Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chocolate (or not) Sprinkle Cookies

     My daughters-in-law introduced me to these delightful little shortbread gems. They call them "Rusty Logs" and once you've made them it'll be easy to see how they got the name. These cookies might not win any beauty contests, but what they lack in showiness they make up for in flavor. Oats give them a nutty crunch that keeps little (and big) hands reaching into the cookie jar.

     I decided to take some license with the recipe and dressed some up in party clothes for Christmas. You could make these for any occasion just by changing up the sprinkles! The ones that work best (in my opinion) are the "ice cream" type softer sprinkles, but any kind would dress up the edges of this slice and bake type cookie.

     They're more widely known as "Chocolate Shot" cookies, but  I call those little bits sprinkles, not shot. Is it a regional thing do you suppose?  No matter what you call them, they're great, versatile little cookies that are as easy to make as they are to eat. Enjoy! :)


Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies (AKA Rusty Logs) Recipe
Printable recipe here

1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 cup butter, softened but not melted (I use salted)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
chocolate "shot" or sprinkles (2 or 3 small (1.5 oz.) bottles or one large tub) You could also use multicolored sprinkles, or even colored sugar.

  • Cream together butter and sugar
  • Add vanilla and mix well
  • Sift or whisk together flour, baking soda, and oats. Add to butter mixture and mix until combined.
  • Refrigerate about 1/2 hour, or until dough is firm enough to work with.
  • Divide dough in half and form into two rolls, each having a diameter of about 1 1/2 inches.
  • Pour chocolate sprinkles onto wax paper.
  • Roll formed dough "logs" in chocolate sprinkles until evenly coated.
  • Wrap rolls in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, or overnight.
  • Slice into cookies about 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick and arrange on parchment covered baking sheets.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bake cookies 18-25 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Remove to a rack to cool.
  • Yield: about 3 dozen

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

    Many different ginger cookies have come out of my oven, but this recipe is one that I keep coming back to. It's a chewy ginger cookie rather than a snap, and it partners as perfectly with a nice cold glass of milk as it does with a cup of hot tea or spiced cider. We like these spicy treats year round at my house, but when fall rolls around it just seems wrong not to have them in the cookie jar.

     The recipe hails from a local landmark, Stratford Hall Plantation. Stratford is the ancestral home of four generations of the Lee family of Virginia (including two signers of The Declaration of Independence), and Birthplace of General Robert E. Lee. The cookies are a tradition at their Candlelight tour at Christmas time, and many folks look forward to sampling their gingery goodness.

     We prefer the cookies on the chewy side, but if you'd rather have more of a hard ginger snap perfect for dunking, just forget leave the cookies in the oven for a bit longer. Either way, they'll be grand! :)

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies
printable recipe available here
1 1/2 cups butter, melted (3 sticks)
1/2 cup molasses
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
granulated sugar (for coating balls of dough)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sift or whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together melted butter, molasses and sugar.
  • Add eggs and mix until combined.
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until all flour is incorporated.
  • Refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours.
  • Roll walnut-sized balls of dough in granulated sugar.
  • Place on parchment covered baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. If you want a crispier cookie like a ginger snap, just let them stay in the oven a bit longer. If you want a softer cookie, bake until just set.
  • Cool on the cookie sheet a couple of minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  • Yield: about 5 dozen

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vanilla Salted Peanut Cookies

     It's cookie time! It's been a long time since this little space has gotten any attention, but after these cookies came out of the oven I knew I had to share them. Who can resist chunky vanilla oatmeal cookies loaded with salty peanuts and white chocolate? Think PayDay candy bars, only with a little crunch around the edges instead of the chew. I didn't think of it until after I made these, but I think a little sprinkle of Fleur de Sel on top would make them extra special.

    School has been keeping me extra busy these days, but I'm going to try to make time to share some of my old and new favorite cookies in time for the holidays. Hope to see you soon!


Vanilla Salted Peanut Cookies
from The Baking Sheet (King Arthur Flour) Spring 2013

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cream together butter, shortening and brown sugar.
  • Mix in the eggs, oats, and vanilla
  • Whisk baking soda into flour
  • Incorporate flour mixture into the butter/oat mixture
  • Mix in peanuts and white chocolate
  • Scoop by Tablespoons (I used a medium sized scoop) onto parchment covered baking sheets.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges. (Longer baking times make a crunchier cookie, if that's what you prefer.)
  • Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
  • Yield: about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sweet Potato Pie


     Truth in labeling. This is, in fact, a pie. A sweet potato pie, a southern staple that I grew up with. My mom has been making this pie for as long as I can remember. (And that's a pretty long time.)

     My mom is amazing. She still cooks a huge Sunday dinner every week. I'm there most Sundays, as are my sister and brother and any of our kids (and spouses and grandkids) that happen to be around. She's been doing this forever. And she always has dessert. Sometimes it's her famous cold oven pound cake, or even yellow cake with chocolate frosting. But quite often, it's sweet potato pie.

      A true Southern sweet potato pie is not a pumpkin pie wannabe. You'll not find cloves, nutmeg, or even cinnamon here. Just a little sugar, butter and vanilla added to the custard so the delicate sweet potato really shines through. My mom says "When I want a pumpkin pie, I'll make a pumpkin pie!" It's also an all season pie, too good to relegate to the fall and winter.

     This recipe makes two pies. My mom always bakes one plain and one with flaked coconut on top. There are those who prefer one or the other, but I am equal opportunity when it comes to pie.

    Sweet potatoes are readily available year round, and full of fiber and other things that are good for you. So sweet potato pie is like having dessert with benefits, right? I like to think so. And I hope you do too.

My Mom's Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato (you can either bake or boil your potatoes until tender)
Use a potato masher or a fork- not a food processor
2 eggs, beaten
Scant cup of sugar (My mom says a full cup is just too sweet for her.)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 of a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk- (about 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) Save the rest to brush on the crust before baking
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix  all ingredients together and pour into two regular (not deep dish) unbaked pie shells.
Sprinkle top with sweetened, flaked coconut if desired. Brush crust with reserved milk.
Bake about an hour, or until filling is puffed and crust is nicely browned. (The amount of moisture in your sweet potatoes will determine the exact time.) If your crust browns too quickly, cover crust with foil. Cool and serve.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spotted Dog: An Irish Tea Cake

     I had to go pretty far back on my family tree to find my Irish roots, but they're definitely there.  Just enough of them, I suppose, to appreciate this beautiful loaf of what I've always called Irish Soda bread, even though now I've discovered that it really isn't.

     Did you know that there are rules for making Irish Soda Bread? The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread tells us that any ingredient other than flour, baking soda, sour milk and salt make your loaf an imposter. This loaf, my friends, is definitely an imposter. A tasty one, but an imposter nonetheless.

     This loaf has a bit of added sugar, some butter, a lot of currants- ingredients that deny it the title of an authentic Irish Soda bread, but make it oh-so-delicious. The lovely loaf they do make is called Spotted Dog. I think I like that even better.

     Spotted Dog is a quick and easy loaf to put together to enjoy at breakfast or tea time. Warm out of the oven and slathered with butter? That would be the top o' my mornin' for sure! Leftovers make a great toast too.
     This recipe makes two loaves; enjoy one now and freeze one for later. Better yet, share with a friend. Just please make sure you cut a deep X  into the top of your loaf before baking. Why? To let the fairies out, of course. Who wants to suffer the wrath of toasted fairies? :)

Spotted Dog: An Irish Tea Cake
Adapted from this recipe and this recipe
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick) cut into small cubes
2 cups currants or raisins
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.
  • In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
  • Cut butter into dry ingredients with a fork or dough blender until mixture resembles large crumbs.
  • Stir in currants or raisins.
  • Whisk together the beaten egg, the buttermilk, and the vanilla extract.
  • Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.
  • Pour buttermilk mixture into the well and gently mix together until the dough is evenly blended. Do not over-mix.
  • Turn sticky dough out onto a generously floured surface. With floured hands, gently knead dough just enough (just flop it over a couple of times) and form into two softball sized balls of dough. Do not over-knead! It will make your bread/cake tough. You don't need your dough to be smooth and shiny- you want a nice craggy surface to make that beautiful crust!
  • Place your dough balls onto your prepared baking sheet and slightly flatten them into round loaves. Leave plenty of room between your loaves for rising.
  • Cut an X shape into the top of each loaf, all the way to the edges. This lets the fairies out!
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until loaves are browned and sound hollow when you tap them.
  • Slice, slather with butter, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs

Neither judge a book by its cover, nor a cookie by its name! While the moniker "Glob" is not commonly associated with a cookie jar confection, this is a delicious exception to the rule.

Lots of chocolate, walnuts, pecans and peanut butter chips all held together by just a bit of flour, make a huge chunky brownie-like cookie that just begs for a nice tall glass of cold milk.

This recipe comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. No need to chill the dough, so you can have these ready on short notice, when you have a chocolate craving that just won't quit. Now how easy is that?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Globs
recipe from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

6 Tblsp. unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2  oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 extra large eggs
1 Tblsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tblsp. all purpose flour (I have also used gluten free flour with good success.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup whole walnut halves (NOT chopped)
1 cup whole pecan halves (NOT chopped)
2/3 cup peanut butter chips

  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • In the top part of a double boiler over hot water, melt the butter, the unsweetened chocolate, and 6 oz. of the chocolate chips. Stir until just melted. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes. You don't want it to cook your eggs!
  • In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, mix together walnuts, pecans, peanut butter chips, remainder of the chocolate chips and 1 Tblsp. flour. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer (paddle attachment), mix together the eggs, espresso powder and vanilla extract.
  • Add sugar to egg mixture. Beat (medium-high) for two minutes until the batter is thick and falls back on itself in a ribbon.
  • With mixer on low, add cooled, melted chocolate mixture to egg mixture until combined.
  • Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula.
  • Fold in nuts and chips.
  • With two soup spoons (or a large cookie scoop) drop mixture onto parchment covered cookie sheets.
  • Bake exactly 15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet.
  • Yield: 20-22 large cookies

Friday, January 23, 2015

Caramel Puff Corn

This stuff is seriously addictive, and you'll either love me or hate me for sharing the recipe. Many batches were made over the holidays, and they disappeared so quickly there was barely time to take a photo. It's sweet, salty, buttery, crunchy, ridiculously easy to whip up and even easier to eat. And eat. And eat.

Did you notice that there are no popcorn hulls? No hard kernels or bits to get stuck in your teeth either. That's because it starts with a bag of butter flavored Puffcorn,  a ready made snack food you can buy in the potato chip aisle. I used Chester's Puffcorn, but there are are other brands available that come in different sized bags. Thank you Vicki Bensinger, for introducing me to this irresistible confection!

The caramel corn may be good, but it doesn't hold a candle to this sweet little bundle! I braved the cold of Chicago last week to snuggle with my brand new granddaughter. Isn't she precious? I hope one day she'll love to bake with me as much as my sweet grandson does. I miss them both!

Caramel Puff Corn
Recipe from here, here, and here!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (no substitutes!)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
approx. 8 oz. BUTTER flavored Puff Corn (I could only find Puff Corn in 3.5 oz. bags. I used two bags of Chester's Puff Corn. You could use three bags to get a bigger batch with a lighter caramel coating.)
***If you have a hard time finding Butter flavored Puff Corn, you can use the Snack Finder here to find Chester's Puff Corn in your area. 

Empty puff corn from bags into large buttered roasting pan. Set aside.
In a 2 qt. saucepan stir together butter, sugar and syrup.
Using medium heat, bring to boil. Boil 2 minutes stirring constantly.
Add baking soda. Mixture will bubble up. Stir and remove from heat.
Pour caramel mixture over puff corn in roaster. Stir until puff corn is coated.
Bake in 250F oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to distribute caramel evenly over puff corn.
Working quickly, turn out onto parchment and separate puffs while they cool. Store in an airtight container. Try not to eat it all before it gets into the container! :)

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