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    Cowboy Cookies

    These Cowboy Cookies are chock-full of flavor with a soft, chewy texture. Rustle up some oats, chocolate chips, chopped pecans, and flake coconut for a big batch to feed your whole posse.

    The first time I made these cookies, I knew I wanted to post them here on the blog during the holidays – a.k.a. cookie season. The recipe makes a big batch of delicious cookies. If the dough is portioned with a 1/4 cup measure, you’ll get about 3 1/2 dozen extra-large cookies. If you use a smaller cookie scoop, you’ll get about 6 dozen! So if you’re a cookie swapper, or just a cookie gift-giver, then you may want to bookmark this one!
    The original Cowboy Cookies recipe was made famous by former first lady Laura Bush in 2000, when it appeared in Family Circle magazine. I’d never given it much serious consideration, and I’d pass it by to try other kitchen sink-style cookies. But earlier this year, when it came across my desktop again, I gave the ingredients another look. Oats, cinnamon, brown sugar… pecans. (Yum!) I’d just bought a 2 lb. bag of pecans so the timing seemed right.

    My Secret Ingredient: Whole Wheat Flour
    As you can see, this recipe uses quite a few ingredients. However, most are pantry staples. It would be really easy to change up this recipe with dried cranberries, other nuts, and other chips. But I didn’t do that. I kept everything the same. Except one thing. I used a little whole wheat flour. Swapping in whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour in equal amounts adds a new depth of nutty flavor to your cookie recipe (additional interesting reading in this informative article).

    Cream the Butter and Sugars
    Use your largest mixing bowl, preferably the bowl of a stand mixer. Start with 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, at room temperature. Whip it until it’s completely smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in the white and brown sugars. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. (This formula almost sounds like the beginning of a cake!)

    Add the Dry Ingredients
    Next, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and a tablespoon of ground cinnamon. The cinnamon is so nice in this batter, and really unifies the flavors. So don’t skip it! Pour the dry ingredients over the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. If you have a stand mixer, then paddle the mixture together on the lowest setting.

    Add the Good Stuff
    On top of the base batter, add all of the mix-ins. Can you see how full my mixer bowl is? It’s almost to the top! Stir these ingredients in using short bursts of on-off power on your standing mixer. Or gently fold them in by hand using a rubber spatula. Why? Because you want to avoid redecorating your kitchen with oats, chips, and nuts flung all over the place (ha!).

    A the end of mixing, you should have a thick, scoopable, and not very sticky dough.

    Portion these cookies on large parchment-lined baking sheets by the 1/4 cups full. Or, if you have a standard-size trigger ice cream scoop, those are about 1/4 cup capacity. And you can use that instead for the quickest job. Or, as I mentioned earlier, smaller cookies can be made using a small cookie scoop, or portion the dough by the 1/8 cup (or 2 tablespoons).

    Bake the Cowboy Cookies for 15-ish minutes at 350°F, just until the edges are browned but the centers are still soft. Then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

    This is the treat I want in my purse during marathon Christmas shopping trips. They’ll sustain you better than any protein or granola bar. But don’t let that description give you the wrong idea. These are just as worthy of a spot on a fancy holiday dessert buffet. Enjoy!

    Cowboy Cookies

    Heather Baird

    Cowboy cookies are packed with oats, chocolate chips, pecans, and flake coconut. They’re hearty and substantial, and one batch makes about 3 1/2 dozen if scooped by the 1/4 cups. Or, use a standard size cookie scoop to yield about 6 dozen. These cookies are an evergreen favorite, but I think they’re especially good for sharing around the holidays.Use a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for this recipe, if you have one. As I mentioned, the dough is high yield, so the dough almost reaches the top of my 5 quart KitchenAid stand mixer bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use your largest mixing bowl, or even a large stainless steel stock pot to mix the dough in. Note the use of unsweetened flake coconut in this recipe. You can use sweetened flake coconut, with a sweeter end result. I do recommend the unsweetened coconut because it’s not as stringy as the sweet stuff, however, you could whiz the sweetened coconut in a food processor for 1-2 seconds for shorter flakes.

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    Prep Time 25 minutes minsCook Time 15 minutes minsTotal Time 40 minutes mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 3.5 dozen

    Equipmentlarge cookie sheets (2 or more)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature1 1/2 cups granulated sugar1 1/2 cups light brown sugar packed3 large eggs1 tablespoon vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flour1 cup whole wheat flour1 tablespoon baking soda1 tablespoon baking powder1 tablespoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt3 cups semisweet chocolate chips3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats2 cups unsweetened flake coconut2 cups chopped pecans
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover two or more large baking sheets with parchment paper.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a very large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat to combine.Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and adding the next only after the previous one is completely incorporated. Mix in the vanilla extract.In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until just combined.Add the chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and nuts. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are dispersed throughout the dough.For extra large cookies, scoop cookie dough by level 1/4 cups, or use a standard size trigger ice cream scoop to portion dough onto the prepared pans. Or, use a standard size cookie scoop for smaller cookies. Space the dough mounds at least 3” apart.Bake large cookies for 17-20 minutes, and smaller cookies for 14-16 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown and the centers are still soft and a little pale. Let the cookies stand on the pan for 3-5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
    NotesLevel 1/4 cups of the dough will yield an extra-large sized cookie. This dough can be portioned for smaller cookies using a standard size cookie scoop. This will yield about 6 dozen cookies.
    Store the cookies airtight for longevity.
    Avoid over-baking these cookies. Be sure to bake just until the edges are golden and the centers are set but still soft. When cool, the cookies will have slightly crisp edges with a soft, chewy center.

    Keyword brown sugar, chocolate chips, chopped pecans, cinnamon, coconut chips, malted milk eggs, rolled oats

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    9 Best Breads for Your Thanksgiving Table

    The most important step to your best “Bakes-giving”? The bread basket, of course! From warm rolls to blissful browned butter biscuits and everything in between, these nine breads will take center stage at your holiday table! 1. Sage Browned Butter Biscuits These aren’t your average buttermilk biscuits. This Sage Browned Butter Biscuits recipe is the […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Cranberry-Sage Fantails

    Elegant and deliciously buttery, these golden-layered Cranberry-Sage Fantails will elevate any fall feast. Our dough gets its beautiful height from Platinum® Yeast from Red Star®. Their shape resembles a flower in bloom, with each petal forming a perfect pull-apart bite flecked with tart, rubied cranberries, and the earthy aroma of sage. Cranberry-Sage Fantails In the […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Toasted Sesame Peanut Butter Balls

    Toasted sesame seeds and ancho chile powder give this classic holiday candy a new twist. Tradition dictates that I make some kind of peanut butter and chocolate confection each year for Christmas. Sometimes it's Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Fudge, other times it's Buckeyes. This year I came across a new recipe that intrigued me with its simple ingredients and complex flavors. It incorporates benne seeds – a southern strain of sesame seeds – and ancho chile powder into a well-known classic candy.The benne seed is an heirloom variety derived from the same plant as modern-day sesame seeds. They are scarce, but can be procured at specialty markets. Since sesame seeds are their relative and more widely available (although flavor-wise, benne is more nuanced) I decided to use them in this recipe. It gave this candy a whole new personality!Continued, click to read more… LEGGI TUTTO

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    Kentucky Colonel Candy

    This classic southern candy has a cream center infused with real Kentucky bourbon, and enrobed in smooth chocolate. It’s a perfect gift for the bourbon connoisseur on your list! 

    This is yet another retro southern candy that I’d never tried – until now! The centers hold a cream filling that is packed with bourbon flavor and they’re sandwiched between two pecan halves. Chocolate-dipped and drizzled, they are ready for the holidays and a place on your favorite silver candy tray.

    I’ve always heard these referred to as Kentucky Colonels, but some people call them bourbon balls. In my neck of the woods (TN), a bourbon ball is a completely different confection of packed cookie crumbs mixed with chocolate, honey, and bourbon (see my 5 Minute Bourbon Ball recipe here). It just goes to show you how diverse southern food culture can be – it’s so wonderful to explore!

    The ingredients list is short, so use the best of each you can find, however, any Kentucky bourbon will be wonderful in this recipe. I used a bottle of Four Roses single barrel left over from a wedding cake I made in October. But less costly brands such as Wild Turkey 101 will taste just fine, too.

    After they’re set, these candies stay boozy for quite a while! They will mellow over time, so they can be made a few days in advance.

    One batch of this candy can be divided to make several gifts. They are very rich and have a tongue-tingling bite! Four or six, boxed or packaged in a cellophane bag is the right amount to give considering their potency. Kentucky Colonel Candies[Click for Printable Version]
    Yields 18-20 candies1/4 cup (57 grams) butter
    4 cups (455 grams) confectioners’ sugar
    1/3 cup (80 ml) Kentucky bourbon 
    36-40 pecan halves
    2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate morsels
    1 tablespoon vegetable shorteningMelt butter on the stovetop on medium heat, or in the microwave for about 20 seconds until just melted. In a medium sized mixing bowl, pour butter into the confectioners’ sugar, along with the bourbon and stir together until the mixture forms a dough. Portion mixture with a small cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) and form into balls, then press a pecan half into the bottom and top of each ball (in other words, sandwich the ball between two pecans). Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 8 hours, or overnight.Melt chocolate and shortening together in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and carefully dip bottom half of each candy in chocolate one at a time. Place each candy on a baking sheet lined with parchment to cool.Place 2-3 tablespoons of melted chocolate in a small zip top bag. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag. Drizzle melted chocolate over the tops of the candies. Let candies cool and set at least 30 minutes before serving or packaging. Store in an airtight container. 

    Note: Yield size can be increased by rolling smaller portions of the cream filling, just make sure to have enough pecans and chocolate on hand to accommodate the amount.
    link Kentucky Colonel Candy By Heather Baird Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2020Wednesday, December 16, 2020Kentucky Colonels Candy Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles

    These elegant mini trifles have big holiday flavor! Layers of rum-soaked cake and spiked vanilla bean custard are layered in small glasses and topped with fluffy whipped cream. 

    No matter what size your guest list is this year, it always helps to have recipes that can be made ahead. There’s so much to do even with a small dinner gathering – mains and sides to arrange on the buffet, glasses to fill, naughty little pugs to shoo out of the kitchen – it always helps to have a trick or two up your sleeve (and in the refrigerator).
    The components of this dessert can be made up to 3 days ahead and then assembled before serving. They are appropriately bold and rich for their small size. It’s like having the flavors of the holidays condensed into your own single serving. 

    The cake portion is studded with plumped dried fruit. Figs and apricots give it some heft, and even though it is rum-soaked I hesitate to call it ‘fruitcake’. It is not dense or tough, and it fluffs up when crumbled for the trifles. 

    Vanilla bean-rum custard is smooth and boozy, and just perfect with the cake. I think this dessert looks best serve in stemmed or footed glasses. It’s an elegant touch without being the least bit fussy.

    Whipped cream can be dolloped or piped on – whatever fits your time constraints and tools. Here I’ve used a large open star pastry tube.

    The cake portion of this recipe makes slightly more than you’ll need for the trifles. I used this as an opportunity to add an extra crumble on top of each dessert. A small sprig of rosemary will add a note of evergreen, but it’s completely optional and mostly just makes them look pretty. Serve these on a fancy tray and your guests are sure to feel special!

    Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles[Click for Printable Version]
    Yields about eight 4 oz. trifles
    Adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2011Spiced rum cake
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped pitted dates
    1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped figs
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped dried apricots
    1/2 cup (120 ml) orange juice
    1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, softened
    1/2 cup (90 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped pecans
    2 teaspoons orange zest
    1/2 cup (120 ml) spiced rumVanilla bean-rum custard
    1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 1/4 cups whole milk
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 egg yolks
    3 tablespoons spiced rum
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla bean pasteToppings
    1 1/4 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
    8 rosemary sprigs, optionalCombine the dates, raisins, figs, and apricots in a medium bowl; pour orange juice over the fruit and stir to evenly coat. Cover and let stand at least 30 minutes.Coat the inside of an 8-inch square pan with flour-based cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 325°F.In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at time, beating until well blended after each addition.In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Mixing on low speed, gradually add flour to the butter mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure ingredients are well blended. Stir in pecans and orange zest.Drain the fruit mixture and discard orange juice. Fold fruit into the batter and spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.Let cake cool slightly in the pan; do not turn out. Poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer while it is still warm. Pour rum evenly over cake, allowing it to seep into holes. Cool completely in the pan on wire rack, about 1 hour.Vanilla bean-rum custard
    Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan; whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 7 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute while whisking.In a separate mixing bowl, break egg yolks with a whisk and beat until consistently smooth. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot milk mixture into eggs; then add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, or until well-thickened, whisking constantly.Remove from heat and stir in rum, butter and vanilla. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Whisk custard smooth before assembling desserts.To assemble the trifles, coarsely crumble about 3/4 of the fruitcake in the pan (you will have leftover fruitcake). Layer a spoonful of custard in the bottom of 4 oz. glasses. crumbled fruitcake in the bottom of 4 oz. trifle glasses. Top with a layer of crumbled fruitcake. Repeat custard and fruitcake layering so that you have two layers of custard and two layers of cake in each glass. Place whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe whipped on top of trifles; add a few cake crumbles on top just before serving, and rosemary sprigs if using.Make ahead: The cake, custard, and whipped cream can be made ahead and stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to three days. Stir custard well before layering in the Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles By Heather Baird Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2020Tuesday, December 15, 2020Spiced Rum Cake Mini Trifles Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Frosted Animal Cookies for Christmas

    These cookies were inspired by a nostalgic childhood treat – Frosted Animal Cookies! This version gives shortbread a holiday makeover in red, green, and white with lots of sprinkles on top.

    These cookies were the result of a happy accident. I ordered a set of cookie cutters (these) for a client project, and when they arrived they were much smaller than I expected! I love miniatures of all kinds, and these cutters were too adorable for words. If you look closely, they are all dog shapes – although the dachshund could pass for a seal which is one of the original Keebler Animal Cookie shapes – ha!

    I instantly knew these cutters were destined to stamp out shortbread shapes for a version of animal cookies all dressed in holiday colors!

    Because the cutters are so small, one batch of dough makes many, many cookies! It’s definitely an intense session of stamping and re-rolling dough, but it goes pretty fast. And the beauty of the icing is that there’s not a lot of fussy detail – it’s simply icing and sprinkles.

    I divided the assorted shapes into three batches and decorated each batch of shapes a different color. I think they look really festive!

    These don’t have to be dog shapes, of course, but if you’re like me and love doggos, or have friends that are dog owners, then bags of these would make fun gifts for them! If you’re more interested in the traditional circus animal shapes, you can find those cutters here.

    These are so buttery which is the hallmark of any good shortbread, and the royal icing gives them just the right amount of sweetness. They are so adorably mini, it makes eating handfuls a totally reasonable thing to do!
    Frosted Animal Cookies for Christmas[Click for Printable Version]
    Yields 8+ dozenSmall animal cookie cutters are required for this recipe. See blog post for sources.Shortbread
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extractPreheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment paper.Sift flour and salt into a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter and lemon zest on medium low speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth, about two minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, gently stirring just until incorporated. Flatten the dough out into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out animal shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters, and place on the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for 15 minutes so the dough will firm and cookies will maintain their shape when baked. Bake cut-outs for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms but still pale on top. Cool thoroughly on wire racks before frosting.Royal icing
    4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    3 tablespoons meringue powder
    1/2 cup warm water, plus more for thinning
    1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
    green gel food color
    red gel food colorRed, white, and green nonpareil mixIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, stir the confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder on low speed until combined. Add the water and beat on medium high speed until very stiff peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add flavoring and beat on low until combined; divide into three bowls and tint one portion of icing with the green gel food color; tint another portion red; leave the third portion white. Bring each to flood consistency.Flood Consistency: Stir drops of water into each bowl until the icing is thinned but still has the consistency of a thick milkshake, this is called flood consistency. To make sure the consistency is correct, drag a spoon through the center of the icing in a straight line, creating an indentation. When the icing is of perfect flood consistency, the indentation should completely disappear in 10 seconds. If it disappears too quickly, then the icing is too thin and will not dry properly. The indentation should disappear as close to the 10 second mark as possible. It is much harder to thicken the icing after it has been thinned than to make thick icing thinner, so take your time and add water drops a few at a time.Place a #2 round decorator piping tip into the bottom of a small piping bag; snip off plastic on the end of the piping bag. Fill piping bag with green icing and seal the open end with a rubber band. Repeat steps with the red and white icing. Stand each piping bag in a tall glass with a moist paper towel in the bottom to prevent the icing from drying out and the tip from clogging.Pour nonpareils in a small container and have them close to hand. Divide cookies into three batches of assorted shapes on large parchment-lined baking pans. Pipe one batch of the cookies with the green icing, stopping to sprinkle on nonpareils immediately after piping each cookie. Pipe the second batch with the red icing and sprinkles, repeat steps with the white icing.Allow the cookies to dry for 4 hours or overnight. When cookies are dry, package assorted shapes and colors of cookies in cellophane bags and tie with festive ribbon. Or, keep them in airtight containers.

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    link Frosted Animal Cookies for Christmas By Heather Baird Published: Monday, December 14, 2020Monday, December 14, 2020Frosted Animal Cookies Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Blue Holly Gingerbread Cake

    Celebrate Christmas this year with a pretty cake in hues of pink and blue! Layers of fluffy gingerbread cake are covered with silky Swiss meringue buttercream and crowned with a wreath of edible blue holly leaves. 

    My favorite Christmas décor tends to be nontraditional holiday colors. Red and green are nice (and I will always love red tartan!) but when December rolls around I festoon the workshop with white pine garlands, big pink globe ornaments, glittery turquoise pinecones, and magenta bows. It’s a happy place to be.

    I was inspired to make this cake while I was shopping for Christmas china in those nontraditional colors. I happened upon a retired pattern, vintage, and completely sold out. Powder blue holly floated around the rims of the plates. It was so beautiful that I decided right then to bring blue holly to life in one of my confections.

    And here is the result!  This gingerbread cake is three layers tall, filled and covered with lovely Swiss meringue buttercream, and covered with a white ganache drip. 

    A set of holly plunger cutters is required to make the wreath on top of the cake. I love these tools so much, because you can vein the fondant as you stamp out the leaves! Make them a day ahead. They’ll need to dry so they become rigid enough to stand upright in the buttercream on top of the cake.

    I hope you’re not tired of drip cakes yet! I still love the effect, and I think it looks really pretty against the pink on this cake. A fat rope of piped blue buttercream on the top edge of the cake serves as a wreath base for all those holly leaves!

    I couldn’t resist a sprinkle mix with red, blue and pink baubles. I can no longer find the mix I used available for purchase, but you can find some very similar sprinkles right here (just add a few pink Sixlets to get a near match)!  

    This gingerbread cake is for people who aren’t shy about using ginger! It uses both ground and fresh ginger, and the baked cake has deep brown sugar and molasses notes. It will definitely wake up any sleepy winter taste buds with zingy flavor!

    This cake tastes like the holidays – there’s no denying it! Its bold ginger flavor is tempered by the silky, creamy texture of the buttercream. It’s the perfect ending to any holiday feast!

    Blue Holly Gingerbread Cake
    [Click for Printable Version]
    Yields about 12 servings

    Cut the fondant holly leaves a day before you plan to assemble the cake. They need time to firm up enough to stand rigid on the top circle of frosting.

    Blue holly leaves
    1/2 lb. light blue fondant
    Holly fondant plunger cutters (see post for link)

    Knead fondant until pliable. Roll to 1/4-inch on a countertop lightly dusted with cornstarch. Punch holly leaves out of the fondant using the cutters. Dry the leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet overnight.

    Gingerbread cake layers
    3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon cloves
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup (227 grams) butter, softened
    1 cup (210 grams) packed brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 cup (280 grams) blackstrap molasses
    1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    1 1/4 cup (296 ml) whole milk

    Preheat oven to 350F. Spray three 8 inch cake pans with flour-based cooking spray (recommend Baker’s Joy) and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside. 

    In the bowl of an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer running, slowly add molasses, followed by grated ginger. Beat until well mixed.

    Scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour mixture with the milk in 3 additions, scraping down sides of mixing bowl after each addition. Begin and end with flour. Mix until well combined.

    Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven on the same rack together, about 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out  clean. Check at 25 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and allow the layers to cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning them out. Cool completely.

    Swiss meringue buttercream
    10 egg whites
    2 cups/400g sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 lbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 tbsp. clear vanilla extract
    Pink gel food color
    Sky blue gel food color
    Pink, blue, and red sprinkle mix

    Set a saucepan filled one-third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
    Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl (I suggest a stainless bowl). Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved (120-140 degrees on a candy thermometer, to be sure).

    Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
    Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.
    Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).

    Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition. The mixture will deflate as the butter is added – don’t worry! Just keep adding all of the butter. When the last of the butter has been added, beat on high speed until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.  

    Remove 1 1/3 cups of the frosting to a bowl; cover with a damp towel. Remove about 2/3 of the remaining frosting to a mixing bowl. Add pink gel food color and mix until consistently pink. Cover with a damp towel until ready to use. Tint the remaining portion of the frosting with a few dabs of blue food color until a light blue color is achieved. Transfer the blue frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open star pastry tip. Set aside.

    Place a cake layer on a serving plate or stand. Fill cake each cake layer with about 2/3 cup of white frosting. Apply a thin crumb coat of pink frosting to the outside of the cake; refrigerate until firm. Apply a second thicker coat of pink frosting to the outside of the cake as evenly as possible (a cake smoother or bench scraper is recommended.) Refrigerate until firm.  Meanwhile make the white ganache drip.

    White ganache drip
    12 oz. bright white candy melting wafers
    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

    Place the melting wafers and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the mixture at 100% power for 1 minute. Let stand 1 minute and whisk together until smooth and glossy. Let cool until barely warm but still pourable.

    When the cake is well-chilled, pour the ganache onto the top center of the cake, allowing the excess to drip down the sides of the cake (you may not have to use all of the ganache).  Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

    When the cake is chilled, pipe a thick undulating rope of the blue icing around the top edge of the cake. Immediately top with some of the sprinkle mix. Arrange holly leaves in the frosting around the entire top edge of the cake, creating a wreath of blue holly. Add more sprinkles, if desired.

    Serve slices of cake at room temperature. 

    link Blue Holly Gingerbread Cake By Heather Baird Published: Friday, December 11, 2020Friday, December 11, 2020Blue Holly Gingerbread Cake Recipe LEGGI TUTTO