Friday, December 21, 2012

mascarpone fig jam cookies




With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I'd bring you a quick and easy cookie to create last minute.  My last several recipe posts haven't contained any mascarpone, so my choice cookie to share are these delicious, chewy Mascarpone Fig Jam Cookies.  The mascarpone makes these cookies so beautifully tender, and the fig jam adds just the right amount of sweetness.   A sprinkling of powdered sugar adds a delicate finished touch!

You can create these lovely cookies with any of your favorite jams or preserves.  In the past, I've replaced the vanilla extract with almond extract and filled with raspberry jam.  If you want to get fancy, a center dollop of chocolate ganache would be absolutely perfect!  Don't want to take the time to add the jam centers?  No problem.  Just bake the rolled cookies without adding the center indentations in the cookies.  When they've cooled, add a lemon or orange glaze to the mascarpone cookie.  Yummm!!!






I hope you can try some of the ideas for this delightful cookie, or create it just as I have.  It's always fun to take something basic, and try some of your favorite flavor variations!

Coming soon over the holidays, I have two scrumptious recipes, Limoncello Mini Bundt Cakes with Limoncello Glaze, and a Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffee Cake...stay tuned, I can't wait to share!

Wishing all of my blog followers, email subscribers, and RSS readers of A Cup of Mascarpone a very Merry and Blessed Christmas! Your kind comments and messages make me smile each day, and I love you all!

Until next time...mangia!  xox

Carol





Mascarpone Fig Jam Cookies
Yield:  Approximately 30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fig jam, or jam of choice
powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

Create the Mascarpone fig Jam Cookies:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place sheets of parchment paper, or silicone baking liners on two cookie sheets. Set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light, then add the egg and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Add the mascarpone cheese, and beat until smooth.

Sift together the dry ingredients, and fold them into the butter mixture, mixing just until combined.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.

Rub a slight amount of flour on the palms of your hands.  Roll the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. (approximately 1-1/8 ounces each)  Cover with plastic wrap as you work, so they don't dry out.

Using the blunt round end of a wooden spoon, or similar kitchen utensil, create an indentation in the center of each cookie.  Place the cookies 2 inches apart, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or just as the cookies begin to color.

As soon as you remove the cookies sheets from the oven, use the spoon to open up the circle, (since it will slightly close up while baking.)

Carefully spoon a small amount of jam into each cookie.

Let sit at room temperature until the jam is set.  Once the jam is set and cookies are cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if you wish.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Adapted from  Italian Food Forever.



Mascarpone Fig Jam Cookies

Sunday, December 16, 2012

copycat starbucks gingerbread loaf




I admit it...I'm hooked on Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf.  I enjoyed my first slice last year by pure accident.  I ordered a Pumpkin Scone with my "non-fat" latte (have to watch the calories on one end,) and the cashier stated what I never wanted to hear..."Pumpkin Scones are only available for the fall season, which has now ended."  As I stood at the counter in silence, no words able to come out of my mouth, I heard him say, "Miss, Miss."  "We now have our Gingerbread Loaf, would you like to try that?"  I nearly said "forget about it," but instead, reluctantly mumbled, "ok, sure."  The rest is history.






I had to try and create this scrumptious morning treat myself, not wanting to pay nearly $3 a slice, along with the $4 coffee!  I found a copycat recipe online and tweaked it a bit, until I came up with a perfect tasting recipe, actually better than the bux loaf itself.  Oh, and did I mention you can whip this up in no time at all!







Embarking lovely fragrant and spicy notes, a thick layer of perfectly sweetened cream cheese frosting, with a hint of orange, make this loaf ideal for breakfast or an afternoon snack with a cup of hot coffee or tea.  Created in disposable bakeware, accompanied with a Starbuck's Card, makes it an ideal gift for the Starbucks lover; however, once you try it, you won't want to part with it!

Until next time...mangia!  xox

Carol






Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

Ingredients:

for the loaf:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract, or 1/4 teaspoon orange oil (I used Boyajian Pure Citrus Orange Oil)
1 egg at room temperature
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon baking soda

for the frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon orange extract or 1/8 teaspoon orange oil (I used Boyajian Pure Citrus Orange Oil)
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
chopped candied ginger or candied orange peel for garnish (optional - see Carol's notes below)

Create the Gingerbread Loaf and Frosting:

create the loaf:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9"x5" bread pan or use baking spray.  You can also use two pieces of decorative 7"x2.5" disposable bakeware, as pictured.  These do not have to be greased or sprayed.  Set them on a small cookie sheet to bake, and turn them around half way through the baking cycle.  These are perfect for gift giving!

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt.  Set aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Stir in orange extract.  Add egg, and mix well.

Mix the baking soda into the applesauce.   Stir into creamed butter mixture.  Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Scoop the batter into prepared loaf pan(s).

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.  If baking the 2 smaller loaves, bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

create the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Add vanilla and orange extract.  Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar.

Once the cake has cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top.  Garnish with chopped candied ginger or orange peel, if desired.

Once frosting has set, loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  I feel it tastes so much better chilled, but this is not necessary if eating the up the same day.

Adapted with slight changes from The Restaurant Recipe Blog.

Carol's notes:
This is one of those baked goods that tastes even better the second day, as the flavors intensify.

I've reduced the clove amount over the original recipe; however, the clove flavor will get stronger the following day, so if you prefer, you can reduce it even further to 1/2 teaspoon.

Although a toothpick will come out clean and the loaf be fully baked, the center will sometimes concave slightly as it cools.  Don't worry if it does, since the frosting will cover it up.  I prefer it to do this, rather than over bake it to prevent it.

The frosting makes more than you will need.  Depending on how thick you want it, adjust accordingly.

I found delicious Woodstock Foods All-Natural Ginger Slices at Wegmans, not strong or overpowering.  I chopped a few slices into small bits for the garnish.  They're incredible on the cream cheese frosting, and make the loaf look just like the real thing!  Candied orange peel, which can be found easily this time of year, also works well.





Wednesday, December 12, 2012

chocolate peppermint cake pops




Finally I come bearing a recipe! :)  In my last post, Fashionable Wine Garb, a knitted hat and scarf pattern for a wine bottle, I promised to explain why the post wasn't about food, and what had happened to my food photos, and me.

First and foremost, I was sincerely blessed and thankful to spend Thanksgiving with my son and daughter, my son's beautiful wife, and my four adorable grandchildren!  I hadn't seen them since January, one month after my granddaughter Charlotte was born.  Charlotte (or one of the many other nicknames she has lovingly inherited) will be 1 year old on Friday.  What an absolute joy it was to spend time with all of them!

Unfortunately, then came the strokes of bad luck.

My 8 month old Mac started doing very strange things the day after Thanksgiving.  After bringing it into the Apple Store, insisting I needed a fix for a virus (Macs supposedly don't get viruses,) it wound up being a hard drive crash...a one in a million occurrence after that short a period of time, so I was told.  Stupid me, had not backed up any of my food photos, so I lost everything!  Yes, everything!  All my holiday recipes I had so diligently created and taken photos of, I lost.  All my earlier recipe photos, I lost.  Recipes I had created earlier in the year, and not blogged about yet, I lost.

The computer crash was followed by losing my driver's license somewhere in Atlanta while visiting my son and family.  ...and I finalized it all by getting really sick! :)  I need to hurry and get a flu shot while I'm well, so I don't get it again!

So after all that, my knitting post came into play.  I was able to take some quick photos of one of my knitting projects and blog about it, prior to starting to cook and bake all over again! :)

Everything is back to semi-normal, and the food creations will start rolling out again.  Thank you all for bearing with me, and continuing to visit A Cup of Mascarpone!  With all the little mishaps, November was a super month for my blog!  I was ecstatic to be included in The Kitchn's Delicious Links with my  Sparkling Sugar Cranberries.   Thank you so much to The Kitchn for this wonderful honor!  If you haven't experienced this amazing blog, you will have to check it out, it's a real treat!  A Cup of Mascarpone was also visited the most in one month since its inception in mid-July, with just shy of 34,000 visits!  Thank you, thank you for stopping by my humble little blog and leaving all your kind comments and messages!  This all came about because I wanted to share my weekend love in the kitchen with all of you, and as mentioned in an earlier post, I will continue striving to improve, to keep you all returning! xox






Now onto my food creation!!!  These delicious cake pops made their way to a sweet bunch of middle school girls in Northern Virginia, who play on the  school's basketball team.  My daughter, who teaches in the middle school, is also the Assistant Basketball Coach.  It was the team's very first game, and  Coach Kelly asked me to "pretty please" make cake pops for the girls.  How could I resist?  Although the team lost, they were thrilled with the awesome cake pops after the game, and had big smiles on their faces anyway!

A dark chocolate, brownie like cake interior is covered with a hard candy coating and sprinkling of crunchy peppermint.  I've created many cake pops over the last couple years, but can say without a doubt, these were the tastiest ever!  The combination of flavors - scrumptious chocolate, and crunchy, aromatic peppermint - worked perfectly together, and the completed cake pops looked so seasonly charming and festive!







The process looks long and tedious, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, it's very easy!  You do need some time, so make them when you're not feeling rushed.  I've added an excellent link below from the original creator of cake pops, "Bakerella," and highly recommend watching it a few times to understand the process prior to making the pops.  You will be so happy you did!

My Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops recipe post is also being linked to the monthly "Chocolate Party" I'm so happy to be part of!  Thank you so much to my friend, Roxana, of Roxana's Home Baking, who hosts this delightful monthly Chocolate Party.  Peppermint was the lovely ingredient  added to chocolate for December. Inspiring bloggers, all part of the Chocolate Party, have used their creativity to make some absolutely delicious chocolate and peppermint recipes. Links to check them all out are at the bottom of my post.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Until next time...mangia!  xox

Carol

PS:  Promise not to talk so much next time...got a little carried away! :)







Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops
Adapted from the book Cake Pops by Bakerella

Yields 30 - 48 depending on cake mix used and size of cake pops.

Ingredients:

16.5 ounce or 18.25 ounce box cake mix (I used Duncan Hines 16.5 ounce Devil's Food)
box mix required ingredients (3 eggs and 1/3 cup canola oil on the DH mix)
16 ounce container ready-made frosting (I used Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Dark Chocolate)
2-3 bags Wilton 12 ounce candy melts (I used 1 bag white and 1 bag pink)
chopped candy cane pieces (I used the pre-chopped pieces found in the bulk food area of Wegmans)

Supplies:

30-48 6" lollipop sticks
styrofoam block (for drying coated cake pops)
4"x6" clear cellophane treat wrappers with twist ties or ribbon (optional)

Create the Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops:

Bake the cake mix as directed, using a 9x13 inch cake pan.  Let cool completely.  This can be done a day ahead to save time.

Once the cake is cooled, section into approximately 6 or 8 pieces, and crumble the cake into a large mixing bowl. You should not see any large pieces of cake.

Add 2/3 container of frosting, if using DH mix.  With the back of a  large spoon or spatula, mix the frosting with the cake crumbs until thoroughly combined.  If using an 18.25 ounce mix, use 3/4 container of frosting.  You will not need the remaining frosting.  Only add the amount required, otherwise, the cake pops will be too moist.

Roll cake mixture into approximate 1-1/2" balls.  The mixture should be moist enough to roll into balls and still hold a round shape.  After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on wax or parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator, or place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  You want the balls to be firm, but not frozen!

Reminder as we move along:  Watch the YouTube video referenced in Carol's note below on how to crumble, add frosting, roll balls and dip in candy melts.  This will make all these steps make better sense.

Place the candy coating in a deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl.  This type bowl makes it easier to cover the cake balls completely with candy coating, while holding the bowl without burning your fingers.

Melt the candy coating, following the instructions on the package - or, microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a spoon in between.  Make sure you do not overheat the coating.

Now you're ready to dip.  If your cake balls are in the freezer, transfer to refrigerator.  Take a few cake balls at a time out of the refrigerator to work with.

One at a time, dip about 1/2 inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating, and then insert the lollipop stick straight into a cake ball, pushing it no more than halfway through.  Watch video again at this point for how to dip the cake pops and tap off excess coating.

Once coated, sprinkle peppermint candy pieces onto the wet coating and set in the styrofoam block to dry. Repeat with remaining cake balls and let dry completely.

Store the cake pops in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator for several days.  You can also cover them in the small clear treat bags, and leave them in the styrofoam block.  I prefer to keep mine in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Carol's notes:
An awesome YouTube video with Bakerella guiding you through making cake pops can be found here.  This is the video I watched and learned from prior to making cake pops for the first time a couple years ago.  It's simple, right to the point, and everything you need to know!

If you are serious about learning hot to make cake pops, I highly recommend purchasing the inexpensive book "Cake Pops by Bakerella," found just about everywhere, including here on Amazon.  It's filled with wonderful step by step tips, and clear directions with photos for making cake pops.

For the light, pale pink candy coating color, I used 200 white to 50 pink candy melts.  Yes, I stood and counted them like a crazy person to get the color I wanted! :)

Poke holes in the styrofoam block before you begin dipping the pops.  Use one of the lollipop sticks to poke the holes about 2 inches apart.  You can then easily insert the cake pop for drying into the "pre-drilled" hole.

When preparing cake balls, I use a kitchen scale and quickly weigh out 1 1/8 ounce globs :), and set them on the prepared cookie sheet, until I've used up all the mixture.  Then I roll them into the balls.  This seems to work well for me, creates uniform sizes, and moves along much quicker.

Wilton Candy Melts are found at any craft store, and also some grocery stores.  You can usually find them on sale at Michael's at least once a month.



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