats since it symbolizes a sweet new year.  Apples and honey, to be exact.  And while these cookies lack apples, they're full of sweet honey.  Another thing they're missing?  Gluten (so if you're looking for a gluten-free recipe on this blog, this may just be the first one -- or at least the first one labeled gluten-free). 


This dough comes together in literally a manner of seconds.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in own bowl, the wet in another.  Then, add the dry to the wet and mix together -- I did this with a whisk and some upper arm strength (thanks to my barre workout this morning).  Seriously, it took seconds!  They also bake up in no time!

Honey Almond Tahini Cookies
By The Gush Gourmet
Makes about 28 cookies

1.5 cups almond flour (finely ground almonds)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp tapioca starch OR 1 Tbsp corn starch (I used corn starch)
1/2 cup well-mixed tahini
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup sliced almonds (The recipe called for slivered almonds but I think she actually meant sliced almonds, but I bought slivered.  I actually went out and bought sliced almonds since I thought they looked pretty on her cookies.  Go with sliced almonds.)

Directions:

Whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and starch in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: tahini, honey, egg, and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.  I added mine in 3 additions.

Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place small scoops of the cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Make sure there is plenty of space between each one (they spread a lot!).
Sprinkle a little bit of sliced almonds over each cookie, pressing down slightly so they adhere.  Don't be shy with the sliced almonds -- since the cookies spread, they too will spread out as the cookies bake.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven.
Cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

Fruity rum bundt cake

I saw this recipe for this fruity rum cake almost a year ago.  I had wanted to make it for New Year's Eve last year, but with my work schedule and the fact that bundt cakes take a long time to bake, well, let's just say it wasn't in the cards.  I thought about it on and off since then, but never had an occasion to make it.  Until now.


Rosh Hashanah is upon us.  The season of apples and honey and all things sweet for a sweet New Year.  But wait?!  There aren't apples or honey in this cake!  Blasphemy!


I decided that golden raisins and dried apricots and dried (ok, these are tart) cherries are definitely sweet, and therefore totally appropriate for Rosh Hashanah!  The only adjustment I made to this recipe is that I used 1/2 tsp cinnamon instead of cloves, because I utterly hate them.  Since cloves are, in my opinion, stronger than cinnamon, I used a little more.  And I have to say, the flavor of this cake was Ah-maz-ing!  B and I were devouring the cupcakes I made with the extra batter!


When I served it at the holiday meal, it was met with a resounding round of approval.  My father, who doesn't like rum, said the cake flavor was great and there was just a hint of rum that was delicious.  My grandmother, who is (rightfully so) a critic of baked goods, said it was delicious, and even took home a piece to enjoy the following day!!!  This cake is a total winner!

Fruity Rum Bundt Cake
From Bon Appetit

This cake calls for a 12 cup bundt pan.  If you have a 10 cup bundt cake pan (like I do), the recipe recommends reserving 2 cups of batter and baking into 8 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp gold rum, divided
3 Tbsp plus 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves -- I used 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon instead
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (believe it or not, they did not have vegetable oil at my Whole Foods.  I used Canola oil)
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp (or more) sour cream -- I ran out of sour cream and ended up using 1 cup sour cream plus 1/4 cup applesauce....by the time I iced the cake, I was able to pick up more sour cream for the icing
2 cups raw sugar, plus more for serving
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
7 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 cup powdered sugar
Gold sugar, for a festive touch

Directions:

Combine apricots, cherries, raisins, and 1/2 cup rum in a small bowl.
Let sit for 30 minutes to allow fruit to rehydrate.
Drain, reserving the rum.
Sprinkle the fruit with 3 Tbsp flour and toss to coat.
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Thoroughly butter the pan (don't skimp!), making sure to get into all the curves and grooves of your pan.
Dust with flour (do this even if your plan has a nonstick coating).
Whisk together the baking powder, salt, cloves (or in my case cinnamon), and 3 cups of flour in a medium bowl to combine.
Whisk reserved rum, oil, and 1 1/4 cups sour cream (in my case sour cream + applesauce) in another medium bowl to combine.

Using an electric mixer (I used my kitchenaid), beat 2 cups of raw sugar and 1 cup of butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Scrape in seeds of vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use.....vanilla sugar, anyone?!).
Add yolks and egg, 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition.
Beat until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Reduce speed to low.
Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream mixture in 2 additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients.
Fold in reserved dried fruit.

Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Smooth top of cake.
Tap pan firmly a few times on the counter to force batter into the edges of the pan.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tested inserted into the cake comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack.
Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Invert cake onto a serving plate and carefully remove the pan.
Brush the warm cake with the remaining 2 Tbsp of rum.
Let cool completely, about 3 hours.

(I froze my cake, since I was serving it a few days later.  I recommend freezing the cake wrapped in saran wrap and tin foil, uniced.  Thaw cake before serving and ice cake.)

Mix powdered sugar and remaining 2 tbsp sour cream in another small bowl.
Thin with more sour cream if desired, until smooth.
Drizzle glaze over cake, working along the center of the top of the cake for even coverage,
Sprinkle with raw and gold sugar.
Let sit 10 minutes for glaze to set before slicing with a serrated knife.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Yellow cupcakes

It's not every day that I get an American holiday off from work.  A day off where others have the day off, and make BBQs and have pool parties and general day-off fun shenanigans.  Sometimes I make it to the tail end of the festivities after my day of work.  But no, not this year!  This year the stars aligned, and not only did I get Labor Day off, I even got invited to B's friend's home and had a BBQ.


So what to do I do when I'm invited somewhere (just about anywhere?!)?  I bake.  And bake I did.  And it was exceptionally momentous because I christened my new Kitchen-Aid!!  It was sitting on the kitchen counter so lonely for over three months, since we got married, just begging to be used.  And today was it's lucky day!


I bought some super cute red, white, and blue star sprinkles for whatever treat I baked for our Labor Day BBQ, and I ultimately decided on cupcakes because, well, cupcakes are fun BBQ food, and I also haven't baked cupcakes in what seems like forever!  I was going to use my go-to yellow cake cupcake recipe but I couldn't, for the life of me, find my cake flour.  So I set off onto the internet to find a yellow cake recipe that didn't use cake flour.  I found it in the form of Brown Eyed Baker's yellow cake, which I turned into cupcakes.

One thing I'll say about these cupcakes is that they rise a lot, so filling them 2/3 of the way like I did with my first batch yielded cupcakes that overflowed a bit.  I filled them about 1/2 way for the second batch, and they didn't overflow.  I recommend filling them halfway -- with my first 18 cupcakes being filled 2/3 of the way and the rest being filled 1/2 way, I got 28 cupcakes.  My guess is you'll get closer to 33 to 3 dozen if you filled them all 1/2 way.

Yellow Cake Cupcakes
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, cupcake directions by me

If filled 1/2 way, as recommended, bake x 16-18 minutes

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
Set aside

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

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.
Beat in vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients all at once.
Beat on low speed until just combined.
Add the buttermilk and beat on low for 1 minute.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 additional minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans.  I recommend filling them halfway....more than that and mine overflowed.  You may need to bake them in two batches.
Bake for 33-38 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the came comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pans.
Remove, and place on wire racks.

Cool completely before icing.

Use the icing of your choice.  I went with this vanilla icing.  

Pipe icing onto cupcakes.
Top with sprinkles of your choice, if desired.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sugar cookie bars with flower buttercream

I came across a sugar cookie bar I really wanted to make, but didn't have sour cream at home.  We won't talk about the fact that I was at Trader Joe's earlier today -- before I found this recipe -- and reminded myself I wanted to get sour cream in case I made chocolate cupcakes later.  Great reminder, since I left the store without it!


But I digress.

I couldn't make the original sugar cookie bars I wanted to make, but that didn't stop me.  A quick internet search yielded a few other bar recipes (one used cream cheese, which I also didn't have), and I ended up choosing one from Lauren's Latest (remember those recent to die for chocolate chip cookies?  Yeah, those were hers, too, so I knew these bars had to be good!).


I made one and a half times the recipe for the icing, though, because I bought myself a little birthday gift today.  Well, really a few.  I've been eyeing those Russian flower piping tips for a while, and today at the baking store I bought myself 2 sets of them!  I decided that these would be the perfect decoration for the sugar cookie bars, and after I made a HUGE amount of frosting, I divided it up and dyed it different colors, so that I could have a flower garden on top of my sugar cookie bars!  Now all I need to do is perfect my icing leaves!



Sugar Cookie Bars with Flower Buttercream
Recipe from Lauren's Latest, Icing decorations by me

Ingredients:

For the Cookie Bars:

1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour,
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing (remember, I 1.5 times'd the recipe, listed below is the original recipe):

1/2 cup softened butter
1 pound powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons milk
Sprinkles, if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchement paper.
Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Stir in egg, vanilla, and almond extract.
Whip until fluffy.
Scrape the sides and stir again briefly.
Stir in remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
It won't come together as a dough initially, but if you can grab a handful, it should hold it's shape.
Spread dough into prepared pan and press down evenly.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

Make the frosting.

Stir all ingredients together until smooth and fluffy, except for milk.
Start by adding 3 tablespoons of milk and work up from there until frosting is the desired consistency.
If making bars as I did, continue below at the *.
If making the bars as intended, Spread icing over cooled cookie bars.
Add sprinkles if using (if you can believe it, I didn't use sprinkles this time).
Cut into bars and serve.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Funfetti muddy buddies

Birthday treats are continuing with these funfetti muddy buddies.  Interestingly, this is the 3rd installment of my birthday treats, and it's also the third sprinkle-laden treat of my birthday treats (and the 4th birthday treat, if you include B's birthday galaxy vanilla fudge!).  I guess #sprinkles(reallydo)makeeverythingbetter -- even more so when they're fancy sprinkle blends!


Just be warned: These muddy buddies are HIGHLY addictive.  Like insanely can't-get-my-hand-out-of-the-bag, walk-back-into-the-kitchen-even-though-I-walked-out-because-I-needed-to-stop-eating-them addictive.


Go ahead and make them.  Just don't say I didn't warn you....

Funfetti Muddy Buddies
A JulieBakes original!

Ingredients:

6 cups chex (I used all rice chex, but any plain chex flavor, or a combination, would work)
12 oz vanilla candiquik
4 Tbsp sprinkles/sprinkle medley
3 Tbsp nonpareils, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Place cereal in a large bowl.

Process the Oreos in a food processor until fine (my preferred method) or place in a sealed ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Melt CandiQuik in it's tray (or a microwave safe bowl) and microwave in 30 second increments.
Stir.
Continue microwaving and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

Pour melted CandiQuik over cereal.
Stir carefully to coat it.

Immediately 4 tablespoons of sprinkles and 2 tablespoons of nonpareils.
Toss/Stir to coat.
Next, toss on the powdered sugar and mix until coated.
Toss last tablespoon of nonpareils.

I placed mine on a wax paper lined baking sheet so that the CandiQuik could dry.

If you feel that yours need a little more powdered sugar, add 1 tablespoon at a time until all of the muddy buddies are coated in powdered sugar.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Funfetti sprinkle cookies

When something isn't broken, you really don't need to fix it.  But play around with it a little, make some modifications, and make something different-but-similar?  That's totally OK!


See, I loved the flavor and texture of those heavenly chocolate chip cookies I made a week or so ago (and also a few months ago...you can read about it here), but I wanted to make something a little more *festive* for my upcoming birthday (although I'm not so excited about the actual day...you can read about that here).  So I thought FUNFETTI!  But, although I've seen recipes for chocolate chip funfetti things, I didn't want chocolate chips to overpower the flavor or pretty colorful specks of sprinkles.  So I opted for a funfetti/sprinkle cookie, and left the chocolate chips out.


The only question?  How much many sprinkles should I use?  A cup seemed way excessive (but it's only half the volume of the chocolate chips), but I definitely wanted a pop of color!  So I started with 1/3 of a cup of sprinkles and went from there...eventually I ended up with 2/3 cup sprinkles.


Funfetti Cookies
modified from Lauren's Latest

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sprinkles

Directions:

Stir melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined.
Add in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
Mix until light in color.
Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and the bottom really well to ensure the batter is well mixed.

Hand stir the sprinkles into the batter.
Let dough stand for 20 minutes to let the flour soak into the rest of the batter.

Preheat the oven to 325 while the dough is resting.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop cookie dough onto prepared pans using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop.

Bake 10-11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking (I totally skip this step.....shhh!).
When you take the cookies out of the oven, they will look cooked around the edges and undercooked in the center.

Leave the cookies on the hot baking pans for 5-7 minutes or until you can remove them without falling apart.  I let mine completely cool on the baking trays.
Place onto cooling racks.
Cool to room temperature before storing in airtight containers.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Birthday Cake Fudge

I hate to admit it, but I'm a little bit depressed about disinterested in my birthday this year.  I don't know why; I can't put my finger on it, but I just am.  (And I know that I have so much to be thankful for.  I'm just not digging this birthday.)  You know what's making it a little bit more tolerable?  Baking.  So, despite being depressed about my birthday, I'm going to be making treats in the ten days leading up to my birthday.  And I'm actually going to post them on time (that's my birthday present to you!).


First up is this.  Birthday cake fudge.  Because I've been eyeing it for a while, and wanted to make it for B's birthday last week (I made him this galaxy vanilla white chocolate fudge instead, because vanilla fudge is his favorite kind of fudge).  Plus, I ordered a huge shipment of adorable Sweetapolita sprinkles for B's birthday and I've been dying to use them all (I used the galaxy ones for B's birthday fudge).  And because it's called birthday cake fudge, and it is, after all, almost my birthday.

I absolutely loved the way Sweetapolita made her fudge look, with the thicker white chocolate layer on top of the semisweet chocolate "crust" that I made it her way -- and posted the recipe that way, too.  If you want to make it the original way (even white chocolate and semisweet layers), go to the link below and follow that recipe as is.

Birthday Cake Fudge
from Sally's Candy Addiction by way of Sweetapolita

Note: even if you love nonpareils as much as I do, they aren't recommended to mix into the white chocolate layer as their color can bleed.  They are, however, perfectly acceptable to sprinkle on top of the fudge (in copious amounts, if you so choose....which you should.  Just saying.).

Ingredients:

Chocolate fudge layer:

1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 of a 14 oz can of full-fat sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp marshmallow creme

White fudge layer:

3 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup + 2 Tbsp (1 14 oz can) full-fat sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp marshmallow creme
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup (not nonpareils) + 2 Tbsp sprinkles (nonpareils are OK for this portion), rainbow or any color, divided

Directions:

Line an 8x8" square baking pan with aluminum foil (I used a 9x9 inch pan since I STILL don't own an 8x8" pan), leaving enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the fudge once it has set.
Set aside.

Make the chocolate fudge layer:

Combine the semisweet chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and marshmallow fluff/creme in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon as the chocolate chips melt.
Once the mixture is smooth and the chips have melted, remove pan from the heat.
The mixture will be extremely thick.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Smooth down the top to make 1 even layer.
Set aside.

You can either wash, dry, and reuse the same saucepan for the next layer or use a new, similar-sized saucepan.

Make the white fudge layer:

Combine the white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, marshmallow fluff/creme in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
The mixture will be extremely thick.
Stir in the vanilla extract.
Once fully combined, very gently fold in 2/3 cup of the sprinkles (remember, no nonpareils here!).
Do not stir too much or the color of the sprinkles cold bleed.
Pour on top of the chocolate fudge layer.
Smooth down the top to make 1 even layer.
Decorate with the remaining 2 Tbsp sprinkles while the fudge is still warm and wet.

Cover pan with aluminum foil.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set -- or you can let the covered fudge sit out at room temperature overnight to set (I don't recommend this during the summer months in NYC....).

Once set, remove the fudge from the pan by lifting out the foil.
Invert the fudge from the pan and onto a cutting board, peel away foil, and turn the fudge back over (or you can just lift it out of the pan, and peel the foil back, like I did).
Using a large sharp knife, slice the fudge into 1 inch squares.  If the fudge is too firm, allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting.