Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday stained Glass Sugar Cookies with Cast Sugar

Holiday Stained Glass Cookies

Hi Everyone,

Here is a recipe for stained glass cookies using cast sugar.
If you have a good candy thermometer - these should be easy.
Just be careful when cooking hot sugar.
It is a good idea to clear the kitchen of children, pets and unruly adults
when you are working with it.
I am also including a food safe royal icing if you want to forgo the sugar work.
Happy Baking!

Sugar Cookies

Yield: Makes about 30 cookies – depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

In a bowl, whisk together the 3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until the egg is completely incorporated. Beating on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and continue to beat until almost incorporated. Add the cream and beat on low speed until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Press the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (The dough can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month.)

Follow the desired recipe for rolling and cutting, or do the following: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out the chilled dough until about 1/8-inch thick. Using cookie cutters or a paring knife, cut the cookies into the desired shapes. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Press the dough scraps together, roll out, and cut out additional shapes.
If you plan to use the cookies as ornaments remember to make a hole at the top for the ribbon or string.
I used a metal knitting needle for this.

Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges but the tops are barely colored, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes. Using the metal spatula, transfer to wire racks and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. the

Decorate the cookies as desired.

How to create the “stained glass effect” using sugar

Once cool place on a silpat lined baking sheet.

Cast sugar:
In a medium sized saucepan place 2 ounces of water, 7 ounces of granulated sugar,
And a quarter sized dollop of light corn syrup.
Using a candy thermometer cook the sugar to 305 degrees Fahrenheit.
Color as desired with a few drops of gel color.
Pour carefully into cookie holes to create windowpane effect.
Let sit one hour before moving.


Food Safe Royal Icing

Yield: Makes about 3 cups

4 cups (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons meringue powder – Wilton makes a good one.
3/4  teaspoon extract, such as vanilla or almond (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, the meringue powder, 1/2 cup warm water, and the extract, if using. Using a stand mixer on medium speed, beat until the mixture is fluffy, yet dense, about 5 to 7 minutes.

To thin the icing, use a rubber spatula to stir in additional warm water 1 teaspoon at a time. To test the consistency, drizzle a spoonful of icing into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for about 5 seconds.

Place the royal icing in an airtight container. Cover the surface with a damp paper towel – then a lid. Store at room temperature – use within 2 days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Butter Topped Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Jamie, my wonderful Craftsy assistant and her husband are looking to become innkeepers in Oregon.
As a result, we talk a lot about what to bake for breakfast.
A B&B has to serve a good breakfast. Guests will never return if the offerings are mediocre - no matter how charming the rooms, the view, the location and the innkeepers.
Success depends on a good collection of recipes and menu items should highlight the local fare.
Today's recipe is one for Jamie's new venture.
Both pears and hazelnuts are grown, harvested and processed close to their new B&B.
So this recipe is perfect for them.
As a side note Jamie's grandmother worked for Harry and David for many years - running
the pear division.
If you don't have a hazelnuts nearby these muffins are equal delicious with pecans or walnuts.
Happy Baking!

Butter Topped Pear Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour (9 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter - melted and cooled
3/4 cup sugar (5 ounces)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large pears, peeled, cored and cut into medium (1/4" dice)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon'
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Combine sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.
3 Tablespoons butter, melted and set aside

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin pan with paper liners or grease
the muffin cups with butter, shortening or pan spray.
1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla - whisk until well combined.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients just until the dry ingredients disappear.
4. Mix in the pears and the hazelnuts.
5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees - start checking at 25 minutes.
7. The muffins are done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
When the muffins are done - brush the muffin tops with melted butter and dip in the cinnamon sugar mix.
These muffins freeze beautifully.