Half-Hearted Valentine Cookies

All done!!!

Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup Land O Lakes Butter(or your favorite)
1 package(3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze
1 cup semi-sweet real chocolate
1/4 cup Land O Lakes Butter

For cookies, in large mixer bowl, combine all cookie ingredients except flour. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until light and fluffy. Add flour; beat until mixed. Divide dough into halves. Wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with floured heart-shaped cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 7 to 10 minute, or until edges are very lightly browned. Removed immediately; cool completely.

For glaze, in small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally over low heat until melted, 4 to 6 minutes. Dip half of each heart into chocolate. Refrigerate on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet until firm. Store, covered, in refrigerator. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

This recipe comes from the Land O Lakes Cookie Collection.

What did I learn?

The glaze was a bit of a challenge for me because I could not get it smooth enough. I used Baker’s Dipping Chocolate for dipping the cookies and it worked great. Get 3 to be on the safe side. Heat up two and pour them into one container. This way your chocolate will be deep enough to cover half your cookie.

Cream cheese is sold in 3 ounce packages but you do not see it in the stores very often so I cut 3 ounces off the 8 ounce silver brick. You can save the rest for bagels. :)

Dessert Goodness…

Desert Goodness


Cakes Galore, originally uploaded by in2jazz.

I know you have been waiting and wondering when I would post the photos from last year’s Festival of Desserts. Click on the Cakes Galore link or the photo above to see more desserts. I used Flickr to create the photo album for this baked goodness. In addition scrumptious chicken and ham, we enjoyed the following desserts:

I ran short of time so I was unable to make the cheesecake and red velvet cake. I made the cinnamon rolls a couple weeks after the festival and they were great. Special thanks to CW, JS, & JS for the ham, chicken, and coffee. Also, thanks to everyone who took photos and sent them to me.

An introduction…

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Where do I start? Baking is just as much a part of my life as music. I usually am playing good music while baking. I think I first tried my hand at baking when I was in my teens. I had been thinking about creating a separate blog devoted to baking for a while but I could not imagine having two blogs. Not sure how often I will post over here as I do not bake every week. I can guarantee you lots of good photos and a fotoblog along the way. This clever photo was taken during the recent Christmas holiday baking season. I went through a lot of butter. I will tell you more about that real soon. Creating this blog was much easier than my first one. I dedicate this blog to my dad who passed 5 years ago on this day.

Cinnamony Goodness…

My first batch of cinnamon rolls!

Recipe borrowed lovingly from an awesome individual.

Cinnamon Rolls

4 1/2 – 5 C (unbleached/organic, if doable) flour
4 t active dry yeast (2 packages)
3/4 C milk
1/2 C water
1/2 C vegetable shortening (part butter — also, I use Spectrum’s non-hydrogenated shortening — it works very well)
1/2 C sugar (or rapadura, or ecocrystals, or turbinado)
1 t salt
2 eggs, room temperature

Measure 1 3/4 C flour into yr large mixer bowl. Add yeast and blend. Measure milk, water, shortening, sugar, and salt into saucepan. Blend. Heat until warm (about 120-130 degrees F).
Pour into flour/yeast mixture. Add eggs. Beat 30 seconds with electric mixer at low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 more minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stop mixer.

Gradually stir in more flour (by hand) to make a soft dough. It will be rather sticky. Knead on lightly floured board or counter until nice an’ smooth, about 5-10 minutes (it’s good exercise!!). Cover with bowl or pan and let rest for 20 minutes.

Shape as desired. Here’s what I do: I cut the hunk of dough in half, roll out one of the halves until it’s flat and rectangular and large, brush it with butter, sprinkle it with a cinnamon/sugar mixture, add raisins (sometimes), and roll it up. Then I cut off the ends and cut the rest into 1″ wide slices. They usually fit nicely into 2 9″ greased cake pans. Then I put them in a warm oven (I usually warm it to 200 degrees for a few minutes, then turn it off) with a pan of hot water under them and a foil tent over them and let them rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. You can ice these with powdered sugar icing (I usually do) after they’ve cooled off, but believe me when I tell you that they’re wonderful just plain and warm outta the oven. Cool them on a rack. When they’re cool, you can wrap them in foil, and freeze. Just warm them in a 250 oven for about 45 minutes and oooh boy, it’s like you just made ‘em.
Enjoy them — the recipe is from a cookbook called Homemade Bread, published by the Farm Journal people in 1969.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tbl of milk
1 tsp of vanilla

Add milk and powdered sugar to get the glaze to the consistency that you desire.

What did I learn?

My dad made cinnamon rolls for us when we were kids so every now and then the thought of making them myself would pop through my brain and then disappear. I had never made anything using yeast before so I was a little nervous about how these rolls would turn out. It was much easier than I expected and I learned that working with yeast was not as terrifying as I thought. I mixed everything by hand and kneaded the dough by hand as well. As you can see in the photo above, my pan was a little crowded so I will put less in the pan next time and measure my strips of cinnamon dough a little better. Overall, I was very pleased.

Holiday Baking (7 Up Cake and more)

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7 Up Cake
3 sticks of butter
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
3 cups of cake flour
3 tsps of lemon extract
3/4 cup of 7-Up

Preheat the oven to 325. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the eggs, flour, lemon extract and 7-Up; mix well. Spoon mixture into a 10-inch tube pan or 12 cup bundt pan coated with Baker’s Joy cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tests done when a wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Lemon Glaze

juice of one squeezed lemon
powdered sugar
Add powdered until you have the desired consistency then spread onto warm cake.

Recipe taken from “The Church Ladies’ Divine Desserts” by Brenda Rhodes Miller.
Another great cookbook is Joyce White’s “Brown Sugar: Soul Food Desserts from Family and Friends.” It is filled with holiday baking treasures.

I am very proud to present My Baking Portfolio which displays some of the tasty treasures that I have made over the past year. Don’t worry, I will continue writing about the music that we have all come to love but I also notice that occassionally people search the site for recipes so I decided to do this feature. I will eventually create a separate blog for baking, maybe. Here are some other holiday favorite for your enjoyment.

McNannygocious Pound Cake
Lunchroom Butter Cookies
Hershey’s Best Brownies/Banana Chocolate Walnut Brownies
Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pecan Tarts
Egg Nog Rum Cake
Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Red Velvet Cake