Peppermint Meltaways

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There’s nothing like getting in the Christmas spirit. Yet somehow, every year I find myself wishing we could add on an extra week to the beginning of December. Between shopping for presents, decorating the house, attending holiday parties, and baking cookies—its seems as though there is never enough time! Although I do a TON of baking in December, I’m never able to post all the goodies I make. This year I decided to share one of my favorite recipes that I’ve made several times.

I made these peppermint meltaway cookies for a holiday party that Matthew and I had at our apartment. Let’s talk about these cookies a little bit… the addition of cornstarch makes for an incredibly delicate and flaky cookie. They truly do melt in your mouth! The addition of peppermint in both the dough and frosting makes these little morsels a true delight. I like to create fairly small cookies with the dough so you can just pop one into your mouth!

I’ll be signing off of Sweet Precision until the New Year so I hope that everyone has a truly special holiday season with family, friends, and loved ones.

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Peppermint Meltaways
Recipe from Taste of Home

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

Frosting Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions
In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. In another bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate, covered, 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350°. Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in milk, extract and, if desired, food coloring. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread or pipe over cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies. Store in an airtight container.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before shaping the cookies into balls. This will help them retain their shape and prevent spreading in the oven. Add the milk to your frosting last and incorporate one teaspoon at a time. This way you can determine how “stiff” you want your frosting. I like mine to be a little less runny, which helps when piping onto the cookies.

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Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffin Tops

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As a baker, it always feels good when someone appreciates the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. While Matthew doesn’t have a sweet tooth like I do, there are a few items that he frequently requests from my baking repertoire. Enter these delicious pumpkin muffin tops. The first time I made these cookies was Matthew’s first year of graduate school. Since then, I get about a yearly request for said cookies. When I was struggling to come up with a dessert to bring to a picnic this past weekend, he calmly looked at me and said “I think people would really enjoy your pumpkin muffin tops.” A couple days later when he saw me looking at the recipe he added, “We could always… (insert innocent pause) save just a few cookies for us to eat.” Uh huh. Game well played Matthew. Given the title of this post, you know how this story ended.

This is actually the second time I’ve posted these cookies on Sweet Precision. This updated recipe has more spices (hello ginger and nutmeg) and more butterscotch chips, because… butterscotch. I was excited to break out my first pumpkin recipe of the year because it signals that autumn is almost here. I saw my first sign for a pumpkin spiced latte last week which truly signals the start of the season! So break out a can of pumpkin, embrace autumn, and give these delicious cookies a try!

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Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffin Tops
Makes approximately 24 cookies

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups butterscotch chips

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in 1 cup of the chips.

Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the rounds. Sprinkle remaining chips on top of the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
When baking cookies, it’s best to put one batch at a time in the oven. Cookies need to bake on the middle rack for even baking. If you can fit two pans on the middle rack without touching, you’ll get the baking results you want. If you add additional sheets of cookies on higher or lower racks, they might bake unevenly. You may save some time, but the cookies will suffer.

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Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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As much as I love spending time in the kitchen baking, there is one part of the process that I really detest. I hate going to the grocery store. I’ve hated grocery stores and grocery shopping all my life. My list of complaints could go on forever—from inadequate parking, to confusing store layouts and poor food selection—it seems as though the deck is always stacked against me when I walk through those sliding doors.

Given my grocery store-averse personality, I often plan my desserts around what ingredients I have at home. If a recipe requires only a few items that I don’t have, I’ll prioritize that recipe over one where I’d need to purchase more items. All this leads us to these delicious coconut macaroons. What inspired me to bake these cookies? I only needed two items from the grocery store—an obvious win in my book.

So let’s chat about these cookies a little bit. Coconut can be a pretty polarizing ingredient when it comes to desserts. If you aren’t a fan of coconut, steer clear of these little beauties. I brought these cookies into work this week for a baby shower. I usually do most of my baking on the weekend when I have more leisure time. When it comes to work-week baking projects, I’m always on the lookout for something that comes together rather quickly. These cookies take about 15 minutes of prep work and need about 15 minutes in the oven. It doesn’t get any easier!

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups melted semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla using your hands until well blended. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted. Once cooled, dip cookies in melted chocolate and cool completely on waxed paper.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I chilled my mixture for 15 minutes before baking. This helps things firm up a little bit and produces a rounder shaped macaroon that is perfect for dipping in chocolate!

Chewy Vanilla Cookies with Orange Glaze and Zest

Summer is officially here! I can say this with authority now that I have switched over to my summer wardrobe. Goodbye turtlenecks and wool sweaters… hello capris, tank tops, and sun dresses! There’s plenty to love about summer. I welcome the warm lingering nights, fresh fruits from the farmers market, and the occasional trip to Dairy Queen for a pineapple sundae. It seems as though people are so much happier when summer comes around. It’s the season completely devoted to leisure and good times with the people you love.

The Sweet Precision kitchen always slows down a little during the summer months. But these citrus infused cookies were a recipe I wanted to share with you right away. These cookies are a great addition to your baking repertoire when you’re in need of a quick and easy dessert. I’m in love with the glaze which uses fresh orange juice and zest. The cookies look so unique, people will think you slaved away in the kitchen to create these little delicacies. No one needs to know your secret… which is that all you need is a box of vanilla cake mix! I made this recipe for a summer picnic when I didn’t have time to pull something elaborate together and they were a hit!

Chewy Vanilla Cookies with Orange Glaze and Zest
Makes approximately 36 cookies

Cookie Ingredients
1 (18.25 oz) package vanilla cake mix
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Glaze Ingredients
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice, or as needed

Directions
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs and oil until well blended. Place dough in refrigerator for approximately one hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy. Cool completely on a cookie rack.

Meanwhile, mix confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, and orange juice in a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle over cookies and garnish with leftover orange zest, if desired.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Be sure to cool your baking sheets between baking batches of cookies. To cool your cookie pans in a hurry, run them under cold water and then wipe dry before using.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Last weekend the Sweet Precision kitchen had two special visitors from Minnesota! My mom and dad took the Amtrak train all the way to Ann Arbor and we had a lovely and relaxing weekend together. Since I love to bake, company is the perfect excuse to get out my mixing bowls and fire up the oven. Especially since I had two ready and willing helpers! My mom was my sous-chef in the kitchen and my dad was our taste tester and photography assistant. They both took their jobs very seriously.

Deciding what to bake was easily the hardest part of our baking adventure. I ended up landing on a timeless baking classic—chocolate chip cookies—because, well… who doesn’t love cookies?! The recipe that I’m sharing today had over 8,000 reviews on All Recipes and received 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you’re a fan of chewy chocolate chip cookies you’ll love this recipe. It has a special ingredient—pudding—which I think makes a subtle yet wonderful difference in the texture and taste of the cookie. The original recipe comes from Debbi Borsick.

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Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Chocolate chip cookies freeze best if you portion out the dough beforehand. Shape the cookie dough into balls as you would if you were preparing to bake them. Place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours. Once frozen, the little balls of dough get sealed up inside a plastic freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake them, just grab a couple out of the freezer and pop them in the oven!

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