Basic Sugar Cookies

I don’t know how Santa Claus did it. Somehow, in the midst of delivering all those presents, he’s managed to get the rep of needing a plate of cookies when he arrives at your house. Whether it started with parents and their sweet tooths or an older tradition, the idea of leaving cookies and milk out for good ol’ Kris Kringle has stuck. I’m not mad about it. That’s actually one of the traditions I love. However, you may be wondering why I’m talking about Santa in April. Well, with Easter upon us it has me thinking…. what about the Easter Bunny?

He’s big. He’s fluffy. He gives out Easter baskets. Wouldn’t he like some cookies too?

Better believe it.

So, Easter Bunny, this post is for you.

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This basic sugar cookie recipe is great for any occasion. The dough calls for less than 10 ingredients and can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just remember, it does need to chill for at least 1 hour!

I love these cookies because they aren’t overly sweet but still provide satisfaction to a sugar craving; I could eat them in the morning with coffee or after dinner for dessert, but then again, that’s how I like to enjoy most sweets.

The royal icing is also relatively simple and only requires 3 ingredients. When making the icing, you will want to prepare piping frosting as well as flooding frosting; the main difference between the two is their thickness. The piping frosting should be used first to line the edges of the cookie and is what will prevent the flooding icing from running off the sides; the piping frosting is also used to add designs to the cookies. The flooding icing, as the name suggests, is more fluid and can be used to add the base color to the sugar cookie. If you’re confused and want to dive more into icing, Sweet Sugarbelle does a great job detailing the process.

Now that you know the basics, let your creativity abound. Happy frosting, friends!

Recipe links:
Sugar Cookie Dough (Thanks Real Simple!)
Royal Icing (I used the egg white version, thanks Joy of Baking!)

Triple Berry Scones

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is curl up with a good book, a cup of coffee, and a freshly baked pastry. Okay, to be fair, it’s usually multiple cups of coffee and more than one pastry, but I do stick with one book. It had been a while since I was able to indulge in this relaxing pastime, and I was experiencing serious cravings for a scone. Luckily, my weekend schedule was pretty light and the weather outside was overcast and rainy. It was the ideal time to commit to staying in and testing out a new scone recipe.

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I’ve only dabbled with making scones a few times in the past, and they sadly produced less than stellar results. This was is it though. I could feel it. Today was going to be the day I conquered the scone.

To me, the perfect scone, is soft and slightly crumbly on the inside, yet firm and crisp on the outside. Extra points go to the ones that are dusted in crystallized sugar. And, of course, berries. ALL the berries.

As I set off to make these scones (recipe via Pretty. Simple. Sweet), I was having a hard time picking just one type of berry to use. So naturally, I decided to use all of them. The mix I chose included blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. You can find frozen mixed berries at your local grocery store or, if you prefer, you can opt to use a single type of berry.

Pretty. Simple. Sweet’s recipe delivers on exactly the kind of scone I was craving. The use of heavy cream in the dough produces a pastry that is rich yet balanced. The extra sugar on top adds sweetness which is cut by the zest of the lemon and the juice of the berries.

I have a feeling this recipe will be getting a lot of use in my kitchen…

Oversized Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lazy days are something I rarely grant myself the freedom to enjoy. But after weeks of busyness and a schedule that has me running from place to place, sometimes a lazy morning is exactly what’s needed. And what better way to indulge in a day off than to enjoy freshly baked cinnamon rolls.

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When it comes to these morning pastries, the phrase Go Big or Go Home comes to mind, well kind of. I mean, I’m already home, and I’m going big too. So. There.

…. have I mentioned these cinnamon rolls are oversized?

Not only are these cinnamon rolls oversized, they are swirled with intricate layers of cinnamon and topped with a well balanced creamy, sweet frosting. One of my favorite things about these rolls is that they can be prepared the night before. You can even slip out of bed half awake in the morning to let them finish rising. As the smell of cinnamon wafts through your house, you’ll have enough time to brew a pot of coffee and prepare the decadent frosting. When it comes time to layer on the frosting, don’t be shy; it’s part of what makes these treats so special.

Once the rolls finish baking and you’ve adorned them with frosting, grab a cup of coffee and head back to bed to enjoy the warmth of your covers and a good book.

To treat yourself to these cinnamon rolls, head on over to Lovely Little Kitchen for the recipe. If you want to make these rolls oversized, like I did, simply cut the dough into 8 sections instead of 12. For an extra punch of cinnamon, I also added 4 tablespoons to the filling instead of the recommended 2-3.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

While walking through the halls at work the other day, I noticed a woman who had her arms full with boxes and stacks of papers. She was trying to pull the one arm-balancing maneuver; you know, the one where you think you’re the hulk and that you’re strong enough to hold everything with one arm and that you’ll still manage to open the door with the other arm (note: this move is most often used when trying to carry groceries in from the car). Anyway, she seemed to be struggling with said maneuver, and I quickly went to hold the door for her. She gave me a relieved smile and said, “Thank you.” What I didn’t expect was what she said next….

“Would you like a doughnut?”

What? A doughnut? She wasn’t carrying pink boxes around. . . I was not expecting an offer for doughnuts. I was completely caught off guard.

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This lady must have been a doughnut ninja; she knew the importance of hiding the good stuff, especially when roaming through the halls of an office. But back to the fact that she had offered me a doughnut. I don’t know why, but I paused. I took a moment to actually consider whether to accept the doughnut.

Me, taking a minute to decide about eating a doughnut? I must have woken up with a fever that morning. Oh no, it was just a case of the “I’m trying to eat less sweets.” (Don’t worry, I’ve since recovered). I politely smiled and said, “No thank you.” She gave me an all-knowing look that radiated a sense of wow, she’s going to regret that response. Well you-doughnut-ninja-mind-reader-you, you were right. I did regret turning down the doughnut. And so, here I am, trying to make up for that. I give to you, baked pumpkin spice doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar (recipe from Cooking Classy).

If you haven’t noticed from my past posts, I love, love, love baking doughnuts. Baking verse frying results in easier clean-up, less mess, and more consistent results. I also love the fact that I have both mini and regular size doughnut pans; so, naturally I made both.

Okay, real talk: this batter is packed with all the flavors you crave during fall, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and, of course, pumpkin. The fact that the dough isn’t overly sweet balances perfectly with the fact that you are going to roll these bad boys in cinnamon sugar as soon as they come out of the oven. Beware of tasting the batter before you bake these. . . you might not be able to put down your spoon.

Nutella Cinnamon Sticks

What do you get when you mix Nutella, cinnamon, and sugar? A recipe that has lovingly been dubbed Sugar Sticks.

photo (8)Last weekend, I set out to make an updated version of the cinnamon roll; one that would be oozing with gooey chocolate hazelnut goodness and drizzled with a layer of sweet, cream cheese frosting. Sounds pretty good, right?

Well . . . things didn’t quite go as planned, and sometimes you just need to roll with the Nutella slathered dough that’s lying in front of you.

I blame the pounds of hazelnut spread layered on this moist dough that resulted in a cinnamon roll refusing to roll. Okay, blame might be too strong of a word; I can’t say I was mad about the amount of chocolate and sugar I was about to consume. But seeing as round cinnamon rolls were no longer in my future, I quickly switched gears and decided to bake this in a log shape instead of the typical cinnamon roll form. Once it came out of the oven, I still drizzled it with the rich cream cheese frosting and cut it into perfectly dunkable sticks. Since this treat is so sweet, it pairs perfectly with coffee or a glass of milk. Enjoy!

Nutella Cinnamon Filling:

  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • 1 cup Nutella (I melted mine slightly so it was easier to spread)

Dough:

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 4 Tbs butter, melted, divided
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 3 Tbs butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Begin by preheating the oven to 425ºF. Next, prepare the cinnamon sugar filling by combining sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a fork until well combined, set aside.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Separately mix the buttermilk, regular milk and 2 tbs melted butter. Once combined, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined, then knead with your hands for about 30 seconds. Be sure to flour your hands first as the dough will be very sticky.

Once you’ve finished kneading, you’re ready to roll out the dough. On a lightly floured surface, use hands to press dough into a 12×10 inch rectangle. Coat the dough with Nutella leaving about ½ inch of space around the edges. Next sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar mixture. Starting with the long end of the rectangle, roll the dough to the opposite end. Roll the dough back and forth to shape it evenly into a log shape. Pinch the ends together and cut off any excess dough. Transfer dough to a non-stick cookie sheet and brush the top with 2 tbs melted butter. Place in the oven and allow to bake for 10-15 minutes. Once the top begins to turn golden, cover the roll with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

While the roll is baking, prepare the frosting. Using a hand mixer, beat softened butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add in powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Mix until well combined. When the roll is finished baking, allow to cool 5-10 minutes before drizzling on the frosting. Next, cut the log into 1 inch thick slices (similar to a biscotti). Store in airtight container for 2 days or serve immediately. Enjoy!

Double Crumb Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Dear Mr. Coffee Cake.

Oh, coffee cake. I’m not sure how we got off on the wrong foot. But somehow, we just don’t seem to see eye to eye. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with you. In fact, you’re sweet, comforting, and pack a welcome punch of cinnamon flavor. You even have multiple textures, which I adore. But somehow, you never quite make it to the top of my “I want to bake you” list. You always seem to be overlooked and quickly pushed aside when other flashier desserts come along.

coffeecake_editMy roommate, though, she never underestimates you. I often ask her what she thinks I should bake, and she always brings you up. I told her for weeks that I would bake you, but every time I had the baking itch (which we know is often), you never made the cut. Finally, enough was enough. I couldn’t put it off any longer. You and I needed to try and reconcile our differences.

And so, I searched and searched, and finally settled on this Double Crumb Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake recipe (because who only wants to settle for a single crumb coffee cake? Not me). And, I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. You had so much dimension: ribbons of cinnamon, layers of brown sugar, moist cake, hints of nuttiness, and a sweet gooey vanilla glaze.

Coffee cake, I have to apologize for before. From now on, you’re alright in my book.

All-the-Berries-Berry Pie

Some days just call for pie. They really do.

The morning was slightly overcast, and Mother Nature was starting to hint that fall is coming. So naturally with the grey clouds and cooler temperatures, I woke up craving pie. What, that’s never happened to you? Well, morning pie cravings happen to me more than I’d like to admit, but rarely do I give in to them. This time, however, I couldn’t resist. It was just one of those days that called for pie. I wanted the comfort of flaky crust, sweet berries, and fluffy whipped cream paired with a warm cup of coffee while I curled up in my reading chair. Now you see where I’m going with this. Sounds pretty good, right? I know. That’s why I made pie.

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You may have heard of berry pie or even a triple berry pie, but get ready, this pie has ALL the berries in it. Okay, not literally all of them, but it does have four different types: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. It’s like one big berry dance party in your mouth.

And for the crust, oh man, this recipe delivers 100% flaky, buttery, golden goodness. I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to crust, but will definitely bookmark this to use for future pie endeavors.

Finally, top your pie with homemade whipped cream and voila, pie perfection. Enjoy!Pie_good

Pie Crust
2 and ½ cups all purpose flour
1 and ¼ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
¾ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
½ – ⅔ cups ice water
1 egg, beaten (for brushing the crust)

Berry Filling
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups strawberries, halved (fresh or frozen)
2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen, I used frozen blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions
Begin by preparing your pie dough at least 1 hour before you plan on baking your pie; the dough needs time to chill. You can find step by step instructions here at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

After the dough has chilled for nearly an hour, you can prepare the filling. To make the berry filling, first mix sugar and cornstarch together in a medium bowl; set aside 1 tablespoon of this mixture (it will later be sprinkled on the pie dough). Next, add in berries and cinnamon then stir until well combined. Let the berry mixture sit for 10-15 minutes.

While the berry mixture rests, preheat the oven to 375ºF and then roll out your pie dough. Remove one of the dough disks from the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a 12-inch circle (mine was a little closer to 14-inches; just make sure the rolled dough will cover the bottom and sides of the pan. You will want a little bit of excess hanging over the sides which will be helpful when connecting the lattice pieces). To easily transfer the dough to the bottom of the pie pan, roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll into the pie pan. Once transferred, gently press the dough into the corners of the pan. Next sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch and sugar on top of the rolled out dough; this will help prevent the bottom of the pie from becoming soggy. Next pour berry filling into pie pan. Finish your pie by rolling out the second dough disk into a 12-14 inch circle and then cut into 1 inch strips to be used as the lattice. For further detailed instructions on preparing your lattice top, you can check out this overview.

Once you’ve finished your lattice, brush the dough with egg and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until edges are golden brown, then cover edges with foil and continue baking for an additional 20-30 minutes until the center is bubbly and has thickened.

To make the whipped cream, add the heavy whipping cream to a chilled mixing bowl. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are about to form then add in sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over-whip or the cream will become too thick and lumpy.