Author Archives: Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

About Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

I'm a blogger, freelance baker, and recipe developer in South Brooklyn.

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane CookiesA few years ago, I posted a question on social media asking for Christmas cookie recommendations. Since I grew up largely without homemade Christmas treats, holiday baking was a bit of a mystery to me. Since then, I’ve spent the holidays steadily working my way through the (very) long list supplied by various Facebook friends. Those classics have been interspersed with other festive treats, of course, but I work my way through that list a little more each holiday season. Over the years, there have been Chocolate Crinkles and Gingerbread Men and plenty of shortbread, but I’ve kept putting off Candy Cane Cookies. (Until today, duh.)Candy Cane CookiesI found these twisty two-tone vanilla-mint cookies super intimidating. I have pretty sad motor skills and was afraid I didn’t have a dough in my arsenal that wouldn’t spread out and get weird. As usual though, I shouldn’t have been concerned.*

*I can’t be the only person out there who has cookie-related anxiety.Candy Cane CookiesMy Candy Cane Cookies are totally adorable, delicious, and festive as all get-out! The dough I use here is a slight variation on the one I use for my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies. A very slight variation. The only differences are a 1/2 teaspoon less baking powder, a little more vanilla, and peppermint extract instead of almond.

Oh, and that half the dough is dyed bright red.Candy Cane CookiesThis dough gets a three hour chill before it’s formed into cookies. A tablespoon of each color of dough is rolled into a rope.Candy Cane CookiesCandy Cane CookiesThey’re twisted together and smoothed before being formed into candy cane shapes.Candy Cane CookiesCandy Cane CookiesCandy Cane CookiesIf you want your cookies to have a more “arts & crafts” look, you can skip the smoothing step. Your cookies will be a little shorter and chunkier, but just as delicious as their more realistic-looking counterparts.Candy Cane CookiesCandy Cane CookiesThe formed cookies each get a brush of egg white glaze before baking. This gives them a little sheen post-baking, and also allows you to decorate with holiday sprinkles and sparkling sugar. Cute, right?!Candy Cane CookiesCandy Cane Cookies expand a tiny bit while baking, but only enough to hide any imperfections incurred during the shaping process. I kind of like that they’re not all carbon copies of each other though.Candy Cane CookiesI’m also a big fan of their crisp edges, soft centers, and buttery mint flavor. Add in their hefty dose of holiday cheer and…well, what’s not to love? ❤ Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies
makes 22-23 cookies

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring (preferably gel)

Glaze & Garnish:
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
holiday sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each.

Divide dough in half. Form 1 half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside.

Add red food coloring to remaining dough and mix until evenly colored. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill both disks of dough for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough from each disk. Roll each tablespoon into a 6-inch rope. Carefully twist ropes together. Gently roll twist until edges are smooth and rope is 8-8 1/2 inches long. Remove to prepared pan and bend rope into a candy can shape. Repeat with remaining dough, setting formed dough at least 2 inches apart. Freeze formed dough for 10 minutes.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and water until some bubbles form. Brush each formed cookie with a thin coat of the glaze and sprinkle with holiday sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar, if using.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes. Cookies are done when dough is no longer wet-looking and edges are turning ever so slightly golden. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, forming, glazing, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Candy Cane CookiesCandy Cane CookiesCandy Cane Cookies

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Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass CookiesHello there! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving break. I had a wonderful time in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with 2/3 of my immediate family, but am happy to be home for a few weeks to work on all sorts of holiday goodness! I’ve got loads of great posts headed your way before December 25th, but this first cookie recipe of the season, which benefits Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, might be my most important post of the whole year.Stained Glass CookiesIf that organization sounds familiar, it’s because I supported them last year too as a participant in The Sweetest Season. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that encourages people to raise funds for pediatric cancer research by making cookies and sharing them with friends and family. The goal is to raise funds to facilitate innovative treatments, one cookie at a time. Many supporters (AKA “Good Cookies”) choose to have bake sales or cookie swaps, but I’m participating with a group of bloggers by posting new cookies recipes and donating directly. I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, but if you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.Stained Glass CookiesThere’s no easy way to transition from writing about pediatric cancer to writing about anything else, so please excuse this clunky attempt. Now that I’ve made my donation to this wonderful organization, it’s time to talk about holiday cookies, namely these stunning Stained Glass Cookies!Stained Glass CookiesThese were one of the first Christmas cookies I ever made. My mother didn’t (and doesn’t) bake, but once when we were little, she dropped my sister and me at a kids’ cooking school for a day of holiday treats. While I don’t remember any other cookies we made that day, I do remember crushing hard candies and watching them transform in the oven into beautiful “stained glass.”
Stained Glass CookiesStained Glass CookiesStained Glass CookiesBut I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’ve never heard of Stained Glass Cookies, they’re nothing more than roll-out sugar cookies (in this case, my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies) with the centers cut out and filled with crushed hard candy. As they bake, the candy melts into a thin, transparent sheet, similar to a stained glass window. Neat, huh?Stained Glass CookiesStained Glass CookiesAnd freaking beautiful, am I right?!Stained Glass Cookies

These cookies are simple to make. The recipe is straightforward enough that there’s no need for a tutorial, but I’ve got a few notes for you anyway. Because of course I do.

  • You can use any cookie cutters you like, permitting that they are in graduated sizes.
  • I used crushed Jolly Ranchers candy here. I chose to only use one flavor of candy per cookie, but feel free to mix and match to your holiday heart’s content.
  • These are a great cookie to make with kids, permitting you don’t mind them getting a little sugared up (in which case you probably shouldn’t be making cookies anyway and you may be on the wrong website 🙂 ). Just make the dough ahead and let them help cut and fill. I made these frequently in my nanny days and they were always a big hit.

Stained Glass CookiesAll that said, I hope you’re as excited for holiday baking as I am! Here’s to a season of sweets, treats, and doing kind things for our fellows…you know, like putting a few dollars toward a good cause ❤ Or making a batch of Stained Glass Cookies for people you love.Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies
makes about 5 dozen medium cookies

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 12 ounce bag Jolly Ranchers or other hard candy, crushed
sparkling sugar, optional

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
graduated cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Use smaller cookie cutters to cut out centers of cut cookies. Remove center dough and fill Cookie centers with a few pieces of crushed candy. Sprinkle exposed cookie dough with sparkling sugar, if desired.

Bake cookies 7-8 minutes, rotating top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the halfway point. Cookies are done when dough is no longer wet-looking and centers are bubbly. Let cookies cool on the pans for ten minutes before carefully peeling cookies away parchment and removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, filling, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. Separate layers of cookies with wax paper.
Stained Glass CookiesStained Glass CookiesStained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies

Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Classic Cinnamon RollsI have put a lot of sweet rolls on this blog, but have somehow never posted a recipe for classic cinnamon rolls. Consider that oversight rectified. And in time for holiday breakfast season, no less.Classic Cinnamon RollsNow, I know there are a gazillion cinnamon roll recipes out there. You probably have one you love. Why take a chance and switch it up? What makes these cinnamon rolls special?Classic Cinnamon RollsWell, I like to think *all* cinnamon rolls are special. I have never been disappointed to be offered a cinnamon roll in all my 33.5 years. Not once. Not even by the one I ate at a Roy Rogers in rural Connecticut at 8am that one time eleven years ago.

(Don’t ask me why I remember what I ordered at a Roy Rogers in rural Connecticut eleven years ago because I honestly don’t know. It’s just garbage taking up space in my brain and now it’s taking up space in yours.)Classic Cinnamon RollsBut, um, back to these cinnamon rolls, which are infinitely better than anything you could possibly find at a fast food restaurant in New England. They’re made with the same dough I use for my kolaches. It’s enriched with eggs, whole milk, butter, and sour cream, so you know it’s good. It produces cinnamon rolls that are super soft, tender, and rich.Classic Cinnamon RollsThis dough works best with an overnight chill in the fridge. Immediately after mixing, it’s very soft and sticky—very frustrating to roll. After a chill however, the butter has set up enough that the dough rolls without sticking, making it ideal for slathering with brown sugar-cinnamon filling. This overnight method is also the ideal way to get scratch-made cinnamon rolls on the breakfast table without having to get up and start baking when it’s still dark outside. Sleep > baking.Classic Cinnamon RollsOnce the dough has been filled, roll it into a cylinder and slice it into pieces.Classic Cinnamon RollsClassic Cinnamon RollsLet them rise and bake them until they’re brown.Classic Cinnamon RollsAnd then slather them with a thin coat of cream cheese frosting. Or double the recipe for a thick coat. Whatever floats your cinnamon roll boat. <—hey, that rhymes.Classic Cinnamon RollsAnyway, you don’t need me to talk you into wanting fresh cinnamon rolls (unless you hate them like my sister…weirdo). Take some time to make a batch this holiday season, and you might be surprised to find they are as pleasurable to bake as they are to eat.Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature

Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The night before you want to eat kolaches, make the dough. Cut butter into 8 pieces.Combine butter, whole milk, and sour cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt together, stirring occasionally, until mixture is warm to the touch (about 115F). Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to prove for 5 minutes. Mixture will have just a few small bubbles.

Add 1 cup of the flour, the cinnamon, and salt to the wet ingredients. Fold together. Fold in beaten eggs, followed by 2 1/4 more cups of flour. Dough will be very soft and a bit sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes before forming into a ball. Dough will be very soft and sticky—use a bench scraper for easiest kneading. Grease a mixing bowl with oil. Place dough ball in the bowl, being sure to grease it on all sides. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the dough. Refrigerate overnight, about 8-12 hours.

In the morning, make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mash together softened unsalted butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon, until it’s completely combined. Set aside.

Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, line the bottom with foil, and butter again. Remove dough from refrigerator and discard plastic wrap.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14×17-inch rectangle. Use an offset icing spatula to spread filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Slice dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes, tenting the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let rolls cool 5-10 minutes.

Make the cream cheese frosting. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy and lighter in color. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated.

Drop spoonfuls of the frosting over the tops of the rolls and use an offset icing spatula to spread it into a thin layer over all the rolls.

Slice and serve.

Cinnamon Rolls are best the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
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Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceMy mother makes the best cranberry sauce in the world, but that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today.* Sorry to disappoint.

*Just kidding! I wrote her original recipe in the notes at the end. It’s a Thanksgiving two-fer 🙂 Apple Cider Cranberry SauceI have a good reason for holding out on you. My mom’s cranberry sauce is made with a large amount of brandy, which gets cooked off over the course of an hour in the oven. As I have mentioned previously though, I cannot safely consume alcohol, and therefore do not keep it around, even for cooking.

Since I quit drinking five and a half years ago, cranberry sauce is one of the only dishes that I have really missed. I’ve found work-arounds or substitutes for all sorts of other recipes, but I just couldn’t find one that hit all the same buttons as my mom’s.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceIn case you’re wondering, those buttons include:

  • It’s gotta be whole berry. No weird can-shaped cranberry jello here.
  • It can’t have more than three ingredients. I’ve had cranberry sauces with nuts and spices and other fruits and all sorts of other silliness, and all of it was completely unnecessary.
  • It shouldn’t have any citrus. Orange and cranberry are complementary flavors, but I can’t stand them together in cranberry sauce. This is more of a personal preference than anything, but I mean, this is my personal food blog.
  • It can’t be too sweet. I hate when cranberries are so over-sweetened that their natural tartness is completely masked.
  • It has to be easy. Like ridiculously easy. So low-maintenance, it’s silly. And if it can be made more than a day ahead, that’s ideal.
  • If nothing else, it must be so delicious that I want to eat it every time I spot the jar in the fridge.

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceIt’s taken a few years and many sauces with unrecognizable berries, too much sugar, flavors I didn’t care for, and a lot of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally made a cranberry sauce that hits all those buttons. And the missing ingredient was looking at me the whole time in the form of a seasonal fridge staple: apple cider. It has flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the cranberries, and it’s sweet without being saccharine. Perfection.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceThis sauce comes together over the course of an hour in the oven. It gets stirred twice, but needs no help otherwise.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceThe result is soft, bursting berries that slump into a sweet, sticky sauce. It’s just divine. As is the fact that it can be made today and nuked in the microwave just before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably even better that way. Love that.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Want more cranberries? See here and here. For more apple cider, see here and here.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

2 12-ounce bags whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch casserole dish and stir together. Bake 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from oven. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve.

Cranberry sauce may be made up to two days in advance; it reheats well in the microwave.

Note:

If you want to try my mom’s cranberry sauce, swap the cider for brandy and double the sugar. Everything else is the same.
Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions

Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsIf you go back and look at the order of recipes on this blog, you can clearly see my train of culinary thought. Last week, I posted three pies back-to-back. Last month, I posted a cake per week. Earlier in the year, I was making doughnuts right and left. I can’t help that my inspiration is so obviously linear.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsThis week, I’m caramelizing everything. On Wednesday, it was Brussels sprouts. Today, it’s onions. But they’re not just any old caramelized onions. Nope. These are nestled with a wheel of brie, wrapped in buttery pastry, and baked into a puffy, golden appetizer worthy of any Thanksgiving spread!Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked brie is always a holiday hit—what’s not to love about the combination of melty cheese and flaky pastry?!—but I am all about the sweet addition of caramelized onions here. They’re cooked low and slow until they’re soft, sweet, and deeply browned. I like to add some minced garlic and fresh rosemary (it’s another thing I’m into right now) at the end of cooking, just for a little dimension.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsAfter the onions cool, it’s time to assemble the baked brie. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry (I use rough puff, but the frozen all-butter stuff works too) and pile the onions on top.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsSmear a little dijon on one side of a wheel of brie and place it on top of the onions. The mustard flavor isn’t too pronounced here, but it’s sharpness helps offset the richness of the cheese and pastry.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsWrap everything up tight, give it an egg wash glaze, and decorate with some little pastry leaves, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBake the brie until the pastry puffs and turns golden. Wait a few minutes before serving it with seasonal fruit and the crackers you made your roommate go get from the overpriced cell-phone-dead-zone grocery store behind your building (and you didn’t even complain when he came back with some weird flavor instead of plain because you’re an adult and someone did you a favor)…Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions…um, what was that? Oops. Back to baked brie.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsYou’re going to love this brie, y’all! It’s rich and buttery, and oozes in the best possible way. One bite of this melty, cheesy, salty-sweet treat is worth every second it takes to cook those onions, I promise. I know all your holiday guests will agree.Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
makes one 5-inch (13.4 ounce) baked brie

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Caramelized Onions:
2 medium sweet onions, sliced into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

For Assembly:
1 5-inch (13.4 ounce) wheel of brie
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Serving:
seasonal fruit
bread or crackers

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Caramelize the onions. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they reduce in volume and are deeply browned (but not burnt!). Add garlic and minced rosemary and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not rush this process. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Assemble the baked brie. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 9×12-inch rectangle. Slice off a 2×9-inch strip and refrigerate it for later. Place onions in a 6-inch circle in the center of the remaining dough.

Spread mustard on one side of the brie. Place the brie, mustard-side-down, on top of onions. Fold pastry over the top, leaving no exposed cheese. Place wrapped brie, smoother-side-up, on prepared pan. Refrigerate.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, combine egg and water. Whisk with a fork until smooth.

Remove reserved strip of dough from the refrigerator. Use a knife or decorative cookie cutters to cut decorative pieces, if desired.

Remove brie from the refrigerator. Paint with egg wash. Top with decorative pieces and paint with more egg wash. Bake brie for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing to a serving platter. Serve with fruit, bread, or crackers, if desired.

Baked brie is best on the day it’s made, but may be wrapped tightly in the refrigerator for a few days.
Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized Onions