Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges

Last year, I took part in the LA Food Bloggers Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry!  I met so many wonderful bloggers and had a great time.  Plus, I had BLD‘s life-changing Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.  So really, it was a win-win day!

This year, my wonderful husband spotted a newspaper article asking for volunteer bakers for a No Kid Hungry Bake Sale closer to home!  The Redlands Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry sponsored by a Team called the IE Cookie Monsters.  It had to be fate!  You know how I feel about cookies!!

After sending an Email to Team IE Cookie Monsters, I started planning what I wanted to bake. Of course, I had to make brownies. That seems to be a tradition now.  I knew I wanted to do something different, but what?   After a bit of recipe searching, I settled on these easy and delicious Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges.  They are thick, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, have with a cup of tea on a rainy day, cookies.
Scored Shortbread Wedges

I’m planning on making these again for Mothers Day.  That is, if I can wait that long for another batch.

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar (or regular sugar, with one tsp vanilla bean paste), plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

2 cups Flour

1 tsp salt

Directions:

In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it turns a pale yellow.  On a sheet of parchment paper, sift sugars together using a fine mesh sieve. Pick up the parchment paper and use it to gently add sugar mix to the butter. Continue to beat until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).  If you are using regular sugar, add the vanilla paste after you’ve creamed the sugar and butter together.

Sift flour and salt together over the same sheet of parchment paper.  Add to butter/sugar mix, mix until just incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

After dough has chilled, press gently in an 8″ round cake pan.  No need to grease the pan, there is plenty of butter in the dough!  Score the dough into wedges, so it will be easier to cut when it’s done baking.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top of the shortbread has barely browned.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cut the shortbread along the score marks, forming eight large wedges.  Dust lightly with 1 tsp granulated sugar.

Share these with a friend and a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Vanilla Shortbread Wedges

NOTE:  These make very thick cookies.  You can split the dough in half and use two cake pans.  Shorten your cooking time to 35-40 minutes (watch carefully).  You can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters.  If you use cookie cutters, place the dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  Baking cold cookies will help them maintain their shape.

ENJOY!!

Advertisements

Next weeks bowling snacks!

Last night most of the bowling teams in our league (including half of ours!) went to a local amusement park for a Halloween Fright Fest.  Mr. Kitchen and I didn’t go.  I didn’t want to bake for just the two of us, so we were sans bowling snacks for the very first time.  I think my scores are worse without snacks.  I didn’t break 100 once.  Tonight, I’ve been searching the web for next weeks Bowling Snack inspiration. Chocolate and peanut butter always make things better right?  Why should bowling scores be any different!  There are some fantastic food blogs out there, filled with wonderful recipes!  I now have a list of things I want to make (and several different things I’d like to change about this blog.  More on the blog later!) Next week, I’m breaking out Kevin & Amanda’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie & Oreo Fudge Brownie Bars.  The link will take you to the delicious photos and the recipe!  If you can wait a week, I’ll be posting my version.  I can hardly wait!

Caramel Apple Pie Tartlets & Rolls – A success and a failure!

We went bowling last night and I broke 100 – twice!  My scores were 102, 87 and 104!  I’m either improving or I got lucky.  I’m leaning toward being lucky.  We’ll see what happens next week. 🙂

Snacks for this week were both a success and a failure. I know, I know, who wants to read a food blog about food failures?  Well, this is an Imperfect Kitchen. If everything came out perfectly the very first time, I’d be famous.  We are learning together.  The success was I learned to make tartlet shells out of cookie dough. Very exciting!  The filling possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to experiment!  The failure?  The cookies didn’t come out very well.  I burned the caramel for the filling (scandalous!).  It’s amazing how things can go from fine to terrible in a matter of seconds.  Lesson learned!  I’m also not sure they should be called “cookies”… they were tartlets.  The teenager said they were great.  Keep in mind, he’s 17 and will eat just about anything!  While I love him, his opinion is biased.  I wasn’t happy with the overall taste of the first batch, much of that was because of the caramel. The second batch, appropriately named “I’m really tired! I just want to finish these and go to sleep.  How can I make them faster?” came out better!

This is the original batch and the fun tartlet technique!  First, lots of frozen butter!

Add in some flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, milk and vanilla and you have a great cookie base.  Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until it forms a ball.  On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a log and cut it in half.  Put one half in the refrigerator so it stays cool.  Cut the other half into twelve even pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Place each ball into the cup of a muffin pan.

Press down on the dough until it forms a little cup.  The original recipe said to use a “dough tamper” and a mini muffin tin. I don’t have either of those. I used a regular muffin pan and the bottom of a shot glass to create the cups.

Cute, right?  Are you envisioning the millions of ways you could fill these?  If you use a mini-muffin tin, the cups will come all the way up the sides.  As you can see,  mine didn’t come all the way to the top.

Fill the cups with the apple filling.  About a teaspoon and a half of filling worked well on these.  It’s the same basic recipe as the filling for the apple crepes a few weeks ago.  Diced apples, brown sugar, lots of seasoning and butter.  Cook the apples until they are soft.  Allow to cool, then fill.

So far, so good!

Now bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden and bubbly!  While they are baking, make the caramel sauce.  Here is where my downfall happened!  The sugar was happily boiling away, just starting to change color.  I turned away to quickly clean off my counter and when I turned back, the caramel was smoking a little.  I pulled it off the heat to let it cool before adding the butter etc.  The color wasn’t bad and it didn’t smell burned so I thought it was ok. I finished the caramel sauce, pulled the tarts from the oven and then proceeded to fill the tarts with the sauce.  Mistake number two, I didn’t taste the caramel before filling the tarts.  If I had, disaster could have been avoided.  Caramel has a very bitter taste when it’s burned.

At least, they look gorgeous!  I wish they tasted that way too.  By this time, I was tired.  I wanted to go to sleep.  I could have left the second half of the dough in the fridge, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish making the cookie / tartlets before bowling.  So, I got creative.  Instead of making tartlet shells, I rolled the dough flat, put the rest of the apple filling inside – just like you would make cinnamon rolls – rolled it up, sliced it into pieces and baked them in the muffin tin.

Amazing!  Two very different types of cookies with the same recipe.  These were drizzled with good caramel and they were delicious.

The recipe for the cookie base is light and flaky with a nice hint of cinnamon and brown sugar.  I will use it for other bases too!

APPLE PIE COOKIES

For the cookie base:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter, diced and kept very cold
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup milk
For the apple filling:
2 Granny Smith, or other firm apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBLS butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. all spice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 TBLS water
1 TBL cornstarch
For the Caramel Sauce:
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 TBLS butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat the oven to 350.
Begin by preparing the apple pie filling.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine apples, sugar, butter and spices.
Once the butter melts and the apples begin to soften, combine the water and cornstarch and add to the apple mixture.  Stir until the mixture thickens.  Allow to cool while you prepare the cookie base.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla nd milk.  Pulse until the mixture forms a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a log and divide into 32 even pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Place a ball of dough in the cup of a mini-muffin pan.  Using a dough tamper or your fingers, press down until the dough reaches the top of the cup.
Fill the cups with a rounded teaspoon of the apple filling.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
While the cookies cool, prepare the caramel.
In a medium pot with tall sides, add the sugar in an even layer.  Pour in the water and gently stir to combine.  Using a pastrty brush and some water, wash the sides of the pot to make sure no sugar crystals cling to the sides.
Cook the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pot occasionally, but do not stir, until it is a dark amber color.  Add the butter and whisk to combine.  Turn off the heat and add the cream slowly, whisking constantly until the caramel is well combined.
 Add the vanilla and stir.
Heat the mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling cook for one minute.  Cool for thirty minutes.
Once the caramel is cool, pour about 1/2 tsp over the top of each cookie.  Allow the caramel to set for two hours before serving.  Makes 32 cookies

APPLE PIE CINNAMON ROLLS
Follow the above directions for making the apple filling, cookie crust and caramel.
Cut the dough in half.  Refriderate one half as you work with the other.  Roll the dough into a large rectangle.  Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough.  Starting on the short side, gently roll the dough into a log, keeping the apple mixture inside.  Put the rolled dough in the freezer as you prepare the second half of the dough.  It should only be in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  You just want the dough to chill so it holds together better when you slice it.
Take the rolled dough from the freezer and slice it into 12 rounds.  Place each round, cut side up, in a regular muffin tin.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from tin and allow to cool.
Drizzle caramel over the top and enjoy!  Makes 24 rolls.

Apple-filled crepes with caramel sauce!

It’s Saturday.  I just got home from work and I am already excited about dessert tonight!  Thankfully dinner is made (see yesterdays post about Pasta Salad) so I can focus on the sweetest part of the day, apple filled crepes with homemade caramel sauce!  You may recall, this was on the menu from the class with Chef Cushman last week.  Why take a cooking class, if you never use the recipes at home, right?  🙂 The crêpe recipe was posted earlier this week so I won’t give it to you again.  This is how we filled those delicious crepes that night.  It’s how I am going to fill them tonight too!

First, make a stack of basic crepes.  Trust me.  Go make the crepes and come back for the rest of the recipe!  It’s ok.  I’ll wait.

Are you back?  Did you have fun?  Now let’s get filling!

Apple Filling

6 large granny smith apples

4 TBLS butter

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of salt

Directions

1. Peel, core and dice the apples.

2.  Melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté apples for 3 minutes.

3.  Add sugar and cover, reduce heat to med-low and cook about 3 minutes.  Uncover, continue to cook until softened about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  Add vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and set aside to cool.

 

 

 

 

Now it’s time for caramel sauce!  I’m so excited!!

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

3 TBLS butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook stirring over high heat until the sugar dissolves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boil without stirring, occasionally brushing the sides down with a wet pastry brush until it begins to turn caramel colored, about 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove from the heat, slowly add the cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir in the butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the heat and allow the caramel to heat through.

 

 

 

 

This caramel BY FAR exceeds anything I have ever tried!  It’s thick, buttery and has such a velvet texture, it’s hard not to eat the whole pan with a spoon.  I plan on using it on the crepes, then later this week over ice-cream, maybe stir a little into my coffee and who knows what else!  I got distracted, sorry!  Please keep reading. We have to put it all together!

Assembling the crepes:

Heat the oven to 350.  Butter a large gratin dish.

Arrange crepes on a work surface.  Place a spoonful of the apple mixture on one corner of the crêpe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold each crêpe in half and then in half again to make a triangle.  Arrange them in a dish overlapping slightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drizzle half of the caramel sauce over the crepes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream, dust with powdered sugar or  a scoop of ice-cream!

 

DELICIOUS!!!!

The remaining sauce can be refrigerated up to 7 days.  Just reheat and you are good to go!  Have a sweet weekend everyone!

Craving Crepes – Recipe!

Yesterday, I took a class with Chef Amanda Cushman.  Here was our menu:

This was a hands-on class, so everyone had a chance to chop, dice, chiffonade, and sear!  We also took turns making crêpes.  If you’ve followed for a while, you know we made crêpes in a different class not that long ago.  I fell IN LOVE with crêpes!  The recipe that follows is simple and the possibilities for fillings are endless.  You can make them sweet or savory, large or small.  They can be folded or rolled.  They can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or mid-afternoon snacks.  I learned yesterday that crêpes can be frozen!  You could spend an afternoon making crêpes, freeze them and have them when you get a crêpe craving!  I love that idea!

Here is some inspiration for you!  This one is stuffed with apples and covered with homemade caramel sauce.  YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t that look delicious?  You want to make them now, don’t you?  It’s ok.  You can be honest.  I know I want to make more!  Here is Chef Amanda Cushmans Basic Crepe Batter:

Basic Crepe Batter – makes about 20 – 6 inch crepes

Ingredients

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (We used King Arthur Flour)

1/4 tsp. salt

6 TBLS melted butter

Directions:

1. Combine eggs and milk in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.  Add flour and salt and mix well.

2. Transfer to a sieve over a quart size mixing bowl.  Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes or chill overnight.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then whisk into the batter.

4. Melt a small amount of butter in a crêpe pan (you will only need to do this for the first crêpe.)  Add a scant 1/4 cup of the batter to the pan.  Swirl the pan right away to cover the bottom completely.  You want your crêpes very thin!  Cook about one minute – or until the sides and top begin to look dry – then flip over.  Cook the other side for about a minute or until golden.  HINT: You will know when it’s finished cooking when you can slide it easily around the pan.

5. Transfer the crêpes to a baking sheet and continue until you are finished with the batter.

6. The crêpes can be frozen at this point.  Simple stack them, wrap them in plastic wrap and tuck them in the freezer!  When you have a crêpe craving, just thaw overnight (or a few hours) in the refrigerator.  Here is one of my finished crepes from class yesterday:

I think this next one came out looking like Guy Fieri!  At least if you turn your head and squint a little bit, it does.. Hahaha!

Next time we’ll talk about filling options and that wonderful homemade caramel sauce…  Stay tuned!

%d bloggers like this: