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Archive for December, 2013

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Besides stained glass cookies, this is another new cookie I baked this year for Christmas. I got the recipe from Just A Pinch Recipes. It’s quite simple, although I needed to add about 1/2 to 1 cup more flour because the dough was just too wet and sticky. I think the reason might be that I cheated on softening the butter– I use the quick microwave way to soften, and I warmed it up a bit too long. Anyway, lesson learned…

Some thumbprint cookie recipes suggest filling the jam on top of unbaked cookie dough, while others say add the jam after the cookies are baked. Well, I did the hybrid part– baked cookies, added jam, and baked for a few more minutes. I did this because I was hoping the extra baking time will dry out the jam a bit more, so the jam filling won’t be as thin runny and more on the thick sticky side. The results: No much difference. The main thing is the jam itself– I used pineapple preserve and raspberry jam. After final baking, while pineapple jam was still thick and nice in the thumbprint area, the raspberry jam was starting to overflow the edge of the cookies (it gave a smooth touch on the jam surface though). If you want a crunchier cookie texture, I suggest you bake the cookies and store in airtight container. Only add in the jam on the day of serving (you can add jam and bake a few more minutes if desired). Once the jam is filled, it will soften the cookies over time.

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Thumbprint Cookies– Baked, waiting to be filled with jam.

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe (adapted from Just A Pinch. Makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter– softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, separated
1 1/2 cup flour– add more later if needed
4 tbsp dry whole milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking pan with parchment. Combine flour, milk powder and salt.
  2. Cream butter with a hand mixer. Add sugar and cream until it’s fluffy. Mix in vanilla completely, then mix in egg yolk blend well.
  3. Use a spatula to mix in flour mixture, in a stir-and press motion, until the it forms a dough. Roll the dough into thin long log of 1 inch diameter. Cut into pieces and roll each piece into a 1 inch diameter ball.
  4. Whisk egg white in a bowl until it gets frothy. Place chopped hazelnut in a separate bowl.
  5. Dip each dough ball into egg white, then roll it in chopped hazelnut to cover completely. Place the dough on baking pan, about 2 inches apart. Use your thumb to press down the ball to make a deep indentation.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven but maintain oven temperature. If the cookies lost its indentation then press down further with a spoon to make indentation deeper (do it while the cookies are still hot).
  7. Place about 1/2 tsp of jam onto the indentation. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. When cookies are cooled completely, store in air tight container, adding parchment paper between each layer to prevent jam sticking together.

Regina’s Note:

  • Besides chopped nuts, you can also roll cookies in shred coconuts, sugar or simply none at all.
  • Don’t be limited by sweet jams. Jalapeno jam, cream cheese (flavored or plain) can also be used to create different flavors. Be adventurous!
  • For crunchier thumbprint cookies, just bake the cookies itself without jam and store in air tight container. Only fill in the jam on the day of serving.
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Thumbprint Cookies– I added some chili powder to some pineapple jam filled thumbprint cookies… looking for a sweet and spicy taste.

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Thumbprint Cookies– I used pineapple jam and raspberry jam for the filling.

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Stained Glass Cookies~ Oops! missing a “S” in there…

MERRY CHRISTMAS! MAY YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON FILLED WITH LOVE, JOY AND PEACE!

This is one of the new holiday cookies I tried this year for Christmas holiday. The other ones are thumbprint cookies and meringue coconut crunch. Back to these attractive colorful stained glass cookies… Aren’t they beautiful? They are of different flavors too depending on the candy flavor. And these stained glasses didn’t last long– kids just love them! To be honest, I’m not a fan of cut-out sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles on top, too plain sweet for me. So I never make it for the holiday (hey, baker chooses what to bake you know ;-)). But for these stained glass I can do it, if not for its taste at least for its look! So this cookie is officially on our Christmas cookies list.

This is a very simple recipe. The dough can be prepared ahead of time. The most challenging part I guess would be crushing the hard candies– never underestimate the power of hard candies! Many people made a mess of candies flying everywhere… For me, I just let the man of the house do it, on the floor (unless you want to risk breaking your table/kitchen counter). Kids  will have fun helping you out cutting the dough and sprinkling the crushed candies. Be creative with the colors and patterns, but take care not to mix too many colors or it will be messing looking glass. Have fun!

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Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies (makes 20-40 pieces, varying sizes)

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
15-20 hard candies (Life Savers or Jolly Ranchers)– separate flavors into different groups, then crush separately with a hammer.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter with a hand mixer until light, add sugar and cream until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, mix to blend well. Add vanilla extract, mix well again.
  4. Combine flour and salt. Use a spatula or wooden spoon, mix flour mixture into butter mixture in 2-3 batches. Use mix and pad down motion, until all dry flours are incorporated and form a dough. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half to a disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Bring dough to room temperature, roll out to 1/4 thickness (I rolled mine even slightly thinner than 1/4″). Dip cookie cutters in flour then cut out dough– you will need cookie cutters of larger and smaller sizes. Make sure the smaller cookie cutters fit into larger cookie cutter. The idea is to cut out cookie dough for the outer side of the cookie, leaving out the center of the cookie for the stained glass. To do so, use larger cookie cutters to cut out the dough first, transfer cut dough onto baking pan, then use the smaller cookie cutters to cut out the middle part, leaving the center of the cookies hollow. If you have small alphabet cookie cutters, you can use them too to create name initial stained glass cookies. Arrange cookies about 1 inch apart on baking pan, bake for 6 minutes, or until the bottom is slightly brown. Remove from the oven but maintain oven temperature.
  6. Carefully spoon  (1/2 to 1 tsp) some crushed candies into the middle hole of cookies. If the candies touches the cookies, quickly use your finger to sweep it to the middle hole. You can use 1 color/flavor, or use 2-3 colors/flavors for one cookie, depending how big the middle hole is. Do not mix colors/flavors all together as it will create messy looking stained glass. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to melt the candies. Remove from the oven. If you are using letters for the cookies, quickly place an alphabet cookie in the center of melted candy. Cool cookies on the pan for 5 minutes for the candies to set. Peel off cookies from parchment paper and continue cooling on a rack. Store in air tight container when cookies are cooled completely.

Regina’s Note:

  • Crushing hard candies: To prevent candy explosion, keep candy wrappers on, wrap with paper towels and place inside a ziplog bag. Take out the candy wrappers after it is crushed. Crushing candy is very loud with all that hammer actions, so I suggest crushing it on a wooden surface on the floor. Do not do it on your kitchen counter unless you are ready to replace with new counter top. And remember, crush each flavor group separately.
  • Not enough candy to cover the middle hole: After the last 2-3 minutes in the oven and if you find not enough candy to melt and cover the entire middle hole, just add in a bit more crushed candies to cover up, bake for another 1-2 minutes. Keep an eyes on the melting process.
  • Do not over melt the candy: Keep a close eye on the melting process. Once the candy melts it gets bubbly fast– which will create a smeared edge between candy and the cookie itself, not to mention chance of melting candy overflowing to the cookie part.  The other thing is that when candy get bubbly hot it creates air bubbles. These small air bubbles, when cooled, trap inside the candy and will affect the smooth clear clean stained glass look. To get rid of air bubbles, use a toothpick to swirl around the melted candy while it is still hot out from the oven. The melted candy sets quick so you have to swirl around fast. The best stage is when the candy just melts, no bubbles at all.
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Stained Glass Cookies

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Tiramisu Cake Roll 提拉米蘇蛋糕卷

Tiramisu Cake Roll 提拉米蘇蛋糕卷

Ingredients:

Four mixture:
6 tbsp cake flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder

Egg yolk mixture:
6 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp golden rum

Egg white mixture:
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:
3/4 cup tiramisu cream– see note below

for brushing (mix well, optional):
1 tbsp strong coffee
1 tbsp golden rum

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, place a oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom and 4 sides of a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan. Combine cake flour mixture.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar with a balloon whisk until it is pale yellow and fluffy, scrape the bowl several times. Add in milk, oil and salt. Mix well.
  3. Sift in cake flour in 3 batches, mix well until the batter is smooth after each addition. Add in rum, mix well again.
  4. Whip egg whites in a dry clean mixing bowl (I use KitchenAid stand mixer) on high speed (KA speed 8) until bubbles are small and no visible clear egg whites. Add in cream of tartar and continue whipping on high speed (speed 8). Scrape down the bowl if necessary.
  5. When egg whites turns white and the bubbles becomes very tiny, slowly pour in sugar. Continue whipping on high speed (speed 8), scraping down the bowl once, until it has a sheen appearance like a pearl. When you lift the whisk upside down, the egg whites will form a soft curl at the end of the tip (this is called soft peak. If the curl is too much then it’s not ready yet– continue whipping). Turn to low speed (speed 4) and whip for another 1-2 minutes. This is to remove any big bubbles in the egg whites so the cake will have a more delicate, fine texture.
  6. Gently fold in whipped egg whites into yolk mixture in 3 batches. Slowly pour batter onto the prepared jelly roll pan. Spread and smooth the top. Tap the pan a couple of times and bake at the middle rack of the oven for 15-18 minutes. Lightly press the top of the cake, if it springs back then the cake is done. Remove from the oven.
  7. Transfer the cake (with parchment) onto a cooling rack. Flatten out parchment paper on 4 sides of the cake.
  8. When the cake is cooled, place another piece of parchment paper (larger than cake) on top of the cake. Carefully and quickly flip cake and 2 sheets of parchment papers over (so the cake crust will face out when rolled up). Now the cake bottom is facing up. Remove parchment paper liner. Brush coffee+rum mixture on the surface if desired.
  9. Spread tiramisu cream evenly on the cake. With the short side facing you, roll up the cake like a jelly roll. Wrap the cake roll in the parchment paper and chill in the fridge before serving.  Before slicing each piece, run knife in hot water and wipe dry with a paper towel to ensure a nice clean cut.

Regina’s Note:

  • Tiramisu cream— since cake roll only requires 3/4 cup of tiramisu cream, I don’t border making it purposely. I just save some cream when I make tiramisu for the cake roll.

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