Friday, December 30, 2011

Gingerbread Coffee Creamer

Did everyone have a nice holiday?

I certainly did.  It was busy but lots of fun.

Last Friday we went up to visit my aunt Jody and her family.  Then Christmas Eve was spent with my dad & stepmom.

We went to her brother's house for Christmas Eve, where Pappy Vittles battled my little cousin Michelle in a vicious game of... tops?

My dad nicknamed his The Wild Weasel.

They also decided to bet on the game, and after so many "double or nothings," Michelle was in the hole about $10K - until she finally managed to beat The Wild Weasel and zero out her debts.

(Thank goodness for that.  She might have had to tap into her college fund before the end of the night!)

Then we spent Christmas Day with my in-laws, and ate a delicious roast beef dinner at Nana Vittles' house.

The highlights of my day included receiving The Booty Pop from my brother-in-law (in retaliation for giving him fart-filtering underwear last year) and winning the family beer pong tournament with Mr. Vittles on Christmas night.

You may not recall, but last year's tournament included cat-dancing and wearing fake mustaches... this year we got to wear fake noses also.

I would say a glorious holiday was had by all.

Although, I never thought I would say this, but at this point I'm soooo sick of eating.

My pants are pretty sick of it too.  Mr. Vittles may have to roll me to work next week in the event that I don't fit into my car.

But there's still time to enjoy the holiday flavor of gingerbread ... and without having to consume a single cookie.

If you're like me, coffee is a must, so why not make it festive?

Do it while you still can, before you're mentally done with gingerbread until next December.

Happy, healthy 2012 to all!

Gingerbread Coffee Creamer

  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. cloves
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Whisk together milk, cream, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in medium saucepan over medium heat.  When mixture begins to steam, remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve and store in refrigerator, up to 10 days.  Makes about 1 cup.

Adapted from Deliciously Organic 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Italian Knot Cookies

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite cookies in the whole wide world.

Yaya Vittles, my paternal grandmother, always has these at the holidays.  Either she makes them herself, or her friends do and bring them over.

However, trying to get the correct recipe out of my grandmother proved to be quite a task.

Years ago, I asked her for it, and she somehow ended up writing half the correct amount of sugar, and forgot the oven temperature.  Needless to say, they came out awful, and I ended up losing the recipe anyway.

Then a few years later, I asked her for it again, and that attempt left out the baking time and the eggs.  

Ummm... yeah.  Not so helpful.  

So then I ended up getting a much more reliable recipe from my mom's side - supposedly this one came from my great-grandmother's family, who was from Italy.  

my great-grandmother (who I called 'Gigi')

(But these days you can find similar recipes all over the internet - it's very popular with Italian Americans.  My brother-in-law's girlfriend Kristen was making them too today, with her family's recipe.)

In any case, they're similar to the ricotta cookies Mr. Vittles loves, but these have anise extract in them. 

Wait, though, before I completely lose you here - let me tell you that I do not typically like anise.  Or licorice, or anything like it.

But in this case, it gives these cookies a subtle, anisette-like flavor that (I think) is awesome.

I know it's kind of an acquired taste though, so I'll usually put half anise & half vanilla extract.  Feel free to do that if you're unsure.  

You can also use all lemon extract, if you like?

Personally, I think they're best with anise, but then again that's how I grew up with them :)  Totally up to you!

Italian Knot Cookies

  • 3 C. flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 t. pure anise extract 
  • 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 4-5 T. milk (first try 4, then add a little at a time if necessary)
  • 1/2 t. anise extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In large bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and anise on medium speed until combined (it's ok to have chunks of butter floating in the egg).  

With mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping sides as necessary.  Increase speed to medium low, and beat until dough forms.

Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon (for uniformity), scoop balls of dough and roll them into fat ropes.  Holding one end in each hand, place on end over the other and press to adhere, forming crescent, knot-like shapes.  (Alternatively, you can just roll them into balls).  

Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 8-10 minutes until puffed and bottoms are golden.  Leave 1 minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  

Once cookies are completely cooled, whisk powdered sugar with milk and anise until smooth.  Icing should be somewhat runny.  Dip tops of cookies into icing, and then decorate with colored nonpareils if desired.  Put back on rack to let icing dry.  Store cookies in airtight container.  Makes about 3 dozen

Family Recipe

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Red Velvet Fudge

So how is it that the month of December could have 31 days, yet it seems there is not nearly enough time to fit everything in that you want to do?


This seems to happen to me every year.

For my latest trick....I have been up all night baking cookies and cupcakes, and making tomato sauce and meatballs, because we have five people coming over tomorrow night.

Er... make that tonight.

Since it's currently 1:45AM.


And between now & 6PM I still have to clean my house, cook a meal, frost cupcakes, make an appetizer, and somehow help my dad do some Christmas shopping.

Oh, AND make myself somewhat presentable for our company.

But you know what the cure is for feeling overwhelmed?

Red Velvet Fudge.

Red Velvet Fudge

  • 1 1/4 C. white chocolate chips
  • 1 T. semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 C. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. red food coloring
  • 1 t. cocoa powder

Line an 8" rectangular loaf pan with foil, allowing excess to hang over edges. Grease foil with non-stick cooking spray, and set pan aside.

In large, microwave-safe bowl, mix chips with baking soda and salt until evenly distributed.  Stir in sweetened condensed milk.  Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.

Add vanilla, red food coloring, & cocoa and stir well to combine.  Quickly pour fudge into prepared pan, and spread in even layer with spatula.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours, until set, and remove fudge from pan using foil.  Cut into squares, and store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator.

Original Recipe

**Update 12/24/12: Due to the number of comments that this fudge won't set, I recently made it again following the directions above; it came out fine.  Please note that the consistency of this fudge is softer than the traditional type that requires a candy thermometer - that being said, it should not come out like "goo" or "a dip."  So please make sure you are using the correct ingredients (sweetened condensed milk NOT evaporated milk) as well as the correct ingredient amounts (1 AND 1/4 cups of white chocolate chips; T is tablespoon and t is teaspoon). If this does not set for you, something went wrong.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Take 5 Brownies

Yep, you saw right.  Take 5 Brownies.

Right now you're probably wondering.... where have these been all my life?

And also... how many of these can I eat without having to incorporate stretchy pants into my holiday wardrobe?

Or, um, maybe that's just me?

But since Take 5 bars are one of my favorite candies, I've had this idea brewing for a while.  

And this is not my first attempt.

Round 1 was largely disappointing.  It used cake mix bars instead of brownies, and incorporated peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups.  Which you'd think would be better, because let's face it who doesn't love a Reese's cup?  But honestly they just got lost in all the mess of caramel and chocolate.

I still brought the bars to Thanksgiving, and overall people seemed to like them, but I was not impressed.  

They were sooo much better in my mind than in reality.

(Ugh.  HATE that.)

I knew I could do better.

So it was back to the cutting board, if you will - and Round 2 was infinitely times better.

I'm only sad that I made them to take to a party and not to eat the whole pan.

By myself.

In one sitting.

Then again, since Cardiac Arrest was not on my Christmas list this year, perhaps it's all for the best?

Take Five Brownies

  • 1 box (family-sized for 9x13 pan) milk chocolate brownie mix
  • 1 C. crunchy peanut butter
  • 2/3 C. powdered sugar
  •  1 1/2 C. ‘snaps’ or waffle pretzels (approximate- you may need a few more or less)
  • 1 C. milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 C. butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 C. light brown sugar
  • 6 T. light corn syrup
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Bake milk chocolate brownies as directed on box in a 9x13 pan.  Allow to cool completely, then combine crunchy peanut butter with powdered sugar in a large bowl.  Beat until combined, then spread evenly over cooled brownies.

Arrange pretzels over top of peanut butter in a single layer.  Sprinkle milk chocolate chips over top of pretzels and set aside.

Prepare caramel topping: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and heavy cream.  Bring to a boil and stir, making sure all sugar is dissolved.  Stir 5-10 minutes more, until caramel is thick & bubbly (about 230 degrees on a candy thermometer).  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and pour caramel evenly over brownies.  Run the tip of a knife or the back of a spoon over the top in swirl patterns to create a design.  Refrigerate pan for about 1 hour to set.  Then remove brownies by lifting foil, and cut into bars.

Note: These are rich, so in this case less is more. I’d cut 4 columns down the short end, and 8 rows down the long end to make 32 bars.  Also, I like to cut the edges off first – totally optional, but it makes the bars look nicer!

Original Recipe; Caramel Topping recipe adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Crescent Rolls

I know it's been over a week since my last post, but  Mr. Vittles and I have been busy vacationing on the beautiful island of Aruba!

We left Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, and returned on Friday night, spending a total of 6 nights with our friends Vanessa and Eric.

eric & vanessa

Vanessa's parents own a (gorgeous) condo down there, and they were kind enough to invite us to stay in the spare bedroom.

And to top it all off, my dad & stepmom were also vacationing there over the same week - just a block away from us!  We even got to see Dan's cousin from Ohio, whose vacation ended the day after ours started.

So in other words... it was a fiesta.

This was our first true vacation since our honeymoon over 2 years ago, so it was nice to get away from work and just relax.

mr. vittles and me

We did a little bit of sightseeing...

me & vanessa at bushiribana gold mill ruins

...but mostly spent our days basking in the sun and our nights stuffing our bellies with delicious food.

mr. vittles

my dad & me

And... we might have thrown in a few cocktails for good measure.

vanessa, me, and my stepmom at shon gecko

Needless to say - it was fabulous.

But I feel like I gained about 10 pounds.  Maybe I'll go on a diet?

Maybe... tomorrow.

Because today, it's time for cheesy, buttery pepperoni rolls.

They're my offering to the football gods, in the hopes that my NY Giants can somehow find a way to beat the (unbeatable?) Green Bay Packers this afternoon.

Pepperoni Pizza Crescent Rolls

  • 1 8-oz. can crescent rolls
  • 1/2 C. tomato or pizza sauce
  • 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 C. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 12 slices pepperoni
  • Italian seasoning, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet or line with foil, and set aside.

Remove crescent rolls from packaging, and divide into 2 rectangles  - the tube should split in half.  Unroll each rectangle onto counter or work surface, and firmly press perforations together.  (You don't want your filling falling out between the cracks!)

Spread 1/4 C. sauce evenly on each of the rectangles.  Sprinkle each rectangle with 1 T. parmesan cheese, and 1/2 C. mozzarella.  Top each with 6 slices of pepperoni.

Then, with the short side of the rectangle facing you, carefully but tightly roll up each rectangle into a tube.  You will have two tubes.

Cut one tube in half, and then cut each of the halves in half again so you end up with 4 slices of the tube.  Carefully place each slice, cut sides down, onto prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining tube to make 8 slices total.  If any of them start to unroll, tighten them up on the baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until puffed & golden.  Let cool briefly on sheet, then sprinkle with seasoning if desired.  Serve immediately.

Original Recipe, Inspired by What About Pie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Latte

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with food, family, friends, and fun!

There's not much time left for pumpkin recipes, so I had to get in one last thing.

If you have any leftover canned pumpkin puree from your pies (or pumpkin coconut tapioca!) this is the perfect use for it.

Plus you'll need the caffeine for all your Black Friday shopping!  (Or if you're working, like me, then you'll really need caffeine).

White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 1/4 C. white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. milk (any kind is fine)
  • 2 t. pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 - 2 shots espresso (or very strong coffee)

In a microwave-safe measuring cup, heat white chocolate chips with heavy cream until melted (heat in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until syrup forms).

In the meantime, heat milk in a medium saucepan with pumpkin and spices over medium-low to medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, and whisk in white chocolate mixture.  Remove from heat, and add vanilla.  Whisk until frothy.

Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (there may be some pumpkin particles or lumps of white chocolate you want to strain out) and add espresso.  Serve immediately, with extra cinnamon on top if desired.  Makes two 6-oz. lattes, or one 12-oz latte (amounts are approximate).

Original Recipe

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Coconut Tapioca

Are you sick of pumpkin yet?

Hope not.  (After this one, I still have another pumpkin recipe up my sleeve!)

My friend Natalie tried the original recipe for this pudding and loved it.  And she knows how much I enjoy coconut, so she was kind enough to share the link.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Vittles didn't like this (he's not a fan of the texture of tapioca), but he was getting quite a kick out of my attempts to photograph it.

I admit, it doesn't look all that appetizing.

But if you enjoy pumpkin and coconut, I'm pretty confident you will love this pudding.

If you are unsure of the spice, feel free to leave the cinnamon out (the original recipe did not have it).  I just thought it added a little something... reminds me of rice pudding!

Pumpkin Coconut Tapioca

  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1/3 C. + 1 T. sugar
  • 1/3 C. small pearl tapioca (also called tapioca seeds - not quick-cook)
  • 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 C. canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Bring the milk and sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Add the tapioca and stir continuously for the first 5 minutes to prevent clumping. (Turn down heat if mixture starts to boil over).

Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the tapioca pearls are almost completely translucent and the mixture is very thick, 10-15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and turn down the heat to low. Continue cooking until the tapioca pearls are completely translucent.

When the tapioca is done, stir in the canned pumpkin, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Chill until firm.

Recipe Adapted from Marc Matsumoto, as seen on

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

The only vegans I actually know are my step-brother & his girlfriend, but nonetheless I have been determined to find a good recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies.

These days you never know when you might need to make some vegan treats.

This recipe is from a really fun blog called Post Punk Kitchen, which professes to be 'the best place in the world for vegan baking & cooking.'  And judging by the long list of glowing comments, I thought this recipe could be just what I was looking for.

Now since I'm not vegan myself, and I haven't eaten a heck of a lot of vegan cookies in my day, I feel that I'm not really qualified to say these are 'The Best.'

But I will say this much ... I find it hard to believe that a cookie without butter and eggs could ever taste any better than one of these.

I made vegan cookies over the summer and they were (to put it mildly) god-awful.

My sister-in-law seemed to enjoy them for some odd reason... but Mr. Vittles and I found them almost inedible.  Sort of like moistened chalkdust studded with chocolate chips.

These, however, do not taste like they're missing butter and eggs.  They do come out a little flat (at least mine did) but they are soft & scrumptious.

And when you take a bite, it's not like "Oh these are good... for being vegan."

You just think "These are good."

They even passed the husband test.  To Mr. Vittles, words like organic and vegan mean 'alien.'  Especially when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, because he is very particular about them.

Yesterday he ran a Tough Mudder (basically, a 12-mile obstacle course), which he has been training for over the past few months.

And this morning he ate these chocolate chip cookies at breakfast.

That says a lot about a) how good these cookies are, and b) how strange my hubby is.

Not that I've never eaten cookies at breakfast myself, but I feel that's not really 'recovery' food.  Guess he's feeling pretty good?

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. white sugar
  • 2/3 C. canola oil
  • 1/4 C.  unsweetened coconut milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 1 T. tapioca flour
  • 2 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3/4 C. vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.

Mix together sugars, oil, milk and tapioca flour in bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium for about 4 minutes, until mixture resembles smooth caramel. (It's important that you don’t get lazy about that step - mix for the full time.)  Stir in the vanilla.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the baking soda, and salt, and mix until well incorporated.  Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in the chocolate chips.  If dough is stiff, use your hands to work them in.

For three-inch cookies, roll the dough into about ping pong ball size balls. Flatten them out in your hands to about 2 1/2 inches. They will spread just a bit. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes – no more than 9 – until they are just a little browned around the edges.  Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

For 24 two-inch cookies, roll dough into walnut sized balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches and bake for only six minutes.

You can also use a cookie scoop to place on sheet, then flatten slightly with your fingers.  If the dough starts to separate & get oily, beat in a little more flour until consistency improves.  Also, if the dough is too sticky when you first finish mixing, you can add a little more flour, mixing after each addition, until consistency gets stiffer.

Makes two dozen two inch cookies or about 16 three inch cookies.

Recipe from Post Punk Kitchen
Note: Wording Changed Slightly, Ingredients Unchanged

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

When I was a kid, you would never catch sweet potatoes (in any form) on my plate.

My mom always loved them, though, so I dunno ... maybe it eventually rubbed off on me?  But one day I decided they were pretty good, and the attraction has only grown from there.

As an adult, I just love them.

Mr. Vittles... not so much.

So I typically only get to have sweet potatoes when I'm out at restaurants.

But when my mother-in-law recently gave us some of her incredible pumpkin muffins, I got an idea.

Mr. Vittles rarely gets excited about food, however his mom's pumpkin muffins are one of his favorites.  (She also makes the recipe in the form of bread, which is a Thanksgiving staple in the family!)

So I was thinking... what if I made sweet potato muffins? They would probably taste similar to the pumpkin, and maybe Mr. V would finally understand my love for sweet potatoes.

Well... you know what they say about best laid plans.

The hubbster would only try one little bite and said "It's ok.  For having sweet potatoes in it."

I had to laugh.  To me, they tasted almost the same as his mom's.  "You can't even taste the sweet potato!" I protested.  But he insisted that he could tell.


I'm calling shenanigans.

It's all in his mind.

These are freakin' delicious.

But you let me know what you think.

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

  • 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. oil
  • 1/4 C. milk
  • 1 C. cooked sweet potato puree
  • 1 T. molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.  Set aside.

In large bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour through cloves).  In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs with oil, milk, sweet potato, and molasses.  Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, and pour in wet.  Mix only until dry ingredients are moistened - do not overmix.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full with batter (you may end up with a little leftover).  Bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool 2-3 minutes in pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Keeps up to one week in an airtight container.

Note: These are also awesome cut in half and browned in a toaster oven :) Yum!

Original Recipe

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate-Covered Nutella Bites

Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays growing up.

Dressing up, candy, pumpkins, scary stories & movies... what's not to like?

What's funny though is that it was probably my mother's least favorite holiday.

She hated Halloween.

But she was always a good sport about it.

We always carved pumpkins & decorated the house.  She would make me the best costumes, like Raggedy Ann, a bunny, and an Ewok from Star Wars.

She would also watch Garfield's Halloween Adventure with me.  Have you ever seen it?

It's amazing.

Ok... maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.  But watching that movie is one of my favorite Halloween memories as a youngster.

Garfield convinces Odie to go trick or treating on Halloween so he can get double the treats.  But things take a wrong turn and they end up at an abandoned old mansion, where they learn from a creepy old man that ghost pirates are set to come that very night to get some treasure they left there 100 years earlier.

Yeah.  Ghost pirates.  Whoa.

Well they try to escape, but the old man steals their boat & they can't get off the island.  They end up getting away from the ghost pirates eventually, but Garfield nearly drowns in the process.  Odie saves his life, so Garfield decides to share & gives him half the treats after all.

My mom always used to quote Garfield's catch phrase from that movie - "Candy candy candy!"

(He says it a few times in the movie, but you can see it below around 4:40)

Because let's face it... Halloween is a license to eat as much candy as you possibly can without getting sick.

Sure kids love it, but adults end up buying a bag or two more than what they plan to give out to trick or treaters.

Or maybe that's just me?

Anyway, this year I was feeling bold and decided to try & make a little of my own candy.  I was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest from The Whimsical Princess, for making your own Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs at home.

But in honor of the season, I decided to use fall sprinkles and miniature leaf, pumpkin, and acorn cookie cutters to give them an autumn theme.

The good part is, they are very versatile - you could make these with any sprinkles & in any shape (you could even just roll them in balls if you are too lazy to roll out the 'dough') for any occasion.

Or... any time you just feel like some "candy candy candy!"

Chocolate-Covered Nutella Bites

  • 1/2 C. Nutella spread
  • 1/2 C. Oreo cookie crumbs (about 5 whole cookies)
  • 1 C. powdered sugar
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 1-2 T. milk 
  • 2 C. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 t. shortening
  • sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Line a large baking sheet with parchment, waxed paper, or non-stick foil and set aside.

In a large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together Nutella, Oreo cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter until well-combined.  Add 1 T. milk and mix on medium speed until a cohesive dough starts to form.  If necessary, add a little more milk, & blend until the dough holds together well after shaping into a ball.  (Dough should be soft & pliable, almost like Play-Doh.)

Place a large piece of waxed paper or parchment over countertop and place ball of dough on top.  Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut out with desired cookie-cutters, and place shapes on prepared baking sheet.  Combine dough scraps back into a ball and re-roll, cutting more shapes until you use all dough.

Place baking sheet with shapes in freezer for about a half hour.  Line another baking sheet with waxed paper or nonstick foil & set aside.

Melt chocolate chips with shortening in large microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, in 30 second increments, stirring after each.  Using a fork, dip shapes into chocolate, then shake off excess chocolate and scrape bottom of fork on side of cup or bowl to take off more chocolate from bottom.  Place on bare baking sheet, and decorate with sprinkles if desired.  (Note: You may need to re-melt chocolate if it starts getting hard.  You may also need to place un-dipped shapes back in freezer if they get too soft.)

Once shapes are all coated with chocolate, place in refrigerator 15 minutes to set chocolate.  Makes 30-40 1” bites.  Store in airtight container – does not require refrigeration, but bites will keep longer in the fridge than at room temp and also be more solid.

Recipe Adapted from The Whimsical Princess

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun with Fondant

Decorating with fondant is something I've been wanting to try for a while, but I was kind of intimidated.  I didn't know where to begin.

Have you ever felt like that with something? Like just it seemed too overwhelming, so you didn't bother?

Well I got one of those 'daily deal' type of things that we were talking about last week for a 3-hour fondant class at a local bakery, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.

I took the class with my friend Danielle from work, and we learned all sorts of interesting things about this decorative technique from the owner of the bakery, Francesca.

The best part was that we got to try it ourselves, and then take our mini-cake home with us.

Even Mr. Vittles (who knows and cares little about food) was pretty impressed with the final product.

So this is more an informational post than a recipe.  I would like to share with you the basics I learned, especially if you are like me and find the whole idea of fondant to be both intriguing and mystifying.

(If you are an old pro at this, stop here.  This is my first go-around with fondant so everything seemed interesting to me - but I doubt it will to you.)  

When we got to the class, we each had a work station set up with two 7" layers of vanilla cake and a scoop of chocolate buttercream.  We also had a toolkit with an offset spatula, a plastic fondant rolling pin, a small round cookie cutter, a small cup of shortening, a pastry wheel-cutter, and a 'puff' made of cheesecloth with cornstarch in it, secured with a rubber band.

Francesca wanted us to use the buttercream (homemade by the bakery) as the filling of the cake, so we spread it on the bottom layer and placed the other layer on top.  Then she gave us white buttercream to lightly ice the entire outside of the cake - fondant cannot stick to a dry cake, it needs the layer of buttercream to stay in place.

Once the entire cake was iced (in a very thin, even layer) we got to work on softening the fondant.  And here's where everything became foreign to me.

First of all, I always thought people made the fondant before they assembled the cake.  And though I'm sure plenty of people do, Francesca actually recommended we purchase the fondant ready-made.  As she put it "For your first cake at home, you may want to try to make your own fondant - and then I'm fairly certain you will never make it again."

Hmm.  This lady seemed to know her stuff, so fair enough.  'No making of the fondant.'  Got it.

She recommended the brand Ballina, which is from somewhere in South America, because she said it is a good consistency for beginners.  Not too hard and not too soft.  According to her, the South Americans are masters at fondant?

However I was having trouble finding this brand for purchase online, or at least in small quantities.  But I believe she said Satin Ice was also good.  

In her opinion, the most popular (or at least the most readily-available) brand, Wilton, is not too tasty and also tough to work with (a couple of fondant veterans in the class attested to that as well).  So I guess I'll try to stay clear of that.

Anyway, she gave us each a package of white fondant and we had to break the 'brick' in two pieces to make it easier to soften.  Unless you're a masseuse or something, this process is pretty tough on your hands.  You have to grease up your digits with some vegetable shortening, then knead it into the fondant until it's soft & easy to work with.  (If you get a little too shortening-happy, you can always fix a sticky fondant with some cornstarch or confectioners sugar, so no worries).

Once you get your fondant nice & soft, you can color it if you want.  (FYI - you may want to wear gloves when working with the gel food coloring.  And make sure you grease up the gloves with shortening as well).  First we tried for a marble look, where you put little dots of coloring all over the piece you want to color, then twist it & smush it together until the color swirls throughout the fondant.  

You can also just keep working the fondant until it becomes a solid color.

Or, if you don't want to bother coloring the fondant yourself, many companies sell it already colored.  And if you want a bold color like black or red, Francesca said it's a must to buy the fondant pre-colored.  Otherwise you will have to use so much of the gel coloring that it actually degrades the structure of the fondant.

Once we got our fondant colored, it was time to roll it.  We dusted our surface area with plenty of cornstarch and placed the fondant in the middle.  

Now if you're a baker your first instinct here will be to roll back & forth like you would cookie dough or pie crust.  

But no.  

This is bad.  It weakens your fondant and makes it tear.  So you want to place your fondant rolling pin in the middle of the fondant and roll outward - one stroke at a time.  

Roll out from the middle, then return to the middle and roll into another direction.  Gently and evenly, so the thickness is the same throughout.  And if your cake is a circle, you want to roll the fondant into a circular shape that's a little bigger than the diameter of the cake plus twice the height.  

(For example, our cakes were 7" in diameter and 3" in height.  So we rolled our circles to about 15").

Once we got it rolled, the tricky part was getting it onto the cake.  Unfortunately it seemed there is really no good way to do this.  Since our cakes were small, I just picked it up and plopped it on the top, which seemed to work fine at that size.  But if you have a big sheet of fondant, I would guess you need to roll it loosely around the rolling pin and then unroll it onto the cake.

For any of us whose piece was much bigger than the cake we then had to trim the excess from the bottom - otherwise the fondant will start to get weighed down & tear.

Then we had to smooth it to the top & sides of the cake.  Francesca's advice was to get it smoothed on the top, then work around the side by pulling the fondant up & away from the side of the cake (to avoid pleating) and then smoothing it down.  (As you work your way around you will get to a point where you have so much extra that you feel like there's no way you can get it to smooth.   But you can.  Just do it.)

Once the sides were smooth, there was still excess fondant at the bottom, so then we had to take our wheel cutters around the bottom edge to clean things up. You want it to be tight against the cake.

After that, we smoothed the cake more using fondant smoothers.  You need two - one to hold the cake in place (on the top), and the other to smooth around the sides.  Otherwise you will end up touching the cake with your hands and leaving fingerprints on it!  The smoothers are pretty simple, just glide back & forth across the surface.  This should smooth out any dings or bumps in the fondant, but for those of us that had serious difficulties we took a little shortening on one fingertip to try & smooth the imperfections out.

Then came the fun part - decorations.

We got to use our leftover pieces of fondant to roll & cut out shapes or sculpt flowers.  I decided to make mine simple, with three roses on top, a couple leaves, and some dainty tendrils. 

Since I was making flowers that needed hold their shape, I had to turn the fondant into gum paste by kneading in a powder called Gum Tragacanth (sold as CAI Tylose Powder).  This made the piece of fondant stiffer and drier.

To attach my shapes to the cake, I used a dab or two of water but Francesca actually recommended using a little vodka - it attaches the fondant to itself well, but evaporates quickly due to the alcohol.  (And by hour 2 of working with fondant you may need to take a shot of it as well?  Just saying).

Once we got the top and/or sides decorated, we had to finish the bottom edge where we cut the fondant.  She suggested either placing small beads or balls at the base (like I did) or rolling pieces of fondant into ropes & braiding them together.  

And then... we were done!  We placed the cakes in our boxes and headed home to marvel at our creations.

And eat them, of course.

A few tips for fondant storage- if you have any unused fondant left over, you can coat it in a layer of shortening, then wrap it well in plastic wrap and stick it in a ziploc bag.  Francesca said it will keep for months like this without drying out.

Also, for the cake itself, when you are choosing your flavor for filling make sure it's not something that needs to be refrigerated (like chocolate mousse, whipped cream, or pudding).  Fondant cannot be refrigerated because water is it's worst enemy - you don't want condensation ruining your beautiful masterpiece, now do you?

By the way - if I have any occasions in the near future to make a fondant cake, I will try to add some photos of the process.  I didn't take pictures until I got home, so all I can show you is the finished product.  

Sorry  :(

But tell me ... have any of you worked with fondant in the past?  What do you think?  

So much fun, or too much work?

I'm really glad I tried it, and I had a great time.  But I also don't think I'll be quitting my day job to start making fondant cakes any time soon.  Special occasions only!  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Candy Corn Crispy Rice Treats

I seriously debated whether or not to put this one up on the blog.

Not because it's bad, just because I wasn't sure if it would be up your alley.

I asked Mr. Vittles what he thought.  His parents were over last night, so I also had them weigh in.  And the consensus was to post the recipe.

But I'll be perfectly honest about these.  Full disclosure.

The flavor is very similar to the plain marshmallow version, but sweeter & with a subtle candy corn flavor.

The texture is a little more sticky & chewy.

And the color is a little... odd.  Almost unappetizing.  In fact, you might want to add some orange food coloring so your treats don't end up looking like the color of barfed-up Cheetos.

(Sorry for that visual, but honestly there is just no other way to describe this color).

But they are pretty delicious.

They are pretty festive.

They are pretty fun.

And I don't know what possessed me to melt candy corn, but I've gotta admit - it's a good time.  I kinda feel like everyone should try it once in their life.

Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Candy Corn Crispy Rice Treats

  • 2 T. butter
  • 3/4 C. candy corn
  • 2 C. miniature marshmallows
  • 3 C. crisp rice cereal

Line an 8x8 pan with foil.  Grease with nonstick spray or butter, and set aside.

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add candy corn and stir until completely melted, about 5 minutes.  Use the back of your spoon or spatula to smash any pieces still intact, to speed up melting.

Add marshmallows and stir until entire mixture is melted.  (Note: If you do decide to add orange food coloring to deepen the color, now would be the time.)

Add crisp rice cereal and stir well, until cereal is completely coated with marshmallow mixture.

Empty into prepared pan and press evenly using a piece of waxed paper or a buttered spatula.  Let cool completely, then lift bars out of pan using foil.  Cut into squares.  Keeps in airtight container up to 3 days.  Makes 9 squares.

Recipe Adapted from Kellogg's Rice Krispies

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Macadamia Crunch Truffles by bubo

Have you been noticing that there are so many sites like Groupon now, that offer a deal of the day?

I have.

And I am probably a member most of them.

Ok, well that may be a slight exaggeration ... but it's true that I'm a total sucker for these sites.  I love a good deal, and a site that does the legwork of finding one for you is a bargain-hunter's dream.

Especially when the deal involves delicious foods.

Enter Foodsherpa.

Not only do they find you a deal, they find it on really cool stuff you probably would never find on your own.  Like Hot Caramel Ginger Sauce and Pistachio Nut Butter.  And in their daily email, they tell you where the product was "born" and why it's awesome.

Can't go wrong with that.

So when they reached out to me and asked me to preview a product that is on sale today, naturally I jumped at the chance.

It's a can of macadamia crunch truffles, imported from a dessert shop in Barcelona.

How cool is that?

Let me answer that for you.

It's really cool.  Not to mention delicious.  These bad boys are macadamia nuts covered in white chocolate and rolled in cocoa powder.

I don't even really like white chocolate and I devoured two of these without blinking an eye.

Apparently Carles Mampel knows his stuff.  Guess that's why he's an award-winning pastry chef?

Anyway if you are interested in these, then go get yourself some at Foodsherpa and enjoy!

Note: I did not receive any compensation to write this post, only the product for review.  The opinions are entirely my own.  However, please also note that as a member of their affiliate program, I do receive a percentage on orders placed at Foodsherpa via links from my blog. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Cider Ginger Punch

I know I just posted an apple-related recipe, but let's be honest.

Fall is my favorite season, and I have no self control.  

I heard a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts' pumpkin products on the radio the other day that made me laugh.  This guy goes to order, and finds out the pumpkin flavor is only available for a limited time during fall.  So he wants to load up on pumpkin donuts & muffins... in some random lady's purse and also some other guy's briefcase.  Plus a dump truck for the coffee.

You kinda have to hear it to find it amusing, but I was thinking OMG, that's so me.

I tend to go a little overboard during fall.  I want to make everything pumpkin & apple.

I've been able to restrain myself fairly well thus far, but I can't sit on this drink any longer.  It's too good.  

If you've never had ginger beer, it's a non-alcoholic beverage that's really just ginger ale with lots of ginger.  My dad & my stepmom introduced me to it, apparently it's popular in Bermuda.  I found this Jamaican kind in our local grocery store.

I was having trouble deciding if I liked this better with vodka or spiced rum, though.  I eventually decided on vodka.  But tell me what you think?

Apple Cider Ginger Punch

  • 2 oz. good-quality vodka 
  • 2 oz. apple cider
  • 4 oz. ginger beer
  • club soda (I actually used unsweetened pomegranate seltzer) 
  • apple slices (optional)

Combine vodka, apple cider, and ginger beer.  Pour over glass filled with ice.  Top off with club soda & apple slices, if desired.  Makes one drink.

Adapted from

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple Crumb Cake

Crumb cake was always a favorite treat in my mom's family.

My grandparents would get crumb cake sometimes on weekends when I stayed over their house, and we almost always had it when they rented a beach house at the Jersey Shore for a week in the summer.

The best crumb cake in our area is from a bakery called Mueller's.  It's not overly big or fancy, but on the rare occasion that I go in there, it still brings back happy childhood memories.

Plus I want to eat everything there.

In one sitting.

Is that wrong?

Another time we always had crumb cake was at my great-grandmother's house (a.k.a. "Gigi").  She and my great-aunt had a favorite bakery where they lived in Lyndhurst NJ, and Aunt Joyce would stock up on all sorts of treats there before our visits.

No matter how many times my mom told her "Don't go crazy," we knew Aunt Joyce would be hitting up Mazur's for some crumb cake at the very least.

Or... half the store, at most.

Honestly, I think Aunt Joyce was perfectly happy to have an excuse to buy loads of goodies at the bakery.  (Needless to say, she was pretty much the coolest great-aunt ever.)

In any event, crumb cake is a treat that will always have a place in my heart.

I got to thinking about it recently, but I'm pretty sure I can never make it as good as Mueller's or Mazur's, so I needed to put a twist on it.

We just went apple-picking last weekend and still have loads of apples, so it seemed like a natural combo.  I'd never actually had an apple crumb cake before, but really - apples... butter... sugar... what could go wrong?

And while the crumbs are still the best part, at least with this you have something to look forward to in the cake itself.

I might cut down on the sugar a bit if I make this again, as I thought it was a little sweet - but then again Mr. Vittles enjoyed the extra sugar.

Either way, for as easy as this was, it was pretty scrumptious.

I think Aunt Joyce would approve.

Apple Crumb Cake

  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 C. flour + 2 T.
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored & grated (about ½ C.)

Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 2 1/2 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and nutmeg until evenly distributed.  In a small bowl, whisk eggs, oil, and vanilla until combined and add to dry ingredients.  Mix well, then fold in grated apples. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly.

Prepare crumb topping: add first 5 crumb ingredients together in bowl, then add small amounts of melted butter, stirring with a fork or your fingers to combine into a crumbly mixture resembling wet sand.  Sprinkle crumbs on top of cake batter.  Bake 30-35 mins or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with only a few dry crumbs attached.  Let cool on wire rack, then dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Recipe Adapted from

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cherry Cake

Mr. Vittles loves cherry & vanilla.

He also loves Cherry Garcia ice cream by Ben & Jerry's.

And he really loves his wife who makes him cakes that combine cherry, vanilla, chocolate, & whipped cream.

Now I already told you his favorite cake is angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream, which is what I made on his birthday.

But his dad and sister both have birthdays have right after his, so we celebrate them all during a family meal.

...where my mother-in-law not only cooks a fabulous meal, but dutifully makes each of their favorite desserts.

This year, I asked her what I could bring, and since she knew Mr. Vittles already got his angel food cake, she suggested an alternate dessert for him.

I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make this cake, which I've been saving in my recipe annals for just such an occasion.

The assembly is a little time consuming, though, so I actually cheated and used a boxed vanilla cake mix.

Just don't tell Mr. Vittles' grandmother.  I already got in trouble on Sunday for the angel food cake I made last year that only had two layers and a level of chocolate whipped cream that had her 'concerned.'

(Thank goodness I made three layers this year, because I bet Nana Vittles could sniff out a liar from a mile away.)

Either way, I think it's safe to say my husband is one of the luckiest guys in the world.

Like... really?  A grandma who's worried he's not getting enough chocolate whipped cream, and a wife who makes him two birthday cakes?

Hmph.  Lucky.

And did I mention he's also pretty special?

'Cause I wouldn't hand-dip maraschino cherries for just anyone :)

Chocolate Chip Cherry Cake

  • 1 recipe white cake batter (either a cake mix with all its necessary ingredients, or your favorite recipe) 
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling  
  • 1/2 C. mini chocolate chips  

Chocolate-Dipped Cherries
  • 1 1/2 C. chocolate chips (or you can use more of the mini)
  • 1 T. vegetable shortening  
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained and wiped dry 

Vanilla Buttercream
  • 3 C. confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. butter (3 sticks) 
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. heavy cream 
  • 4 drops red food coloring

Whipped Cream
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 - 2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to to temperature required for white cake recipe.  Grease and flour two 9" cake pans, and set aside.

Drain and rinse cherry pie filling under running water. Press cherries between several layers of paper towels until very dry. Chop cherries fine and reserve 1/2 cup (discard remaining cherries, or reserve for other use).

Make white cake batter per instructions.  Gently fold cherries and 1/2 C. mini chips into cake batter, and divide evenly among prepared pans.  Bake on middle rack according to directions for your white cake recipe in two 9" pans.  (Probably 25-30 minutes in 350 degree oven, but check your recipe or cake mix box).

While cake is baking, dip maraschino cherries: Melt remaining 1 1/2 cups chips and shortening in bowl. Holding stems, partially dip dry maraschino cherries into chocolate and place on parchment-lined plate. Refrigerate until hardened, at least 10 minutes.

Once cake has cooled, make buttercream: In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugart; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.

Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla, heavy cream, and red food coloring, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.  Then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Place one layer of cake on a cake plate or platter.  Using an offset spatula, spread buttercream evenly over layer, and top with second layer of cake.  Spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake, and smooth out frosting.

Make whipped cream: Place 1/2 C. heavy cream in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Add sugar as desired, and whip on on highest speed possible until mixtures stiffens & soft peaks form.  Mound whipped cream in center of cake and pile on chocolate-dipped cherries.  (If desired, you can pipe whipped cream from a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip).  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

Recipe Adapted from Cooks' Country

Friday, September 30, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

For all the things that I cook and bake, sadly there are very few dishes that get much of a rise out of Mr. Vittles.

For someone like me... this is kind of a nightmare.

I like feedback!

But if I had a dollar for every time I heard "It's pretty good" from my husband, I'd have a full little piggy bank.

(Luckily, he has other good qualities.)

Nonetheless, every now & again I stumble upon something that gets a reaction.

Pepperjack Bacon Mac & CheeseCoconut Kona Ice CreamRicotta Cookies.

And now... Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf.

I asked him if it would be better with the addition of blue cheese crumbles but he said it was already pretty "solid."  However, I will throw that suggestion out there in case you are so inclined.  You could also serve it with a side of blue cheese dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 T. ranch dressing
  • 3 T. Frank's Red Hot (or the hot sauce of your choice)
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1/4 t. celery seed
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 2 T. Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 T. ketchup
  • 1 T. honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a shallow Pyrex dish or pie plate with nonstick spray and set aside.  (You can also make this in a loaf pan, surprisingly little fat comes out of it).

In a medium bowl, whisk together ranch dressing, hot sauce, garlic & onion powder, celery seed, salt, pepper, cayenne, milk & egg.  Add bread crumbs & stir.  Add ground chicken and mix thoroughly with your hands until combined.

Form into a loaf and place into prepared dish.  Cook 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 T. hot sauce with ketchup and honey.  Brush glaze over meatloaf, and return to oven for another 15 minutes.  Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serves 2-4.

Recipe Adapted from

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Caramel Snickerdoodles

Today is Mr. Vittles' birthday.

His favorite cake is very simple (angel food cake filled with chocolate whipped cream) so I tend to feel guilty if that's the only thing I make for him. 

Especially since he also wants to go out to dinner tonight!

So last night we had one of his favorite meals (steak with garlic mashed potatoes) and I decided to make these cookies.

He likes anything pumpkin (one year I made him a Pumpkin Spice cake) so I thought this recipe would be a no-brainer.

When I took the dough out of the refrigerator, I gave him a taste and he said "It's good.  I have to say I was a little worried when you said they were going to be pumpkin snickerdoodles."

I guess he thought the taste would be too strong? 

Luckily, it's very subtle.

Then about a third of the way through the batch, I had him try just a piece of one of the finished cookies.  He tried to take a bite out of the half, but all the caramel came out with it. 

I asked him what he thought, and he said "It's ok.  The caramel is kind of a pain in the #*$ though."


I know someone else that's kind of a pain in the @#$.

I'm so sorry that gooey caramel deliciousness was just too much trouble for you, Mr. Vittles.  

(We should all have such problems.)

But since it is his birthday, I decided I better make a batch of just plain ones.  And for the record, they were also very delicious. 

...even though I forgot to put cinnamon in the rolling sugar until the last batch.


Anyway, if you think the caramel is too daunting, feel free to leave it out :)

Pumpkin Caramel Snickerdoodles

  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour (you can just use all-purpose for all the flour if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. allspice
  • 1/8 t. nutmeg
  • 1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 24 soft caramel candies (such as Kraft)

Coating for Rolling:
  • 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. allspice

Make Dough: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  Set aside. 

In large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light & fluffy (2 or 3 minutes).   Add pumpkin puree, and beat until well-combined.  Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined.

Scraping down sides as necessary, add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated.   Add remaining flour mixture and beat only until no streaks remain.  Do not overmix.  Cover and chill dough thoroughly, for at least an hour, until consistency is easy to roll without sticking to your hands.

When dough is almost done chilling, unwrap caramels and slice each one in half.  Set aside.

Make Coating:  Mix sugar with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice in a small bowl and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare baking sheet with parchment or non-stick spray.

Using a large cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon, scoop out dough into 6-8 balls (return bowl of unused dough to refrigerator.)  Break each ball in half and place caramel piece on one half of dough.  Top with other half and shape back into a ball (so the dough completely surrounds the caramel). 

Roll each ball in spiced sugar coating and place on prepared sheet (if you're like me & want an extra-crispy coating on the outside, you can re-roll all the balls again before baking.) 

Bake 11-13 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Store in airtight container up to 1 week.  Makes about 36-48 cookies. 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Recipe adapted from DLYN, and Caramel-Center inspiration from The Baker Chick


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