I’m still getting back in the groove after our seasonal crud and recovery. Things have been hectic, as I’m sure they are for you as well. Tis the season! If necessary, let’s read my last post (the semi-depressive yet redemptive Thanksgiving offering), and we’ll take cleansing breaths together.
The past few days, I’ve eased into my annual tradition of baking for Christmas. I’ve even been looking for cake baking classes near me as I want to improve my culinary skills! All of the kids’ teachers get baked goodies for gifts, sometimes along with coffee, a mug, or something like that. (This year, I think only Morgan’s school teacher got the whole schmear.) This year’s menu:
- Starbucks-style Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Spicy Pumpkin Carrot Muffins
- Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins (two versions)
- Sweep the Floor Cookies (recipe below)
The Starbucks knockoff Ginger Molasses Cookies were a huge hit last year, so they came back for an encore. They are firm yet chewy, so they pack well in the super cute Chinese-takeout-style boxes I found a while back at Walmart. The link above is to the recipe I used from Recipezaar (now Food.com), with a minor adjustment…use just a dash of ground cloves rather than the amount listed, and add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of freshly grated nutmeg. Use a Microplane for this. Being the total foodie nerd, I have the big, flat one and the little, just-for-nutmeg one that leaves a curved divot in the nut. (Yay, Microplane! I wish they would offer me a giveaway. Hint, hint.)
The Spicy Pumpkin Carrot Muffins you may remember from an earlier post. They were fairly popular at a recent church event, so I thought I would make a few extra to have around. I’m taking some to the DD’s school party tomorrow, for the adults to nosh during the festivities. I made a mini-muffin, non-spicy, non-nut, non-fruit version for the kids. Hey, it’s still got crunchy brown sugar on the top!
I know you’re just dying to know the story behind the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins. Well, maybe not, but I’ll wager that at least one or two GFCF folks will find this by search. It can be hard to find easy, yummy recipes to fit this growing segment of the special-diet population. One of the teachers in our 2yo DS’s mother’s day out class eats this way, along with her daughters. So I set out – with only today to shop and bake – to create something yummy just for her. More on this here…it was such a fun adventure and deserves its own post!
I hesitate to give a recipe for the Sweep the Floor Cookies, because the whole purpose (and its name, coined by the hubster) is to use whatever. You know, those half-bags of baking whatnot you have lying around your pantry and freezer. A half-bag of Craisins? Awesome. Butterscotch chips? Bring it. Forgotten bag of nuts? No problem. My Fourth of July version used white chocolate chips, Craisins and dried blueberries. This week, I used Craisins, walnuts, and these tiny caramel filled chocolate pieces I had squirreled in the freezer. Didn’t work so well, because the caramel seeped out and burned on the baking sheet. So don’t use those.
In any case, the base is pretty much a ranger/oatmeal cookie, with a few foundational tweaks. Then you load it up with as much stuff as you think the dough will possibly hold! One time I added so much junk that I had to mix in a second batch of dough. The end product was so beyond a recipe it was ridiculous…it was good, but I had no idea how much of what was in there! Anyway, here’s the basic idea for you to experiment and enjoy:
Sweep the Floor Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 – 2 TOTAL cups of add-ins of your choosing (choose 2 – 4)
Ideas: Rice crisp cereal, any kind of baking chips, dried fruit, nuts, crushed or small candy…
Cream the butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (medium to high speed) until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add about half the flour. Add in the sugars, egg, vanilla, baking powder and soda and beat until combined. Add remaining flour and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer off and add the oats, coconut and add-ins. Turn the mixer on in short bursts, just enough to gently mix in the add-ins. Use a #20 disher or drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool for a minute on the sheet before moving to a wire rack to completely cool. YUMMMM!!!!
If you’d prefer more hands on help with recipe ideas and developing you cookery skills, there are courses you can attend for a variety of different cuisines, for example Saavor baking classes teach you the art of baking at a beginners or professional level.
I think that’s enough for today. Sorry again for being away so long. Lots upcoming, and I hope to get back in the groove of blogging about local chefs and trends as well. Being in school will probably help. And that’s coming soon!