Sunday, April 24, 2011

Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies

It's Easter Sunday! He is risen! Spring is here! The flowers are in bloom!

Now where is the chocolate?!

I ask, because, well...there was a teensy bit of Easter drama in our house this year. See, every year since the sis and I have moved to the big city, Mama B the Easter Bunny has sent us an Easter basket in the mail.

This year, however, one particular sister of mine hinted that Beck and I didn't want said Easter basket. She hinted that we were too old for an Easter basket, or that - contrary to the number of sweets we bake - we are actually eating pretty healthy these days and wouldn't want all the Easter candy to go to waste.

I guess that sis was right - it's true that a giant basket of candy in our house will not get fully eaten, and nobody likes to waste food.

But in that moment when I thought about Easter morning arriving and there being no chocolate duck (Katie = chocolate duck; Becky = chocolate bunny) to munch on before church...well, that just didn't feel right. The whole chocolate duck/bunny thing is one Easter tradition we are definitely not too old for.

And I knew that Mama B the Easter Bunny didn't feel right about it either, because I happen to know that Mama B the Easter Bunny rather enjoys her outing to Cost Plus World Market and Schurra's Candy Shop the Magical Easter Meadow to fill that Easter basket with said chocolate duck and bunny.

So I made a phone call and set the story straight with Mama B the Easter Bunny. Easter morning came and so did an Easter basket. Not a big one, mind you - just one small chocolate duck and one small chocolate bunny and a few other tiny things. There was enough that the tradition was maintained, but not so much that anything will go to waste.

As we change, so do our traditions.

This Easter is also significant to Becky and me because it is the first Easter since we were ten years old that we haven't danced at church. It was a difficult Triduum for this reason, but also a life-giving one - a chance to let new joys take the place of old ones, for old traditions to be augmented by new ones.

Our dear friend we usually dance with has a tradition of making giant sugar cookies on Easter. While we couldn't share Easter joy with her through dancing this year, we thought the least we could do was share some Easter sugar.

These are for you, dear friend. May your Easter be filled with the energy of new life, or in the very least, the energy of a sugar high :-)

Easter blessings to all,

- Katie & Becky

Glazed Lemon Sugar Cookies
Recipe from friend M
Makes 12 4-inch sugar cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract or lemon oil (or almond extract)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Powdered sugar
Juice of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

2. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and extracts and mix well.

3. Add flour and baking powder and mix until well blended.

4. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place cutouts on baking sheets.

5. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until edges of cookies are just starting to brown and centers are no longer shiny. Slide parchment off baking sheets onto cooling racks.

6. To make icing, squeeze lemon juice into bowl and add powdered sugar a little at a time, whisking, until desired consistency is reached. Frosting should be thin enough to paint onto cookies, but not so thin that it spreads and drips off sides of cookies. Divide frosting into several small bowls or glasses and add food coloring as desired.

7. Use a small paintbrush to paint designs on cookies, decorating with sprinkles as desired.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel and Toffee Bonbons

Today is Mama B's birthday! Say it with me now...


Kate and I, of course, asked if Mama B had any requests for a blog post celebrating her birthday. Of all the treats she suggested - and there were many, as Mama B is a respected member-at-large of the Sunday Treats baking team her request for truffles was the most enticing.


"Mmmmmmm, what kinda truffles, Mama B?", I asked.

"Oh, you know, those chocolately ones."

"Um, Mama B, all truffles are made with chocolate..."

"You know - those ones you always make! With the oreos!"

Well, as much as I wanted to please Mama B for her birthday, we've already posted the recipe for the awesomely easy and spectacularly tasty Oreo Truffles for all you Sunday Treats readers.

So Kate suggested these little pretties. Technically speaking, they're bonbons and not truffles, but then again, the oreo truffles are technically bonbons, too, so, technically, we stuck with Mama's B's original request for something along the lines of "those chocolately truffles", which, though she didn't know it, are technically not truffles but bonbons.

And technically, that last sentence was horribly grammatically incorrect due to its run-on-ness and overuse of the word 'technically'.


Back to my point.

Oh Mama B! How I wish you could apparate to New York and taste one of these. Believe me, a cross-country, interdimensional voyage on your birthday would be worth it. Biting into one makes me feel like everything in my life is going to be just fine.

Know who else makes me feel like that? You.

Happy birthday, Mama. We love you!


Peanut Butter Pretzel and Toffee Bonbons
Adapted from
Makes approximately 6-7 dozen bonbons

*Note: To chop the pretzels, place several large handfuls in a ziploc bag, release the extra air and seal, and roll over the top with a rolling pin until the pretzels are crunched up into 1/8-inch pieces. You could also use K&B's preferred method: stomping on the bag! Measure the crumbs and continue the process until you have 2 cups.

8 tablespoons butter, softened to warm room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups peanut butter
1 cup toffee bits
2 cups crushed pretzels

1 pound chocolate (semisweet, milk, bittersweet)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Toffee, chopped nuts, chocolate jimmies for garnish

1.    In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until evenly combined. Add the peanut butter and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the toffee bits and pretzel pieces by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

2.    Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on the lined baking sheets. Freeze for 15-20 minutes until firm. At this point, the balls can be transferred to a sealed container or freezer ziploc bag and frozen for up to 2 months.

3.    Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth. Alternately, use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. If chocolate is very warm, allow it to cool for a few minutes. You want it to be smooth and thin, but not too hot.

4.    One by one, toss a peanut butter/pretzel ball into the melted chocolate and using a fork, cover the ball with chocolate. Lift the covered bonbon out of the chocolate with the fork, then gently shake the fork from side to side to remove excess chocolate. Scrape the bottom of the fork along the edge of the bowl and then, setting the bonbon very close to the parchment paper, use a knife to gently scoot the bonbon off the fork and back onto the baking sheet (or, use a new parchment or waxed paper lined sheet). Immediately sprinkle with your garnish of choice. Refrigerate finished bonbons until ready to serve.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello, Readers. Have I ever told you how spectacular a baking team Beck and I make? We've recently found our usual baking-together-time drastically reduced by our differing weekend schedules, though. But has this stopped us from baking "together"? Nope. Read and observe.

The scene: A Saturday afternoon, ONE SISTER at home, the OTHER SISTER out and about. The NEED TO BAKE enters the apartment. A phone call is made.

I feel like baking.
So bake something.
What should I bake? Cupcakes?
Do you feel like baking cupcakes?
So bake cupcakes.

What kind of cupcakes should I bake?
I don't know. I have been wanting to bake lemon cupcakes myself.
So I should bake lemon cupcakes?
Sure. There was a recipe on Let's Dish.
(Pause while looking up the recipe online.)

Okay, yeah, I think we have all the ingredients except buttermilk. I guess I could go to the store for that.
You don't have to go to the store. You can make a buttermilk substitute with milk and lemon juice.
Oh yeah. But we don't have any milk. Or lemons, now that I think about it.
Oh. Well, you're gonna at least need lemons to make lemon cupcakes. The bodega on the corner should have both lemons and milk. You don't have to go all the way to the store.
Oh yeah, the bodega. Ok. I'll make lemon cupcakes.
Ok. Have fun. Talk to you later.

(Hours pass. Lemony sweet cupcakes are baked. Mouths water. Suddenly, THE NEED FOR A MISSING INGREDIENT enters the apartment. A text message is sent.)

Can you pick up a block of cream cheese for frosting on your way home?
(After 20 minutes of no response, things get more urgent.)
Don't forget to pick up cream cheese! These cupcakes look good!
(More waiting. Then finally, a response...)
Will do!

(Cream cheese is bought and brought home. Icing is whipped up, cupcakes are frosted. Sprinkles are sprinkled. The two bakers may or may not squeeze leftover frosting directly into each other's mouths. Everyone is happy on a sunshine-y, sugar-induced high. End scene.)

I know...I should get some sort of playwriting award for that scene. Totally captivating.

Were you observing though? Did you see the successful baking teamwork?

That's how Becky and I work best. There's something to be said for baking something from inspiration to consumption all on your own. But for us, there's often more satisfaction in combining our baking prowess, even if we're not in the same place at the same time. You could say that our teamwork is like the sprinkles on these cupcakes - it's not necessary, but it definitely takes things up a level.

Or better said, our teamwork is like that extra frosting. It just plain makes things more fun.



Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Let's Dish
Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest of two lemons
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

2 (8) ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Juice of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  

2. To make cake, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Whisk together milk and egg whites in another medium bowl.  

3. In a large bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add butter and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until light. Beat in vanilla and lemon extract, then add one third of flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of milk-egg mixture, then beat in another third of flour mixture until incorporated. Add rest of milk-egg mixture, then final third of flour mixture. Beat for an additional 2 minutes until batter is well blended.  

4. Place the batter into the prepared tins. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack before frosting.

5. Meanwhile, make frosting by blending butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until well combined. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated, then mix in vanilla and lemon juice. 

6. Spread frosting on cupcakes with an offset spatula, or place frosting in a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles as desired.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

These little suckers are tasty. Mighty tasty, in fact.

They're also easy to make. Mighty easy, in fact.

They're the perfect combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy, "mmm" and yummy.

Make them now.

That's all I have to say about that.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
Adapted from 17 and Baking
Makes approximately 70 bite sized sandwiches

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons butter, room temperature

2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pretzels (the grid shaped ones, such as Snyder's Pretzel Snaps, work well)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil

  1. In a small bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. If mixture is not stiff enough to hold its shape, add more powdered sugar and/or brown sugar.
  2. Using a small offset spatula or butter knife, spoon approximately one teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture onto a pretzel. Top with another pretzel, and gently squish to form sandwich.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and repeat with rest of peanut butter mixture.
  3. Freeze the pretzel sandwiches for half an hour.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, or use a double boiler. Stir in the coconut oil (this thins the chocolate for easier dipping).
  5. Dip half of each pretzel sandwich in chocolate. Place the cookie sheet in the fridge and chill until chocolate sets. Store in refrigerator until serving time.