Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Sprinkle sugar cookies

So, yesterday, I totally had one of those panic realizations that Halloween is this month.  How did I forget something like that!?  This year has been going by so quickly, I can’t seem to keep up with the time!  Before we know it, there will be snow on the ground!  Although, I must admit, I am pretty excited to decorate our new place for Christmas.  Yes, I am weird like that.  I can’t help it, I love Christmas lights!

sprinkle sugar cookies

So, about these cookies.  Aren’t they just adorable?  What is it about sprinkles that makes everything cuter?  These sugar cookies are soft, chewy and just down-right delicious.  The rainbow sprinkles could definitely be exchanged for some holiday themed sprinkles.  Red, green and white for Christmas anyone?

Confetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients with the on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Scoop the dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each.  Space them evenly on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are just set and the edges are barely browned, about 15-16 minutes.  Let cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

It’s October!  Time to embrace apple season!!  I always look forward to apple pies, among other things.  Last year, I made an apple pie with caramel sauce.  Drizzling it over the pie is great, but I thought- why not mix it in with the pie filling?  Brilliant!  And I just had to make my favorite vanilla bean caramel sauce, but I put a twist on it.  I added more salt so we’ve got the sweet and salty thing going on here.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

This pie is fabulous.  It is beyond fabulous.  The sauce just makes it over the top.  And, I couldn’t resist drizzling it over the top of the pie either.  I made the same pie recipe since it’s my favorite.  This brings a basic, delicious apple pie above and beyond.  It’s a great way to dive into apple season!

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Yield: 1 apple pie

  • dough enough for two crusts
  • 5-6 medium/large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce made with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for drizzling

Directions

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round.  (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.)  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess.  Place in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices, lemon juice and caramel sauce.  Toss well to combine.  When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly.  Dot the surface of the apples with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Roll out large enough to cover the pie. Cut out shapes in the center with a mini cookie cutter, slice to make a lattice top, or cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape. Crimp the edges from the bottom and top crust together. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash.

Place the pie on a baking sheet (to catch the overflow. Trust me, you don’t want that on the bottom of your oven) and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes. If the edges are browning too quickly, make a ring of tinfoil over the edge or use a pie ring to cover the sides. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzling of caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Source: Pie filling adapted from Annie’s Eats

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Okay, I swear this is the last peach recipe for a while!  I just couldn’t resist sharing this recipe with you.  Vanilla beans are one of my favorite additions to any dessert.  They always add a great depth of flavor.  And, they can take any classic/plain dessert to a whole new level of greatness.  So, when I saw this recipe for a classic peach pie, I thought, why not incorporate vanilla beans!

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

I don’t think I have ever actually made a peach pie.  So strange, I know.  Most likely because only in the last few years, I have discovered my love for peaches.  So, I was pretty excited to try this pie out.  Since the addition of vanilla beans to my favorite jam worked so well, I figured it would work well in this pie.  Boy, oh boy, I was definitely right!  This pie is pretty much like eating warm forkfuls of peach jam, sandwiched between a flaky, buttery crust.   Oh, and topped with whipped cream, of course.  I’ll wait while you go and make this pie.  Right now.

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

  • chilled pie dough for two crusts (homemade is definitely better, but store bought is acceptable)
  • 3 lbs. ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split with the seeds removed
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Roll out half of the pie dough to about a 12-inch round.  Transfer to a pie plate, then place in the refrigerator while making the filling.  In a large bowl, place the sugar with the vanilla bean seeds and rub together with your fingers until fragrant and evenly distributed.  Whisk in the cornstarch, flour and nutmeg.  Peel the peaches and slice them to 1/4-inch thick slices. Combine the peach slices with the sugar mixture.  Toss to coat.  Add in the lemon juice and stir until combined.

Remove the lined pie plate from the refrigerator and pour in the peach filling in an even layer.  Dot the top of the peaches with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough to a 12-inch round.  Cut into strips with a pastry cutter or knife (a pizza cutter works well here too!) and weave together to form a lattice top.  Trim away excess dough and crimp the edges together to seal.  Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie dough with the egg wash.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, then place in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking until the pie is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 40-50 minutes more.  Remove the pie to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 2 hours.  Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Source: Roughly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Rustic Peach and Strawberry Tart

Peach and Strawberry Rustic Tart

I still can’t get over that there are so many apples on our trees already.  I am looking forward to picking/eating apples, but I am still holding on to summer fruits.  I still have a couple of peach recipes to share with you all, so bare with me!  (The next one I am going to share- you definitely don’t want to miss!)

Peach and Strawberry Rustic Tart

Believe it or not, I don’t think I have ever made a rustic tart before (also known as a galette).  Strange, I know.  I guess I just have never really seen a recipe that peaked my interest.  That is, until I saw the recipe for a peach and strawberry tart.  I had several peaches sitting on the counter that were just begging to be baked.  I had a pint of heavy cream in the refrigerator left over from something else, and a quart of strawberries.  I love it when things work out like that!  It was meant to be.

Peach and Strawberry Rustic Tart

This tart is super simple, and super delicious.   I opted to sweeten the fruit with honey instead of sugar, but you can do either! It’s even better topped with freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It is a perfect treat to celebrate the dwindling days of summer.

Rustic Peach and Strawberry Tart

  • 2 ripe fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • additional sugar for sprinkling

Directions

To make the filling, mix the peaches and strawberries together in a medium bowl.  Add the honey and vanilla, tossing well to coat the fruit.  Set aside and allow the mixture to steep as you prepare the crust.

To make the crust, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs.  Add 1/4 cup of the cold water, stirring with a fork until completely incorporated.  Add up to 2 more tablespoons of cold water if the dough seems dry.  Gently knead the dough a few times in the bowl until it all comes together. Shape the dough into a ball and slightly flatten.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the fruit (not the juices) into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border all around.  Gently fold the edges of the dough over the fruit, overlapping the dough as necessary. Press gently to seal the edges. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the reserved fruit juices over the fruit.

Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The tart is best served the day that is made, but can be kept well wrapped in the refrigerator for three days.

Source: Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

chocolate strawberry shortcakes

Okay, I promise, this is my last strawberry post for a while.  Peaches are now in season!  I have several, very exciting recipes to share with you in the near future.  I just have to take advantage of fruit whenever it is in season.

As a child, I wasn’t a huge fan of strawberry shortcakes.  My mom, who wasn’t a huge baker, would either buy the store bought biscuits which were always dry and crumbly and stick-in-your-thoat kind, or she would make biscuits.  Those weren’t much better either, they were always not quite sweet enough and usually dry, because she always got distracted with a million other things while baking.  (A mother of four, a nurse practitioner, on a farm with many animals and large gardens- do you blame her for getting distracted!?)  So, needless to say, I wasn’t a fan.  I usually would eat the strawberries and whipped cream and maybe take a few nibbles of the biscuit.

chocolate strawberry shortcakes

As an adult, my experiences have been much better.  The more I bake, the better I can understand a recipe to know if it’s going to be decent or not.  (At least I like to think so-ha!)  I have made several different shortcake recipes that really haven’t made me jump for joy.  So, when I saw Annie’s recipe for chocolate shortcake, I couldn’t believe how genius it was!  One of those moments where the lightbulb comes on.  I made the whole batch, then froze what we didn’t use to have for future desserts.  These were rich, chocolatey, moist and perfectly sweetened.  Just the way the ideal shortcake should be.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

Yield: about 12 shortcakes

For the shortcakes

  • 1 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the strawberries

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 3-4 Tablespoons sugar
  • lemon juice

For the whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 2-3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • dash of vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, vanilla and egg.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/2 cup of sugar together.  Add in the butter and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives, until the pieces of butter are no larger than small peas.  Mix in the chopped chocolate and stir to combine.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently until a sticky dough forms.  Very gently knead the dough just until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Scoop the dough in about 1/3 cup mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving a few inches in between.  Gently pat the mounds to about 1-inch thickness.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the shortcakes are puff and give just slightly when lightly pressed, about 15-18 minutes total.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the strawberries, combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Toss well to coat the berries with the sugar and let macerate at least 30-60 minutes.  If desired, mash lightly with a fork.

Just before serving, make the whipped cream.  Place the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.

To serve, split each shortcake horizontally.  Top the bottom half of each shortcake with a dollop of whipped cream, spoon some of the berry mixture over the top, and replace the top half of the shortcake.  Serve immediately.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

When I first saw the title for sour cream strawberry ice cream, I was definitely not enthused.  So, I moved on.  But, when I finally had so many fresh picked strawberries at my complete disposal, I decided it was time to get over my picky-self and dive in.

I honestly don’t even know what I was so squeamish about.  This ice cream is amazing!  The sour cream only gives a very faint tartness to the ice cream, but it’s perfect that way.  It’s not overly sweet, but it’s perfectly creamy.  The fresh strawberry taste really shines through.  So, don’t be afraid of the sour cream, because it only makes the ice cream creamier!  This is a recipe that I will definitely be coming back to time, and time again.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Slice the strawberries if they are large, and place in a medium bowl.  Toss with the sugar, and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Place the strawberries, sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until mostly smooth, but a few larger pieces remain. Refrigerate until chilled, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Source: Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

A week or so ago, my girls and I met up with a friend and her kids, and went strawberry picking at a local farm.  It’s one of the things I look forward to in the summer.  I missed it last year due to having a baby right around prime strawberry picking time.  This year, I was afraid I’d miss it because it was such a horrible year for it.  A long, cold winter that dragged into Spring.  Making it a hard growing season this year.  In result of the cold, the strawberries were small and the owners of the farm claimed to have lost several fields of berries.  But, we still managed to pick 8 quarts of those sweet, small and delicious berries.  Well, I say “we” lightly because my oldest daughter ate more than she picked and my youngest napped in the car.  Ha!

Strawberry Tart

Since I had 8 quarts of fresh, ripe, beautiful red strawberries sitting in my fridge, I had to think of ways to use them ASAP!  That is, whatever we didn’t eat.  So, I have several strawberry recipes to share with you all that I am pretty excited about.  But first, I just HAD to share this recipe with you.  After putting this dessert together, I was giddy with excitement.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

Strawberry Tart

First, I baked a sweet tart dough.  Then, I made a velvety pastry cream to fill the crust with.  To top it off, freshly diced (or in my case, whole) strawberries are piled over the top and smeared with jam.  Oh my.  It is definitely as good, if not better, than it sounds.  A show-stopper dessert fitting for the heart of summer.

Strawberry Tart

For the sweet tart dough

  • 1 /12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 Tablespoons cold, or frozen, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the pastry cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature cut into small pieces

For the berries

  • 4 cups your choice of berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries), washed and larger ones diced
  • a few tablespoons of strawberry jelly

Directions

For the dough, have ready a greased 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a bowl of a food processor.  Pulse 2-3 times to combine.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the butter is roughly chopped, making sure there are no big pieces left.  Pulse in the egg yolk.  Then process until the dough starts to clump.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knead to incorporate any loose flour.  Gently press most of the dough into and up the sides of the prepared tart pan, saving a small piece to patch the crust after it partially bakes incase it cracks.  Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, grease the shiny side of aluminum foil and gently press down and around the dough.  (You don’t need weights since you froze the dough.)  Place on a baking sheet, then put in the preheated oven on the middle rack.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and patch the cracks if necessary.  Place back in the oven, uncovered and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden around the edges.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.

Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.  Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat.  In a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until well combined.  Very slowly, whisk in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs to temper the eggs so they won’t curdle.  Whisk in the remaining milk.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Cook, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and the whisk leaves streaks through it.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk in the vanilla extract, then let sit for 5 minutes.  Whisk in a few pieces of butter at a time until fully incorporated.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and press plastic wrap over the cream to prevent any skin from forming.  Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled 2-3 hours.  (Alternatively, you can chill it by creating an ice bath- place cold water and ice cubes in a large bowl.  Place the bowl the pastry cream is in, in the larger bowl with the ice.  Whisk every 10 minutes or so, and add more ice to the larger bowl until chilled.)

To assemble the tart, remove the tart from the pan and place on a plate.  Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the pastry cream into the tart, smoothing the top.  Remaining cream can be used as an extra topper, smeared on scones or eaten with berries as a separate dessert.  Place the berries in a mound in the center of the tart or sprinkle evenly over the top.  Microwave the jelly in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush or drizzle the jam over the berries.  Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate.  It is best the day it is made, but will last several days in the refrigerator.

Source:  Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan