Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint Ice Cream

Phew, the holidays are over. It’s amazing how every year it is such a mad rush from October to January. Especially when you have kids. And we aren’t big social people, so we don’t host any parties. Even with not hosting parties, things are still crazy. We always have plenty of parties through school or day care. And of course getting together with family. As much as I love all the chaos, I do look forward to slow January. There are always plenty of cold-weather activities to keep us occupied!

Peppermint Ice Cream

What are everyone’s New Year plans? Do you throw a big party and watch the ball drop? Do you go out on the town with friends or family? My goal is to go to bed as early as possible- ha! I guess that’s what happens when you are a mother of three small children, baby included. Sleep is my best friend. When I can get it, I take advantage of it! I always enjoy reflecting on past New Year’s. So many great times celebrated in different parts of the world! Ah, to be young and carefree.

Anyway.

On to this fabulous ice cream. When I was a kid, peppermint stick ice cream was my absolute favorite. I got it every time I went to an ice cream shop. Every. Single. Time. As I got older, my preferences and tastes changed. Cookie dough moved up into my number one spot and peppermint stick was forgotten over time. I hadn’t thought about it for years until I recently made chocolate peppermint ice cream. Then I got thinking, why not make it with left over candy canes from the tree with vanilla ice cream? Light bulb! (Yes, I just made a Despicable Me reference.)

This ice cream is perfection. It is rich and creamy vanilla with crushed candy canes swirled in. The candy canes melt into the ice cream, making it a beautiful pink and distributing the flavor. I wish I had more candy canes because I would make another batch! This is a great way to use up those candy canes hanging out on your tree. If your tree is still up, that is. This is a wonderful, refreshing dessert that any peppermint lover would enjoy.

Peppermint Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions

To make the ice cream, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl to create a slurry

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and peppermint extract. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the pot. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Cover and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, several hours or overnight. Alternatively, place over a bowl full of ice cubes until thoroughly chilled before churning.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop into a freezer-safe container. Fold in the crushed candy canes. Store in the freezer

Source: Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

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Sugar Sparkled Gingersnaps

Surgar Sparkled Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps are something that I didn’t particularly like as a kid. Actually, even as an adult. That is, until I started making them myself. Every kind I had had before were dry, hard and way too crunchy for my taste. I like a soft cookie that is chewy. I have always enjoyed the flavor of gingersnaps, but that was far as it went. So, a few years back, I started trying different recipes at home. I never really came across the “one”. That is, until I tried these cookies. I bookmarked this recipe about a year ago, but never got around to trying them. I made these about two months ago, and it was love at first bite. The search is now over. This is it folks. The best gingersnap cookie. That may be a bit presumptuous, but I don’t care. These cookies are soft, chewy and perfect. The ginger flavor really pulls through, but it isn’t over powering. Just right.

Surgar Sparkled Gingersnaps

I knew that I just HAD to share this recipe with you all. But, when I went to make them two weeks ago, I couldn’t find coarse sugar anywhere. I mean ANYWHERE. I looked in all my regular stores, and then some. It’s like it just disappeared. They had blue, pink, green, purple; you name it. But no white. What the heck!? So, finally, I took action and decided to look online. Ding ding; King Arthur Flour! I always get their catalogs with recipes and baking equipment that I definitely droll over. So, I ordered two containers. I wasn’t messing around this time. I got it in two days with regular shipping, and on a Sunday. Amazing! So, yesterday, first thing I did was make up a batch of these. Just in time for Christmas!

Surgar Sparkled Gingersnaps

Speaking of Christmas, I can’t believe it’s tomorrow! Is everyone ready? I guess I am. Even though it’s suppose to rain all Christmas day, Yuck!

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful day full of love and cheer!

Sugar Sparkled Gingersnaps

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2-1 cup coarse/sparkling sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the oil, sugar, molasses and the egg together until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated and a dough forms.

Place the coarse sugar in a small bowl. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the dough. Roll each cookie dough ball in the sugar until coated in an even layer.

Place the coated balls on the prepared baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches apart.  Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, just until the tops of the cookies are set and beginning to crack, about 15-17 minutes total. They will still be very soft. Make sure not to overbake because they will become hard. Let cool on the baking sheets a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from Williams Sonoma

*Opinions are completely my own. King Arthur Flour has no idea who I am.

Peppermint Pattie Brownies

Peppermint Pattie Brownies

Friday was one of those kick in the butt days. It seemed like everything was twice as hard as it should be. First off, the car had air leaking that didn’t have to do with temperature fluctuations. So I had to run it up to the mechanic. Of course, the tire had a hole on the sidewall where it can’t be patched. And they don’t carry the tires that are on my car, or any that are the same size. Those darn foreign cars! Of course this was the weekend we were taking the kids to see The Nutcracker, which is an hour and forty five minutes away. Needless to say we had to drive the truck there.

Friday was also my son’s daycare holiday party. Another thing that we were late for. I hate that feeling of madly rushing around trying to get everything ready before heading out the door. I always try to have everything organized ahead of time so there isn’t that frantic, stressful rush. Friday just wasn’t my day. My daughter took forever to get dressed because she didn’t like what she was wearing. She’s only five. Wait, what!? Yeah, being a parent is definitely not always stopping to smell the roses!

But, in the end, the kids had a total blast at the holiday party and they loved The Nutcracker. There is always a positive to rule out the negative when you have children involved! They are always pleased by the simplest of things. If only that stayed with us when we became adults!

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Now that you’ve had a little insight into my imperfect life, I can tell you about these brownies! I made these for my son’s holiday party. Of course I had to make something peppermint-y. It was only fitting! These are something I actually made this summer for the first time, but never got a photo. The brownies are super moist and chocolatey. They are then slathered with a creamy peppermint pattie layer. Similar to a peppermint pattie you would find at a store, but better. To top if off, a chocolate ganache is drizzled over the top. Delicious! These are the perfect combination of chocolate and peppermint. If you’re into that sort of thing.

I totally am.

I love to eat these straight from the refrigerator. I think they are best chilled. These will also last several days in the refrigerator. I doubled the batch to make enough for everyone at the party, with only adding a few minute onto the baking time. These would make a wonderful treat, any time of the year!

Peppermint Pattie Brownies

For the brownies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips

For the peppermint pattie layer

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the ganache

  • 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with the sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in each egg one at a time, whisking until well combined. Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter in the 8×8 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool.

While the brownies are cooling, add the confectioners’ sugar, butter, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and peppermint extracts to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour over the cooled brownies and spread in an even layer with a spoon or spatula. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 30 minutes.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until hot and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Stir for a few minutes until totally combined, smooth and creamy. Drizzle over the top of the peppermint layer or cut brownies first and spoon over top. Serve immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator.

Source: How Sweet It Is

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies are something that I have always admired, but never tackled in the kitchen myself. For some reason, they always intimidated me in the beginning of my cooking days, then as time passed, I sort of forgot about them. Maybe because they aren’t a cookie that you typically see, so the thought didn’t cross my mind to make them. Then, I came across online, Ina Garten sharing her favorite cookie recipes for the holidays. This recipe was on the list. I checked it out, and knew I had to make them.

Linzer Cookies

I think the typical linzer cookie has ground nuts in the dough, but these ones were straight up butter. I was a little reluctant at first when I saw how much butte there was, in fact, in the recipe, but I decided to go with it. Ina knows her stuff. Oh boy, these did not disappoint. They were slightly crumbly, yet still moist. I decided to vamp up the cookies a bit and use caramel sauce I had in the fridge left over from the brie, as well as some homemade strawberry jam. They were SO good! I would definitely recommend the caramel. I preferred these cookies the following day. Partly because they became a little softer (I accidentally over-baked my cookies since I am still getting used to the convection oven), but, also time let the flavors meld together. These will be a show stopper at any upcoming holiday party! Or for any time of the year.

Linzer Cookies

Yield: About 15-18 sandwich cookies

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • your choice of jam flavor
  • caramel sauce, homemade or store bought (optional)
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour and salt. On low speed, slowly mix in the flour mixture. Mix until completely combined. If the dough seems too wet, slowly add more flour until the dough holds together, but isn’t crumbly.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into a large disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, and set aside.

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out circles with a plain or fluted cutter. With half of the circles, cut out a smaller circle or a small design with a mini cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges just barely begin to brown. Let cool completely before proceeding with jam. Spread desired jam on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners’ sugar on the top. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 2-3 days.

Source: Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies

Spice Sugar Cookies

This year, I seem to be having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. I have been listening to Christmas music almost daily and eating lots of holiday goodies. I strung up some lights, made some decorations with the kids, and this past weekend, we got our tree from the woods and decorated it. But still, something feels like it’s missing. Perhaps it’s the lack of snow, and the temperature fluctuations that has gotten me confused. We had a white Thanksgiving, but it looks like we may be having a brown and drab Christmas. I think northern Maine is getting all of our snow. It’s funny how a white Christmas can seem so magical, especially when you are a kid. Oh well!

Spice Sugar Cookies

To indulge in the Christmas spirit, I knew that I had to share these cookies with you. They are my all-time favorite cut-out cookie. They are super easy, and super delicious. And no chilling time! The spices are just the right amount to make your taste buds happy. I have been eating way too many of these. Three days and counting, and they are still as good as the day I made them! I love to decorate them with royal icing. Although, I am still getting the hang of it. It doesn’t help that I had to rush this time because baby decided she wanted me to hold her most of the afternoon instead of accomplishing the things I needed to do. But hey, that’s part of being a parent! These cookies can be decorated with whatever frosting you desire. Or eaten plain! These would make wonderful addition to your holiday gift bag, if you do that sort of thing. They are sturdy, yet moist, and they keep very well. They would probably be shippable as well!

Brown Sugar and Spice Cookies

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the brown sugar, granulated sugar and butter together until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until blended. On low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until completely combined.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, making sure not to over-brown the cookies, or they will become crispy. Let cool completely before decorating as desired.

Source: Bake at 350

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

I hope you all aren’t getting tired of peppermint yet, because I have several more recipes to share with you. Hey- it is the season! When I saw this recipe, I just KNEW that I had to make it immediately! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even really chocolate cake. What the heck is going on! I guess I am indulging in the holiday spirit, to say the least. It’s a good thing I have plenty of family around that is willing to take some baked goods off of my hands. That is, if I am willing to share!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

Let me tell you about this cake. It is heavenly. It has taken mint chocolate chip to the next level. Who loves that ice cream flavor? I know I do. I decided to make my favorite chocolate cake, but add this killer frosting. And the cake is eggless as well! This is a new favorite in my book. It was a huge hit all around! Moist, chocolate cake topped with minty, chocolatey frosting. Perfect!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

For the chocolate cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • green food coloring
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. To make the cake, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk the water mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure not to overbake, or else you will have a dry cake. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then gently run a a knife around the edges and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting; In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, heavy cream, vanilla and peppermint extract on medium speed until smooth. With mixer speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar and mix until just combined. Add a few drops of the food coloring and increase speed to medium high until the color is fully incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. If frosting is too thick, add another tablespoon or two of cream and beat for 30 more seconds. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

To frost the cake, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Slather a large amount of frosting over the top, making sure to spread it evenly and smooth the top. Place the second cake layer over the first. Spread the remaining frosting over and around the entire cake. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Source: Cake from Lily’s Café Cookbook, by Kyra Alex, and frosting from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Peppermint Fudge

Peppermint Fudge

Peppermint is probably my favorite holiday treat. Something about the cool, refreshing mint is just so appealing. I definitely indulge during the holiday season. But hey- I wait all year to enjoy myself, so why not!? Fudge is another holiday treat that my family loves. I have been seeing peppermint all over the place, but not one peppermint fudge recipe that looked like the “one”. So, I decided to take it upon myself to make that come true.

It was so easy. I took my favorite chocolate fudge recipe, and converted it to peppermint. Brilliant! (Is it acceptable to toot my own horn like that?) This is it folks, you need not look any further! The perfect holiday treat to enjoy yourself or bring along to a holiday gathering.

Peppermint Fudge

Yield: About 16 2-inch pieces

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes

Directions

Line an 8×8 pan with enough tinfoil to hang over the sides. Set aside

In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the condensed milk, vanilla and peppermint extract. Stir in the chocolate chips and butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir constantly, until the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes (mixture will be very thick). Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crushed candy canes evenly over the top and gently press down. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.

Remove the fudge by lifting out the tinfoil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the tin foil and cut the fudge into 2-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 6-7 days.

Source: Barely adapted from Giada De Laurentiis