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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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.

Molasses Sugar Cookies

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I really do enjoy baking Christmas cookies. Each holiday season, I love to peruse cookbooks and Pinterest to find inspiration for new cookie ideas. When I was growing up, my mom and I used to bake several batches of cookies each Christmas. One of my favorites were called ting-a-lings, which are basically chow mein noodles mixed with melted chocolate and dried in little clumps—trust me, they’re delicious! There’s always a reason to bake cookies around the holiday season—work Christmas parties, cookie swaps, the list could be endless!

I’m a fan of cookies that come together quickly and only use one bowl. These molasses sugar cookies fit the bill just perfectly. They are a wonderfully chewy spice cookie that have hints of ginger and clove. Molasses performs the same nifty trick that brown sugar will in baked goods, adding a firm chewiness to these cookies. The cookies are nearly crisp at the edges and though they are exceptionally chewy, they aren’t soft.

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Molasses Sugar Cookies
Makes approximately 72 cookies

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
Melt the shortening in a large pan on the stove, and cool. Add sugar, eggs, and molasses, beat well. In a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together and add to the pan. Mix well and chill 3 hours or overnight.

Form into walnut-size balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes.

Store in an airtight container to keep from getting overly crisp. If they do lose their softness, an easy way to restore it is to place one slice of fresh bread in the container with the cookies for a couple of hours or overnight and they will be soft again!

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I’m quite firm about using real butter for all my baking recipes, but molasses cookies are the one exception. Using shortening will give this cookie its chewiness so I’d recommend NOT to substitute with butter.

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Chewy Low Fat Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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I’ve returned from my one month blog hiatus! Matt and I had a wonderful wedding and honeymoon, and now it’s time to get back to reality… sigh. A quick recap would include the beautiful wedding ceremony in Gibraltar, the vibrant culture of Morocco, and our relaxing Mediterranean cruise. The highlights included delicious food, lots of sunshine and warm weather, and a chance to truly unplug for two entire weeks. Challenges included a six hour delayed flight in Casablanca causing us to miss the first day of our cruise and me being randomly chosen at the airport for a strip search… not fun. However, the highlights overshadowed the challenges and we had an amazing time together.

I’ve slowly been getting back to my baking and general life responsibilities. Truth be told, I’ve been putting off this post for awhile but didn’t want to go the entire month of October without connecting with everyone.

So, let’s talk about these cookies. Typically I’m not a fan of “healthy” baked goods. I figure if you’re going to splurge on a treat, just eat small amount of a delicious full-fat item. It was with some trepidation that I gave these cookies a try. Let me tell you that they are a winner! The ingredients are simple (I didn’t even have to make a trip to the grocery store) and they come together in a flash. In fact, if you don’t tell people that they are low-fat no one will know the difference. That’s exactly what I plan to do when I bring these cookies into work for my coworkers tomorrow.

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Chewy Low Fat Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Makes approximately 30 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
I’ve discovered a wonderful baking gadget that I would recommend to any one that likes to bake cookies. A Silpat baking sheet is a mat that will turn your pan into a non-stick surface. You can use Silpat for any baking recipe that calls for parchment paper. Since nothing sticks to it, you save tons of time during the cleanup process. You can check it out on Amazon.

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