Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Gingerbread Shoe Cookies

I'm Jewish so I don't make Christmas cookies. But over Thanksgiving, when I received the new Baked Explorations cookbook as a gift from my mom, I could't resist trying out the chocolate gingerbread cookies, with a bit of a twist. You could certainly make this recipe using regular gingerbread man cookie cutters, sure, but instead I decided to make some fun shoe cookies using my shoe-shaped cookie cutter. The end result looked quite cool as expected, but also tasted delicious. So, these cookies are great for the holidays, but also as a girl's night treat. I also mixed in a few moose shaped cookies as well.

I am in Mexico on vacation right now, so there will be less posts over the holiday. But, never fear because I did set a couple things to post (including this very post) for while I am away. Wishing everyone who reads A Kitchen In Brooklyn all the best for all the things you wish for in 2011!

Baked's Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 T baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 T unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 large egg white
1 tsp lemon juice

To make the cookies, combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In your stand electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, for about two minutes.

Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Then, beat in the molasses (which smells horrible all by itself, but don't worry as it will smell great in the end) and melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture in three parts, beating between additions. Divide the dough into three parts and chill for about two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the disks of dough, about 1/4 inch thick (I was lucky to have my mom around, as we made this over thanksgiving so she helped out with this), and cut the dough with your desired cookie cutters - I used a cute pair of shoe cookie cutters. Bake the cookies at 350 for seven minutes until the tops are dry. Allow the cookies to cook for five minutes before transferring to the rack, and allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the icing, combine the confectioner's sugar, egg white and lemon juice until smooth. Decorate the cookies as desired, either using a brush to glaze or a frosting bag. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Cinnamon Buns for Sunday Brunch

A week ago for Sunday brunch, I made cinnamon buns. These were a perfect, sweet brunch treat, only to be rivaled by the hazelnut french toast I made the following weekend. I had never made cinnamon buns before, but I was inspired to try it out using a recipe from the new Kosher baking cookbook that I had received to review. It's a terrific cookbook and the cinnamon bun recipe was a winner, and not too difficult to make. If you are making it for brunch, you will want to give yourself a bit of a head start, as it takes a bit of time to let the dough rise, just like with any recipe that uses dry active yeast. These are the perfect way to start your day.

Cinnamon Buns (recipe from Paula Shoyer's the Kosher Baker)
1 cup soy milk (I used Silk)
1/2 oz (two envelopes) of dry active yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 large eggs
4 T margarine
1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

You can also glaze with a confectioner's sugar , water and vanilla mixture, but I made them without the glaze, which was also terrific.

To make the dough, heat the soy milk in a microwave until lukewarm. Place in a large bowl and add the yeast and a teaspoon of the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes until the yeast activates and gets all foamy. Add the flour, eggs, remaining sugar, margarine and oil and mix well. I did this in a stand mixer.  I absolutely love making bread and dough because I love the way that activated yeast smells in the kitchen. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for one hour.

While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a mixer, beat the margarine, cinnamon and brown sugar to make the filling until smooth, again using the electric mixer. Set aside. When the dough is done rising, place the dough on flowered parchment paper and roll into a 15 x 24 inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly on the dough and roll up the dough into a long log. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1 inch slices, which will be your individual cinnamon buns. Grease a baking sheet with margarine or Pam and bake in an oven heated to 350 for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

This is another winning recipe from a great new cookbook that I really have enjoyed.
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