Archive | December, 2010

Custom Cuts: Busy Busy… Bus, Bus, Bus

15 Dec

Miss me?  Thought so!

Well, here’s a quick look at what has kept me busy over the past week or so. 

This is a custom cuts order for a local transportation company.  Each box contains 6 large buses and 6 medium medallions – all personalized with the company name.

Turns out decorating a bus takes a bit of time !  But, it has been nice to be able to work on various designs.  Keeps me excited to do all those mittens and trees and Santa suits… oh my!

Homemade Berger Cookies – Fresh Baked Friday!

10 Dec

A couple of year’s ago my friend, Gill, brought the most delicious cookies to a girl’s lunch.  The soft cake cookie covered with a fudge icing was the perfect treat to end a wonderful afternoon.  The best part, despite being rich, the cookie was not so rich you couldn’t have a second!

If you are from Baltimore, you probably have guessed that I am referring to the well known, Baltimore-based Berger cookie.

At the suggestion of a loyal reader (okay, Jess), I set out to recreate these treats in my home kitchen.

Success?  Well, they are good, but they are not quite Berger’s.  I can’t figure out exactly what it is, but there is something I need to tweak.  That said, they are definitely worth a try.  And if you have never had a Berger cookie you won’t even notice it!

One last note.  I think these were best after they sat for a night.  So, if you have more self control than I do, make the cookies a day ahead and just let them sit.  Then dig in.

But first… you have to make the cookies (duh!).  Cookie base first.

Measure your flour and milk and set aside along with the egg.  Yes, I know this is not the normal first step in a recipe, but trust me on this one, please.

Okay, now back to the usual programming.  Cream together the butter, salt, baking powder and vanilla.

Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Yes, light and fluffy.  You know the trick.

Add the egg.

Alternately add the flour…

with the milk.  

Begin and end with the flour.  And be gentle here.  You want the cookies light, so be sure to not over beat!

Perfect!  Now you are ready to drop tablespoons of the dough onto a prepared baking sheet.

Spray the bottom of a measuring cup with a non-stick spray.

Use this to flatten the cookies.

Please don’t mind that hand.  Blah!  Haven’t had a manicure in months (the horror!).

Sorry, back to the cookies.  If you prefer, you can also use your fingers dipped in water to flatten the cookies.  Up to you.  Honestly, the dough is pretty sticky so I think both options have pros and cons.

Now you are ready to bake.

11-12 minutes later you have these little guys.

While they are cooling, make the fudge frosting.  One note, I made a single batch, but was quite short on the frosting.  I’ve adjusted the amount in the recipe below.

Start by whisking the sugar, cocoa and salt together in a heavy, large saucepan. 

Add the butter.

Place the saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the butter is melted into the sugar and cocoa mixture.  It will be thick and gritty.

Add the milk.

Stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil, continuing to stir frequently.

Lower the heat a bit.  You want the mixture to maintain a gentle boil for another 5 minutes or so.  Keep stirring!

Once the mixture begins to thicken, it is ready to take off the heat.  It’s thick when it coats a spoon.

Add the vanilla.

Stir and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Once cooled a bit, add the frosting to a large mixing bowl.

Beat the frosting until thick and glossy.

Dip the bottom – yes, the bottom, we are trying to be authentic here – in the frosting.  Be generous.  VERY generous.  Hence the doubling of the frosting recipe!

Let the frosting firm up a bit and then these babies can be stacked… and eaten!

But don’t forget… let me them sit for a day.  If you can.

Homemade Berger Cookies
Printer Friendly Version

Cookies…

⅓ cup unsalted butter
½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup milk

Frosting…

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions…
Preheat the oven to 400℉.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Measure out flour and milk.  Set aside, along with the egg.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, salt, vanilla and baking powder.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add the egg.

Alternately add the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Be sure to not over beat.

Drop the dough by the tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  Flatten each mound of dough using either a greased measuring cup or wet fingers.

Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly brown on the bottom.  Remember, these should be cake-like so do not over cook.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting.

In a heavy large saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add the butter and place over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the butter is melted into the sugar/cocoa mixture.

Add the milk and stir well.  Bring the mixture to a lively boil, continuing to stir frequently.

Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil for another 5 minutes, stirring often.  When the mixture begins to thicken, remove it from the heat and add the vanilla.  Stir and set to the side.  Allow it to cool for about 20 minutes.

Once cool, pour the frosting into a large mixing bowl.  Beat until then and glossy.

Dip the bottom of the cookies into the frosting.  Be very generous.  Allow the frosting to harden before stacking the cookies.

Source: cookies from King Arthur’s Flour; frosting from The Global Gourmet, originally from Southern Cakes


Give the Gift of Fresh Baked Deliciousness

9 Dec

For the record, I am not neglecting you all.  Rather, holiday orders are keeping me busy… morning, noon, night… midnight too!

But I didn’t want y’all to have to cry another day, since I’m sure that’s what you do when I don’t post something new.

I’m always looking for fun, yet simple gifts for neighbors, co-workers and hostesses.  And, for me, presentation is 75% of the gift (I get it from my mom).

So, I love this gift idea.  I simply took pieces of cinnamon sugar biscotti and placed them in a mason jar (which are very inexpensive and can be found at any large box store).  I then wrapped baker’s twine around the top – you could use raffia, ribbon or even cord – and added a simple gift tag.  Clean and simple and such a great gift.

Of course, wine is alway a good option.  Oh, what about wine and some biscotti!

Order Up!

6 Dec

I know.  It’s December 6.  Plenty of time left before the big day.  Right?

Wrong.

I’m sorry.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  But the fact is, you need to start thinking about it.  Start planning for it.  Start ordering for it.

Truth is, I’m already elbow deep in sugar cookie dough and waste high in royal icing.  Okay, not literally, but the holiday orders are in full swing.

So I thought I would remind you to get those orders in as soon as possible.  And no later than Saturday, December 11.  Sounds early, I know. But time doesn’t stand still.  Not even in Kristina’s Confections holiday kitchen.

Need a refresher?

Here you go…

Happy Holidays!!!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies – Fresh Baked Friday!

3 Dec

Who says pumpkin season is over?  Surely not this girl!

So, truth is (1) I really do think pumpkin season runs all winter long and (2) I have a bunch of frozen pumpkin to use thanks to my lovely Thanksgiving centerpieces!

Then, I recently bought this…

Yes, I’m intrigued about making cupcake tops, but I’ve really wanted to make some extra-large, delicious cookies.

So let’s get started, ’cause these do not disappoint!

Start by whisking together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg.

Now cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar.

Don’t be shy here.  Take time.  You want to make sure it is light and fluffy.

Got it?  Great.  Now add the pumpkin puree.

As I mentioned, I pulled this puree out of the freezer.  Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve used frozen puree.  I mean, we were in a pumpkin shortage last year, people.  A surplus?  This is unchartered territory.

Anyway, after it thawed (I tried to be speedy by using the microwave on defrost, then I moved to the old fashion water bath… I know, a bit backwards), it  was a bit watery.  I just threw it in a sieve to strain off the extra water and went from there.

Despite looking a bit mealy, I stuck with it.  The end result was just fine.  (Phew!)

Okay, back to work.  Now add the egg.

What’s that?  No, no.  I promise, the egg was added here.  No, seriously.  Just look closer.  Closer.  Closer.  Yup!  There it is.

Add vanilla.  No, not the whole bottle.  Just a teaspoon.  Geez, tough crowd today.

Now that’s taken care off, add the dry ingredients.  And mix until just blended.

Doesn’t this look delicious?  I know.  But we’re not done just yet.

Add some butterscotch chips and fold them in gently.

Now get that handy dandy muffin top pan out and place two large cookie scoops in each opening.

Press the dough down.

Yes, I know what you are thinking… what if I don’t have a handy dandy muffin top pan?  Well, then you should probably go pick one up.  No?  Okay, you can use a regular ole’ cookie sheet.  Don’t do two scoops per cookie though.  That would just be crazy.  Instead, do one heaping scoop.  That should be just right.  We good now?

Good.  Pop the muffin top pan (or the cookie sheet… whichever one you want) into the oven.

Enjoy the smell of pumpkin and spices that envelopes your kitchen.  But don’t get so lost that you forget to listen for the timer.

Just sayin’.

Once baked to a golden brown, let them cool and you are ready to…

eat these delicious, cakey cookies.  Did I mention they are healthy too?  Well, oatmeal + pumpkin = healthy in my world!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
Printer Friendly Version

2 cups of flour
1 ½  cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1  egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions…

Preheat the oven to 350℉.  If using cookie sheets, line with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  If using the muffin top pan, you are all set 

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add the pumpkin puree.  Mix to combine.  Add the egg and mix well.  Add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Mix until the ingredients are just combined.  Fold in the butterscotch chips.

If using a muffin top pan, drop two large scoops into each opening.  Press the dough down into the opening to make it even.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies turn light brown.  Cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

If using a baking sheet, drop rounded tablespoons, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are light brown.  Cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: adapted from My Baking Addiction


Flavor Focus: Snickerdoodle

2 Dec

It’s no secret… I LOVE the cinnamon/sugar combination.  Obviously, this means I LOVE LOVE LOVE snickerdoodle cookies.  I will pick them over just about any other cookie, any day of the week.

When I came across the idea of a snickerdoodle cupcake, I was sold.

And these do not disappoint.  Honestly, I think these are my favorite cupcakes I’ve made to date.  Yes, I love most of them, but these pack the perfect punch.

The base is a light cake, laced with a hint of cinnamon.  The top is crunchy and crackly, full of the comforting cinnamon and sugar flavor, just like the cookie.  The whole thing is finished with a cinnamon buttercream.

Seriously.  Heaven.  In.  Cupcake.  Form.


A Bowl Full of Peppermint Twists!

1 Dec

Last, but definitely not least, for the 2010 Christmas collection are… peppermint twists!

These sweet and simple cookies, made to resemble the classic peppermint candy, would be a great addition to any holiday party.  Bringing together past and present, they are sure to be a hit.

Wouldn’t they make quite a statement in a large glass bowl?

Peppermint twists (packaged two per bag) are medium cookies and priced at $35 per dozen, $22.50 per half dozen.

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