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Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

Avoid these 10 common baking mistakes for better baked goods

Sometimes that fun afternoon in the kitchen turns into a stressful battle with baked goods. There are some mistakes that even seasoned bakers continue to make. Here are a few easily avoidable mistakes that can help you correct your process, and return baking to a productive, enjoyable activity. 1. You check your oven too often. Naturally, you want to see the reward of your hard work, so you open the oven to take a peek. But know that opening the oven, even a tiny crack, released enough hot air to change the temperature in the oven. This can mean an undercooked or unevenly baked cake. If you must check, use the little light switch on your oven — that’s what it’s there for. 2. You don’t really read the recipe. If you’re guilty of jumping right into a recipe, you’re setting yourself up for some major mistakes later. Read through…

Ginger Pear Bread Recipe

This time of year pears are seemingly available everywhere, but it wasn’t always that way. Pears are native to Asia and Europe, so the first pear tree wasn’t planted in North America until 1620 in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Today, there are more than 3,000 varieties of pears grown around the world. The U.S. is the third largest producer, with most of the commercial crop coming from Washington and Oregon. California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan are also top growers. While pears are in season, try this bread with fresh fruit. You can used the canned stuff in the off season. Just like banana bread, this recipe is a great way to use up slightly over-ripe pears. The flavor is not overly sweet, so you’ll find it delicious for a lighter breakfast.  The pear ginger combination is an interesting alternative to other more common breads like apple or zucchini. This…

Sand dollar sugar cookies make a splash for Shark Week

Shark Week returns to the Discovery Channel this Sunday. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the annual Shark Week event, so expect new television shows centered on the sea’s most fascinating predators. Over the past three decades, the mid-summer shark series has gained quite the following — it’s practically a national holiday at this point. The shadowy feeling shows air just as many Americans are heading to the beach, increasing the nervous anticipation of a run-in with the ocean’s apex predator. But fear not! As the series frequently demonstrates, sharks want nothing to do with you, mere human. So instead, celebrate! Dare to sink your teeth into these delicious sand dollar sugar cookies. They’ll make a big splash at the office or at your own home-viewing party. They stack well too, so take them to the beach or give them as a pretty summer-inspired gift. Sand Dollar Sugar Cookies Ingredients 3/4 cup butter, softened 3/4…

Patriotic thumbprint cookies

Where I’m from, thumbprint cookies seem to have a place every holiday get-together. For Christmas and Easter we roll them in nuts and make icing centers coordinate with the season. At Valentine’s Day, we make them chocolate. And now for Fourth of July we can dress them up with star sprinkles. These thumbprint cookies have a delicious sweet and tangy flavor. The vanilla and raspberry are perfect companions. And the red, white, blue sprinkles make them fun and ready for the Fourth! Patriotic thumbprint cookies Makes about 3 dozen cookies Ingredients 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup butter, room temperature 1 cup white sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 egg white icing 1/4 cup sprinkles 1/8 cup raspberry jam Directions Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set…

Springtime lime cookies

These lime cookies are buttery and bursting with tangy citrus flavor. They’ll remind you of a pleasant spring day. Enjoy alone or with tea or milk. Just enjoy them before some else does — These cookies never last long! Springtime lime cookies Ingredients Icing 1/3 cup confectioners sugar 2 tbsp lime juice 1 tbsp butter, room temperature 1 tbsp lime zest Cookies 2 tbsp lime juice 1/3 cup milk 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 3/4 cup white sugar 1 egg 2 tbsp lime zest 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda Directions Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a small cup, combine the milk and 2 tbsp of lime juice. Let stand for up to 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add 2 tbsp lime zest and the…

Chocolate raspberry thumbprints to love

Raspberry and chocolate. Need I say more? This classic combo is easy to love on Valentine’s Day or anytime you want to treat yourself — or someone else! — to something special. I wanted a quick cookie that could ship easily to those I love overseas and across country. With protection of a cookie tin and a few layers of wax paper to separate, these did the job beautifully — thanks for the idea Saving Room for Dessert.  Chocolate raspberry thumbprints Ingredients 2 cups flour, leveled 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tsp salt 1 cup sugar 2 sticks butter (1 cup), room temperature 1 egg yolk 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup raspberry jam, stirred (seeded or unseeded) Optional: 2 tbsp milk Optional: crushed pistachios, Directions In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar…

Why you like the taste of milk and cookies so darn much

Milk. It’s a crucial part of the eating experience — for baking, cooking, coffee, cereal, smoothies. But it’s best use? For dunking cookies, of course! But why do milk and cookies make the world’s best duo? It’s culinary chemistry, Great Big Story reports. Here’s the actual science behind why the two are so tasty together. A Brief History of Milk 10,000 B.C.: Animals are domesticated and milked. 1862: Louis Pasteur modernizes milk safety. The term “pasteurized” is born. 1884: Milk is bottled and the milkman came to be. 1994: The Got Milk campaign sweeps the nation. What SCIENCE says about dunking “When you dip cookies into milk you change a number of things about those cookies that completely alters your eating experience,” Matt Hartings, professor of chemistry at American University. “Alters” means that not only does the texture and composition change, but the chemical composition does as well. There are specific ways…

Molasses sandwich cookies with eggnog buttercream

Molasses cookies are a holiday must-have, and for most households, so is eggnog. Combine these two classic Christmas season flavors into one delicious sandwich cookie. The sweet, creamy frosting pairs perfectly with the dark molasses and warm winter spices. If you’re looking for a cookie everyone knows and loves, but you want to add a unique twist, this might just be your winner. Plus, who doesn’t love a cookie where you technically get two! Molasses cookies with eggnog buttercream Makes about 24 sandwiches Cookie Ingredients  2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tbsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp ground ginger 1/4 allspice 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper 1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature 1 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup molasses, non-blackstrap 1 egg 1/2 cup white sugar for rolling cookies, in small bowl Icing Ingredients  6 tbsp butter, room temperature 2…

Fresh Cranberry bars are a festive, tart treat

While Americans consume nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries every year, 20 percent of those are during Thanksgiving week alone. And the rest — nearly 2.3 pounds per person — are consumed almost entirely in the form of juice. Only five percent of the cranberry harvest is sold fresh. Someday, Americans will wake up and realize this nutritious, flavorful little fruit has so much more to offer than just sauce. Cranberries rise to the top of many healthy food lists. Besides being a great source of vitamin C, manganese, and fiber, cranberries contain phytonutrients, which are essential for overall health. This means that among other things, cranberries are great for reducing inflammation, reducing incidences of UTIs and ulcers, and protecting against cancer. Not to say that a dessert recipe with cranberries is somehow a health food. But if you’re going to eat dessert anyway, you might as well add a little of this…