Soft Pillowy Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

Here comes another seasonal recipe – Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies with a Cream Cheese Filling. I shared these with friends in a plain white box decorated with washi tape (my new obsession). What I love about these cookies is their texture is more that of a cake than a cookie.

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Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

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Washi Tape on White Box

 

Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen

Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of pure pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/4 cups butter, softened
4 ounces, cream cheese, softened
1 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix and set aside.

In another medium bowl, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar and softened butter until combined and blended. Add the egg, vanilla extract, pumpkin and beat until smooth.

Grab a spatula or wooden spoon, and in two batches, gradually mix in flour mixture, until thoroughly combined.

Using a stainless-steel ice cream scoop (with one of those hand releases), drop the cookie dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet, being sure to leave room for the dough to spread. If you don’t have an ice cream scooper, you could also drop the dough using two teaspoons.

Sprinkle 3 or 4 pumpkin seeds on the top of the cookies for decoration. I tried to put them in a trio just for appearance purposes. (This is totally optional.)

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden brown. They should still be soft to the touch. Carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until completely smooth.

Assembly:

Flip half of the cookies upside down. Using a butter knife, dollop one teaspoon of the icing in the center of each upside down cookie. Smooth it around with your knife until the icing just reaches the edges. Top with another cookie and gently press the two cookies together.

Cookies should be stores in an airtight container and will be moist and delicious for up to 2 days.

Yields about 12 sandwich cookies

Buttermilk Apple Cake

This was a splendid recipe that came out very moist (thank you buttermilk) and was a great compliment to a morning coffee. It’s got a nice presentation too.

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Buttermilk Apple Cake


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup sugar, plus 4 tablespoons for topping

2 egg, room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for topping

1 cup buttermilk

grated zest of 2 large lemons

grated zest of 1 large orange

2 large gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease or spray two 9-inch cake pans.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand held beaters, beat the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add sugar, and continue beating until everything is pale and fluffy. Stop mixer as needed to scrape down the sides. Switch mixer back on, and add the egg, followed by the vanilla.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and nutmeg.

Switch mixer to low and add half the flour mixture, followed by all of the buttermilk and then the second half of the flour mixture. Add the zest and mix on low just until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices in a circle along the outer edge of the pan, so that the slices are set straight down onto the batter. Create a star pattern inside the circle, and add one final slice at the very center. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons sugar and several grates of nutmeg.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Set cake aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the cake pan. Allow to cool completely.

Set cake aside to cool for a few minutes, then remove the springform side and allow to cool completely.

 

1826 is a gift to Miami

For whatever reason Chef Danny Grant decided to open a restaurant in Miami (Lebron, le ladies etc) I am thankful. His 1826 restaurant in South Beach is a show stopper. I would usually share pics of what I ate but the flash was so obnoxious I figured I could explain with my words.

FOOD

Sensational. Each dish was a surprise of flavor and had us asking “What the hell was in that?” From the bread to the dessert, there was no detail overlooked. The burrata dish is a must and was so divine I’m going to try to recreate it – anyone got a dehydrator I can borrow? My husband had the lamb shank which was cooked to perfection and nestled in a soft lovely sauce that had subtleties of cardamom and other spices. I got the seafood stew in which the waiter poured the hot creamy broth over the mix of fish, shrimp and vidalia onions so the wafts of curry could slap me right in the face. Nicely done.

SPACE

Lovely design. Beautiful wine cellar. You can also select your beer/wine/cocktail off of a convenient and informative iPad. There is also a third floor that has a lounge but we’re saving that rendevous for a weekend evening.

STAFF

Attentive. Knowledgeable. Unpretentious. My fav.

 

Hopefully, this gift from Grant will be appreciated by the Miami critics and continue as a South Beach treasure.

 

http://www.1826collins.com/

 

When you’re avocados are saying “Eat me now”: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Avocado and Chocolate are just about my two favorite things. I eat both almost everyday… but never together. Until now. A friend brought over a bag of local avocados and I’m sure many of you feel the same when I talk about the anxiety of using an avocado at exactly the right moment.

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This image captures the sentiment perfectly. My mom gave me a good tip to put them in the fridge as soon as they’re ripe and that will buy you an extra couple of days. REALLY the fridge? Who would have thought of that. Clearly not me.

Let’s get to the good stuff – I was faced with all these ripe avocados and thought to myself

“Guacamole? No, I’ll eat the whole bag of chips.”

“Avocado toast? That’s so 2013.”

“With chocolate? That’s weird, but hey, so am I.” Hence, AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE. Silky and smooth, this dessert concept may frighten you, but I assure you that the mere purpose of the avocado is to add that soft velvety texture. Try it, you won’t be missing the guac.

Eñoy!

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AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Serves 4 to 6

2 ripe avocados (I’ve used Hass and Florida and they both rocked)

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (can also use vegan chocolate to make this a completely vegan dessert)

1/2 cup coconut milk (pour right from the can)

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons amber (dark) agave syrup

1 teaspoon sea salt

Optional toppings could include: graham crackers, pretzels, marshmallows, berries, nuts

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt chocolate with coconut milk in a bowl over boiling water. Stir frequently.

2. In a food processor add remaining ingredients. Add chocolate mixture once it is cooled.

3. Blend until there are no avocado chunks remaining.

4. Chill and serve

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Very Merry Christmas Decor

Nick and I have been in our condo for just about 3 years, and now that we’re married and have a puppy it seems only right to get our first Christmas tree and properly decorate our home. Unfortunately he was out of town for the Home Depot fiasco of scouting and transporting a tree. Not an easy task when you’re in your work wear and dragging around a little dog. Needless to say, everything came together quite nicely.

My most proud piece is my first DIY banner. I learned how to make them from this lovely blogger: Ella Claire

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This last one here is our wedding invitation that I cut into strips and twirled. I also make these for my friends as part of their wedding gift – huge hit!

Holiday Treats Part II + Puppy Holiday Sweater

The morning after Thanksgiving can be quite a doozy. To help recover from my turkey hangover I supplied these amazing Gingery Muffins from one of my fav blogs A Cozy Kitchen.

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Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen

For muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 large eggs

For glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tablespoon whole milk

1. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle. Line a muffin tin with liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and ground cloves.
3. In a measuring cup, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined.
4. In a another bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated.
5. (Don’t be alarmed if mixture looks separated and curdled.) Scrape bowl and add one third flour mixture, beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.
6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin about 3/4 of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in tin for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack.
7. While muffins are cooling, mix together powdered sugar with milk and stir until smooth. When muffins are completely cooled, pour icing on top of muffins and top with candied ginger. Serve right away. If you’re baking these things up and taking them somewhere, I’d recommend icing ‘em right before serving.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAlso can’t beat a hot cup of apple cider. It’ll make your lips smack!

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Pepper was also looking very festive in her Christmas sweater by Freshlotus.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Holiday Treats Part I

Thanksgiving was hosted by my aunt and uncle this year but there was no way I was going to show up empty handed. So in addition to the customary bottle(s) of wine, we brought spiced nuts and biscuits, of course.

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Rosemary Chili Spiced Almonds

1 1/2 C of raw almonds
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsps chili or cayenne or combo

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and non-stick spray. Do not forget the spray or else you will have wax paper stuck to your nuts. No bueno.

Mix ingredients all together in a bowl then evenly distribute onto baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or until you can smell the almonds.

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Honey Chai Roasted Almonds

Recipe from Joy the Baker

3 cups raw almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (depending on how spicy you like your nuts)

3 tablespoons honey

coarse sea salt for topping

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment paper with olive oil or cooking spray.

Place almonds on baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.

While the almonds are in the oven, in a small bowl, toss together cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, salt, and pepper.

Remove the toasted almonds from the oven.  Drizzle with honey and toss to coat.

Sprinkle with the spice mixture and toss well to ensure that all of the almonds have a bit of spice. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt.  And heck.. drizzle with a bit more honey if you’d like.

Return to the oven and toast for 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and immediately trasnsfer the warm nuts to a plate to cool or jars for storage.  The nuts will begin to harden as they cool and become difficult to remove.

Store almonds in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Rosemary Parmesan Drop Biscuits

Drop biscuits are an easy way to make biscuits without the hassle of rolling out dough and cutting out the biscuits.

2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2teaspoons baking powder
1/2teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon sugar
3/4teaspoon table salt
3/4cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1cup buttermilk (cold)
8tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, Parmesan, and rosemary in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps (see photo below).

2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.