Monday, October 31, 2011

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Happy Halloween! If there was one thing my parents always had in the house on Halloween it was candy corn. I hate admitting this, but I actually love the stuff. Every year I talk about how disgusting those little candies are and then I actually eat one and I am once again hooked. Immediately. I found out some candy corn trivia today, and apparently it has been around since the 1880s, and it was the created by the same company that ended up creating the Jelly Belly jelly bean. Yup, I'm always full of useless information, but I bet you feel good knowing that by buying that candy corn you are keeping up a tradition.  My mother always put our candy corn in a dish next to those disgusting waxy type sugary pumpkins. You know the ones, right? They are about the size of a quarter, and orange with a little green top. I think they are made out of almost the same exact type of sugar mess that the candy corn is made out of, but six times the size and after eating one your teeth have a coating on them. They also don't really have a flavor. At all. I don't recommend the pumpkins, but to be honest, I think those were my mom's favorite.

Somebody is loving on these candy corns because they sell about 9 BILLION kernels every year. I contributed this year because we have around 100 kernels in our house. Who knew that candy corn was such a gold mine?! Anyway, I decided to use this tiny treat in my Halloween cookie this year. The Candy Corn Sugar Cookie was Martha Stewart's Cookie of the Day, and now it is also my cookie of the day. I hope you have a safe and fun Halloween and maybe you can use your leftover candy corn with these cookies. They are quite tasty and come in two easy flavors.  Enjoy and here is the recipe:

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies 

Recipe from Martha Stewart cookie of the day


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
About 36 candy corns


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl; beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms. It will be quite crumbly.

Scoop out teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls. Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch. They will also crack a little on the sides. 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

*Chocolate Variation: Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 1, and proceed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter

Today is National Food Day and I figured I would make something from scratch and have the root ingredient of the recipe come from a local farmer. I may sound naive, but I had no idea that area farmers grew peanuts. I recently saw raw, dry peanuts at the Minneapolis Farmers Market and decided to give roasting/shelling/peanut-buttering a try. It turns out that the smell of peanuts roasting is quite a warm and inviting smell. The smell alone is worth the extra effort.
If you are wondering what this whole National Food Day is, check out the website here: It's to inform you on how to help support your local farmers and the real food that they grow.

This roasting/shelling/peanut-buttering process took a while, I'm not going to lie. Luckily I had a very patient, wonderful man helping me shell and remove the skins and I am incredibly  grateful for him. Without his help I may have ripped out my hair. But, all that work is worth the end result. The taste of this peanut butter is incredible, it's warm and rich. It's not as smooth as store bought peanut butter, but it's not exactly chunky either. I have a smaller food processor so maybe if you have a larger, more powerful one it will smooth out those little lumps a bit better. I plan on using my peanut butter later in the week for peanut butter cookies. I'll keep you posted on how they taste with the homemade peanut butter!

Homemade Peanut Butter

15 ounces roasted peanuts* (you can either buy them or roast them yourself)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil

Add peanuts and honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 1 minute and then scrape down the sides of bowl. Add peanut oil and continue to process until mixture is smooth. You can store peanut butter in the refrigerator for two weeks.

*Roasting Raw Peanuts
2 pounds of raw in-shell peanuts
2 tablespoons of peanut oil
2 tablespoons of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse peanuts under cold water to remove any dirt that was left on them. Pat peanuts dry and toss with peanut oil and salt. Spread peanuts into a thing layer over two half sheet pans.
 Roast for 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Allow peanuts to cool before shelling. To remove the skin, place a kitchen towel on the counter with nuts on top. Fold the towel over and rub the towel against the nuts to separate the skin from the peanuts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze

 If there is one thing my family has prepared me for in life, it's a good old competition. We might be one of the most competitive families you'll ever meet and it's awesome.....sometimes. I've honestly pushed myself to try/do so many things that I wouldn't normally do because of my siblings. For example, I ran a 7K without any training just because I wanted to beat my brothers and sister. I'm not a runner and my body told me that loud and clear the next day. We may compete at everything we do, but at least we are spending time together and I have some amazing memories plus some pretty awful ones as well! So, when I saw that there was going to be a baking competition in Spooner, Wisconsin the same weekend I was going to be staying in a cabin there, I had to sign up. Apparently I can't say no to a competition, and why should I? Spooner was having their annual Jack-O-Lantern Festival and I felt the need to compete against the locals.

Apparently small towns take this stuff seriously. Like, really seriously. There were 3 older lady judges that tasted each entry, which there were many of. There was also four different categories and mine was entered into the 'Harvest cakes, breads and more' category. There were five different categories in which they judged each entry. Those categories were: overall presentation, overall taste, overall texture, use of featured harvest food item, and recipe. With all 3 judges combined, out of 75 possible points, I received a 72. I received 2nd place for this cake so whoever got first got close to a perfect score. That's pretty awesome. The only complaint these ladies had with my cake was with the amount of cloves used. They said it was just a little too strong, so in the recipe below I took out some of the cloves I had used and brought it down to 1 teaspoon. I hope you have a bundt pan so you can try this cake! It slices well and has really warm spice flavors. The salted caramel glaze is really tasty too. It's creamy and smooth and would even be good with just apples, which is how my friends wanted to eat the leftovers. Happy baking-

 Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, large
15-ounces pumpkin, one can

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

TO MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup bundt pan with a baking spray with flour.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the granulated sugar and oil in a large bowl and mix until moistened. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in the pumpkin. Slowly beat in the flour mixture, beating just until blended and smooth. Pour into the bundt pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minute. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and remove the pan. Cool completely.

TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt.

Pour glaze oven the cake while the glaze is still warm and cake has cooled. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Monkey Bread

Recently I've decided to try and step up my baking game. I wanted to attempt something that I've been completely terrified of....bread. First off, I wasn't sure if I would be patient enough for the whole 'rising' thing.  Second, I didn't know how the kneading would go. I get bored easily and I thought I would probably get sick if it. Well, I was completely wrong. I'm totally infatuated with this bread business! I ended up finding kneading completely relaxing. Beating the hell out of that dough really calms a person down. Well, it does for me anyhow but don't get me wrong, it was work. Sadly, my arms were feeling it after just a few minutes. Yup, I'm a complete wimp but I have a feeling that I'll be buff after a few more weeks of making breads. Hooo-Ha!

My first dough wasn't exactly a regular old loaf of bread.  I decided to make monkey bread, which I had never even tasted before. I needed a new pumpkin recipe to try out and after reading about this one it seemed like the right thing to try. In all honesty, I'm not a huge pumpkin fan. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat a slice of pumpkin pie if it's offered but it would never be my first choice. There isn't a whole lot of pumpkin puree used in this recipe but the taste is still there. After devouring part of this bread I realized that I found a new yeasty love. This is seriously an amazing treat. I've read that monkey bread is made to be eaten warm, right from the oven, but you can easily warm it up or eat it at room temperature. Any way you are going to have it is going to be awesome. This recipe ended up taking about 3 1/2 hours to do, including rising time. Totally worth it, folks. I will make this many more times! Enjoy and happy baking...

Pumpkin Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

For the dough:
3 1/4 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

For the coating:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 stick butter, melted

For the glaze:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and spices.

In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, water, pumpkin, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir until the dough comes together. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Spray a clean bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside.

Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

In the meantime, mix together the cinnamon and sugar, and melt the butter for the coating. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Once the dough has risen, shape the ball into a large rectangle. Using something sharp, cut the dough into roughly equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball (I had about 50 pieces, but you may have more or less).

Dip each ball of dough into the melted butter and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture, layering them in the bundt pan as you go.

Once you’ve used all the dough, cover the bundt pan and let the dough rise again for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out on to a platter. To make the glaze, beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla . Pour over the bread while it’s still warm.

*You don't need to use this particular glaze. Any sort of glaze, vanilla or maple, will do. I chose this one because I thought it would go nicely with the taste of pumpkin.