Tag Archives: sweets

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Mexican Wedding Cakes/Russian Tea Cakes

The absence of any egg-related ingredients, in addition to the use of powdered rather than granulated sugar, makes these a completely different consistency than any other cookie I’ve ever had. They’re a little more delicate than your average cookie, but flavorful enough to hold their own.

Another great (hidden) benefit is that they can be completely vegan if you substitute the butter for Earth Balance, which is what I did. I love the buttery flavor that Earth Balance adds, with none of the animal byproducts.

Although the recipe calls for pecans or almonds, in the past, I have been known to split the dough into 5 or 6 different bowls, and put different additions into each bit of dough. Some of them will have nuts, some will have candied ginger, dried fruit, or even chocolate chips. No matter what you add, it’s always delicious.

Well…I’m sure there are some exceptions to that rule, but let’s not explore that.

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Here’s the recipe:

Mexican Wedding Cakes
(Makes about 48)

1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C butter (or Earth Balance), softened
2 t vanilla
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C finely chopped almonds or pecans
1/4 t salt
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cut powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Blend well.
3. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
4. Shape into 1-inch balls and place 1″ apart on un-greased cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.
6. Cool slightly, then roll in powdered sugar (or place powdered sugar into a Ziploc bag and shake 2-3 cookies at a time in the sugar).
7. Cool completely and re-roll in powdered sugar.

Just a word of caution: When eating these cookies, do not inhale deeply just before taking a bite. You will most definitely inhale powdered sugar, and if you’re anything like me, it will induce a 10 minute coughing fit. It’s just not fun.

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almond paste cookies

Almond Paste Cookies [Must Be Eaten]

The same friend who loves me enough to give me the recipe for Marzipan-laced Stollen also loves me enough give me the recipe for her Almond Paste Cookies.

This is a friend, indeed.

Almond paste cookies are the thing that dreams are made of. After my horrendous Baltimore Marathon experience, I went to a bakery near our hotel and immediately purchased 3 almond paste cookies (in addition to a few other things). The goal was to drown my pain in almond paste. I don’t know if they took the pain away, but it was fun trying.

The almond paste cookies in my girl’s recipe are different than the ones I got at Vaccarro’s that day, but I would venture to say that they taste better!

And I even forgot to add the slivered almonds on the top.

They’re still amazing.

This is my first time making almond paste cookies, so there was a little trial and error involved (and forgotten almond slivers). I found it interesting that the first batch of cookies that went in the oven came out pretty flat, and they were also very difficult to get off of the cookie sheet. After re-reading the recipe, I realized that I was supposed to line the cookie sheet with foil.

Uh. Duh.

(The first batch is on the right).

While the first batch baked, I left the remaining batter on the counter, and didn’t add the second batch of cookies to the  sheet until after it had completely cooled. I’m not sure if it was because the dough had some time to rest, or if it cooled down some after all of the mixing, but the second batch was notably fluffier.

I also baked them for the exact same time, and used the exact same amount of dough (I use a mini ice-cream scoop), but the cookies were more golden brown the second time around.  In any case, it was good because they looked more like a traditional almond paste cookie.

Unfortunately, there was only enough dough to make 4 of them. And I ate one.

So, after I can actually leave my house (we’ve had 5,000 inches of snow in less than 24 hours), I plan to buy more almond paste and try these again. They are so so good!

The first batch is in the back, and the second is in the front…

Next time, I’ll let the dough rest in the fridge before I start making them, and I’ll also use a silicone mat on the cookie sheet.

Then, hopefully they’ll all look like this…

Yum!

Here’s the recipe!

Chana’s Almond Paste Cookies

1/2 pound almond paste
2 egg whites
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C confectioners sugar
1/4 C flour (I used 1/3 C because my dough was WAY too sticky)
pinch of salt
2 OZ almond slivers

1. Combine both sugars, flour & salt, and set aside.

2. Mix almond paste and eggs with hands. Do not over mix.

3. Add dry ingredients and mix well (with spoon).

4. Roll into one inch balls. Roll tops in almonds.

5. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet.

6. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

If you are able to not eat all of these at one time, please do tell me how!

What is your favorite Christmas cookie??

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Christmas Stolen

Eat It Like It’s Stollen.

I don’t think that I’ve properly emphasized this fact yet on the blog, but I love anything that has the word “almond” in it.

Almond paste.

Almond extract.

Almonds.

I love coconut macaroons because they taste like almonds. I could very easily leave out the coconut and be just as happy.

And, speaking of almonds, Rachel had a great idea a couple of weeks ago. Her great idea involved the purchase of a vintage-inspired apron from BoojiBoo. And, this actually has nothing at all to do with almonds, but I want to show you my adorable apron.


And, this is me. Today. In the midst of baking Almond Paste Cookies. Wearing ratty old gym shorts. And tennis shoes. And no makeup.

But my apron is damn cute.

It actually looks a little scandalous from this angle, but I swear that I was totally wearing pants.

Right, so speaking of almonds.

Today, I made a German Christmas bread called Stollen. This was my first experience with Stollen, and the recipe was suggested to me by one of the three people that I still talk to from high school, and she happens to know of my love for all things marzipan.

The process was a little longer than I had originally anticipated, but it turns out that I love stollen!

My only gripe with stollen was that the marzipan was not located in every bite. I know, that’s greedy and gluttonous, but I don’t get the stuff very often, and when I do, I want it to be pure indulgence. Next time, I’ll cut the marzipan into several ropes instead of just one rope, and then place them throughout the loaf.

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So here’s the recipe…

German Christmas Stollen
(Based on a recipe from allrecipes.com)

1 T active dry yeast
2/3 C warm milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 T salt
1/3 C butter, softened
2 1/2 C bread flour
1/3 C raisins
1/3 C currants (I didn’t use because I don’t like)
1/3 C red candied cherries, quartered (I didn’t use because I don’t have any)
2/3 C diced candied citron (again, couldn’t find it)
6 OZ marzipan or almond paste
1T confectioners’ sugar
1t ground cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, white sugar, salt, butter, and 2 cups of bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

3. When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, raisins, dried cherries, and citrus peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

5. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal.

6. Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 50 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

8. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow loaf to cool on a wire rack.

9. After completely cooled, dust the loaf with confectioners’ sugar, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

10. Eat this once per hour, on the hour, for the entire time you’re snowed in (optional).

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Blueberry Nectarine Crisp

This little beauty makes a great dessert or even a sweet addition to breakfast or brunch. The California nectarines that I’ve purchased are fantastically sweet this year, and they pair perfectly with the tartness of blueberries.

I made it this morning as a sweet “dessert” for our brunch French toast. The smell of this dish baking in the oven was almost too much to handle.

To make this yourself, begin with a bowl of diced nectarines and drained blueberries, patted dry. Add honey, brown sugar, corn starch & cinnamon, and mix until the corn starch is combined.  The corn starch will just give the berry and nectarine a nice thick sauce rather than becoming watery when it bakes.

Set the fruit aside and let it “marinate”.  The longer it sits around, the sweeter it’ll get.

I mean…don’t leave it sitting on your counter for a week or anything…but 30 minutes is good.

p1012621resize1In a separate bowl, combine rolled oats, brown sugar, chopped pecans or almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Earth Balance or margarine.  This is a yummy way to get your hands dirty.

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Place the fruit into individual ramekins or a small baking dish.  Make sure to include that lovely juice hanging out at the bottom of the bowl!

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Then top with the rolled oats mixture.  Press it down enough so it’s not going to fall off the edges when you transfer it to the oven.

p1012629resizeBake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown and the blueberry/nectarine mixture is bubbling.

p1012631resizeWow. Yum.

p1012632resizeI’m pretty sure this is going to change my life.

p1012636resize-copyEnjoy!

Blueberry Nectarine Crisp–Full Recipe

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what the heck cookies

(What the Heck are in) THOSE Cookies?

Someone pissed me off again today.  You know.  Almost exactly the same thing that the same exact person did almost exactly a week ago.

The solution?

I came home and baked these cookies while watching Bridget Jones’ Diary.

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Did you know that I bought a new camera?  Yep, and I love it already.  I sold my old camera on eBay last week, and bought this Olympus Evolt E-500 DSLR used.  I ended up paying $20 for it after selling my Canon PowerShot SX10IS.

Now that’s a price I can live with.

My first DLSR.  Now I really feel like a big girl.

I’m excited.

I regress…

THOSE Cookies.  Right.

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Oh, THOSE cookies.

Do you see the cute little chia seeds?

And the oat nuggets?

And the carob, chocolate, and raisins?!

I must be honest.  I didn’t expect these cookies to turn out as beautifully as they did.  I was pissed off and baking, and that doesn’t always equal success.  However, I chose to throw together many ingredients that apparently meshed well together because OH. MY. GOODNESS.  THESE cookies are so good!

They are moist, delicious, and have a crunchy exterior and soft interior.  Just the way I like it.

I also stuck 5 of them into Cali, so I’ll let you know how those turn out tomorrow.

For now, just make these cookies.  And don’t be afraid to throw in whatever you want to use.  I think that as long as you keep the wet/dry ratios consistent, you can use any old nuts/nut butter/flour/sweetener that you have on hand.  Go crazy.

Click here for the printable recipe!

Now.

Go forth and make  cookies!

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chocolate peanut butter fudgies

“Raw” Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudgies

So, I’m using the term “raw” loosely this time, because it’s nearly impossible (from what I’ve read) to find raw oatmeal.  Or oat products in general.  The reason?  Oat products become rancid quickly.

Rancid.

Nobody likes a rancid oat.

So, oats are generally steamed in order to prolong the shelf life.  Thus, my beautiful chocolate peanut butter fudgies are as raw as I could make them.  I am not a miracle worker.  Unfortunately.

sidebar: yes, I just said “thus”.

Raw, steamed, boiled, grated, shredded…it just doesn’t matter.  These are delicious.

Set your oven on the lowest possible setting, or get your food dehydrator ready!  Here we go…

Agave, honey, and medjool dates plus cocoa powder = love.  Pure, unadulturated love.

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Add copious amounts of Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal.  Yeah, Bob’s my homey.  Me and Bob’s Red Mill?  We go way back.

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To that lovely concoction, you MUST add a smidge of coconut butter.  Why?  Basically, just because I said so.  My heart told me to do it.  And I un-bake with my heart and my heart alone.

For some reason, this coconut butter did not want to be photographed.  I took exactly 3 pictures of the coconut butter, and they all looked exactly like this.  All blurry and confused.  I don’t know.  I can’t explain it.  Coconut butter just wasn’t in the mood to be photographed.

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And this is the point where we pretend…

We pretend that I wasn’t so distracted by the fact that the coconut butter picture didn’t turn out that I forgot to set up the other ingredients for their photo op.  First, pretend that there is a picture of raw peanut butter being seductively poured into the bowl.

It looks delicious, doesn’t it?

Then, pretend that there is a beautiful, clear, concise picture of these oats; being lovingly poured into the bowl of chocolat-y, agave-y, flax mealy, peanut butter-y goodness.

oats

And then, the fun part.

Smash it all together with your hands.  Please do not use a spoon, or they just won’t taste very good.  Please do feel free to have fun.  Smash and smoosh and enjoy yourself.

But you must not taste test.

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Never.

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I mean, it’s so gross.

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p.s…my momma is cringing right now.

So, don’t taste test.  Civilized people just don’t do things like that.

Now, go wash your hands.

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Form the batter into round balls, or just drop them with a spoon onto food dehydrator trays (or cookie sheets), and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 7-8 hours.  Or, set your oven on the lowest possible setting, and leave in the oven with the door open.  If you have a pilot light, even better.  No need to turn on the heat.  You can also alternate between leaving the door open for a period of time, and closing it for a period of time.  You just have to watch it pretty carefully so that they don’t get melty or heat too fast or too much.

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These little fudge beauties rival the “no bake” cookies that I made as a child, but they are so much healthier.  They really are delicious, and the oats get softer and soak up the other flavors as they dehydrate.  If you are opposed to the taste of agave, or if you are not a fan of the aftertaste (I have noticed an agave aftertaste), I recommend using more honey and less agave.  I like to use agave because the GI is much lower than honey.

Jogger’s “Raw” Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudgies (Printable Version)

Go forth and taste test make Fudgies!

Don’t miss out!  Be sure to click on the “Giveaways” tab on the top menu bar for the current freebies!

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Grandma’s 4-Layer Dream Pie

I have jazzed this up a little bit to make it…well…less Grandma-ish, but it’s basically my little peach of a Grandma’s dessert that she makes on holidays. It’s really delish, and don’t let the recipe fool you into thinking it’s difficult. It’s not.

Layer 1

1 pkg Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix (17.5 oz)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (do not fear the butter…butter is your friend)
1 pkg honey graham crackers, crushed (9-10 whole graham crackers–not the little tiny baby squares that make up the big square)
8 oz walnuts, chopped (or spun in the food processor/blender), save about 2 T to garnish
1/4 C light brown sugar, unpacked

Combine all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until moistened. The mixture will look crumbly, but should basically be sticking together. Spray a 9″ X 13″ Pyrex baking dish (or similar…just think “deep baking dish”) with cooking spray, then press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until the edges are just barely brown. Let this cool completely before moving forward.

Layer 2 In case you missed the first mention…don’t make this until the 1st layer is completely cool

24 oz cream cheese (3 regular Philadelphia rectangular jobby’s), room temperature
1 C cold milk
2 envelopes Dream Whip (they come in a box with 4 packets, usually in the store next to the ready-made graham cracker pie crusts)
1 T vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (or stand mixer) and beat the crap out of it until it’s fluffy and thick. This usually takes about 5 minutes. It’s pretty forgiving, so if you beat it for longer than that, it won’t call Social Services. If it seems too thick, you can add a little more milk, but you want it to be firm so that your pie isn’t a big sloppy mess. Pour this evenly on top of Layer 1 and smooth out.

Layer 3

2 envelopes Dream Whip (the other 2 envelopes from the box you got next to the ready-made graham cracker pie crusts)
2 (regular, not family size) pkgs instant chocolate pudding (I usually use the sugar-free chocolate fudge kind…I have to maintain my girlish figure)
1 1/2 C cold milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (or stand mixer), and again…beat the crap out of it. You also want this to be thick, but not like mud. Beat these ingredients for about 5 minutes as well, and then evenly pour and smooth on top of Layer 2.

Layer 4

1 tub of Cool Whip
2 T of chopped walnuts, from above

Evenly spread Cool Whip on top of Layer 3, then sprinkle walnuts on top. Since there are nuts in the first layer, I always put the nuts on top just to warn people that there are nuts in it. Food allergies scare me, and I don’t need that on my watch.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and then pig out. Enjoy, and let me know if you liked it. If you do, I’ll take credit…if you hate it, lets blame it on my Grandma.