SUMMARY – somewhere between a danish and croissant. Not too sweet. Layers of butter. Completely awesome still warm. Still better than anything from the store the next day.

I can’t believe this is the last Alpha Baker recipe! Of course Marie saved the cover recipe for last. She probably thought no one would continue baking if we made the kouigns first.

Looking over the baking projects, the one recipe that I constantly make is the Irish Cream Scones.

I’ve made scones for family, friends, neighbors, visitors, co-workers and the gals at the corner store. My students made versions of them in both of my baking classes this past fall.

A maple walnut version of them (using maple syrup, walnuts instead of raisins, adding some cinnamon) won me two fair blue ribbons and a second place prize from a maple festival.

My other go-to recipe (chocolate peanut butter cupcakes) is from a different cookbook author who I won’t mention (but she is addicted to baking and candy ;). Party coming up? Cupcakes are requested. The same cupcakes also netted me two fair blue ribbons.

 

This recipe might be the scone and cupcake equivalent.

 

First, butter. A half-pound of butter. I cheated and used a brick of Kerrygold so I wouldn’t have to mess around with squishing butter together. Totally worth it!

Second, the dough is a joy to work with. It’s soft and rolls nicely. Unlike pie crust.

Third, they lasted less than 24 hours.

Forth, I was asked if I was making them again this weekend.

Last, they are just plain over the top amazing.

I have made croissants from scratch. Kouigns are even better. Its the sugar layer. Just enough sweet to carmelize without creating too much sticky.

Now I want to play around with the recipe, and see if I can incorporate a layer of something else in the second turn. Like chocolate. Or almonds. Or hazelnut.

Before I try that, I have another dilemma.

Do I make these for Christmas breakfast at the parents house? And then discover that scones are no longer good enough?

Or do I make them just for my house? Since we have no problem polishing off a batch.

I only wish all my problems were like this.

I hope everyone had as good a time baking through the Baking Bible as I did. Marie and Rose – I can’t wait to bake with you again!

blueberry-coffeecake

SUMMARY – don’t wait for a party to make this cake. Perfect for breakfast, dessert or le weekend. Great flavor and lots of crumb topping.

crumb-topping

When I was a kid, Freihofer’s (a regional bakery) used to make a Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Ring. It was a yeast coffee cake with a cinnamon swirl, topped with a confectioners sugar glaze and crusted with pecan pieces. When we had this as a Sunday after church brunch treat, us kids would fight over the nuts on the bottom of the box.

nut-filling

Sadly, after they were bought out by Entenmann’s, the recipe changed and the nuts got scant. I don’t think they make it anymore.

mixing-the-batter

But this coffee cake, even though it’s a cake base and not a yeast dough base, is a cake that my siblings and I would have fought over.

adding-the-egg-mixture

A couple of things about this cake.

add-the-fruit

I didn’t quite have enough sour cream, so I supplemented it with heavy cream.

finished-cake

I also didn’t have enough blueberries. So I cut up some rhubarb, sugared it and let it macerate and mixed it into the crumb topping.

cut-up-cake

I kept poking it with an instant-read thermometer and it wasn’t at the listed temperature. I ended up adding a half hour to the baking time! And, since I didn’t wrap the pan with strips, it got a little dark. Now I know to ignore the temperature and just go with baking time.

corner-cut

This coffee cake was so good! Everyone liked it a lot. And it was good that this was a big cake, since everyone had multiple pieces of it.

slice-closeup

I even brought some into work to share. One of my co-workers, who doesn’t like coffee cake, and she really liked it!

piece-of-cake

I will be making this again. But I might make it into muffins instead of a whole cake.

Rugelach

SUMMARY – crunchy, sweet, buttery, nutty, sticky. Spirals of goodness that call out for a doubled recipe.

adding-butter

One of the great things about growing up in and still living in update NY is a unique level of ethnic diversity. By diversity, I mean, I was surrounded by (mostly European) immigrants. In my family and neighborhood, and within my circle of friends, there were Poles, Italians, Quebecois, Ukrainians, Greeks, Scots, French, Irish, English, East Asians, Chinese. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists. First, second, third generation immigrants.

adding-vanilla

A lot of this diversity came out in food. I know exactly what rugelach are, even though my family never made them.

finished-dough

In comparison, my roommate Bill is from Missouri, with a short layover in San Diego (from his dad’s Navy deployment). By his own admission, he knows Mexican food and Kansas City BBQ. He does not know what a rugelach is.

different-fillings

He knows what they are now, though! ?

rolled-dough

These reminded me a little of the Cookie Strudel we made a few months back. Make a simple dough and top with fruit, nuts and a sticky filling. Roll it up.

dough-portioned

I made the dough in the food processor. A quick observation – don’t use frozen butter. Let it soften up a bit first.

portioned-cookie-dough

I made two different batches of these. One was apricot, raisin (currants are technically Zante raisins) and walnut sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The other was mini chocolate chips, almonds and strawberry jam sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

topped-cookie

I portioned the apricot batch out as a 12-cut. But I had some cuts that were bigger than others. Don’t you hate it when your pizza has skinny and fat pieces?

into-the-fridge

To make it easier, I portioned the strawberry batch out as a 16-cut. They were smaller, but the sizes were more consistent.

into-the-oven

I rolled them up, put them in the fridge, brushed them with milk, and coated them with either the cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar. Put them on the foil and into the oven.

baked-rugelach

And … I had the same problem that Marie had. Sticky jelly on foil = super glue. This was similar to the problem with the birch twigs on a Silplat.

foil-aftermath

I did manage to get most of the cookies off the foil. I had a lot of bakers treats from them, that’s for sure.

cooling-rack

Even with that problem I would make these again. I brought some into work and they went over big!

rugelach-closeupjpg

I would try the Silplat. No egg white!

“The Dutch” Pecan Sandies Banner
SUMMARY – an unassuming cookie that is tender, buttery, nutty, crunchy and cinnamony all at once. This recipe proves your freezer is a baking tool.

browned-butter

When I first looked at this recipe, I checked out the picture of it. OK, it’s a round sugar cookie with sugar sprinkled on it. Been there, done that.

browned-butter-strained

As a kid I was a big fan of pecan sandies that the elves baked in their tree. They were also one of the very few packaged cookies that my mom would buy, probably because my dad liked them, too. Only if she had a tripled coupon, though.

butter-bits

There had to be something to these cookies, though. I saw plastic wrap, cooling and resting in the freezer these called for. Looks like a 2-day project, if only not to fill the kitchen sink with dirty dishes.

sugars-cooled-butter

I browned the butter first. Which took a while to do, since I didn’t want to scorch the last bit of the good Irish butter. I did that and worked on dinner (and played Farmville o.O).

creaming-butter-sugar

As an added bonus, I was heating up chicken cassoulet for dinner. Yes, this is leftovers in my house, the other half of the big batch I made a few weeks ago. After I strained the browned butter, I scooped out the solids and put them on the cassoulet breadcrumb topping. Butter on top of crunchy chicken skin and butter? Not thinking this is bad. Of course, my cholesterol numbers may disagree.

dry-ingredients

I measured the butter out (a little more than the recipe needed but it’s butter!) and put it in the refrigerator to cool during dinner.

dry-to-wet-ingredients

After the dinner dishes were corralled I started on the rest of the dough. It’s a good thing I heated up leftovers instead of dirtying a cutting board, knives and pans, since I had to break out the mixer and food processor for the dough.

kneaded-dough

Cream together the butter and sugars? Check. Grind the pecans with the flour and dry ingredients? Check. Great idea here to prevent over-processing the nuts. This would probably be even better in a recipe with toasted nuts. Toasting the pecans for this recipe might be interesting, as it would reinforce the nuttiness of the browned butter. I’ll file this idea away.

divided-dough

Scoop out the dough and knead it? Yeah … ugh … plastic wrap is involved.

rolled-dough

I hate plastic wrap. It doesn’t stick to what you want it to stick to, only itself. The stupid cutter thing on the box never works right. I think Rose uses top-secret special plastic wrap. Wrap that is nice and wide, sticks what you want it to stick to, and cuts nicely. Navy Seal Team “Cookie” brings it to her. Shhhh.

cookies-cut-freezer

I managed to get the dough divided and into the refrigerator without too much incident.

cookies-sugared-panned

The next night, after dinner, and after letting the cold dough warm up, I finished up the cookies. Again, with my off the shelf plastic wrap. Sigh.

cookies-cooling-overhead

I finally used my hexagonal cutters (a Christmas present from last year), so there wasn’t much re-rolling. The last batch I cut had only a little bit of dough left. There was no sense in re-rolling it, we ate it. Yum!

cookies-cooling-closeup

Because of the freezer rest time, the cookies took longer than a drop cookie. But the results I think were worth it. Tender and crunchy, nutty and buttery, cinnamon and pecan, so good.

cookies-plated

As I was eating one, I thought that this dough would make really good pie crust for a pumpkin pie. Or for the pumpkin-pecan pie we made last year. Ooooo …. another idea to file away!

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart

SUMMARY – Soft, crumbly crust topped with a smooth and creamy filling and chocolate glaze. The hazelnut praline was distinct and well-balanced. The bonus of a press-in-the-pan crust means this is a dessert to make again!

boiling-pot

Oh em gee. This tart was awesome!

boiled-hazelnuts

I’m not just saying that just because I didn’t have to roll out a crust. Which, by itself, was awesome.

skinned-hazelnuts

Even though I had to make hazelnut praline, which wasn’t so bad except for the getting the skin off the hazelnuts.

completed-paste

I couldn’t boil the hazelnuts long enough to make the skin easier to remove, because the baking soda made a lot of foam in the pot and I had to keep taking the pot off the burner.

crust-construction

But once I got the skins (mostly) off, and toasted, and covered with caramel, they ground down into this paste that would have been good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh, wait … I did eat that last bit of it with a spoon. Shhhh!

dough-in-pan

So the hazelnut praline was, in itself, awesome, in spite of adding an extra component to the tart construction.

mousse-filling

The tart crust was really good too. Soft, flavorful, food processor friendly. I baked it and it did puff up like Rose warned. But then it sunk back down and it was perfect. It would make really good cookies too, with a whole egg.

whole-tart-landscape

The mousse layer was also, dare I say it, awesome. And easy. I veered slightly off Rose’s instruction with the last whipped cream addition. I underbeat the whipped cream. I scraped it into the other mixing bowl with the cream cheese, praline paste and brown sugar, and beat it more. That worked out just fine.

whole-tart-top

Ganache? Easy! Tart assembly? Easy.

cutup-tart-top-closeup

I skipped the candied hazelnuts, because I put all the hazelnuts into the praline. I used nonpareils instead, which are still sugar.

cutup-tart-side-closeup

Everyone who had some loved this tart. And I didn’t feel too bad about giving away slices because they didn’t look like leftovers. Awesome!

Mini Gateaux Breton

SUMMARY – buttery, nutty and tender, these tiny cookie gems will impress even your most fussy aunt or mother-in-law. Double the recipe because these will disappear quick.

toasted-almonds-sugar-in-processor

These cookies were so good and so easy!

processed-sugar-almonds

I, like Marie, didn’t have the exact correct pan. I did a little digging through my pantry, and found a super-mini bundt pan that I must have bought specifically to make these cookies. I don’t remember what I actually bought it for!

finished-dough

The hardest part about making these cookies was finding good butter. I went back to PriceRite to get more high-fat European style butter for $1.99 for 7 oz, but of course they were out. I got some Kerrygold Irish butter from the coop instead.

mini-mini-bundt-pan

The dough came together easily. My smallest cookie scoop makes 10 gram dough scoops so I didn’t have to scale every single cookie. Of course I did scale a few of them to make sure how much to fill the scoops. I didn’t care much if some cookies were 12 grams instead.

scooped-cookies

I sprayed baking Pam on the pan indents, plus dropped the dough balls onto a floured plate, and dusted my hands with flour. to roll them.

dough-in-pan

The cookies didn’t stick at all. I over-baked the first batch a little, but the cookies still didn’t stick. No need to work them out with a needle or skinny knife. Yay!

finished-cookies

I didn’t use my pinkie finger to press the dough in, I used the flat end of my big whisk. It worked. The last batch I forgot to press into the molds. The design was looser but still visible.

closeup-finished-cookies

These cookies are so cute! Like Barbie bundt cakes.

tops-of-cookies

I will make more of these, and double the recipe. Maybe dunk them in some melted chocolate. Mmmmm. These might also be good made with almond meal instead of flour. I might have to try that, too.

I have three projects in one post this time.

I do actually make most everything for Alpha Bakers, but I don’t always get a chance to sit down and post it. I can do the baking, but writing about it is harder.

So I am rectifying this, sort of, in a late (or early!) post about some of the projects I made, but didn’t talk about.

White Christmas Peppermint Cake

Project #1 – White Christmas Peppermint Cake ➡️ Ornament Cupcakes

I don’t like making large cakes unless I have a specific event that requires an actual cake, like a birthday party, wedding, anniversary. I would much rather make small cakes that I can easily transport and give away.

cake-batter-mixing

I decided on cupcakes because I was inspired by a Christmas ornament! A mini-cupcake with lots of sprinkles. How could I not make cupcakes that look like my ornament?

baked-cupcakes

The other thing  about this cake was the peppermint. Don’t get me wrong, I like peppermint. But not in a cake. I skipped the peppermint extract and went with the vanilla in the cake base.

frosting-started

It was a good cake, too. It had nice flavor and light color. I would use this cake again if I wanted really white cake, and not a yellow-ish cake.

frosting-finished

The frosting … oh the frosting! It was creamy, chocolate-y, light, fluffy, great to work with. A perfect frosting.

sprinked-cupcakes
I piped the frosting on the mini cupcakes and decorated. I had gold sugar nonpareils and crunchy pink sugar crystals flavored with peppermint. Not too much mint, but enough to get them somewhat back to peppermint.

cupcakes-with-ornament

There was a lot of frosting left over from this recipe. I packed it up and waited for another project to use it up.

This bonus frosting was used in …

Faux-reoCookies

Project #2 – Faux-reos

My mother gave me a King Arthur boxed cookie mix a while ago. It was rolled chocolate cookies with white frosting. Sort of like homemade oreos. I finally got tired of looking at this box in my pantry and made them.

dough-started

To me, they were strictly OK. Certainly better than something out of a plastic sleeve, but still, not that great. I brought some down to the corner market to get rid of them. The clerks down there really liked them! One of the girls, Briana, begged me to make more of them for her birthday.

dough-done-mixing

Since King Arthur doesn’t make this cookie mix anymore, I decided I could do a lot better. I already had some really tasty frosting. I just had to find a cookie recipe to go with it.

ready-for-baking

In Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook (which I have renewed twice from the library because I don’t want to return it!) I found a recipe for TKO cookies. Chocolate shortbread cookies filled with white chocolate ganache. Ding ding ding!

plated-cookies

The cookies were really really good. They got even better filled with Rose’s frosting. They were so good, I almost didn’t want to give any away! But I dropped a container off at the store for Briana. She really liked them. I really liked them! I may have even found another fair recipe.

These cookies lead to …

Pink Pearl Lady Cakebecomes Pink Pearl Baby Cakes

Project #3 – Pink Pearl Lady Cake ➡️ Pink Pearl Baby Cakes

Believe it or not, I really wanted to do the full cake this time. Or at least heart-shaped small cakes. I have a silicone heart pan with cupcake-sized hearts in it.

starting-batter

I showed my roommate Kathy this recipe and she wanted to help me make this. Kathy does pottery, so she was really interested in working with the fondant. Interestingly enough, the last time I made a fondant cake was her wedding cake! And I was somewhat traumatized by the whole fondant process, so I was quite happy to get an offer of help with it.

batter-finished

The day I planned to make the fondant, I was sick. I had a nasty headache, stomach ache, and felt just plain lousy. I didn’t want to go to the store and find glycerin and glucose. Even though I didn’t make the fondant, I decided I could still make cupcakes instead.

egg-whites

I went ahead and made mini-cupcakes. I overfilled the little cups, and forgot to grease the top of the pan, so I had to excavate the cupcakes. Sigh.

finished-frosting

This frosting wasn’t as nice as the white chocolate frosting for the earlier cupcakes. I worried that the frosting would be too warm! I wrapped a cold pack around the bowl bottom. Then the frosting was too cold. I held my hands on the bottom of the bowl to warm it up. I was Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Frosting. It finally came together. Whew.

finished-cupcakes

It wasn’t easy to pipe out, either. It wasn’t warm enough. And there wasn’t enough of it. Some cupcakes didn’t have quite enough frosting.

finished-cupcakes-closeup

The frosting tasted pretty good. But the Ornament Cupcakes were just a teeny bit better.

Hopefully I will get the Breton cookies done. And written about. I don’t have mini brioche pans, but I think I have a solution worked out. We shall see!