Sugar & Spice Halloween and Fall Cookies

Sugar & Spice Halloween and Fall Cookies

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There’s a bit of a nip in the air, even here in Hawaii it’s been rainy and gloomy.  And Starbuck’s has added my seasonal favorites like Pumpkin Spice Latte!  This can only mean Fall is here!

This time of year I get a yen for spice cookies, nothing smells better than oven fresh cookies.  It fills the house with those delicious fall aromas like cinnamon and ginger.  And since this year’s Halloween will probably be very different from Halloweens past cookie baking is one of the activities we’ve added to our yearly festivities.  I mean Halloween parties (or parties of any type involving multiple people from different households) is out of the question and for our family and friends Trick or Treating is a no go too.  Instead we’ve been making Halloween crafts, watching Halloween movies, and reading Halloween books.  And now we’ll also be baking and decorating Halloween cookies.

These Sugar & Spice cookies are yummy without the icing.  They’re great for all the Fall occasions including Halloween and Thanksgiving.  That’s right one recipe different styles!

 

 

 

 

 

You can even use the same cookie cutter, well at least the pumpkin shape!  And the same icing colors!

These cookies are so easy to bake and they are so yummy!  To make them pretty I used royal cookie icing in 2 different consistencies, piping and flooding.  I also saved some cookies and icing so the kids can decorate them next when they’re in the mood!

This cookie recipe makes a dough that is great for rolled and cut cookies without having to refrigerate it before cutting!  Here’s the recipe for the cookie icing, the cookie recipe is below.  Enjoy!

Royal Cookie Icing

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. Meringue Powder

1/2 Cup Water at room temp

7 Cups Powdered Sugar

2 Tsp Vanilla extract or other flavor

2 Tbs Shortening

2 Tbs Corn Syrup

1/8 tsp Salt

Procedure:

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment mix together meringue powder and water until frothy and all powder is dissolved.

Add 1/2 of the sugar and beat on medium speed about 4 minutes.  It will be thick and glossy.

Add flavor, shortening, and corn syrup and mix well.

Slowly add in remaining sugar.  Mix on slow/medium until well blended.  Mix for another 3 minutes.  It should be thick like a  piping consistency. (if you want it really thick add another cup of sugar, this is used for hard decorations like roses, eyes, and more that you stick to the top of cookies and cakes.)

Cover bowl with plastic wrap or damp cloth to keep moist.

Divide to make different colors and consistencies.

To make flood icing thin with water but add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp water at a time until you get desired consistency.  Flood icing should be a bit thin and runny, but not too runny and watery that it rolls off the sides of the cookie.

To decorate cookies place a small amount of icing in a small bowl and color using gel food coloring.

I usually color a bowl then separate it again so that I can change the consistency of a portion of the colored icing.   I place the Piping or thicker consistency in a piping bag and the thinner flood icing in a plastic squeeze bottle.

Pipe a thin line of icing, piping consistency of course, around the edges of the cookies and any other place you want to separate the flood icing from.  Let dry.

Squeeze flood icing on the cookie surface and spread out making sure it all stays inside the piped lines.  Let dry.

Pipe other decorations onto to dry flood icing, like words, eyes, and designs.

Let everything dry completely and store in air tight containers.


Sugar & Spice Fall Cookies
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Instructions
  1. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and spices.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.
  4. Gradually add in flour mixture scarping down sides and bowl bottom to make sure the dough is well blended. Dough will be thick.
  5. Roll out dough on floured surface. The thickness should be between 1/4" and 1/2".
  6. Cut out shapes and place on parchment or silicone covered baking sheet.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 11 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit on sheet about 2 minutes.
  9. Gently transfer to wire racks and cool completely before decorating.
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Strawberry Cream Pie

Strawberry Cream Pie

I have some friends who declare that they “don’t bake”.  And I get that, not everyone enjoys baking but that doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy homemade treats, specially not these days when ingredients that are normally baked can be bought inexpensively at most grocery stores.

You can buy things like pie and tart shells, puff pastry and bread dough inexpensively and they sure cut your baking time almost in half.  At times it’s more cost effective to buy these things frozen than it is to make them from scratch.  Not only that they actually taste good!  And of course you don’t have to tell anyone that the pie crust was frozen; let them think you made it from scratch!

So for those of you who love desserts but don’t like to bake here’s a super easy Strawberry Cream Pie!  You can actually use any fruit, yes even canned pie filling, for this pie, but I love strawberries and these days you can pretty much get fresh strawberries year round.

Strawberry Cream Pie
Ingredients:

1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 Pkg. Whipped Cream Cheese

1/2 Tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Pkg. Cool Whip

1 Basket Fresh Strawberries cleaned and hulled

For Glaze:

3/4 Cup Juice any type

1/4 Cup Sugar

2 Tbs. Cornstarch

2 Tbs. Corn Syrup

Directions:

Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth.

Add vanilla and powdered sugar.

Fold in Cool Whip.

Pour into pie crust and smooth top.

Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile dissolve corn starch into 1/4 cup of juice.

In small saucepan whisk together remaining juice and sugar.

Cook over low heat to boiling.

Stir in dissolved corn starch and cook until thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup.

Set aside to cool.

Once pie filling is set and chilled arrange strawberries on top.

Gently pour thickened glaze over strawberries.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Strawberry Cream Pie
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The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

The Best Banana Pudding Recipe

If you’ve never had good old fashioned Banana Pudding then you are seriously missing out!  This creamy dessert is so popular that there’s even a 2 day festival in hour of it.  I kid you not; there’s a National Banana Pudding Festival the first week of October in Centerville, Tennessee!

It’s generally associated with the Southern part of the United States but it’s popular in all parts of the country.  It’s not really known exactly how the dessert became a Southern Icon but it’s been a Southern specialty since the 1940’s if not longer.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding is pretty similar to the English Trifle in that it’s layers of creamy custard, fruit, and a soft spongy cookie which can be topped if desired with a dollop of whipped cream, or in some homes meringue.

This iconic dessert was further popularized by the Nabisco company when it published the recipe on the box of every Nabisco brand Nilla Wafers, which of course is featured as Wone of the key ingredients.

So back to the beginning, if  you’ve never had good Old Fashioned Banana Pudding you’re missing out.  So to rectify that here’s  a recipe for this yummy dessert.  And no instant Banana Pudding from a box doesn’t count!

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. Flour

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Tsp. Salt

4 Cups Whole Milk

4 Egg Yolks

1 Tsp. Vanilla

4-5 Ripe Bananas

1 Box Vanilla Wafers (the Nabisco brand are called Nilla Wafers)

Directions:

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a saucepan.

Cook on medium heat about 15 – 20 minutes or until thick.  Keep stirring mixture as it cooks so it won’t scorch and stick to the pan.

Remove from  heat.

Layer vanilla wafers in the bottom of a dish or bowl.

Add a layer of banana slices, one on each wager works well.

Pour 1/2 of  pudding over the layers.

Repeat a layer of wafers and bananas on top of the pudding layer.

Pour the other half of the pudding over that new layer.

Top with crushed wafers if desired.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Best Banana Pudding Recipe
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Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing

I recently found myself with several over ripe bananas and leftover Buttermilk.  I know over ripe bananas usually mean a batch or two of Banana Bread, but I still had a few loaves in the freezer.  Besides I wasn’t in the mood for Banana Bread.

I was however in the mood for cake!  So why not bake some banana cupcakes?  Then I remember that a local bakery sold this yummy banana cake with Chantilly Icing.  I think Chantilly icing must a a local Hawaii favorite because the recipe isn’t too easy to come by.

You might be wondering what Chantilly Icing is.  Well it’s sort of hard to describe, it’s sweet, creamy, and buttery; kind of but not quite like the frosting on a German Chocolate cake.

In Hawaii Chantilly icing is used on Chantilly Cake which is very similar to a German Chocolate Cake but with macadamia nuts instead of coconut flakes.  It’s also used to top Liliha Bakery’s Coco Puffs, those delectable chocolate cream filled puffs. It’s also used on Banana Cake!

So to make these really yummy Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing I used 2 different recipes.  The Banana Cake recipe and a recipe for that delicious Chantilly Frosting.  The frosting I made was more than enough to ice the cupcakes.  I refrigerated the leftover frosting and used them on a chocolate cake a few days later.

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup Butter, softened to room temperature

2 Cups Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

2 Very Ripe Bananas, mashed

2 Tsp. Lemon Juice

3 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

Line Cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Beat in vanilla and cinnamon.

Add lemon juice to mashed bananas and stir until smooth.

Add to butter mixture.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture.

Mix well.

Pour batter into cupcake wraps about 3/4 full.

Smooth tops.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool.

Frost when completely cooled.

Chantilly Icing

Ingredients:

1 2/3 Cup Butter

1 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk

1 1/2 Cup Baker’s or Caster Sugar

2 Tsp. Vannilla

2 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

2 Tbs. Corn Starch

Directions:

Melt Butter in saucepan over medium low heat.

Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk in milk, sugar, and vanilla.

Then whisk in eggs and yolks one at a time.

Cook on medium hear until it comes to s low boil.  Whisking is it intermittently.

Once it boils cook for another 2 minutes continuing to whisk intermittently.

Remove from heat then quickly sift in cornstarch while whisking.  Whisk cornstarch quickly and hard to prevent it from lumping.

Pour into a shallow bowl and cool to room temp.

Cover and refrigerate about 3 hours or until it’s in a spreadable consistency.

Frost cooled  cupcakes.


Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing
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Banana Cupcakes with Chantilly Icing
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Easy French Toast

Easy French Toast

What is French Toast and where did it get its name?  I’m sure just about everyone has had French Toast sometime or other, it is after all a popular breakfast food and is featured on many restaurants’ breakfast menus.  But I everyone knows its origins or how it got its name.

Some version of this popular breakfast fare has been around for centuries.  Yes I said centuries.  And why not?  All French Toast is bread that’s been soaked in a milk and egg mixture and then fried.  We know that milk and eggs have been a food staple through out most of civilization.

According to Apicius a collection of recipes from the 5th. Century AD the dish we know as French Toast was around during the Roman Empire.  Their version called Pan Dulcis, was bread soaked in a milk mixture then fried in oil or butter.  In the court English of Henry V during the 15th. Century “Pain Perdu” was all the rage.  The name which was in French literally means “lost bread” because it calls for soaking hard or stale bread in a milk and egg mixture then frying it.  The French still call it Pain Perdu to this day.

So how did it come to be called French Toast in America when clearly it didn’t originate in France?   Well legend has it that a New York innkeeper named Joseph French created the dish in 1724 and sold it as French Toast.  It’s believed he meant to call it French’s Toast but he was grammatically inept and forgot the apostrophe.

Whatever you call it and whatever its origins French Toast is delicious and actually very simple to make.  Of course there are now different versions of this simple dish including IHOP’s Stuffed French Toast and Denny’s Fabulous French Toast.  I actually make Creme Brulee French toast on Christmas mornings!

I look at French Toast as a blank canvas.  You can have it just with syrup and butter, and that’s delicious! Or you can embellish it with fruit, whipped cream, jam, nutella, or whatever else you can think of.  But before you can embellish you’ll need the basic recipe.  I prefer to use day old french bread, but really you can use whatever bread you have on hand.  But do try to avoid using freshly baked bread as it tends to be too soft and will fall apart when soaked in the liquid mixture.  Once you’ve got the basics you can add toppings or even add ingredients to the batter.  So here’s the basic recipe!

Basic French Toast

Ingredients:

6-8 slices of day old French Bread or whatever bread you have on hand

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Vanilla

Butter for frying and for topping

Syrup

Fruits, jams, whipped cream, etc. for toppings (optional)

Directions:

Beat Eggs, Milk, and Sugar together until well combined.

Stir in vanilla.

Melt a pat of batter in a skillet.

Dip both sides of bread slice in egg mixture until soaked.

Lift bread out of liquid and let excess liquid drain off.

Place soaked bread in skillet and cook until first side starts to brown.

Flip over and cook other side until brown.

Place in serving dish and serve immediately.

Serve with butter and syrup or whatever topping you like.

Easy French Toast
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