Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

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I have one more Christmas treat to share with you and it’s a super simple, easy, and tasty recipe. Before I go any further though, I have to make a comment about the title of this dessert. It is deemed “fudge,” but I know the fudge purists out there (i.e. my beloved Aunt Khaki) will cry foul. It is not boiled or made with cream; but it is still a great addition to your holiday dessert tray. So there you go my sweet fudge queen, Aunt Khaki. You have taught me the true candy-making ways.

Now- onto this dessert. One of my favorite things about this fudge is that it’s no-bake and it only took about 15 minutes of total active time in the kitchen. That, and the fact that the combination of salty, crunchy pretzels and peanut butter go so well with the flavor of bittersweet chocolate.  This is the perfect thing to make with only 5 days before Christmas. Minimal fuss in the kitchen means there is plenty of time to spend with the ones you love the most, which is usually a good thing. 🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces (2 cups) salted thin pretzel sticks, broken into ½-inch pieces
  • 12 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ÂĽ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces (½ cup) bittersweet chocolate chips (semisweet or milkchocolate is fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Directions
1. Line an 8Ă—8 inch pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2.Process 1 cup of the broken pretzels in a food processor until finely ground. Combine pretzel crumbs and the 12 tablespoons melted butter in a bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3.Add the peanut butter, vanilla and salt to butter mixture and mix on low speed until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until peanut butter mixture comes together. Add remaining 1 cup broken pretzels and mix until just combined.

4.Transfer peanut butter mixture to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Microwave the chocolate and corn syrup in 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds. Continue to put in the microwave for 30 seconds until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over top of the chilled peanut butter fudge and spread evenly. Cover pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. This fudge also freezes really well for a few weeks.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

 

 

Soft Cut-Out Cookies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

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What are your all-time favorite Christmas cookies? I adore a lot of them, but the top spot in my heart goes to soft cut-out cookies with fluffy icing. The whole process brings back a lot of happy memories from
my childhood. If my mind serves me right, my mom usually made spritz, snowball, and cut-out cookies at Christmas time. I always loved helping frost the cut-out cookies and eating the icing when my mom wasn’t looking. One Christmas, I ate so much, I ended up with a bad stomach ache. Or maybe that was the Christmas when everyone in our family came down with a nasty bout of gastroenteritis? Nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like spending the night curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Happy memories… and a great topic for a food blog.

Anyways, back to these particular cookies…

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I used one of my favorite drop cookie recipes for sugar cookies and decided to see if the dough would hold up as cut-outs. Boy, does it ever. The cookies are soft on the inside, but have enough of a sturdy exterior that they can be topped with frosting. And the frosting is just lovely. It’s fluffy, pillowy, and it pairs so well with the cookies.

I should point out that the cookie recipe calls for a lot of vanilla and baking powder, so make sure your pantry is well-stocked. This recipe can also be doubled and it freezes great. It’s perfect for making a few weeks in advance.

I hope you will fall in love with these cookies as much as we did.

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Soft Cut-Out Cookies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting 

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Âľ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
  • 2 teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions

1. Make the cookie dough ahead of time: beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the dough is evenly mixed. Chill the dough for a hour.

3. While dough is chilling, make the frosting. Place the butter, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip the butter at medium speed until it is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time until well-combined. Add in the cream and mix well until light and fluffy. Add in desired food coloring.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with desired cookie cutters.  Transfer to baking sheet and dpace the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake about 8-9 minutes or just until set. Be careful not to overbake – they should barely browned on the bottom. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely,

5. Decorate cooled cookies with frosting using a knife, offset spatula, or piping tips (I used Wilton 233 tip for the Christmas trees). Top with sprinkles, if desired.

Source: Cookies- Annie’s Eats (originally adapted from Hostess with the Mostess), Frosting- barely adapted from Sweetapolita 

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Date Nut Pinwheels

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When I was planning what cookies I was going to bake for this Christmas season, I perused through my cookbooks and surfed my Pinterest boards and found myself in absolute sensory overload. I couldn’t decide, so I asked Bert what his favorite Christmas cookies are and after brief deliberation, he decided on date nut pinwheels. I was kind of surprised to learn this little fact about the guy I have grown to know so well that I can (and, so annoyingly, do) finish his sentences. My husband, who has declared chocolate chip the supreme cookie of all time and holds a classic double chocolate cake as his most revered birthday treat, had revealed to me a side of him that I never knew. The lad loves the underrated and often overlooked date nut pinwheel. My heart swelled with pride and I marked my notebook in pen; date nut pinwheels were a must for this holiday season.

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These cookies are a little more time-consuming in that you have to allow plenty of time to make and cool the filling, and chill the dough two separate times. The actual rolling up of the pinwheels can be a little intimidating, but the folks at America’s Test Kitchen included great instructions on how to do it simply with parchment paper. I was feeling a little sassy and festive on the day I was baking these and decided to have Bert and Smith record me rolling up one of the pinwheel logs . I always learn better by watching a video over a series of pictures, so I’ve included the video here. It’s very homemade, but I hope you find it helpful.

Have a wonderful week, everyone, I am going to be posting more holiday treats on the blog as Christmas nears. It’s going to be extra sweet around here, but I have some lighter recipes to share in a few weeks, as well.

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Date Nut Pinwheels

Yield: America’s Test Kitchen says 40 but I got around 48

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
  • 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Bring the pecans, dates, 1/2 cup sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.

2. Use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. When your butter mixture is nice and fluffy, turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and mix again. Next, add in the vanilla and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, in about 3 additions, until the dough is just sticking together. Turn off the mixer and divide the dough into two equal-sized hunks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. After the filling is cooled and the dough has chilled, place one of the hunks of dough on a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle and spread half of the date filling on the dough using a rubber spatula. Pull up on the long side of the parchment paper that is facing you and slowly peel and roll the dough while pulling up on the parchment paper to form a log (see video above). Repeat with the other hunk of dough. Place the logs on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day. You can also speed up this process by freezing the dough for about 1 hour.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with greased parchment paper or silicone mats. Carefully slice the logs using a sawing motion as to not flatten the pinwheels into rectangles. Gently adjust the sliced cookies with your fingers to make them rounder. Place on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes**, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool completely.

**America’s Test Kitchen provides a baking time of 18-22 minutes, but I found that my cookies were a little overdone at this time. My advice would be to do a test cookie and see which duration works best for you.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

Pumpkin Bread

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We celebrated my birthday this past week. I’m in my final year of my twenties and as I get older, I’ve noticed that I am much better at accepting myself for who I am and, also, who I am not. Sadly, I will never be asked to sing in the church choir nor will I be able to wedge my feet into a “petite” size 10. I’ve come to the realization that I am a little clumsy, I have a huge head circumference, and I am prone to embarrassing myself.  Case in point- the other day I thought I was wearing leggings all day until I went to smooth the front of my shirt and I discovered I was actually wearing Bert’s long johns. I felt reeeeeeally great. Here I thought my “leggings” were looser and my better eating habits were paying off. Yeah. Not really. I had a good laugh at myself and carried on. Something I have learned in my 29 years is that it’s better to embrace our eccentricities than to try to conform to the normal. It makes life much more interesting. Plus, male long johns are actually seriously comfortable.

In baking news….

It’s time to kick off the holiday baking season with this pumpkin bread recipe. If you’re looking for a sturdy baked good that would hold up well in the mail, this is a great option. Another bonus- this particular recipe makes two plump loaves, so you can make a few batches and gift them to your loved ones or freeze them for a Christmas brunch. My little rump roast has tasted a few bites of this bread and he loves it!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Pumpkin Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two standard loaf pans.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla and sugar until well blended.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Source: My Baking Addiction, originally from All Recipes