Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

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“Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies” is possibly one of the most unappetizing names for a cookie I have ever heard. They sound like the dessert that would go with a dinner of liver and onions served with prune juice.  But the name is very deceptive – they should in fact be called creamy butter cookies with a hint of cinnamon sprinkled with colorful sugar. But that also would not be a great name for a cookie. However, they would go wonderfully with just about anything – they are pretty basic in flavor such that they could easily complement a variety of desserts with more powerful elements.

Regardless, when I was roped into a promise to bake cookies for my students (we were playing a game, I said the winner would get a prize, then they decided they should all be winners in my eyes), I had to turn to my trusty cookie press to find a suitable recipe. This cookie press has made an appearance before, when I made chocolate shortbread cookies for my students on Valentine’s Day and butter cookies for Pickett Christmas last year. I love it because the recipes yield TONS of cookies (and when you have 150 students, you need TONS of cookies) and you can easily make something for any occasion, since it comes with all sorts of cool shape options. But enough free advertising for OXO.

I ended up doubling the recipe because I have more students than I did last year, and got about 175-200 cookies out of it (I figured my teacher friends wouldn’t mind some leftovers). But halving it will yield about 8 dozen cookies according to the original.

First, cube the butter and cream it together with the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In case you’re wondering, this is what 4 sticks of butter cubed looks like. I promise there is some cream cheese underneath.

 

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Add the sugar and egg whites and beat until light and fluffy.

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Add the vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. The dough should be pretty smooth at this point.

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In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and salt.

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Add gradually to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.  For me, a considerable amount of flour ended up on the counter instead of in the bowl. Also, I began to fear for my stand mixer because the dough was pretty thick, so you should probably switch to the dough hook at this point instead of the paddle. I switched to a wooden spoon because I’m overprotective of my little yellow mixer.

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Fill the cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased baking sheets and sprinkle with sugar. I used leaves because it was the most Fall shape I had, and red sugar because A&P’s baking decorations are anemic at best, but you could get pretty creative with this step if you felt so inclined.

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Bake at 350°F for about 8 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow to cool on cookie sheet about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. Store in an airtight container.

Pro Tip: if you’re making TONS of cookies, like I did, you might find that the cookies don’t stick readily to a cookie sheet that has already been baked on.  I found that if you wipe it down with a paper towel to absorb some of the grease and then waited until the tray was cooled to room temperature, you have better luck. This makes the process take a little longer, but it’s wicked frustrating to try to press a cookie onto a warm baking sheet and not have it release properly, so it’s worth it.

Enjoy!

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Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and cubed butter with the paddle attachment.
  2. Add the sugar and egg yolks, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract to incorporate.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, using the dough hook to beat until well blended.
  4. Fill cookie press fit with desired disk. Press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet and decorate as desired.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
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Pumpkin Roll

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“You haven’t made anything pretty in awhile. You should make something pretty.” That was my mom’s input this weekend when we were discussing what I should bake.  So while she was puzzling over kitchen appliances with different salesmen, I spent some time on Pinterest looking for a pretty fall dessert. There were all sorts of cool shaped cookies, but I’ve done sugar cookies before, and snickerdoodles don’t lend themselves to much more than a circle. Then I found a pumpkin roll, and I was intrigued.

I’ve never made a roll cake before, but I did know that jelly roll pans, which I generally just call cookie sheets, are actually made for this particular kind of cake. In the interest of using bakeware for its intended purpose, I went for it.

So after a pumpkin trifecta breakfast at my favorite bagel shop, Gunther Tooties (pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese and pumpkin coffee), we got to work.

First, beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at high speed for 5 minutes, or until thick and yellow.

 

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Put the mixer down to medium speed and beat in the pumpkin puree.  Side note: I had no idea there were companies other than Libby’s that made canned pumpkin.  There are. And Foodies (local grocery store) only stocks non-Libby’s, which was a shock.

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Add the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice and beat at low speed until just combined.

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Pour batter and spread evenly over a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan prepared with parchment paper.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.

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Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched.  Turn out immediately onto a tea towel sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and roll starting on the short side.

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You want to roll the cake right away so that it is still pliable enough not to crack.  Allow it to cool in the towel for at least an hour, but no more than five.  Meanwhile, prepare the filling by first beating the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until fluffy.

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Add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat until desired consistency.

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When the cake is sufficiently cool, unroll the towel and spread the cream cheese filling over the entire cake.  Roll it right back up – this shouldn’t be hard since it cooled that way!

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If you’ve done this right, the pecans will be on the outside and you’ll have a good roll when viewed from the end.

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Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for another hour or more before serving.  You can make this ahead of time by a day or two – It will be fine in the fridge.

When you’re ready to serve, just slice it up! Easy AND pretty!

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Also, huge shout out to my parents for hosting me this weekend – I know you always thought Pete was the messy one, but I can do some serious damage in a kitchen. Love you guys!

Enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs and sugar together at high speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy and yellow.
  2. Reduce speed to medium and beat in pumpkin puree.
  3. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice until just combined.
  4. Pour into 15×10 inch jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper and spread evenly. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.  Turn out immediately onto tea towel sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.  Roll from short end and allow to cool 1 to 5 hours.
  6. Beat together the cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until desired consistency.
  7. Unroll cake and spread with icing.  Roll back up, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill until serving.

Pumpkin Magic Bars

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This weekend, a friend from college and I were going to go apple picking. Then we were going to make awesome apple-filled desserts. Then it rained.

So, instead, we “picked” apples from A&P, as well as some other goodies, and decided to try a recipe she had found on Baker’s Royale for pumpkin magic bars.  Now, I’m all about magic bars.  I’ve posted them before here, and the addition of pumpkin was brilliant in my opinion. However, baking is always an adventure, and there are definitely some modifications I would make to this one if I were to try it again.

But first, let’s go through what we actually did.

Melt the butter and mix it with the graham cracker crumbs, pressing it into the bottom of a 9×13 pan lined with aluminum foil.

 

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Combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Pour over the crust.

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Peel and core the apples, and then use the large side of a grating box to shred them.  Add them on top of the pumpkin layer.

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Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, the chopped almonds, and the coconut.

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Bake at 350°F for about 35 to 45 minutes. The coconut on the top should be browned.  Allow to cool completely in the pan, then chill in the fridge before slicing.

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Now, full disclosure, we didn’t chill it before slicing it, which could have been the culprit in why we ended up with more of a magic bar crumble than anything that could actually be a bar.  And, really, there is no problem with serving this particular dessert in a bowl with a spoon and just digging in.

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But, over dinner, we discussed some changes that could be made, probably to the benefit of the recipe.

First, use an 8×8 pan.  The bars were to thin. You would probably have to cook them on the longer side for this, but that’s fine.

Second, drizzle the pumpkin/condensed milk mixture over the top of the bars rather than over the graham cracker layer.  This would better seal in the coconut and toppings and probably help with the structure.

Third, the apples really had no place in this.  You could leave them out and have a better result.

Now, I’ll post the recipe as I baked it, so you know what you’re getting (magic bar crumble, in case you forgot), but feel free to try the modifications and let me know in the comments how it went!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Magic Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 apples, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup salted almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and combine it with the graham cracker crumbs.  Press them into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan lined with aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Pour over graham cracker crust.
  3. Sprinkle the shredded apples over the pumpkin layer.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut on top.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes.  Allow to cool completely in pan, chill in fridge, and slice into bars.

Pumpkin Granola

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I fully intended to bake something to bring into work tomorrow morning.  I even told more than one person that I would.  But then Shannon Rose didn’t have Pumpkinhead.  And though Octoberfest is well and good, I didn’t get my pumpkin fix and decided I needed to make myself something pumpkin instead.  I also didn’t really feel like doing a lot of grocery shopping, so granola was the clear winner.  I’ve made granola before, but this one might be even better.  It clumped really nicely (important in a granola), was slightly salty (also important), and was my first pumpkin adventure of the fall (extremely important!).

And, it’s quick and easy! First, mix the oats and spices in a large bowl.

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Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth.

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Pour the liquid ingredients into the oats and stir to coat.

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Spread the oats evenly over a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 325°F and remove from oven to stir.

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Return to oven for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.  I think it’s because of the lower baking temperature, but this granola seemed much more resistant to the threat of burning than other recipes I have tried.

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Stir in the craisins and pepitas and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  See? Easy!

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Granola

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup pepitas

Directions:

  1. Stir together oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the oats and stir to coat.
  4. Spread evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 325°F for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and stir oats.  Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in craisins and pepitas.  Allow to cool completely on baking sheet.