Sunday, October 30, 2011

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Ok, so, last year for this haunted holiday, Katie and I decided to go scary, gross, and delicious with these oh-so-icky yet oh-so-yummy Oreo Cookie Eyeball Truffles. Fun, yes. Horrific? Definitely. I think our inclination to go bloody had something to do with the whole vampire-zombie-werewolf trend...

This year, we decided to bake up a treat from the other end of the Halloween spectrum. These little bitty cookies are the baking equivalent of a baby dressed up as a lady bug, or a doggie in a pumpkin suit, or anyone decked out as Winnie the Pooh. In short, they're super cute!

They're also just as addicting as the candy they're modeled after, so I'm warning you now: practice self-control. You will thank me later. Your waistline will, too. And your dentist.

They ARE rather tiny cookies, though. So, you know, don't torture yourself. You can have more than one. Five would be ok. Or six, or seven, or ten.

Actually, it's probably best to just make a double batch.

Vampires, this isn't for you! It's orange gel food coloring!
This recipe comes from the ladies at Our Best Bites. The step-by-step photos they've posted are excellent, so rather than re-creating them, Kate and I decided that you all could exercise your fingers and click your way on over!

So if you're feeling this Halloween like you'd rather hear some "Oohh, how cute!" than some "Oohhh, how gross!", bake up some adorableness candy-corn style.

Happy treating!


Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Our Best Bites

1 batch sugar cookie dough (like this one*)
Yellow and orange food coloring
*For these cookies though, I replace the lemon extract with almond extract

Sanding sugar, coarse raw sugar, or sprinkles
Almond bark or white chocolate, melted


  1. Divide prepared sugar cookie dough into three equal portions. Set aside one portion as the white part of the candy corn. Color one portion with yellow food coloring, the other with orange. Gel food coloring gives you the brightest color, but liquid food coloring will work as well. Be sure to add food coloring in small bits until you are satisfied with the color. Also, unless you want to wash your beaters, do the yellow first!
  2. Line a standard loaf pan with plastic wrap. Gently press the uncolored dough into the bottom of pan and smooth flat, keeping it at least 1/2-3/4 inches high (you don’t have to use the whole pan if you have a small batch of dough). The taller the layer of dough, the larger your cookies will be. Layer orange dough on top of previous layer and gently smooth flat. Finally, layer yellow dough and gently smooth top. Wrap plastic over dough and chill until firm, 30-60 minutes in freezer or 1-2 hours in fridge. Or, store the dough in the fridge for 2-3 days before baking.
  3. When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap, lift dough out of the loaf pan onto a cutting board, and slice loaf into 1/4-inch slices. So the dough remains chilled, it is best to work with just a few slices at a time, placing the remaining dough back into the loaf pan and the fridge.
  4. Trim the top of each slice to make a straight line. Then, cut each slice into triangle shapes and dip top side in sugar if desired. Bake according to sugar cookie directions, noting that these small cookies may bake more quickly than the recipe indicates. Cool 1-2 minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  5. If desired, dip ends in almond bark or white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Introducing EATS & SWEETS - a new cookbook!

Hellloooooo Readers!  Happy Sunday!

Today I am very excited to show you something Becky and I have been working on for the better part of the's a cookbook!!!!

EATS & SWEETS is a collection of over 25 appetizer and dessert recipes that were served at the Ignatian Young Adults (IYA) socials at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in NYC during the 2010-2011 year.

Becky and I are on the IYA committee, and when it was suggested that we do a cookbook as a fundraiser for the group, we said we'd put it together. (They think we were being generous, but it's always been a dream of ours to publish a cookbook. Isn't it great when everybody wins?)

The cookbook has an EATS section (appetizers), with recipes like...

...and a SWEETS section (desserts), with many recipes you already know, like Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars, Berry Cornmeal Crumble Bars, and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, plus some new recipes, like Raspberry Oatmeal Bars.

Beck and I were determined to reinvent the church cookbook - no spiral bound, endless expanse of B&W typewritten recipes for us. It's the 21st century, people!

We thought it would be a piece of cake. We already had several recipes and photographs on hand thanks to this blog, after all.

Boy were we wrong.

It's one thing to post recipes and photographs on a (semi-)weekly basis one at a time, as you please, with the option to go back and change things later as you like. It's a whole other beast to put together a physical book. There was a recipe style guide to consider, photo dpi's to be checked, recipes to be made and re-photographed, budget numbers to be balanced, and deadlines to torture us keep us on track.

I don't know why the hard work came as a surprise to me...I make books for a living, after all. I suppose I didn't realize that while as an editor I am only responsible for one part of the publishing process, here I played all roles - author, editor, designer, copyeditor, proofreader, production manager, marketer, publicist, sales person, and bookseller. There were even some nights I dreamed of cookbooks.

But man, when that first finished copy arrived, it was like all the Christmas mornings of my lifetime put together. I understood just a little bit more how my authors at work feel when they see their finished books for the first time.

Of course, the best part of all this is that proceeds go right back to support IYA programming.

Check out the fancy-schmancy book preview below and if you like what you see, feel free to click through to the Blurb bookstore and order a copy for yourself, or for yourself and your 50 closest friends :-)


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

Hey chickadees,

Let's play a game. Touch your nose with your right hand if you remember the Mini Donut Muffins Beck and I made last year. Need a reminder?

Heck, even if you don't remember the Mini Donut Muffins and are too lazy to click through the link above, touch your nose anyway. Everyone can play this game.

Go on. Right hand to nose.

Very good.

Now, keeping your right hand where it is, touch your right ear with your left hand if you like pumpkin.

Now, extend your right arm out in front of you if you think the combination of Mini Donut Muffins plus pumpkin would be superb.

Yes. I know this particular move is a bit harder. Channel your inner pretzel. You can do it. Right arm out in front of you.

Very good.

Now wave your right arm up and down and make a noise like an elephant.


No, of course I wasn't trying to make you look like a fool! I was only trying to make you look like an elephant :-)  Please don't blame me--these Pumpkin Donut Muffins I made on my vacation make me do strange things.

Things like playing Twister on my parents' new multi-colored rug, eating oddly-flavored jelly beans, painting farm animals on tiny ceramic bowls, and measuring dry ingredients for baked goods very late at night after everyone else has gone to bed...

...and apparently making other people act like circus animals. I really have no idea where that whole elephant thing came from.  But really, these are bite-sized donuts, plus pumpkin, coated in butter and cinnamon and sugar. Does it get any better than that?

It's enough to make anyone go a little elephant.

- Katie

Pumpkin Donut Muffins
Adapted from Blue Eyed Bakers
Makes 24 mini muffins

For Donuts:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

For Coating:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven 350 F.  Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.

3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined, careful not to over mix.

4. Fill each muffin cup with the batter. Muffin wells will be pretty full but not overflowing. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until muffins spring back when gently pressed. Let muffins cool in pans for one minute, then tip on their sides so the bottoms don't steam. After a few minutes, transfer muffins to wire racks.

5. While the muffins are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another. When donuts are still hot (but not too hot to touch), dip tops in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

*Note: If you're not going to serve the muffins immediately, you can bake them up to a day in advance and store them in an airtight container. Do not coat them in the butter/cinnamon-sugar mixture until just before serving or they may get soggy. Or, use a pastry brush to brush on butter instead of dipping muffins in butter in order to use less butter. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins

Hey Readers!

It's October, which means Becky and I are in California for our little annual family reunion. And by "Becky and I," I mean "just me".  Becky got stuck in NY this year :-(

But distance can't keep this baking team apart. When Becky heard I was making the Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake for the Cali guests (which has disappeared in the time it has taken me to write this post!), she decided to participate from afar. Of course, Beck doesn't have a houseful of guests to bake for; her coffee cake needed to be portable so she could distribute it to friends in NY. Thus, Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins were born.

To make muffins, simply mix up the coffee cake batter, divide it into 12-14 muffin cups, add a dollop of cream cheese and a dollop of jam, and bake for 20 minutes. Add icing if desired.

Easy-peasy raspberry cream cheesy muffins!

We miss you in Cali, Beck...though I think in your absence, I'm entitled to eat your slice of coffee cake :-)


Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins
Makes 12-14 muffins

Coffee Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter cut into small pieces and chilled
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces raspberry jam
Note: To use a baking mix such as Bisquick, replace first five ingredients with 2 cups baking mix, adding a tablespoon of sugar.
*we've also used baking soda in a pinch

Powdered Sugar Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12-14 muffin wells with paper liners.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt (or 2 cups baking mix plus 1 tbsp sugar) in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, cut in the butter until dough resembles course crumbs.

3. Add milk and stir until evenly moistened. Dough will be quite sticky.

4. Place dough in muffin cups. Dollop a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese on top of each muffin, then a heaping teaspoon of jam.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool 15 minutes.

6. If icing is desired, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, and one teaspoon milk. Continue to add milk until glaze reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle glaze over muffins.