12 December 2012

Eggnog Snickerdoodles & the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

This is the second year I've participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I've really come to love it. This year to participate in the cookie swap, bloggers were asked to donate 4 dollars to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a non-profit organization committed to help funding new therapies that fight against pediatric cancer. Moreover, one of my favorite in-the-kitchen brands, OXO, got involved. OXO is donating 50% of proceeds from their adorable spatula AND is matching the proceeds earned from the FB Cookie Swap and donating it all to Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

So not only was this cookie swap a ton of fun to participate in, but it could not have been for a better cause!

With just over a week left in the semester, I truly looked forward to and appreciated coming home to shipments of cookies! This year I received delicious Tahini Butter Cookies from Annelies, at the Food Poet, Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies from Aaron, at the Hungry Hutch, and Moroccan Sesame Cookies from Amanda over at MoracMama. All three cookies were enjoyed on my own before deciding enough was enough and that I should probably share the wealth with my labmates at work. I'm sure my waistline will thank me for this decision in the long run, but my sweet tooth tonight sure is regretting it!

For the cookie swap, I knew I wanted to embrace seasonal flavors and do a twist on a classic cookie. In the end, I went for incorporating the rich, spiced flavors of eggnog into a classic cookie - the snickerdoodle!

Eggnog Snickerdoodles
Based on Joy of Baking's Snickerdoodles

Yields: 36-40 cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or half all purpose, half whole wheat baking flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3-1/2 c, whole fat eggnog

Coating Ingredients

  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 -3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Once sugar and butter have been creamed together, mix in the eggs one at a time, scraping in between additions. Afterward, mix in the vanilla extract. 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together your dry ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients to your wet mixture.
  4. With your stand mixer or hand beaters on low, pour the eggnog into the cookie dough. If you're using whole wheat flour, you'll want to add closer to 1/2 c of eggnog. Cookie dough will be sticky at this point, so scrape down the sides and pop it into the refrigerator for at least two hours or until firm.
  5. Once cookie dough is firm, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Set up your work station with your metal cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and sprayed with your favorite non-stick cookie spray or lined with Silpat sheets. In a small bowl, you'll want to have your sugar and cinnamon mixture. You'll also want a small, circular cup that you can press your cookie balls down with. 
  6. Spoon it 1-1 1/2" balls of dough. Roll the balls into the sugar coating before pressing down with the cup. To keep the cup from sticking, occasionally rinse the cup off with clean water. You should aim for fitting 15 cookies on a pan.
  7. Bake the cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Keep a careful eye on the cookies and make sure that they are baking evenly. If your oven is as fickle as mine, you might want to rotate the pans while the cookies are baking. You also should keep an eye on the centers of the cookies to make sure they're baking all the way through, and watch for the bottoms of the cookies browning before cookies are actually done all the way through! (If this happens, try covering your cookie pan with tin foil while those cookies finish baking in the oven. Just be careful not to have the tin foil touch up against the cookies.)
If you are super ambitious, I would love to see someone try drizzling a salted bourbon caramel sauce over these cookies. I actually had bought all the ingredients for the sauce, but ran out of time! With all of the ingredients sitting in my cabinets, I have the perfect excuse to make the cookies over again, but I hope that it also inspires one of you to try out something new and make it your own!

Happy holidays, folks!

03 December 2012

Eggnog and Cranberry Bread Pudding with a Hard Bourbon Sauce

Excuse me while I channel my inner Liz Lemon while I go "What the whaaaaat!?" Two posts in one day? Could it be so!?

Well, yes, yes it could be. I'm serious when I say that I buy wholeheartedly in to seasonal flavors. I was all about the pumpkin earlier this year (and still am, actually), but as of recent it's like there's a little voice in my head whispering 'eggnog' to me throughout the day. It's torturous, I swear! And with no roommates, I have no one to tattle on me if I were to polish off a bottle in a day. My waistline might tell a different story, though. Anyway, that's neither here nor there, so let's get to the good stuff!

Eggnog and Cranberry Bread Pudding with a Hard Bourbon Sauce

Adapted from some recipe my mom has coveted as her own for years. I don't know which cookbook it's from, but I would wager a bet on the Silver Palette or one of David Wood's cookbooks. (Also, I bet this vanilla bourbon cranberry sauce would be absolute money with this bread pudding if you made it more compote-style, but that's for another day!)

Bread pudding ingredients
  • 8 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 baguette or challah bread (enough to yield 4 c of cubed bread)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole fat eggnog
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbl sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh cranberries
Hard bourbon sauce ingredients
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 tbl bourbon
  • 4 tbl (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tbs pieces
  1. Cut off the ends of your carbalicious vehicle of choice. Next, cut the carbs into one inch cubes (or smaller). Butter each of these little puppies on all four sides. That's right, ALL FOUR SIDES. This should require at least one stick of butter and no, I'm not kidding.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, 1/2 cup of the sugar, nutmeg, and salt until blended.  Add the bread cubes and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 2 hours, occasionally tossing the mixture with a large spoon (or your hands, don't be afraid to get messy) to make sure all the cubes are getting their fair share of eggnog bourbon goodness.  
  4. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350'F.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter.  Add the cranberries to the pudding, toss, and then pour the pudding into the baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbl. sugar over the top of the pudding.
  5. Bake the pudding on the center oven rack until the top is crisp and golden, and has risen in the center, about 50 minutes.
  6. While the pudding is baking, now is your time to make some bourbon sauce! Start by putting a small sauce pan filled with 3/4" to an 1" of water on the stove and whisking together the egg yolks and sugar in a container that can be used as the top of a double boiler. (I usually go for a small glass (Pyrex) bowl that I later put on top of said small sauce pan.) You'll want to whisk until the mixture is a light yellow color, which will take 2-3 minutes. Afterward, go crazy and whisk in the bourbon!
  7. Once the water is simmering and your sauce is mixed, add the bowl/top off of the double boiler to the heat. Cook, whisking vigorously, until the mixture is hot and slightly thickened, 5 minutes.
  8. Remove sauce from heat once the mixture has thickened, add the butter slices one at a time, and stir until all of the butter has melted. 
  9. Serve the sauce warm over the bread pudding.  If you prepare the sauce ahead of time, reheat it in the microwave, heating it one minute at at time and stirring in-between heating sessions. 

Browned Butter Pumpkin Trifle

Oh noes, I failed to post a recipe in the past month. Well, I'm going to make it up in the next two weeks, starting with this post! I'm all about whatever is fresh or resonates with how the weather makes me feel, so this past fall I made a pretty outrageous brown butter pumpkin trifle with maple whipped cream and toffee crunch. (can I say it's in the past now? It feels an awful lot like a balmy spring day right now) The trifle definitely hit the spot and did a great job at feeding my obsession with pumpkin-flavored anything! 

Let's get down to business now, shall we?

Trifles are awesome. If your cake doesn't come out of your pan cleanly, then chop it all up into little bite size chunks and layer it with some other good stuff. Trifle usually consists of some cake and whipped cream, but additions of fruit, sauces, and candy are also welcome. This dessert comes together really well and looks gorgeous, when really it's just about the least time consuming construction possible. Trifles are shown off best in an trifle bowl, but any sort of tall glass container could be substituted.

Browned Butter Pumpkin Trifle

(built upon Willow Bird Baking's Browned Butter Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel recipe)

Cake ingredients
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons buttermilk
Topping ingredients
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • Maple syrup, to taste
  • 3 large heath bars 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 8 or 9-inch circular pans with butter. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. 
  2. Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium, stirring occasionally. Once brown flecks begin to appear in the butter (3-5 minutes) and aroma becomes nutty, remove from heat. Continue stirring as butter cools to room temperature (another 5 minutes).
  3. Mix together the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, and buttermilk until well combined. 
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir in the brown butter. Pour batter evenly into your two pans.
  5. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean or with few moist crumbles attached. This should occur between 25 and 30 minutes, but all ovens vary so be sure to test your cakes with a toothpick!
  6. Remove cake and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before flipping out onto cooling racks. Allow cakes to come to room temperature.
  7. While cakes are cooling, chop up the health bars into small chunks. If you're feeling fancy, you can try shaving some curls to top the trifle with, but otherwise little chunks are just fine. During this time, you'll also want to make the maple whipped cream. You'll want to pour at least a cup of heavy cream to start into a bowl and use a hand or standmixer on high until the cream begins to form stiff peaks. Once it does, feel free to start drizzling in maple syrup. Just drizzle the syrup in a tablespoon at a time while the mixer is going and taste it for flavor. If you want it sweeter, go for a few tablespoons of maple syrup. If you just want a hint of flavor, then one or two tablespoons should be all you need.
  8. Once cakes have cooled, cut cakes into small one inch chunks. 
  9. With all of your ingredients ready, start layering! I layered first with cake, then with topping, and last with heath bar, repeating until I ended with heath bar, but it's really up to you. 

Now that it's winter I have switched gears and made an eggnog bread pudding with cranberries. There's still eggnog in the fridge, so maybe more eggnog recipes will come in the future... or maybe I'll just finish it on my own with the help of a little Jim Bean or amaretto. Only time will tell! Check back soon for the eggnog bread pudding recipe (and seriously people, harass me until I post the recipe).