Top 11 Recipes from 2011

2011 was a good year. I finished school, started my career, and got to witness the birth of my beautiful baby nephew, Jack.  I also decided to start this food blog back in July.  I’ve had a lot of fun making new things in the kitchen and writing about some of my most treasured recipes over the past five months and I’m excited to keep on chugging right along through 2012.  This past week, I’ve seen some other food bloggers out there that have been doing a review of their favorite 11 dishes from this past year (Prevention RD and Alida’s Kitchen) and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun to look back and pick my personal favorites.

Happy 2012, everyone! I wish you all a fun and safe holiday weekend.

Here are my top 11 favorites for 2011:

Caramelized Onion Rolls Made from my favorite artisan bread dough, these rolls combine a deliciously chewy bread with gloriously caramelized onions.

Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Cream Cheese Filling Moist and flavorful pumpkin cake with a rich cream cheese filling. A perfect dessert for Autumn.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Our favorite chili that gets better and better as it simmers. Pair it with a slice of cornbread and you have comfort food at its best.

Baked Garlic Fries The lightened up version of the real thing and you won’t even miss the deep fryer.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies Pumpkin and cream cheese in a just-right handheld cookie form. I can’t wait to make these again next year!

Buckeye Cupcakes Dark chocolate cake. Peanut butter filling. Rich chocolate ganache. All topped off with a bite-sized buckeye. A treat fit for any dessert-lover.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers A delicious and easy summer appetizer. Plus, they’re baked- so they have to be low-calorie right? ;)

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies The dough requires a little extra time and planning, but the end result is so worth it. My favorite chocolate chip cookies. Nom nom.

Fresh Ginger Ale Inspired by The Northstar Cafe, one of the best restaurants in Columbus. This is a must for all you ginger lovers out there!

Creme Brulee A special occasion dessert that won’t disappoint. Bonus: you get to play with fire.

Butterbeer Cupcakes In honor of the end to the Harry Potter series. So sad to see it come to close, but I was comforted with these special treats. :)

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

Have you ever had Chambord? Until this past weekend, I hadn’t; and boy was I missing out! Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur and it is absolutely scrumptious. I received it as a Christmas gift from my parents and, after our Christmas dinner, I whipped up a little cocktail that my dad aptly named The Lollypalooza. With Chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and fresh lime juice, it tastes like sherbet in a glass. It has officially become my new favorite cocktail, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) Chambord
  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) vodka
  • 6 fluid oz (1/2 can) diet Ginger Ale
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Combine the chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and lime juice. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy.

A Little Change

Hey everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know we sure did. I’ve decided to make a slight change to my blog. I am going to start including a wider variety of recipes, so I decided to change the name from Lolly’s Sweet Treats to Lolly’s Sweet and Savory Treats. Everything will still be pretty much the same, I just thought it was time for a change in 2012! :)

I’m planning on doing a best of 2011 post this week as well as a post for my new favorite cocktail!

Food Memory Friday: The Christmas Edition

Christmas is a really special time of year. It’s a time of reflection, appreciation, and tradition. Some of my most treasured memories are from childhood Christmases.

Every Christmas eve, my mom would make a variety of appetizers and my siblings and I would get to open one small gift. After that we usually watched Christmas movies and then we were sent to bed, where we were often too excited to fall asleep. In the morning my mom and dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while they scouted out the living room. “The old boy has been here,” they’d say and, after what seemed like agonizing hours, we were finally allowed to scurry down the stairs to see the stacks full of presents underneath the Christmas tree. My mom usually had a breakfast casserole and some cinnamon rolls for us to eat after we opened our gifts and I can recall several Christmas mornings after the dust had finally settled, when I thought to my young self, “I don’t think life can get much better than this.” The gifts were a big part of the celebration, but the most fun- as sappy as it may sound- was having that uninterrupted time with my family. Now that my siblings and I are grown and out of the house, it’s getting more difficult to spend each holiday season together. Still, those fond memories of Christmas past make me so excited for the Christmas present and future.

These buttermilk cookies with brown sugar frosting are very similar to a cookie my mom used to make at Christmas time. They usually made it onto the plate of cookies we left out for Santa. I can very vividly remember my mom baking these cookies one year and I would sneak several spoonfuls of this icing while she wasn’t looking. In fact, I ate so much that I ended up getting sick later that night. And to this day I still love these cookies dearly, even after all that.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday and that the memories you make from this Christmas will be ones on which you can fondly reflect years from now.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Buttermilk Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Printable Version

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  •  4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  •  2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Whip butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time until well-blended. In a a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder and the flour. Pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and then add the baking soda to it. Alternately add the liquid and flour mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use a cookie scoop to measure out equal ping pong ball-sized balls of dough. Roll the dough into smooth balls and then place on a cookie sheet. Pat down the cookies gently until they are slightly flattened (you may need to wet your hands slightly to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers). Bake for 12 minutes or just until the cookies are baked even (don’t overbake!). Place on a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt the butter in the saucepan; add the brown sugar and whisk together until smooth. Heat for two minutes, whisking constantly. Stir in the milk or cream. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm. Place the mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in milk if it’s too thick.

Spread the icing onto the cooled buttermilk cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Sea Salt Caramels

Making homemade candy can quickly turn a person into a scrooge. Especially if your candy thermometer hasn’t been calibrated in awhile. I had these lovely visions of deliciously chewy and slightly salty vanilla bean caramels that I was going to make for Christmas.

I bought the (expensive) vanilla beans, the heavy cream, the butter. I was ready to go. I carefully stripped the vanilla beans and brought the cream to a simmer. I gingerly swirled the pan as the sugary mixture bubbled around my candy thermometer, gradually causing the temperature to rise. Several minutes went by and I barely took my eye off the pan, nervously waiting for thermometer to read 248 degrees. I prepared a small bowl of ice water to check the state of the caramel as it neared the finish line. Last year, I made the mistake of taking the caramel off of the heat too early and it didn’t set up as well as I’d hoped. “Not this time,” I thought.

When it reached about 244-ish, I dropped a small blob of the piping hot liquid into the ice water. My heart fluttered… then sank. It seemed more like a hard ball consistency. In a state of despair I quickly took the pan off the heat and then, foolishly, I picked up the bowl of ice water and brought it just a little too close to the pan before I could stop the momentum of my haste and a big ole splash of frigid water spilled smack dab in the center of my overdone caramel.

I clung to just a glimmer of hope for a Christmas miracle and I poured the sugary mess into a buttered pan. Unfortunately, the caramel cooled into one big crumbly brick of wasted ingredients. I was mildly defeated for about 10 minutes before I rolled up my sleeves and made another batch, sadly having to swap vanilla extract for the real vanilla bean. This time I took the caramel off the heat about 15 degrees earlier and paid more attention to the ice water trick. In the end, I ended up with a tasty batch, albeit not as big of a batch, of homemade caramels.

After I was all finished, I calibrated my thermometer by placing it in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Instead of the standard 212 degrees it should have read at boiling, it only reached 204 degrees. Eight degrees off. I have learned my lesson!

Anyone know what to do with overcooked, crumbly caramel chunks? Also, does anyone have any recommendations for a really good candy thermometer? I’m in the market for a new one… and a few tips on how to successfully make homemade candy. ;)

Sea Salt Caramels

Printable Version

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with vegetable oil.

In a deep saucepan (I used a dutch oven), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. The mixture will bubble up. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and let set for a few hours before sprinkling with more sea salt. Then let the caramel set until completely firm.

When firm, remove the caramel from the pan and cut into small square pieces.

Source: Ina Garten

Gingerbread Biscotti

One of my favorite spices is ginger and one of the most synonymous treats with Christmas are gingerbread cookies. These gingerbread biscotti are just a little twist on the classic cookie. In the dunkable, coffee-friendly form. There’s three types of ginger in these spicy bad boys- powdered ginger, crystallized ginger, and fresh ginger, which makes the ginger flavor extra-prominent and extra-delicious in a hot cup of coffee.

I didn’t always love gingerbread and I didn’t always love plain, black coffee. I guess that’s one of the nice things about being a grown up now- appreciating grown up foods. I sure do miss those 2 week Christmas breaks though. Ahh… the joys entering the”big kid” world.  ;)

It’s hard to believe Christmas is this Sunday. Is all your baking and shopping done?

Gingerbread Biscotti

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each egg. Gradually add in the molasses. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered ginger. Add to wet ingredients and then stir in the fresh ginger and crystallized ginger.

Form two logs of dough (each log should be about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide) on a lined sheet tray. Bake logs for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully slice logs into biscotti and then turn each biscotti over on it’s side and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

I’ve mentioned my Aunt Khaki several times before. She is the youngest of my mother’s siblings and when it comes to food and exercise, she is one of my main role models. Unfortunately, Khaki lives all the way out in Santa Monica so we don’t get to bake together very much. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s where snail mail comes in and saves the day.

We’re able to have a long distance baking relationship and I was thrilled to see a glorious box of heaven on our kitchen when I got home from work the other day. Khaki raised the bar once again with her creations. She made a salty maple pecan fudge, pistachio nougat, rum raisin chocolate, and four different types of buttery sugary cookies.

There were four different flavors of cookies and Khaki color-coded the cookie bags with a specific color of ribbon and I was supposed to guess the ingredients (isn’t that a cute idea!?). The jury is still out on a few, but there was definitely basil, lavendar, lemon, and vanilla bean.

The cookies were perfectly crispy and buttery and apparently very easy to make. As a result, I wanted to share one of the  recipes, the vanilla bean, with all of you. You can skip out on the vanilla bean if you want, but I think using it takes the cookie to the next level.

Whelp… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send my chunk-inducing box of sweets out west. Look for more of Aunt Khaki’s creations in the next months. I want to start including more of her recipes on LST because she has so many delicious and creative ideas. Thanks so much, Aunt Khaki!

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
To make the vanilla sugar, place the two cups of sugar in resealable container. Slice the vanilla beans down the middle and scrape out the bean into the sugar. Place the leftover bean in the sugar as well. Let sit for a day.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 1 ½-inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Roll the log in the remaining vanilla sugar. Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick slices and place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Scotcheroos and a See’s Candy Giveaway!

While I love trying new Christmas recipes each year, there’s something really comforting about old favorites. Scotcheroos are one of Robert’s and my most beloved treats. Scotcheroos, in case you aren’t familiar, are basically Rice Krispie treats with peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate chips, but without the marshmallows (okay so basically the Rice Krispies cereal is the only common demoninator ;)). Scotcheroos are simple to make and they’re delicious.  Best of all, the recipe can easily be doubled (or even tripled) if you’re looking to make a big batch.

These bars aren’t going to blow anyone away with their beauty or complexity, but there are never any leftovers. There’s something very addicting about these simple treats; and sometimes, the simplest stuff is the best.

See’s Candy Giveaway

Speaking of old favorites, See’s Candy has long been my family’s chocolate store of choice ever since my Aunt Khaki got us all hooked a long time ago.  Based out of Los Angeles, this wonderful candy has been making regular appearances in my stocking over the years; and now, I want it to make its way into your house for the holidays.

If you win, you can choose from a pack of chocolate-covered marshmallow trees or an assorted snowman box of See’s butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, and cafe latte Lollypops. Either of these will make great additions under the tree, in a stocking, or in your nightstand drawer. ;)

 

Here’s how to enter:

*Update- the winner is Connie with comment #15!!

1) Leave a comment telling me about your most treasured holiday treat

and/or

2) Follow Lolly’s Sweet Treats on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you do so

This giveaway will be open until Friday (December 16th) at 10pm. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator and notified by Saturday morning. Good luck!

Full Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly :)

Scotcheroos

Printable version

Yield: 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light corn syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (I used Nestle)

Directions

Place corn syrup and sugar into large saucepan or Dutch Oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place chocolate and butterscotch chips together in a microwave-safe bowl. Place in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.Enjoy!

Source: Kellog’s Rice Krispies

My Favorite Banana Bread

updated picture 9/8/2012

The best part about getting bananas from the grocery store is making a fresh loaf of banana bread. For me there is a very fine line between just right and too ripe of a banana and once the fruit passes that threshold, I think bananas taste pretty gross. Luckily, I love banana bread. It took me a few years of trying different recipes, but I finally found a banana bread that I adore. I’ve noticed with a lot of recipes, the banana bread comes out gooey in the center and dried out on the edges, but this one comes out perfectly baked all the way through. The secret? Microwaving the bananas, straining out the excess liquid, and then boiling down the liquid until its more like a banana syrup. While this method takes a little longer than traditional banana bread, it’s worth the extra step. This bread is great to bake ahead and freeze for when you have company or just feel like enjoying a slice with your morning cup of coffee.

Happy Monday, everyone. Stay tuned for a giveaway on Wednesday! :)

My Favorite Banana Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
5 large, very ripe bananas, peeled
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly spray a loaf pan (about 9 x 5 inches) with cooking spray.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Place 5 bananas in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and make a few slits in the wrap to act as steam vents.  Microwave on high for about 5 minutes or until the bananas are soft and liquidy.  Transfer the bananas to a sieve and set over a medium bowl and let drain for about 15 minutes or until there is about 1/2 cup liquid.

Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Combine the bananas and the reduced banana liquid in a large bowl. Whisk until fairly smooth.  Mix in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the banana mixture.  Fold together gently, just until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the sugar over the  loaf.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing.  Continue to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Barely adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Cooks Illustrated

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Awww yeah… it’s Christmas cookie time. This week my group of girlfriends had a cookie swap at our book club. We started this book club this past summer and while I do really enjoy reading and discussing the books (ok- I may have not read all of the book this time), the best part is the social aspect. It’s even better when there are lots of cookies involved. :)

The holiday treats included toffee cookie bars, pistachio cranberry biscotti, soft caramel-filled cookies, peppermint meringues, sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, brown sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms… OMG- the list goes on and on. All the cookies were delicious, but I think my favorite is/was Chelsea’s toffee cookie bars. I am already committing to a long workout tomorrow morning as a result. ;)

As for my contribution, I brought these chocolate mint sandwich cookies. I found the recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cookies book a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. A mint chocolate ganache is sandwiched between two chocolate sugar cookies and then dipped in chocolate. It takes a little bit more time than a traditional cookie, but I think the end result was  a success. The only thing I was slightly disappointed with is that the cookie part wasn’t as crunchy as I’d hoped.  It’s kind of similar to a Oreo, Thin Mint, fudge combo- as described by some of my girlfriends.

The recipe is easily doubled and you can make the sugar cookie dough ahead of time if desired. If you like the mint and chocolate combination, I recommend adding these babies to your holiday cookie tray.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for work surface

For the Ganache

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate,  chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

For the Glaze

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped

Directions

Whisk together cocoa powder and flour in a bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg until well blended. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer dough to a work surface lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies using a 2-inch star (or round) cookie cutter; space 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining scraps of dough. Bake cookies until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the ganache, bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly until chocolate is smooth. Stir in peppermint extract. Let cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Spoon 1 teaspoon ganache onto the bottom of 1 cookie; gently spread out the ganache over the cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly.

Dip one flat side of each sandwich into melted chocolate to coat; gently shake off excess. Place sandwiches, chocolate sides up, on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Top with crushed candy canes, if desired. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart