The Making of Half Hearted Valentine Cookies

February 21st, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Half Hearted Valentine Cookies

The Half Hearted Valentine Cookies have become my most popular cookie outside of the Christmas holiday season. It has been a few year since I have made them and I learn something new each time. For this batch, I made cookies a little thicker. The thinner cookies brown on top too quickly. Enjoy!
Half Hearted Valentine Cookies

Festival of Desserts 2008

January 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Festival of Desserts 2008 11

These red velvet cupcakes were an absolute showstopper. They were made by friend, Marvin, for this year’s Festival of Desserts. I am hoping to get the recipe for them and I will post it here. This was the first year that we had guest desserts. I made 10 desserts, ranging from sweet potato pie to cranberry oatmeal cookies and chocolate eggnog rum cake. As always, we had ham and chicken. A great time was had by all.
Additional photos from the Festival of Desserts can be seen here. I am already cooking up ideas for Festival of Desserts 2009. :)

Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 6th, 2006 § 2 comments § permalink

Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups pecan halves
1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, and cinnamon; gradually stir into creamed mixture. Fold in rolled oats, cranberries, chocolate chips, and pecans. Drop rounded spoonfuls and press them by hand onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in preheated oven. Remove cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Tips and pointers:

I have made these cookies for a few years now but I wanted them to be more chewy and soft. My secret baking angel suggested that I use 1/4 cup less flour and also finely chop the cranberries and pecans. Press the cookie dough flat by hand on the cookie sheet which makes them spread wider. I bake my cookies for 12 minutes then pull them out of the oven as they will keep cooking as they are cooling which makes them more chewy.

Makes approximately 36 cookies. (More like 4 dozen.)

Dessert Goodness – Part 2

January 18th, 2006 § 2 comments § permalink

Dessert Goodness #2, originally uploaded by in2jazz.

These are photos from the 4th Annual Festival of Desserts and other holiday baking. Over 40 people stopped by for dessert during the course of the evening and I still had leftovers. Everyone had a great time and I am already thinking about this year’s festival. I did learn something important along the way. The “bake cake now and glaze later” approach will have you glazing and frosting cakes all evening.
The desserts included the following:

Chocolate Egg Nog Rum Cake

December 22nd, 2005 § 5 comments § permalink

Chocolate Egg Nog Rum Cake, originally uploaded by in2jazz.

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted Cake Flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup eggnog (I like the Berkeley Farms Eggnog)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup Myers’s dark rum
1 package of Jell-O chocolate pudding
3 heaping tablespoons of Hershey’s Cocoa

Cream butter, gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with eggnog and flavoring, beating after each addition until smooth. Add package of chocolate pudding, rum and cocoa and mix well together. Pour batter into a greased 12-cup bundt pan. Bake at 350º for 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on wax paper and let cool before putting on the glaze.

Rum Glaze

2 sticks of butter
1/2 granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Karo syrup
1 cup of rum (currently using Myers’s Dark Rum and getting rave reviews!!!)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in saucepan until lightly boiled (do not overheat). Add powdered sugar slowly with a wire wisk then add granulated sugar. Once dissolved under low heat, add brown sugar. After the brown sugar has dissolved, add Karo syrup. Keep stirring with wire wisk. Bring to a light boil. Add rum and bring to a boil while stirring with a wisk. Remove from heat and wisk in the vanilla extract. Add more powdered sugar or use less rum for a thicker glaze.

Poke holes in the cool cake wit fork. Drizzle and brush the glaze over the cake. Continue to brush the cake with glaze that has ran down the side. Let dry and serve.

For Chocolate Rum Cake, omit the egg nog and use 1 cup of milk with the flour mixture. For Plain Rum Cake, omit the egg nog and Hershey’s Cocoa. Use Jell-O French Vanilla pudding and 1 cup of milk with the flour mixture.

Cinnamony Goodness…

January 2nd, 2005 § 10 comments § permalink

My first batch of cinnamon rolls!

Recipe borrowed lovingly from an awesome individual.

Cinnamon Rolls

4 1/2 – 5 C (unbleached/organic, if doable) flour
4 t active dry yeast (2 packages)
3/4 C milk
1/2 C water
1/2 C vegetable shortening (part butter — also, I use Spectrum’s non-hydrogenated shortening — it works very well)
1/2 C sugar (or rapadura, or ecocrystals, or turbinado)
1 t salt
2 eggs, room temperature

Measure 1 3/4 C flour into yr large mixer bowl. Add yeast and blend. Measure milk, water, shortening, sugar, and salt into saucepan. Blend. Heat until warm (about 120-130 degrees F).
Pour into flour/yeast mixture. Add eggs. Beat 30 seconds with electric mixer at low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 more minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stop mixer.

Gradually stir in more flour (by hand) to make a soft dough. It will be rather sticky. Knead on lightly floured board or counter until nice an’ smooth, about 5-10 minutes (it’s good exercise!!). Cover with bowl or pan and let rest for 20 minutes.

Shape as desired. Here’s what I do: I cut the hunk of dough in half, roll out one of the halves until it’s flat and rectangular and large, brush it with butter, sprinkle it with a cinnamon/sugar mixture, add raisins (sometimes), and roll it up. Then I cut off the ends and cut the rest into 1″ wide slices. They usually fit nicely into 2 9″ greased cake pans. Then I put them in a warm oven (I usually warm it to 200 degrees for a few minutes, then turn it off) with a pan of hot water under them and a foil tent over them and let them rise for 40 minutes, or until doubled.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. You can ice these with powdered sugar icing (I usually do) after they’ve cooled off, but believe me when I tell you that they’re wonderful just plain and warm outta the oven. Cool them on a rack. When they’re cool, you can wrap them in foil, and freeze. Just warm them in a 250 oven for about 45 minutes and oooh boy, it’s like you just made ‘em.
Enjoy them — the recipe is from a cookbook called Homemade Bread, published by the Farm Journal people in 1969.

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tbl of milk
1 tsp of vanilla

Add milk and powdered sugar to get the glaze to the consistency that you desire.

What did I learn?

My dad made cinnamon rolls for us when we were kids so every now and then the thought of making them myself would pop through my brain and then disappear. I had never made anything using yeast before so I was a little nervous about how these rolls would turn out. It was much easier than I expected and I learned that working with yeast was not as terrifying as I thought. I mixed everything by hand and kneaded the dough by hand as well. As you can see in the photo above, my pan was a little crowded so I will put less in the pan next time and measure my strips of cinnamon dough a little better. Overall, I was very pleased.

The Second Annual Festival of Desserts

December 21st, 2003 § 12 comments § permalink

Egg Nog Pound Cake

It is that special time of year. Continuing the tradition started last year, I hosted the second annual Festival of Desserts on Friday. As always, I ran out of time and didn’t make all the desserts I wanted to prepare. Here are the desserts that were enjoyed for this year’s festival.

  • Banana Chocolate Walnut Brownies
  • Chocolate Brownies
  • Egg Nog Rum Cake
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Cheesecake
  • Lunchroom Butter Cookies
  • McNannygocious Pound Cake
  • Egg Nog Pound Cake
  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Banana Nut Bread
  • 7 Up Cake

Special Guest Desserts

  • Lemon Squares
  • Sweet Potato Pie

Special thanks to Joey for the lemon squares, David for the sweet potato pies, and JS & AF for the chicken. Another big hit of the party was the hot apple cider with the mulling spices from Williams-Sonoma. A good time was had by all. I must apologize for not taking more dessert photos.

Holiday Baking

December 5th, 2003 § 8 comments § permalink

7-Up Cake-sm.jpg

7 Up Seven Cake
3 sticks of butter
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
3 cups of cake flour
3 tsps of lemon extract
3/4 cup of 7-Up

Preheat the oven to 325. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the eggs, flour, lemon extract and 7-Up; mix well. Spoon mixture into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tests done when a wooden toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Lemon Glaze

juice of one squeezed lemon
powdered sugar
Add powdered until you have the desired consistency then spread onto warm cake.

Recipe taken from “The Church Ladies’ Divine Desserts” by Brenda Rhodes Miller.
Another great cookbook is Joyce White’s “Brown Sugar: Soul Food Desserts from Family and Friends.” It is filled with holiday baking treasures.

I am very proud to present My Baking Portfolio which displays some of the tasty treasures that I have made over the past year. Don’t worry, I will continue writing about the music that we have all come to love but I also notice that occassionally people search the site for recipes so I decided to do this feature. I will eventually create a separate blog for baking, maybe. Here are some other holiday favorite for your enjoyment.

McNannygocious Pound Cake
Lunchroom Butter Cookies
Hershey’s Best Brownies/Banana Chocolate Walnut Brownies
Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pecan Tarts
Egg Nog Rum Cake
Sweet Potato Pound Cake
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Red Velvet Cake

Just a little Brown Sugar…

February 26th, 2003 § 7 comments § permalink

Brown Sugar: Soul Food Desserts from Family and Friends

No, this is not about the popular D’Angelo song from a few years back or the popular movie from last year. It’s about the new cookbook from Joyce White entitled “Brown Sugar: Soul Food Desserts from Family and Friends” which is the sequel to “Soul Food: Recipes & Reflections from African-American Churches” which was published five years ago. White definitely does her homework and even if you have never baked before, her instructions are clear enough to make you a success. Her recipes are gathered from urban and rural home cooks, church groups and her wide circle of friends. Just the cover is enough to make you hungry. Thanks Dre!!
Read more about Joyce White and “Brown Sugar” in the SF Chronicle article, “Old-fashioned desserts with soul

The First Annual Festival of Desserts

December 26th, 2002 § 9 comments § permalink

The Ultimate Dessert Tray
Every now and then, you come up with a really cool idea but do not realize how big it will be until you do it. I recently hosted the 1st Annual “Festival of Desserts” and it was quite well received. Besides collecting music, I enjoy baking. I am often listening to good music while baking. For the festival, I made 11 different desserts including egg nog rum cake, sweet potato pound cake, McNannygocious pound cake, red velvet cake, oatmeal raisin cookies, and butter cookies. Even though many goody bags were taken home, I had enough leftovers to make two trays for a holiday party the next day. I wanted to make a three layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting but that would have been overkill. When I told my mom I was doing this, she said “you are having some food, right?” Thanks to js and af for bringing the great chicken and also the mashed potatoes and gravy that hardened as the night went on. I had a great time and may do this again next year but maybe not as many desserts. We will also have hot apple cider next year since I got some mulling spices from Williams-Sonoma for Christmas. I have included a few pictures from the festival to tempt your taste buds…enjoy!!!
P.S. More recipes to follow….
Hershey’s Best Brownies/Banana Chocolate Walnut Brownies
Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pecan Tarts
Egg Nog Rum CakeSweet Potato Pound CakeOatmeal Raisin CookiesRed Velvet Cake

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