Category:  Cookies, Candies & Sweets

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Easter Cookies (Mexican Pastelitos)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On March 18, 2016 0 Comments

These delicious cookies are from Mexico. They’re called pastelitos or little cakes. I think they look like Easter eggs. Hence, they’re a perfect dessert for Easter Sunday.

Everyone will love the flaky texture and buttery-cinnamon flavors of these melt-in-your-mouth Easter cookies!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes: 36 o 38 cookies

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sifted, powdered sugar (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Sift flour, cornstarch and cinnamon into a 3-cup bowl; set aside.

3. Line two 18X12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

4. In a 4-cup bowl or a stand mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy.

5. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture.

6. Mix well and knead until a smooth dough forms.

7. With your hands, take a small piece of dough and shape it into a 3/4-inch ball.

8. Place it on one of the parchment-lined baking sheets.

9. Continue forming 3/4-inch balls of dough, placing them 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

10. Set baking sheets in oven and bake the cookies for 12 minutes.

11. After 12 minutes, invert upper baking sheet with bottom baking sheet; bake for an additional 12 to 13 minutes.

12. After 12 or 13 minutes, check underside of one cookie. It should look light golden brown. If it is not light golden brown, bake the cookies for an additional 5 minutes.

13. Remove the baking sheets with cookies from oven and set them on a counter to cool.

Serve the Easter Cookies:
1. When cookies have cooled, set them on a serving platter, garnished with sifted, powdered sugar.

2. FOR MAKING AHEAD: When cookies have cooled completely, sore them in double Ziploc® freezer bags up to 3 weeks ahead.

3. FOR THAWING & SERVING: Remove cookies from freezer and Ziploc® freezer bags. Place cookies on a platter to thaw for 4 hours (covered with aluminum foil). When ready to serve cookies, garnish them with sifted, powdered sugar.
Text & Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Halloween Oatmeal Bars

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods, Holidays On October 23, 2015 0 Comments

These oatmeal power bars are a fun treat to make for that Halloween bash! One look at the ingredients and you’ll approve – no sugar or flour. These bars are so scrumptious and healthy that you won’t have to stop reaching for a second, third, fourth … Happy Halloween!

Prep time: 15 to 18 minutes
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes
Makes: 24 bars

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2/3 cup raisins
Dash salt

Toast the Oatmeal:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place oatmeal in an 18 X 12-inch rectangular baking sheet.

3. Toast the oatmeal for about 5 minutes.

4. After 5 minutes, stir the oatmeal – this prevents blackening at the edges of baking sheet.

5. Toast the oatmeal for an additional 5 minutes; stir once more.

6. When oatmeal has turned light golden brown, it is done.

7. If needed, toast the oatmeal for an additional 2 minutes. Set oatmeal aside in baking sheet to cool on counter.

8. Keep oven constantly heated at 350°F.

Prepare the Syrup:
1. In a 1-quart sauce pot, heat together the peanut butter, honey, maple syrup and vanilla until mixture is warm and runny; set it aside.

2. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the toasted oatmeal, almonds, sesame seeds, raisins and salt.

3. Gently stir in the warm syrup mixture until all ingredients are combined.

4. If the mixture is too loose and grainy, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons maple syrup to combine and amalgamate the ingredients.

5. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

6. Transfer the oatmeal mixture to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

7. With wet hands, pat the mixture to form an 11 X 7-inch rectangle in center of sheet.

8. Using a knife, gently cut the oatmeal mass into 24 bars.

9. Bake the oatmeal bars for 10 to 13 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

10. Set oatmeal bars aside in baking sheet to cool completely.

11. When bars are cool, carefully cut through the squares to loosen them. Serve immediately or store the oatmeal bars in a glass jar in refrigerator.

12. Halloween oatmeal bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Persian Almond Cookies

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On May 26, 2015 0 Comments

Iran is the modern name for ancient Persia. The people of this culture call themselves “Persians”. I can see how proud they are when they say they are “Persians”, for they stay connected with their great empire dating back to 2,400 years ago. Persia was rich with architecture, visual and decorative arts. And, it flabbergasted its visitors with succulent foods, then and now.

The first time I tasted Persian food was at my friends’ home. My hosts, Elena and Robert, presented an ornate and colorful buffet with an array of freshly-made meat, chicken and vegetarian stews. My taste buds went crazy – herbs, spices, pomegranate seeds, apricots, cherries, walnuts brought out sweet and savory flavors in at least 4 to 5 rice dishes and fish. However, I was most impressed with how Persian cuisine combines fresh fruit, nuts and rosewater in desserts. These ingredients are used in cakes, marzipan, saffron ice cream, rice sorbet and cookies.

Here’s a cookie recipe which I developed by combining almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, butter and rosewater. Once baked, enjoy these with a cup of Persian tea.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes: 24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rosewater
1 cup roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds (ground)
powdered sugar (for garnish)
ground cinnamon (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour one 12 X 18-inch baking sheet and set aside.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl and with a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and butter on medium speed until well blended.

4. Stir in the rosewater and the slivered almonds.

5. With mixer set on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture (1 cup at a time) to the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.

6. Transfer the dough onto a smooth, floured surface.

7. With lightly-floured hands, lightly knead the dough until smooth and uniform.

Rolling Out the Dough:

1. Divide the dough into two portions; set one portion aside.

2. With lightly-floured hands, roll out one portion into a log measuring 10 inches long by 2 inches wide.

3. Cut off a 1-1/2-inch piece and, with lightly floured hands, roll it into a ball.

4. Flatten the dough ball into a circle measuring 1-3/4 inches and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Repeat cutting and placing the cookie dough on baking sheet; space each dough circle two inches apart.

6. When baking sheet is filled, bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms look light golden brown when lifted with a spatula.

7. After cookies have baked, transfer the baking sheet on a counter; let the cookies cool in baking sheet.

8. At serving time, sift powdered sugar and cinnamon onto cookies.
Photograph & Text 2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars (Sugarless & Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods On November 8, 2013 2 Comments

Do you usually crave something sweet with that afternoon coffee, cappuccino, latte or tea? If you’re like me, then you want sweets at all hours of the day. I created these healthy treats in an effort to avoid dairy products, eggs and sugar.

The moist texture of these bars is derived from the maple syrup and honey. Cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg are added to make these bars scrumptious, healthy and vegan. Serve these Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to your kids – guilt-free!

Prep time: 8 to 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup safflower oil (this can be substituted with canola or sunflower oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 X 8-inch baking dish (alternatively, you can use a rectangular dish measuring approximately 7 X 10 inches).

2. In a 3 or 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, spices, cranberries and walnuts.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

4. Add the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla to the well in center of the dry ingredients.

5. Mix thoroughly and transfer mixture to the greased baking dish.

6. With your hand, pat down the mixture so that it is even from center to sides of baking dish.

7. Transfer the baking dish to a rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake for 25 minutes or until the oatmeal mixture looks golden brown.

9. After 25 minutes, transfer the baking dish to a counter to cool.

10. When completely cool, cut bars to measure 2 X 2 inches and serve.

To store in refrigerator: transfer Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars to a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.

To freeze: transfer Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to double, plastic, freezer bags and seal completely. The bars will keep, frozen, up to one month.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Rice-Spice Cookies (Gluten-free)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On September 6, 2013 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, one of our friends on Facebook/The Kitchen Buzzz asked us for a gluten-free recipe. Here it is – rice cookies with a hint of cinnamon, allspice and a drizzle of chocolate. Please make our Rice-Spice Cookies and let us know how they taste with coffee, tea or cappuccino!

Prep time: 25 minutes (cookies and chocolate drizzle)
Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1-2/3 cup white rice flour (preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground allspice
1/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
2/3 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for chocolate drizzle)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, sugar and vanilla.

3. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix in the oil and raisins.

4. Add 2/3 cup water and mix again. If mixture is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon water and mix again. If mixture is still crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of water; mix until a dough is formed.

5. After dough is formed, pull off a piece of dough to form a one-inch ball. Place ball on a 18X12-inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue forming dough balls, spacing them one inch apart from each other on baking sheet.

6. Using a fork, flatten the cookie dough tops slightly.

7. Place baking sheet with cookie dough balls on rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes or until undersides are light golden brown.

9. After cookies are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter; cool the cookies completely.

Note: Due to the consistency of the rice flour, these cookies have a grainy texture.

Make the Chocolate Drizzle:

1. When cookies are cool, set the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt. When chocolate has melted, set the upper portion of the double boiler on a trivet, away from heat. Cool the chocolate for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. When chocolate is still warm and melted, but cool enough to handle, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

3. Holding the pastry bag with both hands, squeeze it to drizzle the chocolate over cookie tops.

Cool and serve Rice-Spice Cookies with coffee, tea, milk, cappuccino or other favorite drink.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real