Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Quartet of Desserts #allout!

It's been a while since I have last posted. Lately, I have been experimenting with cooking, and, with a job and school, I haven't had as much time to bake. That, and the fact that I didn't want to overload on sugar foods.


Another day in the kitchen: the smell of butter, nuts, vanilla, and Nutella permeating and intermingling with one another. Making four very different pastries reminded me both of how tiring baking is and how much I have missed it.

From left: butterscotch cupcake with maple syrup frosting, Nutella cookies, Linzer cookies, Finska kakor

1. Butterscotch Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Frosting (adapted from "Bake Me Blush")
(yields half a dozen cupcakes)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.
2. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract. 
3. Add in the flour and mix until just incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in the butterscotch chips.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners, and fill each about three-quarters full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until center comes out cleanly. Cool completely before frosting (which I did not, resulting in melting frosting and a mess!)

For the maple syrup frosting:

about 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I just eyeballed it in)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Cream butter and maple syrup together. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, and mix until the frosting holds stiff peaks (not broken or too liquid-like).

2. Nutella White Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies
(yields about 20 cookies)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 heaping tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup Craisins

1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt together. 
2. In a separate bowl, beat butter and Nutella. Add in the egg and vanilla.
3. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
4. Stir in the white chocolate chips and Craisins by using a spatula.
5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll tablespoon amounts of the dough between the palms of your hand and place them at least an inch apart from each other.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely before serving.

3. Linzer Cookies
 (see my "Going Nuts on Pecan Wednesday" for the cookie recipe. However, in this post, I used blueberry jam for the filling)

Blueberry jam (this is probably not the correct way to make jam, but it turned out all right, anyway)

about 1 cup fresh blueberries
about 1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons corn starch

In a saucepan, stir together blueberries and sugar. Heat on medium to medium-high, and cook until the sugar dissolves and the blueberries begin to break down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use a spatula to help break the berries. Add in salt and corn starch. Remove from heat, and strain into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and overnight for several hours or overnight.

4. Finska Kakor (aka "Finnish Cakes")
(yields 20 two to three-inch bars)

1/2 cup almonds
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp almond extract)
1 egg white

1. Use a food processor to process almonds and one tablespoon of the sugar until finely chopped. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine flour, butter, vanilla extract, egg white, and the rest of the sugar. Mix until all ingredients are just incorporated. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Take out the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper, until about one-inch thick. Press almond mixture into the dough.
4. Cut dough into two to three-inch strips and place them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking tray.
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.