Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Years Baking

Louis gave me one of my favorite gifts right before Christmas - the cookie cutters for these awesome Ninja Bread Men Cookies. I had so much fun making them and giving them to people. It was a simple way to put a smile on people's faces. Watch out...they are "cut out for action"...hehe. This was on the package and it makes me giggle every time.

Ninja Bread Men
adapted from ``Gingerbread Stars`` from Company`s Coming Most Loved Festive Baking 2008

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cloves
1 large egg
1/2 C fancy molasses
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 1/2 C flour ( you can use all purpose or whole wheat here and most people will not be able to tell the difference)

1. Cream the butter and brown sugar. 
2. Add the next 7 ingredients and mix well. 
3. Add the egg, molasses, and vinegar and mix until smooth. It will look curdled. 
4. Add half of the flour and mix until incorporated, then add the second amount of flour and mix. 
5. Separate the dough into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or over night. 
6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness. Use cutters of your choice and arrange cookies about 2 cm apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
7. Bake in 375F oven for 8 minutes or until edges are slightly darker. 
8. Cool cookies completely on racks before decorating. I used royal icing for the Ninja Bread Men. 

The Ninja Bread Army:

Shortbread done two ways: Salted Caramel Shortbread and Chocolate Toffee Shortbread
adapted from "Salted Caramel Shortbread" in Food Network Magazine Vol 6:10 Dec 2013, "Basic Shortbread Cookie Dough" and "Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cups" in Canadian Living December 2013. 

I made 1 full recipe of shortbread, and split it between 2x9" square pans, and then made 1/2 of a recipe of the salted caramel and 1/2 recipe of the chocolate toffee

For Shortbread:
1/2 C unsalted butter
1/2 C salted butter
3/4 C icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C all purpose flour

For chocolate toffee:
3/4 C semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C toffee bits

1. Butter one 9x13" pan or two 9" square pans and line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F.  
2. Using paddle attachment, beat butters icing sugar and vanilla  until light a fluffy. 
3. Stir in flour until just combined. 
4. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan(s)
5. For salted caramel, leave shortbread as is. For the chocolate toffee, sprinkle toffee bits and chocolate chips evenly over short bread. 
6. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 30-35 min. 
7. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool slightly. Remove shortbread from dish using parchment paper to lift. Cut shortbread into squares, triangles, or rectangles. 

For salted caramel:
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/2 C brown sugar
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
2 Tbsp 18% cream
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
salt for sprinkling

1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, espresso powder, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat while stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes. 
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and vinegar. 
3. Let cool 5 minutes before drizzling over cut shortbread. Sprinkle with salt.  

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
adapted from " Chocolate Sugar Cookies" in Food network Magazine Volume 6:10 December 2013

1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 recipe royal icing and festive sprinkles

1. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixture until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in egg and vanilla.  
3. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture until just incorporated. 
5. Divide dough into 2 balls and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. 
6. Roll out dough between 2 pieces of floured parchment paper, and use festive cookie cutters to shape cookies. Place cookies 4-5 cm apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
7. Bake 350F for about 12 minutes, switching the top and bottom pans half way through. 
8. Cool completely before decorating as desired. 

Gluten Free Candy Cane Biscotti
adapted from this recipe by Allyson Kramer

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C sorghum flour
3/4 C brown rice flour
1/2 C potato starch
1/4 C tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 C crushed candy canes

1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl, then add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. 
3. Combine all remaining ingredients ( except candy canes) in a separate bowl and whisk well to combine. 
4. Gradually incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture. Mixture should be firm. 
5. Fold in the crushed candy canes. You can leave a small amount for sprinkling on the cooked biscotti if desired.  
6. Shape the mixture into 2 logs and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten each one so that you have a 10 cm by 30 cm flattened log. 
7. bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool until you can handle comfortably. Cut each log diagonally into cookie, and place them cut side down back on the parchment lined sheets. 
8. Return to the oven. and bake for 12 minutes. Flip and then bake for 12 more minutes. 
9. Remove from oven and garnish with additional crushed candy canes or melted chocolate if desired. 
10. Dip in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for best results. 

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