Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stained-Glass Flower Lollipops

These may be one of my favorite cookie and candy combos and surprisingly were not complicated to make.  Well, I made them more complicated at first, but now I've simplified the process for you so now they'll be relatively easy!

My niece turns 5 on Saturday and her party is a  tea party theme, so she and her friends will enjoy these cookies, perfect for little girls.  The recipe, from the Barnes & Noble published Cookies by Pamela Clark, originally called for doing these with round cutters (perfect for little boys too).  I don't have graduating round cutters, so I though the flowers would be a good alternative. 

The recipe also called for sugar-free lollipops, but I beg to differ.  I started using Dum-dum pops, but there were two issues.  The first is that there are so many flavors in a bag of Dum-dums, you'll be hard pressed to find enough of one flavor to fill more than one cookie.  The other is that despite crushing, the candy didn't melt thoroughly enough to create the colored glass effect.  Luckily I figured this out early enough and was able to run out and get a bag of Jolly Ranchers which crushed and melted perfectly.  I couldn't be happier with the end product.  I picked up the popsicle sticks and treat bags from Michael's and individually wrapped the cookies as favors for the girls.  The cookie is very tasty and the lemon peel helps bridge the gap between cookie and candy.  They froze fine and will be perfect for the party.

Stained-Glass Flower Lollipops


1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (I used the Lemon Peel from Penzey's and reconstituted it myself)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 2/3 cups flour
1 egg white
nonpareils or rainbow sprinkles
popsicle sticks
1 bag individually wrapped Jolly Ranchers

Cream butter with an electric mixer and then add lemon zest, almond extract, sugar and egg, beating until combined.  Stir in sifted flour in two batches (I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer to slowly incorporate the flour).

Knead dough on floured surface (or dough mat) until smooth.

Divide dough in half and between sheets of parchment, roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  Transfer to baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a rolling pin or meat mallet, crush candies while still wrapped.  Unwrap into small bowls separated by color.

Remove dough from fridge and transfer to dough mat or clean counter/table.  Using your largest (or 4 inch) cutter, cut dough and transfer to parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet.

Then, take your next graduating cutters (3 inch, 2 inch and 1 inch) and cut concentric shapes in the 4 inch piece.

Remove dough between the 2 and 3 inch cutters and the 1 inch center.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: My cutters didn't have enough graduation to do 4 concentric flower shapes, so I did three and just removed the middle flower.  Then I used that flower to create a smaller lollipop. This eliminated a lot of rerolling.

Slide a popsicle stick under each cookie, being sure to go all the way to the center.

Brush half the cookies with egg white and sprinkle with nonpareils.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.  Turn baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through. If using more than one sheet at a time, rotate positions in the oven for more even baking.  Remove from oven and fill the gaps with crushed candies.

Bake for another 5 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheets.

This shows the difference between the crushed Dum-dums and the Jolly Ranchers. These are both post-baking.  See how clear the Jolly Ranchers (above) are?  The Dum-dums didn't get nearly that melted.

Note: Using the Silpat, it was very easy to peel the cooled candy off the pan.  At minimum, use parchment paper, otherwise you will wait a very long time for the pan to cool and run the risk of breaking the candy or the whole lollipop.

When completely cooled (I allowed them to sit a bit longer on racks), place each lollipop in a treat bag and tie with a bow.

Makes 12 large and 12 small lollipops.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cinnamon Bars

These were so easy to make it's ridiculous.  And they taste awesome, almost like a bar of struesel topping.  And then pecans on top--perfect.  You could forgo the nuts and drizzle a powdered sugar glaze (I was tempted to put the glaze on top of the pecans).  I'm working really hard on not altering recipes before trying them, but let me know if you test it out.  Plus the other easy thing--I always have all these ingredients in the house.

Another recipe from the Christmas Cookies book Jackie gave me, I whipped these up over the weekend when Dave called at 4:30 telling me he was bringing a guest home for dinner.  Yes I'd already wanted to try them, but I used Dave's friend as an excuse.    They both loved them and these would be a great dessert for a brunch (maybe Easter?) or a wonderful contribution to a bake sale. They're pretty solid and hold up well.  I also thought about serving them with vanilla ice cream (except we didn't have any).

The original recipe calls fro making these in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan and cutting into 48 bars, but I don't have that size pan.  So I made them in the 9 x 13 inch brownie pan and cut them into 24 big bars.  Seems to have worked perfectly.

Cinnamon Bars


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 cups flour, sifted
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter in a large bowl and add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides of bowl as necessary.

Add egg yolk and cinnamon.

Then add flour, in batches, and mix until combined.  You'll have a crumbly dough and that's ok.

Press mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Pour egg white on top, spreading around to coat entire surface.  Drain off any excess.

Sprinkle chopped pecans on top, press lightly into dough.

Bake at 325 degree F for 25-30 minutes (28 minutes was perfect for me).  Allow pan to cool and cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cherry-Lemon Meringue Mini Pies

Aren't they adorable?  Yes, and the second time around was much better.  Allow me to explain.

On Monday, my dear friend Cindy had a birthday, so I had to bake for her  Since she is my friend who can respect chocolate but would much rather have something fruity, particularly lemon, it was quite fortuitous when the April 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine arrived last week bearing this recipe from Sandra Lee.  Now, this is the second Sandra Lee recipe that didn't quite turn out the way I wanted it to (see White Peppermint Snowballs), but I'll take the blame on this one.  When reading the recipe, I thought to use my silicone muffin pan to make sure I could get the pie "crusts" out without breakage. However, when I actually made the recipe, I forgot until they were already in the oven.  In my stoneware muffin pan.  Not the most flexible or forgiving of cookware.

Only one of them completely crumbled.  The other two I took out were "reparable."

So instead of presenting the pies in a pretty little container, I just handed Cindy the whole stone pan full of them (which she confessed to eating right out of the pan, a "few" at a time). 

Oddly, this recipe yielded the perfect amount of crust for 12 mini pies, but twice as much filling.  Even more strange, the package of meringue cookies I bought at Trader Joe's was enough to make two batches of crust.  Clearly, the stars were aligning so I could try these again using the right tools.  The recipe below will yield 24 mini pies. I doubled the original recipe's crust quantities, but left the filling the same.  Let me know if it doesn't work for you and/or you did something different!

And as far as tastiness, they are quite refreshing.  I found them very lemony, but the crust was nice and firm (good pie-librium) with a good contrast in flavor and texture.

Cherry-Lemon Meringue Mini Pies

For the crust

10 ounces vanilla meringue cookies
12 tablespoons cake flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
1 box (4-serving package) lemon pudding and pie filling mix
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups prepared lemonade
2 large egg yolks
1 can prepared cherry pie filling

Combine the meringue cookies and flour in a food processor and process until mixture is fine crumbs. 

Add the melted butter and pulse until combined.

Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.  I have both a silicone muffin pan and these little individual silicone muffin cups. 

I ended up using the individual cups, which made for a nice presentation without risking breakage to the crusts.  If I would have made all 24 at once, I would have used both the silicone pan and the individual cups.  If you only have access to 12 silicone cups, make them in batches.  I would not suggest doing this in either metal or stone bakeware.

Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the mixture into each of the prepared muffin cups.  I actually used a scantly filled medium cookie scoop. 

Using the back of a measuring spoon or a small spatula, press the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of the cups.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes, or until just starting to brown.  Remove from oven and immediately press each cup with the back of the tablespoon (you want to make a well for your filling).  Cool the cups in the pan on a rack.

Combine the pudding mix and sugar in a medium saucepan.

Whisk in the lemonade and egg yolks. Continue to whisk over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. 

Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of the lemon filling into each cooled meringue cup.  Top each with about 1 Tablespoon of cherry pie filling (I picked out just the cherries, not the goo). 

Sorry--I apparently stopped taking pictures of the new version at this point.  Whoops.

Chill for about 2 hours, or until the filling is set.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 24 mini pies.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Bombs

Ohmygodthesearesogood.  Peanut butter filling wrapped in peanut butter cookie, rolled in cinnamon and nuts and baked to perfection.  This cookie is the peanut butter equivalent to death by chocolate.  They are also huge, so if your weary of my "itty bitty" cookies, you'll appreciate these.

They are deservedly a Pillsbury Bake-Off $1 Million Grand Prize Winning cookie.  Carolyn Gurtz won the prize with this cookie, which she named Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies, in 2008. (Dave renamed them for me.)  Her original method used refrigerated peanut butter dough (can we talk for a second about how hard that is for me to find around here?).  But, since I used the recipe in the bake-off with my sister, I had to make my own peanut butter dough. Silly to make it harder on myself in order to follow the rules, but what better way to win a bake-off than with an already champion recipe?  So you decide--either make you own dough using my Classic Peanut Butter dough or make it less complicated with the refrigerated stuff (if you can find it).

Peanut Butter Bombs

Look familiar?


1 batch Classic Peanut Butter douh
1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Note: If you use the refrigerated dough, either get two rolls, or halve the rest of the ingredients.  Carolyn's original recipe was for 24 cookies, but using the scratch cookie dough makes double.

Prepare Classic Peanut Butter dough as instructed.

In a small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar until completely blended.  Shape mixture into 1 inch balls.

Gather all 3 bowls (dough, nut mixture and peanut butter/sugar mixture) to begin assembly.

Using a medium cookie scoop, get a mound of dough and flatten it in your hand.   

Place one of the peanut butter/sugar balls in the dough and wrap cookie dough around completely.

Roll in nut mixture.

Place covered dough balls on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten cookies with the bottom of a glass, dipped in the nut mixture.  Sprinkle extra nut mixture on top and press into dough.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven 7-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Cool 1 minute on pan then remove to cooling rack.

Makes 4 dozen.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess