Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rainbow Cookies

This recipe was originally posted in my old blog Soap Mom's Kitchen.  I found a copy of it, so here it is.  Unfortunately, some of the pics were damaged.

This is definitely my number one requested cookie by my family and friends for the holidays. This recipe is on my blog for all my nieces and friends to make and enjoy throughout the years.  I must tell you this is a time consuming cookie to make and does require some experience in baking to make them without a hitch. There are a few steps involved and I would consider this an advance cookie to make. Read the assembly instructions a few times to make a mental note on the procedure. Once you master it and are comfortable, I think you will be making it all the time. They are wonderful. Keep them in a sealed container and they will stay fresh for about a week. They also make a wonderful gift.

Special Note: If trying this cookie for the first time you can leave out the almond paste. It takes a little practice to make this cookie. I recommend not using almond paste, because it can be pricey until you are comfortable with this cookie. The almond paste does add another dimension of flavor/moistness and I highly recommend using it. Also, you can substitute apricot jam or do one layer apricot and one layer raspberry.  This recipe is scaled down from a professional baker's recipe. This recipe requires a kitchen scale.

3 silpat lined halfsize sheet pans (Must use silpat this is crucial no parchment)
Food coloring: green, red and yellow
1 Large jar of Raspberry seedless jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Food Scale

1 pound unsalted butter, softened (Must be Room Temperature)
1 pound sugar
8 ounces almond paste, not marzipan
(if not using almond paste add 2 teaspoons of almond extract)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound eggs (must be room temperature)
1 pound cake flour

I jar of seedless raspberry jam or apricot/must be completely smooth and seedless
Food Colors (red, yellow, green)

Add almond paste to mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. Add butter and sugar beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs slowly to incorporate, mix well. Add extracts.  Add cake flour slowly and beat until very well incorporated.

Divide batter into 3 separate bowls in equal amounts. Add food coloring of different colors to each one. The traditional colors are red, green and yellow. Add enough food coloring to achieve desired color hue.

Pour each color onto a prepared pan lined with a silpat (Must use silpat). Level out with an offset spatula and tap on counter to level out. Bake each cake for about 8 to 12 minutes. When you touch the top with your finger it should be slightly moist and make a slight dent. You do not want to over bake and get a dry cake that would be hard to handle.  This part is tricky and crucial to success. BECAREFUL.  To keep from drying out between baking  each layers, the cake that is cooling should be covered with a tea towel. 

When cakes have cooled, lift one cake that is on silpat and place on a large cutting board covered in parchment or foil slightly bigger than the cake itself for easy lifting to fridge. Peel off the silpat. 

Take your jar of seedless raspberry preserve and pour into a bowl. Smooth out with a wooden-spoon. Place a thin layer of jam on the first layer and level off with a offset spatula.

Lift another cake layer while holding on to the silpat and gently place cake side down on jam layer. Pull off silpat and add another layer of jam. Add the remaining cake layer on top.  

 Over a double boiler on very gentle heat melt 2 large bags of chocolate chips, until smooth.  Be careful not to overheat the chocolate or let steam from the double boiler get into chocolate.  Your chocolate will seize and you will have to throw it out.

Smooth a thin layer of chocolate like picture below, and use a metal pastry comb to make traditional zigzag design.

Ready for the first chocolate layer to go into the fridge to harden. Cake must be on a sturdy board to place into fridge. 

When chocolate on one side is completely cool and completely hard, you must use a second large board covered in parchment or foil (can use a cookie sheet turned upside down instead of a hard board) and flip over like you would a cake to a plate.  Cover that side with melted chocolate and using offset spatula smooth out evenly and use pastry comb doing a zigzag design.  Place in fridge to harden chocolate.

When both sides of the cookie are covered in chocolate and harden, using a very sharp large chef's knife  trim sides and keep for a snack and cut your little rectangles. You can heat the knife under hot water and wipe dry before cutting.  You want to get the cleanest cuts possible.  Keep in a tight sealed container to stay moist and fresh for about a week.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Old Fashion Sugar Shortbreads

I don't know about you, but I love butter cookies.  Actually, I love anything with butter.  You just can't beat the rich smell and taste of butter. These short-breads are as good as it gets when it comes to buttery shortbread cookies.  This recipe is traditional and nothing fancy, but they sure taste fancy.  I love the crunch and texture from the sugar topping. You just need a cup of English Tea.

Old Fashion Sugar Shortbread

Makes about 24 short-breads depending on how big you cut them.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 8 x 8 or 9 x 9  inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Make sure you have 2 inches hanging from two sides of the pan, to pull out short-breads once they are completely cool in pan.   

Whisk the flour, corn starch, salt and sugar. Pour in the cooled melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon. Add a little more cornstarch if needed to have a stiff dough, similar to play dough.  Press evenly and firmly into prepared pan. 

Bake for 45 minutes or until the shortbread is golden. Cut immediately into bars while shortbread is hot and sprinkle with lots of extra sugar while they are still hot.  Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mama's Soft Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

We love Granola Bars but we love them soft and chewy, not hard and crunchy.  These are fantastic and kid friendly.  Sure you can add dried fruits, seeds, nuts and use plain rice cereal, but we love everything chocolate in this household so we do it our way.  Your kids and family will love them.  I make a batch every week, they are great for breakfast, a snack on the go and wonderful as pick me up right after a work out.  Enjoy!

Mama's Soft Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars
Kid approved
Top rated recipe in Mama's House
No Baking!

1/2 cup unsalted butter or Coconut Oil
1/4 cup  honey
1/4 cup  real maple syrup or agave nectar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups chocolate rice crispy cereal 
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or mini chips 
1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, chocolate rice cereal, cinnamon, nuts and chocolate chips.
Place butter, honey, maple syrup and brown sugar in a medium saucepan.

Heat until melted and sugar is not grainy but thoroughly dissolved.

Pour the butter/syrup mixture over the oats/cereal mixture. Mix with a large spoon until everything is well coated.

Using a rubber spatula put into prepared pan.  Using  plastic gloves or wrapping your hand in cling wrap press mixture into pan.  Press firmly and uniformly until it is well compacted.  Add more chips and nuts on top if desired.  Press those in as well.  

Place in fridge for 2 hours until very firm.  Lift the entire block of granola slab and cut into bars.  Bars can be wrapped up in cling wrap or little plastic bags.  Can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks, if they last that long.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mama's Famous Corn Dogs

When my daughter's school-mates come to hang out, this is their favorite thing to eat.  It is like my signature dish with the kids.  I once made 60 of these corn dogs for 9 kids and they ate them all.  I always make these for super bowl parties.  They are always a hit.  They are really super easy to put together, but you do have to fry.  They are well worth it.  Enjoy!

Mama's Famous Corn Dogs
bamboo skewers
kid friendly
Level:  easy-moderate

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup yellow corn flour
1 cup all purpose flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 Tablespoon additional
4 teaspoons baking powder

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg
1 cup milk plus 1 more cup in reserve too thin out batter

1 quart  oil for frying
2 packages of Nathan's Skinless frankfurters cut in half
Bamboo skewers ( Are usually sold in Asian markets)
Condiments: spicy mustard, honey mustard, ketchup, buffalo sauce

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a 1 cup measuring cup add 1 cup milk plus egg, mix well.  Add wet and dry together and mix until you get a pancake batter consistency.  Pour another glass of milk and put to side in reserve.  As your batter starts to thicken up you may need to add a little extra milk to adjust the consistency of batter.  It should not be too thick like muffin batter nor to thin like a crepe batter.  Once you do this a few times you will get the batter right.  Think pancake batter.

Each hot dog should be dried with a paper towel.  Having a dry dog will help the batter to stick to the hot dog.  Each hot dog is cut in half and a 5 inch bamboo skewer is inserted. 

Use a hot oil thermometer keep your oil consistently at 360 degrees.  If it is too hot the corn dogs will get overly brown and the batter will not cook properly.  You need steady, consistent temperature to get the best result.  Frying is an art! 

Dip each dog in batter and let extra drain back into batter bowl.  Place dog carefully into hot oil.  Can add up to 3 to 4 dogs at a time, depending on the your pot or fryer.  Cook for approx. 3 minutes and turn as you go.  Place on paper towel and serve with spicy mustard!  Enjoy. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creamy Dreamy Crumb Bars

Creamy Dreamy Crumb Bars are simple to make and quite delicious.  I received this recipe from a recent cookie swap. 

Creamy  Dreamy Crumb Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust and topping
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 and 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 c sour cream
2 oz. cream cheese room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease an 8" square pan with Pam. Grease sides and bottom. Set aside.

Crust and Crumb Topping:
In a bowl, combine together flour, brown sugar, soda, baking powder and salt. Add melted butter and mix until dough forms a crumb mixture.

Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining dough into greased pan. Set aside.

Put filling ingredients in a  bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined.

Pour over crust.

Sprinkle evenly with the topping mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Cool in pan. Place in fridge for 45 minutes.  Remove and Cut into squares.
Refrigerate leftover bars.

Optional:  Can add fruit preserves in filling or fresh blueberries, raspberries or mini chocolate chips.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bunch of Almond Biscotti

This is my base recipe which I do many variations on. Today, I had almonds on hand. I often dip the bottoms in chocolate, but I had no chocolate. These biscottis are amazing when dunked in coffee, especially espresso. If I am having a dinner party and the theme is Italian, I would serve one biscotti cookie in a glass of sweet Italian wine, as shown in picture. It is delicious. Serve with fresh fruit and Italian cheeses and you will impress your guest.  This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember; Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees/ spray 3 half sheet pans with spray release
The recipe can be halved/ This recipe makes a Big Bunch of Biscotti

6 eggs
1cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. almond extract
1tsp. vanilla extract
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1T. baking powder
1tsp. salt
1tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. clove
1/4 tsp. ginger
11/2 tsp. anise seeds
1/2 cup almonds

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add room temperature eggs, oil, sugar and beat until well incorporated, add extracts. In another bowl, add flour, salt, baking powder and spices, whisk to incorporate ingredients. Add to liquids to combine, add almonds. Slightly oil your hands and spray 3 half size sheet pans. Shape into 2 long logs and 1half size log. Flatten with the palm of your hand to about 3 inches in width. •.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven let cool to room temperature about 1 hour +. Slice your cool loaves with a serrated knife on the diagonal. Flip them on their sides and bake for an additional 15 minutes, then turn oven off, and leave in the hot oven for 10 more minutes until golden brown.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Baklava Shortbreads

Originally posted in My Soap Mom's Kitchen Blog
 Most requested recipe by friends and family!

This recipe came about one day when I was in Culinary School. My Master Chef instructor gave us 15 minutes to take a classic baking recipe and re-invent the original without losing the integrity of the recipe. Well I am Greek, needless to say, we eat a lot of baklava. I love short-breads and I love baklava, so for me this was a natural. Anyways, it was a big hit and everyone including all the chefs wanted the recipe. It was an honor. I have been making it ever since. If you are a baklava lover this is for you.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
48 one each square bar cookies

Basic Shortbread Recipe: ( Professional Pastry recipe scaled down)

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, lighter in color. Mix flour and salt. Add to butter mixture with mixer on slow, until it comes together. Take a half size sheet pan and press cookie dough with finger, until the pan is covered in dough. Bake 15 minutes. They will be underdone.  Cool shortbread:

Phyllo Dough

1 package of thin phyllo dough not country style. The one for Baklava:
1 and 1/2 sticks melted unsalted butter.  Take a half size sheet pan, take one sheet of phyllo, brush with butter and put another sheet on top. Continue this until all the phyllo has been layered with butter and phyllo. Pop into a freezer for 1 to 2 hours until solid. If sheet pan does not fit into freezer, cut phyllo layers into half or thirds and put into pan and pop into freezer.

Nut Mixture
2 cups ground walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove

When phyllo is completely hard, slide an offset spatula to take out of pan. It is okay if it breaks you want it to break. Take into your hands and break into different, rough shapes the size of a quarter. Put into a big bowl add Nut Mixture and mix with clean hands. Break apart more with fingers. Add on top of shortbread cookies and bake for another 30- 35 minutes until golden brown. You can double your sheet pan to prevent the bottom of the shortbread from getting to dark.
When done let cool completely.

3 cups sugar
2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of clove
1 T. lemon juice (fresh)
1 lemon rind

In a heavy sauce pan, bring to a boil and let simmer gently for 35 minutes until thicker in consistency. Drizzle hot syrup on to cookie baklava. I usually do half the syrup let cookie cool completely. Then I reheat the rest of the syrup and add it on top. You do not have to add all the syrup if you like a less sweet cookie. When cool completely, cut into squares. The syrup helps the phyllo stick to each other and to the cookie shortbread. I always add the whole amount of syrup, but I usually let the first application dry and cool and than add the second. You must let the syrup simmer for at least thirty minutes. In needs to be thicker and some what sticky. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mama's Super Granola

This is one of my favorite family recipes.  I have been making this recipe for ever.  My mother gave it to me and we have been making it since the 70's.   It is delicious and taste good as a breakfast cereal, on top of yogurt or just good for snacking.  I love giving this away as gifts, especially during the holidays.  It looks beautiful in glass jars or a simple cellophane bag with a ribbon and hang-tag.  Enjoy!

Mama's Granola

Dry ingredients/Group One
8 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 cups oat bran
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients/Group 2
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
1 cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add ins:
1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, apricots (you can mix a combination of fruit as long as it is about 1 cup)
optional 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl mix all ingredients from group 1.

In a sauce pot, over medium to low heat, stir together group 2 ingredients.  Bring to a boil then pour over dry ingredients in group one.   Spread out evenly on cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes in oven, until toasted.  Stir once or twice during cooking.  Cool, then stir in dried fruit and coconut.  I package them in cellophane bags and give as gifts and I keep a few bags for me.  You can half this recipe as well.

Special Note:  You can change up the spices. I often use a bit of nutmeg or ginger if I can find dried peaches.  I love dried apples with cinnamon and clove.  Try coconut, dried banana chips and nutmeg.  The combinations are endless.  You can have so much fun with this recipe.  I also love adding pumpkin spice and pumpkin seeds with golden raisins. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Easy Chocolate Pots de Creme

If you need an elegant simple dessert that is sure to satisfy any chocolate connoisseur, then this is a fantastic dessert to make.  Can be made one day in advance.  It looks wonderful in a brandy glass. Your guest will think you slaved over a hot stove to make this pastry-chef worthy delight.  It will impress!  It is not a mousse or a custard.  It taste like a smooth, light, silky chocolate truffle!

Chocolate Pots de Creme   
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 cup very hot coffee

Optional:  Can add 1 tsp. of any extracts your desire or liquors such as Irish Creme, Kahlua, Creme de Ment, Triple Sec, Amaretto, you get the idea.  I love flavors but my family prefers it plain.

In a heavy duty blender (I use my Vitamix) Add chocolate chips and eggs.  Process until mixed well.  Add butter, cream, and very hot strong coffee.  Blend until smooth.  Put into fancy, glass brandy sifters or in my case,  pretty plastic cups.  I use the plastic cups when I am having a large party.    Depending on how much you fill your cups you can get anywhere from 4 to 8 servings.  I piped a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.   Pressed for time can use Cool Whip for piped rosette.  They also look nice with a few fresh raspberries served on top or chocolate covered coffee bean. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mama's Cannolies

My husband is Italian and his family loves Cannolies.  There is no comparison in flavor when you make these from scratch.  The shells are fantastic when they are homemade.  My nephew Alessandro whispered in my ear during the Christmas Holiday that these are the best Cannolies he ever had.  He lives in a neighborhood in Queens, New York that has some of the finest bakeries in town.  He know his cannolies!
Cannoli Shells 

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsweeten baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup sweet Marsala or any white or red wine
1 large egg, separated (only the egg white)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying about 2 quarts

Note - If you want chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder and a little more wine until you have workable dough. I use Dutch Process Cocoa for a darker rich dough. 

Assembly of Shells:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt.

Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16" to 1/8” thick and in the shape of a 13x16 rectangle. 

Cut out 5-inch circles with a round cookie cutter. I use a fluted round cutter.

Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrank a little.

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes only once, as you continue to fry the tubes will be oiled from frying.   Wrap a dough oval circle around tube form.  Dab a little egg white to seal where the dough overlaps.  Let dry for a few minutes to seal.  Press down on seal with fingers to smooth out seal.  When frying this should insure that the shell does not open.  

In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F on a deep fry thermometer.   Have ready sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags. Keep a close eye on oil temperature.  It must stay at a steady temperature.  You do not want to over brown the shells.  If oil is not hot enough you will not get the bubbly cannoli surface that is typical of the cannoli shell. 

Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

Lift a cannoli tube with a large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Be very careful until  you get the hang of it.  Remember the tube is filled with oil and you must drain it back into pot filled with hot oil.  Place the tube on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes.

While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. I like using my hands but be careful.  Twist slightly to get the cannoli shell to release.   Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.  I make these even a week ahead of time.  Just cover loosely with paper towels.  I also dust mine with powder sugar.  You do want air to flow around the shells to dry them out.  Keep in a safe place away from pets and critters.  

Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.


2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
¼ cup ricotta (full fat)
¼ cup cream cheese (full fat)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup finely chopped cranberries
¼ cup finely chopped candied orange
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup to 1 and ½ cup powder sugar (I like my filling not to sweet)

Cream butter and cheeses until smooth add cinnamon and powder sugar.  Mix well.  Add cranberries, candied orange and mini chocolate chips.  I use a pastry bag with large star tip to fill my cannolies. You can do this a few hours in advance.  Dust generously with powder sugar. 

Powder sugar for dusting

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