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Here is day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!

I really like making, and using a dough that is made with cream cheese and butter. Not only do I find it easy to work with, but the end result is always flaky and rich.

You will always find kolachi on my cookie trays. Sure, it may be a little involved, but it is well worth the effort! Also, kolachi freezes really well, so if you don’t need/want to bake up the entire batch, freeze some! They are great to have on hand when the holiday get-togethers stretch into January!

Brownie Kolachi
Brownie filling recipe from Fine Cooking

Kolachi dough:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour

Brownie filling:
2 oz. 65% dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz. 85% dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour

Additional sugar for sprinkling the tops of the kolachi

Do not preheat oven…dough has to chill.

To make the kolachi dough:
In a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Scrape down the sides. On low-speed, add in the sugar and egg yolk. Slowly add in the flour, 1 cup at a time. Once the flour is incorporated, wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.

To make the brownie filling:
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each one, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt. Add in the eggs, stirring well after each one. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl (with a lid or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To assemble the kolachi:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper- set aside.

Remove the dough and filling from the refrigerator. Place the filling into a piping bag or a sturdy zip-lock bag and snip the end/corner off, then set aside. On a flat surface, sprinkle with flour and don’t be shy- this dough will roll better with lots of flour. Unwrap your dough and on the floured surface, roll out until 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or glass (you are looking for a 3 inch circle), cut out your cookies. Place onto cookie sheet, one right next to the other (we are going to fold the dough, so that will create the space we need between the cookies).  Pipe 1 tablespoon of filling down the center of each cookie. Fold in one side of the dough, just to the center, then dab a bit of water onto the dough and fold over the other side of dough (see pictures below). After you have completed filling and folding the rest of the cookies, sprinkle sugar over them.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, move cookies onto cooling racks and cool completely. Enjoy!

Notes:
1. These can be made ahead of time (not baked) and frozen. Freeze on the cookie sheets- once frozen they can be placed in freezer zip-lock bags. Let thaw, then bake as directed.
2. An off-set spatula or bench scraper works well to pick up the cut-out cookies, in order to place them on the cookie sheets.

 

I’m linked to: Taste and Tell.

Made with love, not calories!

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Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!

There is something about a dough that starts with cream cheese and butter, that just tells me it is going to be rich and delicious. This holds true for rugelach dough. It works well with a multitude of fillings, from the simple sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar, to a richer filling of salted caramel. I chose to fill mine with black raspberry preserves and mini chocolate chips.

Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Rugelach
Dough recipe from Serious Eats

Dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups flour

Filling:
Seedless black raspberry preserves
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Topping:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

To make the dough:
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. With the mixer on low-speed, add in the vanilla, salt, sugar, and brown sugar. Add in the flour, 1 cup at a time until well combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To assemble the dough:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a well floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of dough until it is a 12 x 4 inch rectangle. Spread on some of the black raspberry preserves, then sprinkle on 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Starting with one long side, roll the dough up jelly roll style, making sure the seam is on the bottom. With a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 inch pieces. Transfer the pieces onto a cookie sheet (24 pieces per cookie sheet). Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the mixture on the top of the rugelach. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, move the rugelach onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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It’s been a while since I have posted a brownie recipe. Which is a shame, because I really, really like brownies!!

Pumpkin and chocolate go well together. Add in some cheesecake and I will say that you have a tasty brownie! These are simple to put together, as I took a little help from the store and used a box brownie mix. However, you can use your own homemade brownie recipe if you like. The pumpkin cheesecake mixture is creamy with just the right amount of pumpkin and spices. As an added Fall touch, I added leaf sprinkles to the tops of the brownies, but they aren’t necessary!

One year ago: Apple Cider Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

1- 19.5 oz. box brownie mix
3 eggs, divided
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 baking pan, by either greasing it or lining it with aluminum foil and then greasing the foil. Note: I use aluminum foil and cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix with 2 eggs, the water, and vegetable oil. Mix until everything is well combined. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside.

In the same bowl (no need to wash it!), and using a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, remaining egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Once the mixture is well combined and is smooth, spread it evenly over the brownie batter. Using a dinner knife or a small spatula, swirl the 2 mixtures together. Note: I accomplish this by doing an up and over motion with the brownie batter, all the way around the pan. Then drag the knife back and forth, width-wise and length-wise (you can see in the picture below, the drag marks made length-wise).

Bake in a preheated oven for 33-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the brownies. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

One additional note: another way to accomplish the marble effect would be to layer the 2 batters. Put half of the brownie batter in the pan, top it with all of the pumpkin cheesecake batter, then add the remaining brownie batter by little spoonfuls. Then use your knife to drag through the circles. There really isn’t a wrong way, so have fun with it!!

Made with love, not calories!

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Here is the final challenge* from Willow Bird Baking…Cheesecake!

I believe I have mentioned before that while I like making cheesecakes, they don’t seem to really like me! I almost always get cracks in mine. And while cracks don’t affect the taste of the cheesecake, they just don’t look as pretty as I would like (and I’m not crazy about covering them up with sour cream. Chocolate, yes. Sour cream, no.). However, I do like making mini cheesecakes. They don’t seem to crack! Yay!

For our final challenge, I made pumpkin gingersnap mini cheesecakes. (Sorry about all the pumpkin recipes lately.)  I used store-bought gingersnap cookies as the crust. No need to crush them- a whole cookie goes in the bottom of the cupcake liner! Then a simple pumpkin cheesecake batter gets spooned over each cookie. A quick bake, and you have a fun hand-held dessert that you can take to a Halloween party!

One Year Ago: Eye Balls (Cake Balls)

Pumpkin Gingersnap Mini Cheesecakes
Makes 24

24 gingersnap cookies (I used store-bought)
2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin/cupcake pans with 24 liners. Place one gingersnap cookie on the bottom of each liner. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (a hand-held mixer would also work), cream together the cream cheese and sugars. Add in the pumpkin puree and the eggs and mix well. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on and add in the spices and salt. Once everything has been combined, evenly distribute the batter over the gingersnap cookies. Bake in a preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, or just until the cheesecakes are set in the centers. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!

* Willow Bird Baking had 5 weeks of challenges. Sadly I missed the first one. Below you will find links to the big revels and what I made for weeks 2-4.
Week 2 challenge: Breakfast BraidsNutella Breakfast Braid
Week 3 challenge: Stuffed CookiesSamoa Stuffed Sugar Cookies
Week 4 challenge: Filled cupcakesBoston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Made with love, not calories!

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A blog that I read, Willow Bird Baking, is having 5 weeks of baking challenges!

Sadly, I missed last weeks challenge (challenge #1), but I am hoping to be able to complete the last 4.

This weeks challenge was to use the dough in Julie’s Raspberry Almond Braid. We were allowed to use whatever fillings and topping we wanted.

After making the dough, I started poking around through my pantry and refrigerator to see what I could use as a filling. Yup- I really planned ahead on this one!! In the front of my pantry was a jar of Nutella. Mmmm, chocolate! (and for anyone who just read that in a Homer Simpson voice- thank you!)

This was a really easy dough to make and to assemble. It goes together quickly and bakes quickly too! I plan on making these again, but making individual sized ones.

Nutella Breakfast Braid
Dough recipe lightly adapted from Willow Bird Baking via Luna Cafe

2 cups flour, sifted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup Nutella

Vanilla Bean Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add in the butter and cream cheese. Let the mixer run until everything is incorporated and the mixture resembles small pebbles. Still on low speed, add in the milk and vanilla bean paste. The dough should come together rather quickly.

Flour a flat work surface and turn out the dough from the stand mixer. Lightly knead the dough a few times. Don’t overwork it! Roll the dough out into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle, then transfer the dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread the Nutella down the center of the dough (see picture below). Cut diagonal slices down both sides, being careful not to cut into the center portion on the dough where the Nutella is. Fold the strips over the center portion, beginning on one side with one strip, then going to the other side, all the way down. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.

To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste. Pour over the warm breakfast braid, cut and serve. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day!

I can’t find information on how National Chocolate Chip Day came to be, but here is a blurb on chocolate chips!
“Chocolate chips are a required ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, which were invented in 1937 when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. The cookies were a huge success, and Wakefield reached an agreement in 1939 with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar’s packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars. In 1941 Nestlé and one or more of its competitors started selling the chocolate in chip (or “morsel”) form.[1] The Nestlé brand Toll House cookies is named for the inn.” (Source)

I have been wanting to make rugelach cookies for a while now, and I have seen recipes that call for chocolate chips in the filling. So you know I’m going to go with that recipe! It is National Chocolate Chip Day!

The rugelach dough combines cream cheese and butter, so the dough needs to be refrigerated, but it is an easy dough to work with (and tasty too!). The filling of sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and mini chocolate chips, comes together quickly and provides a nice chocolate taste without losing the taste of the pastry dough. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate (I still like you!), you can easily substitute some cinnamon for the cocoa powder and add chopped nuts in place of the chocolate chips!

Chocolate Chip Rugelach
Recipe from Serious Eats
Makes 48 cookies

Note: I only made one small change from the original recipe- I used mini chocolate chips instead of bittersweet chocolate. That said, click on the link above for the complete recipe and detailed directions!

Made with love, not calories!

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Just so that you know, I am still infatuated with Biscoff cookies and Biscoff Spread!

I came across Oreo Truffles the other day and knew I needed to make them with Biscoff cookies. So that’s what I did! Crushed Biscoff cookies, cream cheese, and Biscoff spread-all mixed together and dipped in white chocolate. Easy and delicious! Now, if you don’t have the Biscoff spread, just increase the amount of cream cheese until you have a soft enough mixture that you can roll.

Biscoff Truffles
Makes 24 truffles
Prep time: 45 minutes    Resting time: Up to 30 minutes

1 8.8 oz. package of Biscoff cookies
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Biscoff spread*
1/2 lb. white melting chocolate

In a food processor, pulse the unwrapped cookies until they resemble crumbs. Set aside 2 tablespoons worth of the crumbs. To the rest of the cookies, add in the cream cheese and the Biscoff spread. Pulse till the mixture is combined and starts to bind together. *Note: I used creamy Biscoff spread- if you use crunchy, you may need to use more as it has a thicker consistency.

With a small ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture and work it in your hands a couple times, then roll it into a ball. Place the ball onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Continue until all the cookie mixture has been rolled. Set aside (note: if they feel soft after rolling them, put the cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. After that time has elapsed, go ahead and melt your chocolate).

In a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate for 30 second intervals until melted (adding vegetable or coconut oil if needed). With a fork or circular dipping tool, dip the truffle centers into the white chocolate. Cover completely and gently tap off the excess chocolate. Place the truffle back on the wax paper and sprinkle on the Biscoff cookie crumbs that you set aside earlier. After all the truffles have been dipped, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until the chocolate has set. Remove from the refrigerator and enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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Pumpkin Rolls

I like pumpkin rolls. Even better- Nick likes pumpkin rolls. He isn’t a big sweets eater (and that just means more for me!), but he really likes these pumpkin rolls- frozen. Me- I like mine a little thawed out (with cool whip- don’t judge!). Regardless, they are yummy and not overly difficult to make.

There are a couple of steps to making these, so you need to plan accordingly, but I promise they are worth the effort. Plus, it gives you an excuse to use those tea towels that have been hanging out in your linen closet for the last 11 months (oh wait- that’s just me?).

This recipe was given to me by my Aunt Barb…who really isn’t my Aunt (we aren’t related at all). It’s a long story and I know you don’t care are anxiously awaiting the recipe!

Pumpkin Rolls
Makes 1 roll

Dough:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup flour

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a jelly roll pan (I use cooking spray). Line it with wax paper, letting a little hang over the sides. Spray wax paper with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add in the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Whisk till combined. Add in flour and whisk gently. You want to make sure all the flour is incorporated. Pour pumpkin mixture onto your prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until set. *Note: if you touch it lightly, no batter should stick to your finger.
Place tea towel on counter and dust with 1/3 cup of powdered sugar…making sure to cover the whole surface.
While cake is still hot, flip onto the tea towel (don’t hold onto the wax paper- it will be sticking to the cake). Carefully peel away the wax paper. Starting with the short side of the cake, roll up the tea towel and cake. Set aside to cool- at least 1 hour.

To make the filling: In a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and the butter. Add in the vanilla. On slow speed, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides, then increase the speed slightly and let everything combine completely. Once combined, and your cake is cooled, you are ready to fill your pumpkin roll.
Unroll your cake and spread on the cream cheese filling- stopping about 1/4  inch away from all the sides. Lightly re-roll your pumpkin roll (the starting edge should already be curling up slightly).  Don’t apply too much pressure when you are rolling, or all your filling will get squeezed out! Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, or at least 2 hours.
*Note: I like to freeze mine, so I double wrap it in plastic wrap, then wrap it in aluminum foil.

Ready for the oven

Baked and ready for the tea towel

Towel- dusted with powdered sugar

Starting to roll

Cream cheese filling

Re-rolling. Almost done!

Made with love, not calories!

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