Chocolate Citrus Almond Cookies

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Chocolate Citrus Almond Cookies

We all have a friend or two with crazy dietary restrictions. I tried several recipes for those of my friends with a gluten allergy and could never find one that tasted any good. Well these cookies tasted so good that you don’t even have to say, “they’re gluten free.” We’ve put our Will Bake 4 Food twist gluten free cookies! Here’s How:

Ingredients:

DRY:

½ lb granulated sugar (about 1 C), reserving 3 tablespoons out for meringue

½ lb  Finely ground almond flour (about 2 C)

2 oz (1/2 thin bar) grated 100% cocoa bakers’ chocolate, grated

½-3/4 t ground cinnamon

1 orange (or lemon) rind, grated

 

WET/Meringue:

3 large egg whites, room temp

1/8 t cream of tartar

3 T sugar (reserved from the ½ lb.)

1 t pure vanilla extract

topping (optional):

almond slivers or whole almonds

Other Stuff:

Large mixing bowl

Small mixing bowl

Fine and medium graters

Kitchen scale

Hand held/stand mixer fitted with whisk

Cookie scoop/teaspoon

2 large baking sheets

Parchment paper/silicone mat

 

Instructions:

Separate egg whites from yolks and allow to come to room temperature. Reserve the yolks for a delicious pastry cream or fruit curd!

Preheat oven to 300DegF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper/silicone mat and set aside.

Measure out sugar and reserve 3 Tablespoons into a separate ramekin.  Add Almond Flour Grated Chocolate, cinnamon, and finally grated orange to sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set this mixture aside.

In bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they begin to be frothy, add in the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the reserved 3 T of sugar a little at a time until all is in the mixture. Whisk for about 2 ½-3 Min until hard peaks form. Add in vanilla and whisk just until incorporated.

Fold the dry mixture into the meringue about 1/3 at a time until a stiff dough is formed. With a teaspoon or small cookie scoop portion out the dough onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. I like to measure these out and then go back and roll them in between the palms of my hands to form a smooth ball. Once the sheets are full, top each ball with and almond sliver. Bake for a total of 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans half way through baking.  Once baked, allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes on the sheet before removing to a cooling rack; this will allow the cookies to set. I often have 2 baking sets of these.

The combination for bitter chocolate, sugar and orange zest is one that is hard to describe, but I would say it’s Heaven J. The BEST part about these cookies is that when stored in an airtight container, they will keep for up to 7 days (they won’t last that long). 

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Browned Butter Snickerdoodles

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Browned Butter Snickerdoodles

If you’ve ever bought a cookie during the holiday season, you’ve likely seen one called a “snickerdoodle.” Unlike how they sound, these cookies have nothing to do with “Snickers.” Traditional versions of this New England treat use cream of tartar in the recipe, BUT if you don’t happen to have that in your pantry and you need a quick snack to take to work or a party, we substitute that chemical reaction with brown sugar! One other element for a slight variation that we add to give the flavor a more balanced, “nutty” flavor is to brown the butter. Here’s how:

Ingredients:

DRY:

½ C Dark/light brown sugar

1 C granulated Sugar

3 C AP Flour

¼ t cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

WET:

1 C (2 sticks) butter, browned (salted is fine)

1 t water

3 Grade A Large Eggs, room temp

1 t vanilla extract

 

Topping:

¼ C granulated sugar

1 T ground cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg

Other Stuff:

Heavy bottomed pot

Bowl for butter to cool

Large bowl

Wooden/silicone spoon

Cookie/Ice cream scoop

Medium bowl for cinnamon sugar

Small cup

 

Instructions:

First things first, we must brown the butter so that it can cool. In a heavy bottomed sauce pot, place cubed butter over medium-low heat swirling periodically until melted. Then with a spatula, keep stirring the butter until it releases a nutty aroma and becomes “frothy.” You’ll start to see it separate the whey, keep mixing it until there browned bits that come up in the froth. Once this is complete, immediately remove the butter from pot to allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 425DegF; Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugars together first and then add in spices, salt, baking soda and flour, set aside.  If you’re impatient like I am, I break the 3 eggs into a bowl, whisk and temper them with the browned butter. Add the vanilla and water (this is to replace water that will have cooked out during the browning process). Add the Wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a spoon until it comes together. The dough will be thick.

 

Whisk together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. With a cookie/ice cream scoop, portion out the dough onto the lined cookie sheets.  Once the cookie sheet is full and the spacing is set, take each mound of dough and roll it between the palm of your hands until a smooth ball forms. Roll this in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place back onto the baking sheet.  Once all balls are coated, take the bottom of a glass and flatten the sugar dough balls.  Bake each between 7-9 minutes. Rotating pans ½ way through. I like to make a “cookie factory” by getting one pan done on the top wrack and then ½ way through transfer ½ baked pan to bottom, inserting the next pan into the top.

 

Once the snickerdoodles are baked, allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes on the pan and remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The BEST part about these cookies is that they’ll last 7-10 days in an airtight container without going stale. SO, a bake ahead is very simple for a busy time like the holidays. 

ENJOY! 

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

Have you ever been flipping through a magazine in the checkout line and notice a dessert called “Pineapple upside down cake,” but it looks perfectly right side up? It’s an interesting concept, but the topping is cooked on the bottom and then flipped! I have to thank King Arthur Flour for the base of this recipe! Either way you slice it, this is a delicious cake! Here’s how:

Ingredients:

Cake batter:

Dry:

2 C All-purpose Flour

2 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ t ground cinnamon (if you’re more of a cinnamon guru, up this to ¾ t)

Wet:

½ C butter (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp

1 C granulated sugar

2 large eggs, separated, room temp

½ C milk, room temp

1 t vanilla extract

Topping:

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

½ C Dark Brown Sugar

½ C Light Brown sugar

20 oz can pineapple rings preserved in pineapple juice, drained

24 maraschino cherries (you can get by with 15 or so. . . )

 

Other Stuff:

Large mixing bowl

Stand mixer/hand held mixer fitted with paddle or beaters

High sided small bowl for beating egg whites

9” (measured of bottom diameter) X 2” cast-iron skillet. 

Pastry brush/silicone basting brush

Serving platter at least 11”in diameter.

 

Instructions:

Separate Eggs and allow to come to room temp along with butter. Drain a 20 oz can or pinneapple rings.  (I generally set out my eggs to come to room temp then separate. . . whatever works best for your time frame. . . )

Preheat oven to 350 DegF with racks placed in the middle and lower third of the oven. 

Whisk together the Dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.

Break up the butter until it coats the bowl and then add sugar and beat/cream for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, with a whisk beat your egg whites until frothy and set aside.  

Make sure to scrape down the sides of the butter bowl at least once during the creaming process. Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar and mix and scrape the bowl once more. Add in vanilla and whiz once more.

Now you’re ready to mix in the Dry ingredients alternating with the milk, starting with 1/3 of the dry, ½ milk, 1/3 dry, ½ milk and ending with the last third of the dry. The batter will be rather thick here.

It’s now time to fold in the egg whites. Slack the batter up with 1/3-1/2 of the egg white mixture by “cutting down the middle and going round the outside.” Continue until no frothy white mixture is visible. Fold in the last of the egg whites.  After your batter is smooth, set it aside while you prepare the pan and topping.

In your skillet, melt the butter make sure to work it around the pan bottom and pull it up the sides of the pan with a pastry/basting brush to ensure the release of the cake batter once baked. Sprinkle and spread the brown sugar mixture over the bottom of the pan atop the butter. Don’t “pack” it.  Cover with drained pineapple rings. The size of ring/pan will determine the actual number, but mine is generally between 7 and 8. . .  Pour over rested batter and spread evenly across the pineapple and brown sugar topping.

Place in the middle of the oven for 40-50 minutes.  I like to turn my pan ½ way through a la “20 and turn.”  Mine took about 42 minutes total to bake. The cake is fully baked when it’s a nice golden color, it bounces back, and a cake tester comes out clean. 

After baked, within 3 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake with an offset spatula or butter knife. Then place your serving platter on top of the pan and invert the cake. If one or two of the pineapples have stuck, DON’T worry! You can scrape them off and make sure to put the brown sugar side up on top of the upside-down cake.

THEN, put on your cherries in the middle of each ring and in any space that you see fit. I try to make mine as symmetrical as possible. 

NOW, you need to let the cake cool for about 30 minutes before serving. The BEST part is this cake will last for several days in the fridge wrapped directly with plastic wrap. SO, you could even make it a couple of days ahead during a busy holiday season!

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Citrus Dream Bundt Cake

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Citrus Dream Bundt Cake

Have you ever been walking through a store and you see “lemon pound cake” and wonder, “Does it really weigh a pound?” Well, by the time you’re done with this recipe, it won’t matter how much it weighs because it’s DELICIOUS! This is an adaptation of King Arthur Flour’s Lemon Bliss Cake. Here’s our Will Bake 4 Food twist:

Ingredients:

Cake:

WET:

^8 oz of butter, I always use salted, at room temp

2 C Granulated Sugar

4 Large Eggs, room temp

1 C milk, whole is best, room temp

Zest of 2 large lemons

DRY:

3 C All-Purpose flour

^½ t salt

2 t baking powder

^if using unsalted butter, increase salt in dry mixture to 1 t

Glaze:

1/3 C Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (Use those two that you zested)

¾ C sugar

Icing (optional, but TRUST me, don’t skip it!):

1 ½ C powdered sugar, sifted

2 T salted butter, melted

1 ½ t. pure vanilla extract

2-3 T freshly squeezed Lemon juice (I had enough from my 2 lemons)

12-15 Candied lemon slices.

Other Stuff:

Bundt pan (10-12 cup)

Non-stick cooking spray, I use Baker’s Joy

Stand/handheld mixer, fitted with paddle/beater attachment

High rimmed serving platter

Heavy bottomed pot for glaze to dissolve

Small/medium mixing bowl

Wooden spoon

Instructions:

Allow butter to come to room temperature. Measure out the milk and in a separate bowl break eggs open into a bowl to allow the chill to be knocked off while putting everything together. Preheat oven to 350DegF. Thoroughly grease a standard 10-12 Cup bundt pan.

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This is the part that I’ve learned takes WAY longer than we might think. I literally set my timer for about 3 minutes and let it go. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl measure out flour salt and baking powder and whisk together, set aside.

Into the creamed butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. After the final addition, scrape down to bowl to ensure all of the creamed butter is coated and the mixture is homogeneous. Add the Dry mixture in three parts alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the dry. Lastly, pour in lemon zest and then give a final mix.

With a spatula spoon the batter into your pre-greased bundt pan and smooth the top out. TAP on a hard surface to release any air bubbles that may have formed in the batter from this pouring.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 55 minutes. I usually do “25 and turn” and then start testing after 50 minutes. Once a toothpick/cake tester come out clean midway from flute to edge of the pan, the cake is DONE!

In the last 5 minutes of baking, begin your glaze by combining the sugar and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pot (or if you feel comfortable microwaving, that’s an option). Stir and place over med-high heat. Heat just until sugar is dissolved. No need to boil.  Once cake has passed the done testing, remove from oven and carefully loosen edges of cake from pan with an offset spatula or a butter knife, Don’t forget the flute! With a cooling rack placed on the top of the pan, invert and allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. I like to put wax or parchment paper underneath my cooling rack during this time. Remove the pan and with a brush, apply glaze until it’s all gone; THIS is why I use wax paper. Let the cake cool completely before applying the final icing.

Mix the confectioner’s sugar, melted butter, and vanilla together then gradually add in the lemon juice to get the consistency that you would like. You may not use all of the lemon juice prepared.

Pour the icing over the cake making sure that the icing runs toward the inside as well as the outside of the bundt shape.

Finally, garnish by making a slit in the lemon slices and spreading them so that they stand up all around the iced cake.

It does take a little time, but the result of your guests eyes will be mesmerized by this Citrus Dream! 

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Candied Lemons

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Candied Lemons

I know this is a “baking” blog, but sometimes, we have to “no bake” to get a great result ;) I came across a lemon pound cake recipe and wanted to work on the garnish a bit. I stumbled across something that I’ve never seen in stores in the Midwest, BUT there are in “citrus” areas. So, with a little research, I was able to figure out how to “candy” some lemons! It’s not super hard, but it does take a little time. . . Here’s How:

 

Indredients:

Blanching Liquid:

3 C water

1 C Ice

1 C of water

 

Wet:

2 C Sugar

2 C Water

2 Lemons (I used smaller ones and that seemed to help with “breaking” the pulp)

 

Toping:

¼ C Granulated sugar

 

Other Stuff:

Medium sized Heavy-bottomed pot

Vegetable mandolin set to the thinnest setting

Paring knife

Slotted spoon

Tongs

Bowl for ice water

Large high sided skillet

Parchment paper

Cooling rack

 

Instructions:

Start 3 Cups of water to boil. Cut the ends off of lemons to obtain a flat surface and run each lemon across mandolin set on the thinnest setting (1/8 inch).  There will be seeds that make it through. I use a paring knife to make sure that my lemon slices are as free of seeds as possible. Set up the ice water as soon as the water in the pot comes to a boil.

Blanch the slices by placing them in the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Once water achieves a boil once again, let them boil for about 30 seconds and immediately remove and put them in the ice water.  Repeat this process 2 more times. Why? Well, once you candy the lemons, the pith is trapped in the sugar syrup, but the blanching will take a bit of the bitterness away from the pith.

After the last blanch icing, start to prepare the simple syrup by placing the sugar and water in the large pan over medium heat stirring just until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat to just a simmer (Low-Medium Low).  My tell was if there was steam and “tiny bubbles” (reminds me of a song ;)) In one layer, place your lemon slices in the sugar syrup as much in a single layer as possible (some will slide on top of others, it’s okay). These will need to simmer for about 75-90 minutes until they are “transparent” in color: the pith will be not quite but almost see-through instead of opaque.  I set my timer and turn each slice over every 15 minutes during this time with tongs. Be very careful to keep an eye on the sugar syrup, if it starts to boil, it will caramelize and that turns bitter REALLY fast.

Meanwhile, set up a piece of parchment paper on a cooling rack. Once your slices are complete, remove from syrup and place in one layer on the parchment paper. Let them cool for about 30 minutes, and then sprinkle with half of the granulated sugar, and then flip and use the other half on the other side. Save your simple syrup into a jar to let cool and then refrigerate up to 2 weeks. It’s Really GREAT in tea!

Let these sit out overnight to absorb the granulated sugar and then you they should be “dry” enough to put in a container to store. They will remain pliable, and they are DELICIOUS! 

Single Layer in simple syrup

Single Layer in simple syrup

Post candying before sprinkled in sugar. 

Post candying before sprinkled in sugar. 

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