Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts #SundaySupper

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Sweet and spicy.  That’s how I would describe 2013.  Some of it was pretty great.  I feel like I’m doing the best writing of my life (2014 will show if I’m right), I spent a lot of quality time with my parents doing fun things like shopping, going out to dinner with friends, and seeing plays, musicals, and even a concert.  My blog has started to grow, though it is still not where I’d like it to be, and I made some rather tasty food.  But my struggles with trying to get my dreams to become reality, frustrations over blogging, fears about what the future holds, and a few other things I didn’t talk about here on the blog, made it a tough year.

Isn’t that how most of us feel about the years?  That they were good and bad, sweet and spicy.  We look back and think of the things that didn’t go right, the things that didn’t get done, the regrets we have.  And then a decade down the line, when we look back, those mostly little things have hopefully vanished and we only remember the good parts.  Life is always a series of ups and downs, and hopefully in the end, there are more ups than downs.

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

2013 wasn’t my favorite year.  I wanted it to be better.  I hoped it would be better.  And now I’m looking to 2014, hoping, wishing that it has some good things in store.  Only time will tell.  For now, I sit, thinking about this year, and all the things that occurred during it.  Reliving the good bits, and trying to forget the bad ones. 

Regardless of my feelings about the year, it certainly went quickly.  Thinking back, it seems like January was just yesterday, like 2013 just commenced, like I want it back, to do over again, to use my time better.  I was just filled with that nostalgia for 2012, pleading with it to come back; now here I am again.  This time, I’m not asking 2013 to come back.  I don’t want it back.  I’m proud of a lot of the things I accomplished.  And this time, I’m really looking forward to 2014, because I think it has great things in store for me.  I think it’s going to work out.  So, 2014, here’s to you; may you be far more sweet than spicy.

Speaking of sweet and spicy, these Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts are just that.  Okay, so these are definitely more sweet than spicy, but two heaping tablespoons of cinnamon bring that warm, comforting heat, I crave this time of year.  I thought these would be dense and chewy like a blondies, but instead they baked up soft and moist, a dense, cake-like bar that I fell in love with after one bite.  I’m much happier they’re cakey instead of chewy.  The crunchy walnuts are the perfect complement to the cinnamon cake and the vanilla glaze is quite literally the icing on top.  If 2014 is anything like these bars, I think we’ll all be just fine!

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts

 

Glazed Snickerdoodle Bars with Walnuts #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Bars

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups walnuts

Topping

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Glaze

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan, line it with parchment and lightly butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cream of tartar, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer will work too. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until once again light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the walnuts until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread into an even layer. In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar for topping. Sprinkle the topping into an even layer over the batter. Use it all.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan.

Once the bars are cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, water, and vanilla until a thick, but spreadable glaze forms. Add more water to make it thinner or sugar to make it thicker as necessary. Immediately spread glaze evenly over bars. Cut into pieces and serve. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in pieces in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl Cookbook via Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

http://piesandplots.net/glazed-snickerdoodle-bars-with-walnuts-sundaysupper/

Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Breakfast

Appetizers & Snacks

Main Dishes & Sides

Desserts & Drinks

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Cherry Almond Cake

Cherry Almond Cake

I like to get my hands dirty.  Well, okay, I really don’t.  If dirt touches me, I freak out.  I cried in kindergarten when we had to dip our hands and feet in paint to make prints.  A panic attack took over when I had to get a stamp on my hand upon visiting a museum.  But when I’m in the kitchen, it’s a whole different story.

I love eating with my hands.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting down to a plate of Shirataki noodles without a fork, but I love picking my muffin apart with my fingers in the morning.  As you may have noticed, I like mixing batters up with a wooden spoon, spatula, or even a regular table spoon.  While I reach for the hand mixer when the butter hasn’t quite gotten to room temperature and you won’t see me make Italian meringue buttercream without lugging out the giant stand mixer (is it even possible to make without one?), I love putting together a whole batch of muffins or cookies without reaching for electronic assistance.

Unbaked Cherry Cake

Mom and I also peel, core, and slice apples by hand, as well as peel peaches without boiling them first, which seems like a totally unnecessary step to me.  I love a good gadget, but sometimes, a utensil and hands are the best, simplest way to get the job done without dirtying enough dishes to wash for the rest of the day.

Though once upon a time I bought a cherry pitter, it must be lurking somewhere, I don’t use it.  I’m not sure I ever used it.  Pitting cherries is one of my favorite baking tasks, which is good because it’s one of Mom’s least favorite.  It’s a task that’s easy enough to complete without growing frustrating or having to focus too much, but hard enough to busy my brain and keep it from worrying about whatever happens to be troubling me that day.  The red stains on my hands only last a few moments and sampling is a definite perk.

In order to pit the cherries, I pull a bunch out, de-stem them, then one by one, I cut off any blemishes, and go around them with my knife as I would a peach.  Once I do this to about ten of them, I twist them apart, pry out the pit, the toughest part of the job, and toss them in the measuring cup.  It goes quickly and is very relaxing.  No gadget necessary.

Cherry Almond Cake

Inside Cherry Cake

I didn’t even have to pit that many for this Cherry Almond Cake, which is one of my new favorite treats.  A moist, mildly flavored cake, topped with those rich, fresh cherries is made addictive and complete with the addition of an almond paste crumble.  I used Homemade Almond Paste, and it was actually the first time I’d ever baked with almond paste.  I can assure you it won’t be the last as the flavor and texture it imparted was outstanding with a mild, sweet, almost floral almond flavor.  The glaze on top is the cherry on top of this cake.  The flavors are magic and go together seamlessly.  It made a great dessert, but I could see it served at breakfast, brunch, or tea time.

So take a little time to make this cake.  You can leave your mixer and cherry pitter in the cabinet.

Cherry Almond Cake

Cherry Almond Cake

4.5 from 2 reviews
Cherry Almond Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature (out of refrigerator for 20-30 mins)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 ½ heaping cups Bing cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
Crumble
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Homemade Almond Paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • Pinch of salt
Icing
  • ¾ - 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Make the cake. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. I did this by hand, but you could use a hand or stand mixer. Add the egg. Mix to combine. Add buttermilk and extracts before mixing until fully combined. Stir in the dry ingredients just until a batter is formed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the cherries on top of the batter. They should cover the entire surface. If they do not, add a few more cherries.
  4. Make the crumble topping. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt until there are no lumps. Add the butter and almond paste and mix with fingers or a fork until crumbs of various sizes are formed. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, for a total of 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs and some of the crumble. Cool completely in pan.
  6. Make the glaze right before you want to put it on the cake or it will harden. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, extracts, and milk. Add additional sugar or milk as needed until you have a thick glaze that you will still be able to drizzle over the cake. When you are happy with the glaze, drizzle it over the cake, covering most of it.
  7. Cake may be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Best frozen in quarters. Thaw at room temperature for several hours or in a 350 degree F oven wrapped in parchment placed on top of foil for 20 or so minutes until warmed through.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Two Peas and their Pod

 

White Cookies

White Cookies

You probably know about my love of TV shows about food by now.  Whether they feature recipes, a competition, or restaurants and bakeries out in the world, I watch and enjoy a great deal of food shows on several different networks.  Watching all of these shows introduces me to a lot of foods I’d never know about otherwise.  Black and white cookies are one of those things.  A New York staple, they are huge cakey cookies coated with half vanilla frosting and half chocolate frosting.  There aren’t many, if any, places in the metro Detroit area to get black and white cookies, but even if there were, I wouldn’t be able to eat them since they have chocolate.

So I took a recipe for these scrumptious cookies and made it my own.  I kept the cookies about the same, only swapping regular lemon zest for Meyer lemon zest.  I’ve made the cookies before with the regular lemon zest, and I can tell you they are delicious both ways.  Orange zest would work nicely as well.  I made 16 really nice sized cookies.  As opposed to the traditional ones on TV, these remain tall mounds of cakey cookie even when baked.  The bottom gets golden brown, while the top and interior remains almost white.  They texture is soft, light, and fluffy with a fine crumb, much more like cake than cookie.  As far as cookies go, these may just be my favorite because they blur the line between cake and cookie.  And who doesn’t love a cookie that tastes like cake or cake that tastes like a cookie?

Unbaked Cookies

Cookies

Then there’s the frosting.  Instead of making one chocolate and one vanilla, I only made the vanilla.  This time I found myself making extra frosting.  Maybe I was a little heavy handed, but I love a thick coating of sugary glaze.  Below in the recipe, I’ll provide a doubled version, which is about what I ended up using.  The frosting has amazing flavor.  I have to say I love these cookies with only the vanilla frosting, not that I’ve ever tasted them with both.  Once the cooled cookies have been frosted, let them sit for at least a half an hour to allow the frosting to set up.

A New Yorker probably wouldn’t be a fan of my version of the black and white cookie, but I swear they’re totally delicious and not to be missed.  I’m heading to the freezer right now to munch on one while watching more food TV for inspiration for my next baking session.

White Cookies

White Cookie

5.0 from 2 reviews
White Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
Cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (pasteurized if you like)
Frosting
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, more if necessary
  • 2 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Make the cookies. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, using a hand mixer or spatula until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. Once you have a homogeneous mixture, slowly incorporate the flour mixture while continuing to beat. Beat until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop batter onto cookie sheets with 4 rows of 2 cookies on each sheet. Bake the cookies 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets at the halfway point if necessary. The cookies should be just set in the center and golden brown on the bottom. Cool the cookies completely on the sheets.
  5. Once the cookies are cool, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and water until completely smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency, which should be thick, but still easily spreadable.
  6. Using a knife, off set spatula, or spoon, frost the entire bottom (flat side) of the cookies. It should be covered in a thick layer. Some of the frosting will drip off; that is okay. Let the frosting set before serving.
  7. Cookies may be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a couple hours before serving. They will be just as good, if not better, than the day you made them.
Notes
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz, courtesy of Fine Cooking 2010

 

 

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Bun

I’m not a big bread eater.  Most of the time it doesn’t fall far enough into dessert for me to justify spending my calories on it, and most of it is so . . . well . . . bready.  When I go out to eat, I’ll indulge in a piece or two if I love it, and the breads from Zingerman’s Bakery are often irresistible in small servings, but other than that I’m not a bread girl.

However there are those breads that fall clearly into the realm of dessert.  Panettone (as long as I make sure it doesn’t have chocolate – it’s surprising how many do) and stollen are two of my favorite treats.  I’ve never had a hot cross bun before this adventure.  The plan has been to go to Zingerman’s to pick some up for a couple years, but it hasn’t happened yet.  They were a favorite of my Granny, and around this time of year I see them all over TV and in the grocery store circulars.  It was finally time for me to try making my very own hot cross buns.

Kneading Dough

I adapted John Barricelli’s recipe.  He has become one of my favorite bakers from seeing him on The Martha Stewart Show all the time.  All of his recipes I’ve tried have come out perfectly and he makes everything seem easy and approachable.  I also received his signed cookbook for Christmas, which was very exciting.

Yes, this is a yeast dough recipe.  But don’t be afraid.  These buns were easy to make.  Seriously.  The ease was kind of shocking.  There’s always some nervousness and risk when working with yeast.  Is the yeast alive?  Will it rise?  Will all my hard work go to waste?  If you check the date on the yeast, it’s probably alive and will rise, and using this recipe will ensure your hard work will not go to waste.  I used the little packets of Fleischmann’s Dry Active Yeast.  They’re easy to find in most grocery stores and very reliable.

Unrisen Dough Risen Dough Unrisen Rolls Risen Rolls

I didn’t mess with the major structural components of the recipe, but I did mix up the flavorings quite a bit.  Adding extra sugar ensured I would be left with the dessert bread I was looking for.  The lemon and orange zest of the original recipe were greatly enhanced by the addition of a bit of cinnamon, and I like the swap of raisins and dried cherries (both Sun Maid) for currants.  I also chose to skip the bun crossing paste and go with the traditional icing cross, mostly because when I think of hot cross buns, I think of that thin white cross on top of them.

Raisins and Cherries

They are time consuming, but only due to the rising time.  There is very little active time.  I didn’t know what to expect, having never tasted one of these little treats, however, while chewing the first bite, I wondered where they had been all my life.  The top is slightly golden and firm, while the interior and bottom are white and soft and sweet.  The raisins and cherries interspersed throughout add just a hint of chewiness and extra flavor.  The lemon and orange zest kind of fade to the background while the hint of cinnamon comes through.  Even though I did make the icing cross, which had an amazing vanilla flavor, I still added the preserve glaze.  I used American Spoon Red Haven Peach Preserves, which I didn’t strain.  I broke up large chunks using a spoon, leaving the few small pieces of peach as a delightful addition.  Any peach or apricot preserves would do the job, but I absolutely love American Spoon’s products.  They are made in Michigan using ingredients from Michigan, giving them a superb flavor.  No extra or strange ingredients here.

Perfect for Easter or anytime, really, these hot cross buns are one of my new favorite treats with the perfect combination of flavors.

Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Bun

5.0 from 2 reviews
Hot Cross Buns
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for bowl
  • 1 cup milk (I actually used skim)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ½ teaspoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 orange (I used a Cara Cara)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten (Pasteurized if you like)
  • 5 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup American Spoon Red Haven Peach Preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pour 1 cup milk into small saucepan with candy thermometer clipped to side, and bring to about 110 degrees F over medium heat. Once heated, pour milk into bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment. With machine running on low speed, add sugar, yeast, salt, butter, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest, and eggs. Mix until combined. Add flour, continuing to mix on low speed until soft, slightly sticky dough forms around dough hook. This should happen quite quickly. Continue mixing on low speed about 4 more minutes until the dough is smooth. Scrape down hook and bowl as necessary. Add raisins and cherries, mixing to incorporate.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead briefly only to make sure raisins and cherries are fully incorporated throughout the dough. Shape dough into ball. Place dough in a large well buttered bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl so it is covered with butter. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour 30 minutes until it has roughly doubled in size.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto unfloured work surface. Knead very briefly before shaping into log. Cut log in half, each half in half and each quarter into six pieces. Shape each piece, roughly the same size, it doesn’t have to be exact, into a tightly formed ball. Place each ball on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart, 4 rows of 3 on each tray. Cover baking sheets tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for about 2 hours, until buns are doubled in size and touching.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unwrap buns before transferring them to the oven to bake until golden brown, about 18-25 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes if necessary. Depending on your oven, watch them to make sure the bottoms are not browning far more quickly than the tops. Let cool on trays.
  5. While the buns are cooling, heat the peach preserves in a small saucepan over medium heat, breaking up large pieces of peach with a spoon. Brush or spoon jam over buns. They can still be warm for this step.
  6. When buns are completely cool, make the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk or stir together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and about 2 tablespoons of milk, you may need more. The icing should be thick but spreadable. Adding more confectioners’ sugar or milk may be necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
  7. Spoon icing into piping bag or plastic zipper bag with a tiny tip cut off. Pipe crosses on buns. Serve and enjoy. Buns will keep for one day at room temperature in an air tight container, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months.
Notes
Hot cross bun recipe adapted from John Barricelli from The Martha Stewart Show, April 2007

 

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