World Food Championships, Thanksgiving Pie, and a Vanilla Giveaway!

A lot of exciting things have been going on for me lately.  I have been so busy developing secret recipes and doing some public speaking that I haven’t blogged for a while, and I do apologize, but I am about to share what I have been working on with you.  I was lucky enough to qualify for The World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama in the Dessert category.  The World Food Championships is the largest cooking competition around, and their mission is to bring Food Sport front and center in a multi-round, multi-category live cook off.  Each category narrows down to a top 10, then ultimately the #1 chef, and then the top competitors from each category compete to find an ultimate champion who wins $100,000.  It is intense!  Thank you so much to my sous chefs Grace and Kim, and to my sister-in-law Sherylyn for managing our time and doing Live Facebook videos for us.  You guys rocked, and I couldn’t have done it without you all.

The fabulous company, Rodelle Vanilla, was kind enough to sponsor me!  I can’t thank them enough for their support!  They sent me a bunch of amazing products, t shirts, and a beautiful display as well for the WFC.  I would love to share the wealth, so to speak, and give away some of these Rodelle products for you to try.  Please go to Rodelle Vanilla on Facebook or Rodelle Vanilla on Instagram and/or  Rodelle Vanilla on Twitter and Like or follow their pages for an entry into my drawing for free Rodelle goodies.  I will be giving away a combination of extracts, Baking Cocoa, vanilla beans, and/or vanilla bean paste to at least 3 lucky followers.  You will get 1 entry per page you “like” or follow.  Just let me know how many entries you qualified for in either the comments here, or on my Facebook page hereLauren Katz.  If you have never tried Rodelle, I urge you to order some of their products, because they really are top notch and make a big difference in your baked goods.  Best of luck to everyone!

Now, on to my desserts!  The recipe I am going to share first is near and dear to my heart.  It was my “signature” dessert in the competition, but it is a twist on something I make every Thanksgiving for my family.  Because my son is highly allergic to nuts, we needed an alternative to pecan pie.  A few of my friends had mentioned that they had recipes for a “Faux Pecan Pie” (we affectionately call it “Faux-can Pie” in my house) using pretzels instead of the pecans.  Well, the first time I made it, I was blown away.  I actually liked it more than pecan pie, which is saying a lot, because pecans are my favorite.  The recipe for that pie is at the bottom of this post, and is more beginner-friendly than my WFC tarts.  I also want to mention that I really enjoyed working with Challenge Butter for all of my WFC recipes, as they were a sponsor of the dessert category.  This is some great butter to work with, and will be my brand from now on!  It is high quality, super creamy, and free of additives.

img_0366
My turn in tray for the signature dessert round at WFC!

So for the competition, I decided to turn the Faux-can pie into individual tarts, substitute a shortbread crust, and “Southern it up” a bit with Bourbon, Chocolate, and a salted Bourbon caramel.  We added a lot of salt to balance the sweet, and a special whipped cream made with the addition of sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste to give a slight sour twang to the recipe.  You definitely don’t have to make all of the components.  Just the tarts are fabulous with some vanilla ice cream.  Just the caramel sauce is fabulous as an ice cream topping as well.  The whipped cream is great on pretty much anything from pumpkin pie to apple cake.  Really this is a recipe with a lot of components, but none of the pieces are difficult to make.

So, here is the recipe for approximately 7-8 tartlets.  My sous chef, Grace, recommends making them in disposable muffin tins, so that you can pop them out afterwards easily.  We used egg custard tart tins for the competition which are less than a dollar each at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I will also include the original pie recipe below, so that you can make this for Thanksgiving with either a homemade pie crust or a store bought crust!

 

Black Bottom Bourbon Pretzel Shortbread Tarts with Salted Caramel and Sour Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

makes 6-8 muffin sized individual tarts

These individual tarts are sweet, salty, creamy with just a hint of sour, and perfectly balanced with a rich Bourbon and brown sugar filling. A buttery shortbread crust envelops a hint of chocolate as well as a crunchy pretzel topping that adds the perfect salty note. This all sits atop a homemade Bourbon caramel sauce and is studded with a brown sugar sour cream and vanilla bean whipped cream.

Ingredients
For the shortbread crust:
1/2 cup unsalted Challenge butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bakers joy non-stick spray

Tart Filling:
2 eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar (granulated)
6 tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, melted
1/3 cup corn syrup (light)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate chips (6-8 per tart)

Tart Pretzel topping:
1 1/2 cups thin twist pretzels, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Brown sugar sour cream vanilla bean whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pack whipped cream stabilizer (optional, but used for potential competition heat)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla bean paste or Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Salted Bourbon caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream (go with 1/2 cup cream if you want this to be a liquid caramel sauce and have time for it to cool completely)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon Rodelle pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
1/2 cup dark Chocolate melts (ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tart tins with Baker’s Joy non-stick spray, if desired.
For the crust: Place all ingredients in a stand mixer or a large food processor and pulse or mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove from processor and pat into tart tins, trying to shape a thin layer up the sides of the tin. Place tins on silicone-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 1 minute and press with pastry tamper or back of a spoon to reform tart shells, as they will puff and settle slightly. They will only be partially baked at this point. Place 6-8 chocolate chips in the bottom of each tart. Set tart shells aside until ready to fill.

While tarts shells are baking, make filling. Combine all filling ingredients (except for chocolate chips) in large bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour into tart shells, leaving a slight bit of room at the top of each tart for pretzel topping.
In a small bowl, combine pretzel topping ingredients, tossing well to coat. Place a small amount of topping on each tart. Bake for 24-26 minutes (still at 350 degrees) or until just set in center and golden brown at edges. Let cool. Place in freezer to cool faster, if necessary.

Make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until sugar begins to bubble and caramelize. Do not stir caramel while it bubbles. You can swirl the pan gently, if necessary. Remove from heat just when sugar turns dark amber. Add butter immediately, whisking constantly. Add cream, whisk well. Add Bourbon, salt, and vanilla. Pour into bowl and chill. Pour into piping bag, if desired.

Make the sour cream whipped cream: In a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, whip cream and stabilizer until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste. Whip sour cream mixture in with whipped cream. Place mixture in a large star tipped piping bag. Chill until ready to use.

To make garnish: melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals. Pour melted chocolate into piping bag with writing tip. Snip tip and pipe chocolate in daisy shapes onto wax paper. Place in fridge to harden.

To plate: drizzle caramel decoratively on plate. Place 1 tart on end of drizzle, top center of tart with more caramel, 1 large dollop of cream on top, and dots of whipped cream on the drizzle as well. Garnish with the chocolate daisy and serve.

Now, if that recipe is a bit daunting, this one is so simple, anyone can’t make it:

Lauren’s Thanksgiving Faux Pecan Pie

1 prepared deep dish pie crust or homemade dough for single deep dish pie crust, unbaked

For the Filling:
4 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons Rodelle pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1/3 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet Chocolate chips

For the Pretzel topping:
1-1/2 cups crushed thin twist or wheel shaped pretzels (I like to still have bigger bits of pretzels in there!)
3 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use the convection setting on my oven with great results.
Press pie crust into deep dish pie dish (I love Pyrex for the see-through and sturdy aspect of it). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Whisk well until smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips onto the unbaked pie crust and evenly arrange across the bottom. Pour pie filling over top until about 1/4 inch from the top of the crust.
In a small bowl or bag, combine the Pretzel topping ingredients and toss them together well to coat. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie filling evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, covering with foil if top browns faster than the bottom. Pie is done when crust is golden brown and center is set but still has some give to it when pressed.
Let cool completely. Can be done up to 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

img_0061

Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out Rodelle Vanilla and “Like” or follow to enter my product giveaway!

30 Second Chunky Monkey Cake

Sometimes it is 9pm, the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, and one suddenly feels the intense urge to consume a decadent ooey-gooey PB and Banana and chocolate and marshmallow…cake.  Stat.  Okay, so maybe this is not true for everyone, but I am here to say that it happened to me last night.  I borrowed the base recipe from this lovely blogger….http://backtoherroots.com/2011/07/09/sweet-saturday-one-minute-peanut-butter-cake/

But being me, I embellished a bit.  You’re welcome.  Cake in 30 seconds!

First, spray 2 ramekins, Pyrex dishes, or mugs with nonstick spray.  Generously.image

Then, mix together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of soy nut butter (or peanut, or almond, or whatever-you-want butter)

image

Then, cut up about 1/4 of a banana.  Note that I am too lazy to use a cutting board, so instead used the banana peel as a cutting board.  I am not making this up….I really did.

image

Add the heaping tablespoon flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, pinch salt, bananas, and any type of chip you want (chocolate, butterscotch, or PB are recommended.  Highly.)

Stir it up until everything is well mixed.

image

Divide between the two prepared ramekins.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Mine looked like they were just about to overflow, but then miraculously didn’t.  I am thinking about naming a holiday in honor of said miracle (It is what my people do).

image

Now, you have options.  You could make a simple glaze, icing, stick a marshmallow on top and torch it, or just go with a healthy dollop of marshmallow fluff.  Whatever floats your boat…  Just run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, turn it upside down onto your plate.  Top with your favorite thing and enjoy warm.

image

 

30 Second Chunky Monkey Cake

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 tablespoons Wowbutter (or peanut, almond, or any other faux or real nut butter!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (about 1-1/2 tablespoons) flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 banana, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (substitute butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips)
  • 2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff (optional)

Coat bottom and sides of two (individual serving) ramekins or glass bowls with non-stick spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and soy or nut butter until well combined.  Whisk in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Fold in chopped banana and chips.  Divide evenly amongst ramekins.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Cake might look slightly underdone, but resist the urge to cook longer.  There will be some carryover cooking time, and it will become dry if heated longer.  Run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto serving plate.  Top with marshmallow fluff, and enjoy warm with a cup of decaf before bed.

 

 

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies (for Passover and beyond)

I have a strict rule about Passover desserts:  One should never try to make cakes or cookies with matzo meal or any of it’s derivatives.  They always taste like matzo and the bondage of my people, rather than dessert.  I am only partly kidding, people, so please don’t try to convince me that you made a delicious Passover cake with matzo cake meal.  You didn’t.  So, my approach to Passover baking is to instead choose desserts that are flourless by nature, like pavlovas, flourless chocolate torte, and macarons/macaroons.  These Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies are a spicy variation on the popular gluten-free favorite that can be found at Whole Foods.  The spices were inspired by another old favorite of mine the “Mayan Mystery Cookie,”  which is a well-known recipe that has been circulating for a while.  My version is a bit more interesting with warm spices and lots of ginger.  Of course, if you like the original or are serving kids, feel free to omit all the spices and the crystallized ginger.  These cookies are made in one bowl, quick, easy, gluten-free, can be dairy free, Parve, nut-free, and very low in fat.  Enjoy!

First you want to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl of your mixer (you can definitely use an electric hand mixer).  Add your dry spices at this point, if using.  Give it a mix on low, just to combine.  Then, just add your egg whites and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed for ablout a minute.  Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger by hand, if using.

This is the crystallized ginger that I minced.  It is optional, and only suggested if you are a ginger lover or hosting adults only.  Kids tend to think it is too spicy.  I like to cut it with kitchen shears.image

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until set and shiny on top and still a bit soft in the center.

Let cool completely and peel off of parchment.  Happy baking and Happy Pesach!

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies

Parve, perfect for Passover, gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free diets, and for all year round.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (find the Kosher for Passover variety)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately 3 large eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (parve and K for P variety)
2 tablespoons crystallized or candied ginger, finely minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Mix on low to combine.
Add in egg whites and vanilla, mixing well for 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger (if using). Spoon by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are set and shiny. Let cool for 10 minutes on parchment. Peel cookies off parchment and serve or store in airtight container.

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones with Vanilla Bean Glaze

I make quite a few variations of these scones, and they are always wildly popular. My kids love these Mini Scones with Chocolate Chips and tempting speckled Vanilla Bean Glaze icing. They are perfect for a grab and go breakfast or a sweet after school snack. They freeze beautifully after baking, and make a great housewarming gift. They are pretty much perfection in scone form. This recipe is adapted from Kittencal’s Blueberry Sour Cream Scones on Food.com

First, combine your sugar and other dry ingredients in a large food processor. Pulse a few times to combine evenly.  Cube or slice your cold butter to make it easier to process.  Pulse 10-15 times until pea sized bits of butter remain in the dry mixture.

Next combine the sour cream (or yogurt), egg, vanilla, and baking powder in a measuring cup.  Whisk well to combine.  Pour into processor and pulse until a shaggy dough forms.  Remove to clean surface and knead briefly, just until dough comes together.

Knead in chocolate chips (mini-chips would have been fabulous, but I was out of them and snowed in….).

Next, roll each section into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Cut each disk in 4, then cut each section in half again so that you have 8 wedges per disk.  Place 1/2 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet.  You can be OCD like me and place them in a back and forth pattern, or you can be normal.  That is your call.

Bake scones at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until edges turn slightly golden brown.  Do not over-bake.  We do not want dry scones!  Let cool for  few minutes before dipping in glaze.

To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, milk or half and half, vanilla, vanilla bean specks, a pat of melted butter, and a pinch of salt.  Dip the top of each scone in glaze and let set on wire rack until dry to the touch.  Serve or freeze for later, as desired.

Enjoy with tea, coffee, or milk.  Freeze before glazing in large freezer bags for up to 2 months.  Try variations like swapping out the chocolate for blueberries, adding orange zest, swapping cranberries and lemon zest for the chips, and more…This is a very adaptable recipe.

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Makes 32 mini scones or 16 larger scones

Dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (or you can just use another cup of AP flour)

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced

6 ounces sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular, or any other mix in you would like-nuts, chips, dried fruit, blueberries, etc…)

for the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk or half and half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (optional)

1/2 tablespoon butter, melted (in microwave is fine!)

Small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add cold butter chunks to processor, pulsing a few times to combine until butter is pea sized.

In a measuring cup, whisk to combine sour cream (or yogurt), egg, vanilla, and baking soda.  Pour into processor.  Pulse until a shaggy dough forms.  Dump dough out onto a clean surface and knead a few times, just until dough comes together.  Knead in chocolate chips quickly and gently.  Dived dough into 4 for mini scones, 2 for larger scones.  Take each section and form a ball.  Flatten balls into 1 inch high discs.  Cut each disc into 8 wedges, like you would cut a pizza.  Place scones onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until edges just start to brown.  Center will still be a tad soft, but will set when cool.  Cool for 3-5 minutes on wire rack before glazing.

To make the glaze icing, whisk together powdered sugar, milk or cream, vanilla extract, Vanill bean caviar, melted butter, and salt.  Dip top of each scone in glaze or drizzle on top of slightly warm scones.  Set on wire rack to dry.  Serve or store covered.  Scones may be frozen before glazing in zip top freezer bags for up to 2 months.

 

 

 

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

I realize that I might seem a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde with this blog- One week decadent desserts, the next healthy treats, with almost no in between. That is actually pretty much the way I roll with my diet in real life, too. I love to eat for absolute pleasure and look for rich, gooey sinful treats that are no good if made “low fat” or “low sugar” or my favorite… “low carb.” I eat that way until it catches up with me, then it is time to reign it in and eat a healthier, whole food type diet. Recently, I decided that this oppositional yo-yo approach is not great for me, mentally or physically. So, I am going to work on balance this year, having the occasional decadent treat, but mostly opting for better choices for my health. Enter the “Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookie.”

I had been seeing a similar recipe pop up on Facebook from time to time. That other recipe pretty much consists of bananas, applesauce, almond milk (a no-no in this nut free home), oats, raisins, and a couple of other ingredients. I decided that the recipe looked flawed to me (too much liquid), and I could recreate it in a yummier (albeit slightly less perfect nutritionally) way. I cut a lot of the liquid, added some soy nut butter (you could use almond or peanut butter), and added a small but satisfying amount of brown sugar and mini-chocolate chips. Voila! A healthy cookie that would make the perfect pre-workout energy/carb boost without breaking the caloric bank. There is no butter in there, and only a minimal amount of brown sugar for flavor. They have a nice dense, chewy texture and are best enjoyed warm. You could reheat them in the toaster oven for a minute before serving.

Overripe bananas
I always have overripe bananas laying around.

Begin with 3 very ripe (brown) bananas. Mash those babies up with one egg, a teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of soy nut butter (or almond or peanut butter!). Stir in 2 cups of old fashioned or rolled oats and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. The dough will be wet, but will firm up during baking. Scoop out cookies and spread them out slightly on the parchment, leaving a little bit of space between cookies. They won’t spread much. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 350 degrees on parchment lined baking sheets. Makes 12 large cookies (about 100 calories each) or 24 smaller cookies (50 calories each). The larger ones are great as a breakfast cookie. Serve warm or reheated.

Allergy friendly versions:

You could definitely make these dairy-free by using chocolate chips that contain no dairy ingredients.  You could leave out the egg, and I think they would still work, though I have not tested them.  At that point, they would be vegan.  If you used gluten-free oats, they would (obviously) be gluten free as well.  If you are not eating added sugar, feel free to leave out the brown sugar and/or chocolate chips.

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy cookies, warm and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy, sun, almond, or peanut butter
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mash bananas in large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, vanilla, brown sugar, and "nut" butter.
  4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon 12 large cookies or 24 smaller cookies onto parchment paper, spreading batter out slightly until 1/4 inch thick. Batter will be wet, but will firm upon baking.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden around edges.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes and serve warm.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
https://cloudsofcream.com/712-2/

New York Crumb Cake

You know how pregnant women crave very specific, seemingly random things?  Well, I am not pregnant and haven’t been for a while, yet sometimes I get a craving so strong that I will not rest until I have that exact thing.  Nothing else will do.  It is not good enough to just have a mediocre version- It has to be the very best iteration of my dream food.  Yesterday, in the midst of the biggest blizzard the East Coast has seen in 20 years, I was suddenly overcome with an intense urge to have the ultimate New York Crumb Cake.

You know, the one that is half moist yellow cake, half giant buttery brown sugar and cinnamon crumbs lightly dusted with powdered sugar. I even dreamed about it.

So, the next morning, I set about looking for a good recipe.  Some recipes called for cake flour and buttermilk, but I am both out of those and snowed in.  Some recipes made gigantic 9×13 inch cakes, but let’s be real, I am going to eat the whole thing, so an 8 inch is plenty.  I put together a combo of a few different recipes, scaled it down to 8 inches square, and am writing it up just for you all to make while you are snowed in.  Also, so I can justify eating a whole cake.  Enjoy!

Virginia Snowmaggedon 2016
The view out back this morning

First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  I use the convection setting on my oven, though conventional is fine. Spray an 8 inch square cake pan with non-stick spray.

Now, cream your butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric hand or stand mixer.  In a measuring cup, measure out milk, adding egg and egg yolk, vanilla and additional extract (if using).  Whisk together lightly.  Add to creamed butter mixture and beat on medium for a minute.  It will have some lumps, but that is okay.  Add flour salt and baking powder.  Mix until well blended for about 30 seconds on medium speed.  Spread in prepared pan.

In a separate bowl, make crumb topping by combining all dry ingredients, pouring in melted butter, and mixing well until it feels like damp sand.  Pack it down a bit, break into large crumbs, and sprinkle evenly over cake batter.  You want big crumbs on top for the most part, with some smaller crumbs underneath.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Mine took 42 minutes.  Let cool completely and dust with a bit of powdered sugar.  Enjoy with coffee on a snowy day!

Final New York Crumb Cake 2

New York Crumb Cake

Ingredients

    For the cake batter:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Lor-Ann Princess Emulsion, or 1/4 teaspoon lemon or almond extract, or 1 teaspoon lemon juice (all optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    For the crumb topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-3 teaspoons powdered sugar, for dusting on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8inch square cake pan.
    For batter,
  1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
  2. Pour milk, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and additional extract or lemon juice (if using) in a measuring cup, whisking lightly to combine.
  3. Add liquid to butter mixture and mix until combined but slightly lumpy.
  4. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix on medium speed until smooth, thick batter forms.
  5. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
    For crumb topping,
  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Pour melted butter over top, and mix well with a fork.
  3. Press down firmly to pack mixture.
  4. Scoop out some of mixture with hands, squeeze into large clumps, and break into smaller crumbs.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over cake batter in a thick layer.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.
  8. Cut into large squares and serve with coffee.
  9. Makes 9-12 servings.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
https://cloudsofcream.com/new-york-crumb-cake/

Easiest Cut Out Sugar Cookie

I have tried many “Roll Out” Sugar Cookie recipes for use with cookie cutters, and I am always surprised that many do not hold their shape or taste very good.  This is my go-to recipe, and I actually found the basic recipe on the tag of a cookie cutter.  Of course, being the weirdo I am that can’t just follow a recipe as written, I have changed it a tad.  Plus, I have about a million ways to make them really special….Hello Tangerine-Chai Sugar Cookies from Cookie Week on The Great Holiday Baking Show!  They really are my favorite thing to make from the show, and it all started with the easiest cut out Sugar Cookie recipe.  They will hold a cookie cutter shape perfectly, are not too sweet and can stand up to some icing, and the dough is easy to roll and handle.

Basic Roll Out Sugar Cookies
Tangerine and Chai Sugar Cookies, all gussied up for Valentine’s Day

Lauren’s Sugar Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon additional extract, any flavor-almond, lemon, orange, etc… (optional) and/or 1 tablespoon citrus zest or fresh herbs, finely grated or chopped (I love tangerine zest!)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 325 degrees convection.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy (1-2 minutes).  Add egg and vanilla to mixer, beating on medium speed until just incorporated.  At this point, if you are using any citrus zest, herbs or additional extracts, add them now and mix for a few seconds.

For the dry ingredients, there are two options:

For basic dough, just add the flour and salt, mixing until the dough just comes together.

*Or for a dry mix in, such as **Chai tea, Earl Grey tea, freeze dried fruit (I love this with freeze dried strawberries!), or dried herbs and spices, run the extra ingredient and the flour and salt in the food processor for a couple of minutes until very finely broken down.  I do this step so that you don’t get bits of tea in your teeth.  Then, add the blended dry mixture to the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.

Chill dough for at least 2 hours.  You can chill the dough faster in the freezer, if desired.  Also, this step can be done up to 3 days in advance of baking.  Take dough out of the refrigerator, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Dust counter and dough liberally with flour, roll to just under 1/4 inch, and cut into desired shapes.  Bake for 9-12 minutes or until edges just barely get a hint of color.  Remove to cool on wire rack.  Decorate with glaze, royal icing, or whatever your heart desires!

many different cookies

**To add tea, cut open 3 tea bags and blend in the food processor with the flour.

To add freeze dried fruit, add 1 cup to food processor, pulse, then add flour and blend for a minute until combined.

Flavor combinations I like:

  1. Orange zest and fresh rosemary
  2. Lemon zest and fresh thyme (leaves only, no stems)
  3. Grapefruit zest and Earl Grey tea
  4. Lemon zest and British Breakfast tea
  5. Tangerine zest and Chai tea
  6. Freeze dried strawberries and vanilla bean seeds
  7. Fresh basil and freeze dried strawberries
  8. espresso powder and vanilla bean
  9. mint extract or fresh mint and cacao nibs
  10. Orange zest and ground cloves
  11. Fresh ginger and lime zest
  12. Freeze dried blueberries and lavender (go light on the lavender!)

The sky is the limit.  Let me know if you try any good combinations.  The trick is not to add any ingredients that are soggy or inherently waterlogged.

 

Perfect Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie is simple and unassuming, but I swear it calls to me like no other.  So much so, that I have inadvertently eaten a whole batch by myself without surfacing for air.  My family is not known for their baking, or even cooking, for that matter.  They are kind of famous for their eating skills, but that is another story.  Anyway, the only particularly notable recipe that I remember from childhood would be my Aunt Ruth’s Crispy Oatmeal Cookies.  They are highly addictive, perfectly crisp, lacy yet substantial, and delicately flavored with brown sugar, nutty whole oats, salt and vanilla.  Just try to resist them.

Aunt Ruth, who is not actually my blood relative (more of a relative by marriage through another relative), was a sweet, kind, adorable lady that you couldn’t help but love.  Her charming barely-there Southern accent and warm, perfect manners made her a lovely host and gave her cookies something extra that nobody since has been able to replicate….even with her exact same recipe.  My Aunt Adele, who has even made them side by side with Aunt Ruth, says that she can’t get them to taste just right.  So, I set about testing this recipe with little tweaks in the method to see if I could get close to the original.  They came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  Maybe, just a hair different than Aunt Ruth’s cookies, but definitely worthy of making on a leisurely day of baking.

Crispy Oatmeal Cookie

Aunt Ruth’s Crispy Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats

Makes 4 dozen cookies

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter (or margarine for pareve cookies) and sugars.  Aunt Ruth specified to do this whole method by hand, but I used the kitchen aid on low speed.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Again, do this by hand or on very low speed with mixer.
Fold in oatmeal by hand. Refrigerate dough for 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll into small balls (a rounded teaspoon) and flatten until very thin (the thinner the better) onto greased cookie sheet.  You can flatten with a fork or your hand, but try to get a very thin, even layer.

Flatten well! This is the key to a crispy cookie all the way through.
Flatten well for a crisp cookie.

Bake 9-12 minutes or until medium brown and crisp at edges.  Remove from oven and let sit on pan for 1-2 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Can be stored in airtight container for a few days, if they last that long.  Enjoy!

imageimage image