Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting

I’m not much of a recipe repeater. Of course, I have a few perennial favorites. Like my pumpkin gooey butter cake, and these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. I make those once a year, without fail.

But most the time, I try new things. I even have the data to prove it: In 2019, 84% of the things I baked were new to me.

It’s not that I don’t have favorites. I just get so intrigued by flavor combos and ideas, and HAVE to try them. And since I don’t really bake thaaaat often, I have to pick and choose.

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It turns out these rules don’t apply when someone else is doing the baking. When I go home to visit my family, I pretty much expect to have all the same things I had growing up. That means zucchini and applesauce bread at Thanksgiving. Banana chocolate chip muffins for New Year’s. And DEFINITELY this Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting for any and all birthdays.

My mom made this every year for as long as I can remember. Once, when I was about 25, she swapped in orange extract for mint to surprise me. Orange/chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combos. But… I didn’t want it in this cake! It was technically delicious, but nostalgically, just not the same. It’s gotta be chocolate mint, or not at all.

I haven’t been home for a birthday in years so it’d been a while since I had this cake. And during the first month of quarantine, I just couldn’t stop craving it! So I made one.

The recipe comes from an old cookbook based around ideas for your Cuisinart food processor. I’ve never tried making this in a mixer, but you probably could. The cookbook makes you use a food processor for everything, even when it’s not totally necessary. I guess they had to fill a whole book, ya know?

My mom came up with the mint extract addition herself, and I highly recommend it if you’ve got extract on your hands. If you don’t, plain chocolate frosting would also be swell. It’s got a great richness and texture so it really adds something special to the fluffy yellow cake. Yellow cake isn’t so much a “flavor” as it is a texture and richness. It gets that richness from butter and whole eggs. It’s a lot simpler than some of the other cakes I’ve posted here. But just so. darn. good.

Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Original recipe: Cuisinart Classroom, by Abby Mandel. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: This recipe technically yields 3 cake layers, but the frosting is only enough to cover 2 layers. If you want to frost all 3, multiply the frosting ingredients by 1.5x and you should be set. That’s what my mom does 🙂 The original recipe claims that this makes 12 servings, but that obviously will depend on how you cut the cake!

Suggested equipment: Food processor. You could probably just use a mixer, too.

Total Time: A few hours or so. You want to let those layers really cool before you frost them!

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp buttermilk (so measure a cup, then measure 1 tablespoon and pour it out)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 4-5 tbsp sour cream

Instructions

Make your cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Sift together your flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Put your sugar and eggs in the food processor, and process until it’s thick and lightly colored. This should take a minute or so, using the metal blade attachment.
  4. Scrape the sides of your bowl, then turn it back on.
  5. Add your butter, and process the machine for about a minute. It should look fluffy! You might want to stop and scrape down your bowl halfway through.
  6. With the machine running, pour the vanilla and buttermilk through the feed tube.
  7. Stop the machine, remove the cover and pour in your dry ingredients. Then blend the batter by turning your machine on and off until the flour disappears. This should take 4-6 pulses.
  8. Line 3 cake pans with parchment, then grease them. Divide your batter among the pans.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then flip them onto a wire rack to cool completely. You gotta let them sit for a while before you frost them, or your frosting will get too runny!

Make your frosting

  1. Put your cocoa, sugar and salt in your processor work bowl. Using the metal blade, process them for 5 seconds.
  2. Add the vanilla, butter, mint extract and 4 tablespoons of your sour cream. Process until it gets a thick, spreadable consistency. You can add the remaining sour cream if you need it for a spreadable texture.

Frost your cake 

My cakes will never win a prize for their looks. I take a super lazy approach to frosting. Put one layer on a sturdy surface, and slather the top with frosting. Plop another layer on top, and repeat as needed with your layers. Then, use a spatula or angled spatula to spread more frosting on the very top and all around the sides. Smooth it out the best you possibly can. But don’t stress too much. It’s cake, and it’s gonna taste great no matter what.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

My family kept a pretty healthy diet when I was a kid. But there was one notable exception: Sunday breakfast.

We went through phases over the years, but Sunday was always our day to chow down on a special morning treat. First, it was bagels. Then—pancakes. And once I hit high school, we had homemade waffles every single Sunday.

Come Sunday morning, my mom would pull out her waffle maker and start cranking out batches of crispy, fluffy waffles. Most had chocolate chips. Because if you’re going for an indulgent breakfast, why not go all the way?

When I moved into my first post-college apartment, my mom got me a waffle maker as a gift. It usually lives in the back corner of my deepest cabinet, and I don’t take it out much. But these last couple weeks, I’ve found a lot of comfort in making crisp, fluffy waffles for an extra-special meal.

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Back in the day, my mom used the Krusteaz waffle mix. Maybe I’ll get some soon for a nostalgic treat. But in the meantime, I loved this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. These waffles truly live up to their name: They’re rich and full-flavored, with crispy edges and fluffy centers. You can, of course, omit the chocolate chips. But… why would you?

If you’re concerned about getting buttermilk right now or wasting some of it, I recommend buying shelf-stable buttermilk powder instead. It’s one of my favorite baking hacks, so I always have a container in the fridge. It lasts for ages, and comes in handy for everything from biscuits to scones to cake.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: I got five, 4-part Belgian waffles out of this. It will depend somewhat on your waffle maker’s shape and volume.

Suggested equipment: Waffle maker 🙂

Total Time: ~30 minutes

Cook Time: Depends on your waffle maker. I cooked up all my batter in ~10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.
    • If you’re using powdered buttermilk, follow the instructions on your container to make sure you use the right amount of dry powder and added water. In the original recipe, Deb also says you can swap in 1 1/2 cups sour cream OR 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.
  • 2 eggs, separated into yolks and eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Neutral oil for your waffle pan (Canola, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the powder portion.
  2. In another bowl, combine your egg yolks and the buttermilk/sour cream/yogurt. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the water portion.
  3. To the bowl with the eggs, stir in your butter and vanilla.
  4. Spray your iron with oil, and preheat it.
  5. Meanwhile, stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  6. Use your mixer or a whisk to beat your egg whites into soft peaks. That means that they’ll hold a bit of a peak, then fall back down again. This step helps get your waffles crispy, so don’t skip it!
  7. Stir your egg whites gently into the batter.
  8. Once your iron is heated, spread batter into the iron and bake until it’s done.
  9. You can serve these immediately, or warm them for a few minutes on a low oven setting.

Waffles keep really well, so you can freeze your extras for another day. They don’t keep as well in the fridge, but it’ll be ok for a couple days. I ended up eating my waffles three days in a row. Shh. Don’t tell my mom.

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Lemon Clove Cookies

Today’s topic: Lemon math.

Baking with produce can be tricky since quantities vary so wildly. One person’s “medium” lemon could be another person’s “small.” And sometimes a piece of produce just doesn’t produce the quantity of juice or zest or whatever that your recipe calls for.

There are all kinds of tables telling you how to convert pieces of produce to volumes of juice. But I usually just over-buy whatever the ingredient is. Recipe calls for 2 lemons? I’m getting 4. Recipe says 3 zucchini? You know I’m buying 5.

A couple weeks ago I found myself with some extra pesky lemon math. I had odd amounts of juice and zest based on the first lemon recipe I made. I started pulling out all my cookbooks to find a solution… and behold! These Lemon Clove Cookies were the answer.

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And wow—what an answer! I never would have thought to pair lemon with cloves. It really, really works! They’ve got a great citrus base with a hint of sweetness and the perfect bit of spiciness. The cloves make these cookies extra comforting—they’re really the perfect tough-day snack.

I froze my batch planning to take them to work, but haven’t managed to do that… so I’m just eating them one-by-one from my freezer. Stick ’em in the microwave for a bit and you’ve got comfort on a plate.

Lemon Clove Cookies

Original recipe: Celebrating the Midwestern Table. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: 24 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor or a blender, mixer

Total Time: ~ 2 hours

Cook Time: 9-12 minutes

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grated zest. That’s roughly 2 large lemons but… buy extra just in case!
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Glaze

  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Make your cookies

  1. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  2. If you’re using a food processor, fit it with the metal blade. You can also use your blender for this step. Pour in your lemon zest and sugar, and mince the two together until the zest becomes small specks. Now you have lemon sugar!
  3. Use your mixer to cream the butter and lemon sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Add your egg, and mix until smooth.
  5. Add in your flour combo and mix well.
  6. Wrap the dough airtight and place in your fridge to chill for about 45 minutes.

Glaze and bake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Get your glaze ready. Use a fork to froth the egg and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Shape your dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place them onto prepared cookie sheets. Press each ball lightly with your fingers to flatten it, then lightly brush glaze over each cookie.
  4. Bake the cookies about 9-12 minutes. Mine took 9 to hit the perfect chewy texture.
  5. Let the cookies cool on their sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

These keep extremely well. Just put them in an airtight container, or pop them in your freezer.

Nutter Butter Oreo Bars

A couple months ago I found myself with an extra package of Nutter Butter cookies. I’d bought them for an event, then didn’t need them, and they were just sitting around in my cupboard, waiting to be baked into something.

So I started searching Pinterest for ideas. I wanted to make some kind of blondie or cookie with little bits of Nutter Butter baked right in. When I saw this Pin from Six Sisters’ Stuff, I knew I had a winner.

And then I remembered that I also had Oreos in my cupboard.

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Enter these Nutter Butter Oreo Bars. Because why stop at one mix-in when you could have two?

These have a lovely blondie base, studded with chocolate chips, Oreos and Nutter Butters. Super simple to make, and a delight in every bite.

I happened to have Chocolate Oreos but you could definitely use regular Oreos, too. I decided to use mini chocolate chips instead of standard sized because I was worried too many big mix-ins might be overpowering. I loved how my mix-in ratio turned out but you could certainly use regular chips if that’s all you’ve got.

Nutter Butter Oreo Bars

Original recipe: Based on this recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

Yield: ~48 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~50 minutes

Cook Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients

For your blondies

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed into small pieces. Divide your Nutter Butte
  • 8 Oreos, crushed into small pieces

For the topping

  • 2 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed into small pieces. Divide your Nutter Butte
  • 2 Oreos, crushed into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a rolling pin or your hands to crush your Nutter Butters and Oreos into small pieces
  3. Use your mixer to cream the butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat until combined
  5. Add in your baking powder, salt and flour. Mix on low until it’s combined.
  6. Mix in your chocolate chips, Nutter Butters and Oreos. You can do this part with a wooden spoon if you’re worried about over-mixing your dough
  7. Grease or line a 9×13 inch pan
  8. Use your hands to press the dough into the pan. Make sure its’s an even layer. If the dough is super sticky, you can spray your hands with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to you
  9. Sprinkle your topping evenly over the batter (that’s your extra 2 Oreos and 2 Nutter Butters, combined)
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes. You want them to look slightly golden, but the center might still seem a little gooey
  11. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, then use a sharp knife to slice into squares

 

 

Confetti Cookies

IMG_6084I can’t think of a cheerier treat than these sprinkle-splattered cookies. They’re basically an amped up sugar cookie, made way better with a couple simple additions. The dough calls for both butter and cream cheese, which makes your cookies softer and cakier than most sugar cookies out there. You’re also gonna add in some almond extract, which gives the cookies a more more complex flavor than standard sugar cookie fare. Most people can’t tell there’s almond in there… but it definitely makes things tasty.

I made these for a dinner party and they were a truly awesome party pick. The recipe yields tons of cookies, they’re easy to transport and they’re a crowd pleaser. They also keep well: You can store them in a container for a couple days or freeze dough for later. 

The original recipe shared two sets of instructions so you could pick between using a food processor or a mixer. I was already using my mixer for somethin’ else while I baked these, so I used my food processor this time around. If you only have a mixer, check out Smitten Kitchen’s original post for detailed instructions! 

 

Confetti Cookies

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen

Yield: ~ 4 dozen cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor or mixer

Total Time: ~An hour

Cook Time: ~10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt (you can swap in table salt instead)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (1/4 of an 8 oz brick)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional, but definitely recommend using it!)
  • 1 cup sprinkles (Recommend using jimmies like this so they stick better)

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 375F
  2. Assemble your food processor with the metal blade.
  3. Put your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
  4. Slice your cream cheese and butter into large chunks, then put them in the processor. Blend until the mixture gets powdery.
  5. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract. Run machine until the ingredients form a dough and start to ball together. You should stop to scrape things down a couple times while you mix.
  6. Chill your dough for 20 minutes so it’s easier to roll into balls.
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop your dough into sizeable balls. Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends using a 1.5 tablespoon scoop to make sure they’re the right size. Make sure your dough balls are about 2 inches apart on the sheet.
  8. Roll each ball in your hands to heat it up a bit. This makes the dough tackier, which makes it easier to roll in sprinkles! Then, drop your ball into the sprinkles and roll it around to coat evenly.
  9. Use the bottom of a glass to press down on each cookie so it’s about 1/4-1/2 inch tall.
  10. Bake for 9-10 minutes. They’ll look a bit underbaked on top, but golden underneath. You want them to be a bit underbaked so they stay soft over time… if you bake these all the way through to start with, they’ll crisp up faster.
  11. Let your cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them over to racks to cool completely.

 

Apple Pie Cookies

I know this is a contentious thing to say on a baking blog, but it needs to be said: I really don’t like pie.

I don’t know what to tell you. The heavy crust and frequently-too-sweet fillings just don’t do it for me. I’ll take a fruit-filled crisp or cake over pie, any day of the week.

But cookies inspired by pie? Yes please, gimme, sign me up.

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These Apple Pie Cookies caught my eye a long time ago and I finally got around to making them this week. What a winner! The base cookie is similar to a snickerdoodle with a cinnamon sugar topping. And then you cook down some spiced apples, and stuff them right inside the cookie. In every bite, you get a bit of crisp cookie shell, a bit of spiced apple and a chewy hit of cookie. As my coworker put it: “It’s like pie, but with a better ratio of crust to filling.”

They’re also more portable than pie, though you’ll want to make sure to carry these babies right-side-up in a sturdy container. Since they have fruit in the middle, they don’t hold their shape as well as some other cookies, and might fall apart in transit if you put them on their sides.

These do take a fair amount of time since you need to prep apples, let your filling cool and go through assembly. I promise they’re worth it!

Apple Pie Cookies

Original recipe: Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~20 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: ~16 minutes

Ingredients

Apple pie filling 

  • 1 3/4 cups apples—peeled, cored and diced. This takes about 2 medium apples.
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Coating 

  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

Make your filling

  1. Add all your filling ingredients to a medium saucepan (apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter). Stir to combine.
  2. Crank the heat up to medium, and let your pan come to a simmer. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. You’re good to go when your apples are soft, with a thick syrup around them.
  3. Take your pan off the heat and let your filling cool for a while. You don’t want to stuff hot filling into cookies since the heat could affect your cookie dough. My filling took about 20 minutes to cool, but definitely keep an eye on yours to make sure it’s right before you move onto the next step.

Make your dough

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter and shortening together. On medium speed, mix until the two are combined.
  3. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, then mix on medium until it’s light and fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla and one of your eggs. Mix the egg in completely, then add your second egg and mix it all again.
  5. Put your flour, baking powder and salt into the mixer bowl. Mix it on low until the flour starts to get incorporated into your wet ingredients. Then, turn up the speed to medium and make sure everything is completely combined.

Fill, roll and bake 

  1. First, make your cinnamon sugar topping. In a shallow bowl, stir the sugar and cinnamon until they’re completely combined.
  2. Scoop some dough from your mixer bowl—I used a couple tablespoons of dough per cookie. Smush the dough a bit so it’s easier to stuff.
  3. Put about 1/4 a teaspoon of filling in the center of your dough, and roll the dough back into a circle. You might want to play around with your filling ratio until it feels right, since it depends a bit on how big you make your cookies.
  4. Roll the dough ball in your cinnamon sugar so it’s completely covered in the topping.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Leave at least an inch between your dough balls so they have space to spread—these will spread quite a bit during baking!
  6. Bake your cookies 12-16 minutes. Mine took the full 16 minutes. Your edges should look set, but the centers will still look a little soft and will firm up as the cookies cool.
  7. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack, then move them into an airtight container for storage.

 

 

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple weeks ago, I’d planned to make muffins to bring my coworkers. After spending some time browsing recipes and thinking through the options, I realized muffins would be a bit cumbersome to carry that particular day. I also had cookies to bring… plus a suitcase, since I was headed on a work trip that night.

B270EEB4-4392-4327-9107-D5247733FF8BSo I pivoted to a morning quickbread. Quickbreads are a great solve when you want to make something that’s comforting, satisfying… but also pretty easy to make and carry. It’s a lot easier to carry a single loaf, than it is to carry a giant case of muffins or try to shove muffins in Ziplocs without crushing them. Most quick bread recipes come together pretty quickly (unless you pick one with super prepped ingredients!) and they’re pretty simple to bake right, too. 

I scanned my quick bread recipes on Pinterest, and landed on this Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread from Sally’s Baking Addiction. It looked delicious, and I already had all the ingredients on hand—so it won this round of recipe roulette.

This bread got rave reviews at work. There’s just something so comforting about cinnamon. To me, cinnamon means warmth—and when you put it in your breakfast, it helps the day get off to a better start.  

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread

Recipe source: Sally’s Baking Addiction. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added my own commentary. 

Yield: One 9×5 loaf. I sliced mine into ~40 smaller pieces.

Suggested equipment: None

Total Time: ~80 minutes

Cook Time: ~55 minutes

Ingredients

Cinnamon swirl

  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

 

Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used dried buttermilk, and recommend it if you don’t want to buy fresh buttermilk that might go to waste. If you do this, follow the instructions on your package to figure out the right ratios of buttermilk powder and water.)  

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Make your cinnamon sugar by combining the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, toss your flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together until they’re combined. If you’re using dried buttermilk, now’s the time to mix the powder in. Set the bowl aside for now.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk your egg, brown sugar and granulated sugar together. Make sure it’s totally combined—brown sugar can be pesky sometimes!
  5. Add the oil, vanilla and buttermilk (or water if you’re using dried buttermilk). Whisk gently until the mixture is smooth and you don’t see lumps. Be careful not to overmix at this step, since that could make your bread tougher than you want.
  6. Line and spray a 9×5 loaf pan. Pour half your batter into the pan.
  7. Top batter with 3/4 of your cinnamon sugar mixture. Then, pour the remaining batter on top.
  8. Sprinkle with the rest of your cinnamon sugar so it’s even on the top. You can add some mini chocolate chips to the top, too!
  9. Cover the bread loosely with aluminum foil before you put it in the oven. This helps the bread bake evenly since it often takes longer for the middle to cook, and you don’t want to burn the top.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. I’d start checking at 45 minutes and go from there. Mine took about 55 minutes to cook.
  11. Allow bread to cool in the pan on a wire rack before you cut into it.

 

This bread will keep for several days if you wrap it tightly. It freezes well too—just be careful as you wrap it, since the foil might strip off some of the cinnamon sugar topping when you take it back out of the freezer. 

 

Lemon Raspberry “Snickerdoodles”

I have a strangely vivid memory of my first snickerdoodle. Ninth grade, school cafeteria, right after class. I’d never heard of snickerdoodles before, but loved them immediately. Partly because they’re delicious… and partly because the word “snickerdoodle” is really, really fun to say.

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Snickerdoodles stand out from the pack because they’re super chewy, with a bit of a tang that complements a cinnamon top. I’ve made a ton of takes on snickerdoodles over the years, from the classics to apple butter doodles and even a rosemary version. But I’d never thought about applying their approach to a totally non-cinnamon cookie until I saw this recipe from Hummingbird High. Michelle is genius to apply that snickerdoodle style tang and texture to a lemon raspberry flavor combo.

I brought these to work and so many people asked for the recipe, I knew I had to share it here. If you make these, keep a super close eye on the cookies as they bake. The little raspberry bits seem prone to burning, so make sure to get your cookies out of the oven at just the right time!

Lemon Raspberry “Snickerdoodles”

Original recipe: Hummingbird High. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~24 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor, mixer

Total Time: About an hour, with cooling time

Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies 

  • 1 1/2 cups, minus 1 tbsp granulated sugar (just measure 1 tablespoon out and put it back in your container!)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • Zest from one medium lemon
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (It’s important to use kosher salt instead of regular table salt! They’re totally different sizes and impart a different flavor.) 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

For the topping 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)

Instructions

Make your raspberry sugar

Use a food processor to combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the freeze dried raspberries. Pulse the processor until the raspberries get pretty small, and the mixture looks uniform throughout.

 

Make your dough 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and move a rack to the center of your oven.
  2. Combine your granulated sugar, brown sugar and zest in a small bowl. Use your fingers to toss it all together, then rub the zest into the sugar so it clumps and starts to smell fragrant. This helps release the oils that provide great lemony flavor. Set this aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk your flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and kosher salt.
  4. Throw your sugar mixture into your mixer, then add the butter. Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
  5. Reduce your mixer speed to its slowest setting, and add the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add your lemon extract, and make sure it’s fully incorporated.
  7. Keeping your mixer on its lowest speed, start adding in the flour mixture. Add it gradually until it’s just combined with the other ingredients.
  8. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop your cookie dough so it’s about two tablespoons of dough per cookie. Put them on the sheets at least a couple inches apart so they don’t meld together when they spread in the oven.
  9. Roll each cookie dough’s top in the raspberry sugar coating, then put it back on the pan. The original recipe has you roll the whole ball but I found that the raspberries burn a bit, so I found it better to just put the raspberries on top.
  10. Bake your cookies 8-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re not burning on the tops. Take them out of the oven when the edges look set, but the centers are puffed and gooey. If the top starts to brown, it’s time to take them out.
  11. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then flip them over to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

The 2018 Baking Roundup

Listen, I know it’s kind of late for a 2018 roundup. But let’s pretend that I picked this timing on purpose, ok? Let’s just say that I was intentionally giving you a break from all those other year-in-review pieces, and wanted to spread mine out a bit.

Playing along? Awesome. Thanks for that.

I’ve been writing personal annual reports for a while now and started doing baking roundups a few years ago. It’s fun to see my baking trends, and set baking goals for the following year. So let’s dig in, shall we?

What I made in 2018

I baked 34 times last year, and 76% of that was new recipes. As always, cookies, bars and brownies dominated my list. That’s pretty typical for me, because those kinds of things are much easier to carry around on public transit than a tray of warm cinnamon rolls or a towering layer cake. I really do love making layer cakes, and always declare that I’m going to make more the next year… but logistics tend to get in my way. Maybe this is the year!

New baking pic.png

I baked a pretty good mix of flavors last year. Chocolate tends to dominate every year, whether that’s brownies or chocolate chip cookies or M&M bars. In 2018, 50% of the things I baked last year included some kind of chocolate. But it wasn’t always the main flavor, and I tried lots of other things, too. I made 3 types of banana bread, 7 other recipes that included a different kind of fruit and 2 recipes that starred peanut butter.

The most intriguing recipe I made last year was these pea and vanilla cupcakes. They didn’t really taste like peas—you could tell there was something distinct going on in there, but I don’t think anyone would have guessed it was peas unless I told them. My absolute favorite thing I made last year (and didn’t blog about!) was this pistachio cake from Molly Yeh. It was perfectly nutty, perfectly fluffy and topped with this lovely, tart pomegranate frosting. I actually changed my mind at 9 PM the night before a party and switched from a different pistachio cake recipe to this one. It was definitely the right choice.

Who ate it?

hosted 3 events in 2018, accounting for 10 recipes. I took another 8 recipes to other people’s events, from birthdays to holiday potlucks to tea parties. The remaining 16 recipes went to work, where I leave things in the kitchen and beg people to eat them. They tend to happily oblige.

What did people read?

I published 12 new posts in 2018. That’s down from last year, but it correlates to a specific goal to spend less time on my computer than I used to. So, I can feel pretty good about 12 posts. I try to post a mix of things, from simple cookie recipes to complicated cakes. I think my absolute favorite recipe I posted in 2018 was these pumpkin cupcakes. It’s really just a standout recipe: Great texture, great flavor and lightyears ahead of lots of other pumpkin cakes out there.

Top New Posts on Sugarsmith for 2018

My Personal Favorites for 2018

Top Posts from Previous Years 

Looking ahead

I’ve baked a few times so far in 2019, and plan to rack up a few more recipes in the next couple weeks. My resolutions for 2019 are to bake more things with yeast, make more muffins and try to use all the random ingredients I’ve accumulated in my kitchen. Stay tuned to find out if I make it happen 🙂

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve made a lot of dairy-free recipes over the years, but haven’t ventured far into vegan territories. After a couple negative experiences with less-than-great vegan recipes, I worried that all the ingredient substitutions just couldn’t lead to an awesome final result.

Well, dear readers: I stand corrected. These Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty darn amazing. If someone handed you one of these cookies on the street*, you’d never guess they’re vegan. And based on what I read on baking blogs, that seems to be the ultimate compliment for ingredient-restricted recipes.

These cookies swap in coconut oil and coconut milk for more standard cookie ingredients like eggs and butter. I’d never used either ingredient before, so I wasn’t totally sure how this would go. But the final cookies have such an amazing texture! They’re thick and chewy, with a nicely firm exterior. The original recipe writer recommended making these decently big, and I took that advice. The final cookies were truly delicious, and very satisfying.

I guess these cookies have officially convinced me that vegan baking can be awesome. Maybe I’ll try this vegan chocolate cake next…

* If someone actually handed you a cookie on the street would you eat it? Because I definitely wouldn’t! My Lyft driver took one of these and I will always wonder if he actually ate it once I got out… or tossed it in the trash. Stranger danger! 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe: Baker by Nature. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~60 minutes

Cook Time: ~10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil. I used refined/virgin oil because I read it has less of a coconut taste. Your coconut oil needs to be totally solid—if it has started to melt at all, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to get it back to a solid state
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk. I got the Thai variety based on the recipe’s original notes, but you can use any kind you want
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. If you really need these to be vegan, make sure to find vegan chocolate chips! I use the Enjoy Life brand

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Use your mixer to beat the coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla. They should be well-combined before you move on.
  3. Add in your coconut milk and applesauce, and beat again.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Pour your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until the ingredients are totally combined. Note that your batter will be thick! If it seems too sticky, you can add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add another tablespoon of coconut milk.
  6. Stir in 1.5 cups of chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  7. Scoop your cookies onto a lined cookie sheet. I used a two tablespoon scoop to measure out my dough.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers are set. Keep a close eye on them—they’ll start to burn if you leave the cookies in too long.
  9. Cool your cookies on the baking sheets for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them finish firming up.