My hope is to inspire you to get in the kitchen and have an adventure. Make something you have never tried before.  Push yourself to make something you have always been intimidated to make but most importantly to have fun and make memories!


Cookies

Homemade Basics: Graham Crackers

First, I have some big news!  I am designing my very own webpage!  I am super excited about this new adventure.  I know just a little about web design and when I say a little I mean the size of a gnat!  I am learning more and more as I go-which is pretty exciting.  I am hoping to have my new website up and running in February.  There is still a lot to be done but as the days go by and my knowledge grows it gets closer to completion!
Now on to these graham crackers!  I am not sure if you’ve noticed but I like to make as many things as possible from scratch.  I am starting a series titled “Homemade Basics” to categorize all the great things you can make as home instead of buying fro  the store.  I am very excited to share with you some of my favorite homemade basics over the next few weeks.  I have already shared some really easy and great homemade recipes: Homemade Flour Tortillas, Homemade Pie Crust, and My Favorite Pizza Dough just to name a few.  These graham crackers are so much better than store bought and so much cheaper!  I hope you enjoy these as much as we do.

Ingredients

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. Baking Soda
7 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Cut into cubes and frozen for at least 30 minutes
1/3 cup honey
5 tbsp. Milk
2 tbsp. Vanilla extract
Cinnamon sugar topping, optional
Directions
Combine the flours, brown sugar and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Add the butter and pulse on and off on low speed until the mix is the texture of course meal.  In a small bowl whisk together the milk, honey and vanilla.  Add the liquid to the dry mixture in the food processor and pulse on and off until a dough forms.  The dough will be very soft and sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a rectangle shape.  Refrigerate the dough for up to 2 hours preferably overnight.  
To make the crackers:
Divide the dough in half and place one half back in the refrigerator.  Lightly flour your work surface.  Roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.  You can use a pastry cutter, pizza cutter or cookie cutter to cut the dough into your desired shape.  I used a square cookie cutter with a fluted edge.  Place the crackers on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Chill in the refrigerator for 35-45 minutes or in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  You can pierce the cookies with a skewer.  I have done this with other batches but did not do this for the pictured crackers.  If desired, sprinkle the crackers with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 15-20 minutes turning the pan 1/2 way through.  Let crackers cool for 4 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store crackers in a airtight container.
Recipe Source:

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Cookie Swaps are in full swing right now!  I absolutely LOVE this time of year!  I signed-up for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap for next year!  When I saw this recipe in the December 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I knew I had to make them!  I have made shortbread only one other time and they did not turn out so good.  I was a little intimidated at first, luckily their website had a video tutorial I watched and that made me 100% more confident that I could make these and that they would be great! These cute little cookies are full of flavor and so festive!  I hope you try them soon!

Ingredients

1/2 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
12 oz. white chocolate baking squares, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. shortening
Red Sanding sugar to decorate (optional)
 
Directions
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread the chopped cherries onto a paper towel to drain.
 
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Stir in the drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate.  Stir in the almond extract.  Turn the mixture out onto a working surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball.
Roll a tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Please each ball 2 inches apart.  Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in granulated sugar, flatten the balls into 1 1/2 inch rounds.
Bake for 10-12 minutes rotating the cookie sheet halfway through.  Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a double-boiler add remaining white chocolate and shortening. Stirring occasionally.  Heat over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.
Dip 1/2 of each cookie into the chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off.  If desired, roll the edge of the cookie in the red sanding sugar.  Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. 
 
To store the cookies:
Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container.  Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
 
Recipe Source:
 

Sprinkle Cookies

 
 
Sprinkles!!  Need I say more!  These cookies are amazing!  The dough is a little different than my normal sugar cookie dough, but it is still just as good!  I usually use all powder sugar in my normal roll-out sugar cookie recipe (which I will post soon!) but this recipe calls for granulated sugar, the end result is just as delicious!  The sprinkles make this cookie amazing!  It adds just enough without being too much!  These cookies are perfect for the Holidays!
 

Ingredients

  • For the cookies:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (you could use vanilla instead but make sure it’s clear)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

 
 
 

December has begun and what better way to start off this Holiday Month than with these Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.  Red velvet is one of my favorite cake flavors!  These days you can make just about anything red velvet and these whoopie pies are no exception.  I have made whoopie pies in the past but I must say these are by far my favorite.  They are perfect for your next cookie swap!  I promise they will amaze every time!

Ingredients

For the whoopie pies:
3 cups All-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (2 oz.) bottle of red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
 
For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract, preferably clear so your filling will remain white.

Directions
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

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