Month: December 2016

Classic Scottish Shortbread

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Classic Scottish Shortbread (aka Great Grandpa Taylor’s Shortbread): Buttery. Crunchy. Classic. So good. This shortbread is all that and more! A family recipe, authentically Scottish, and easy to make, you need this shortbread in your life ASAP. :) 

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

Welp, we’re 2 days away. How do you feel?

I must confess to trying ward off the Christmas blues. And our tree is not helping any. You know what the pathetic thing looks like right now? It looks like Christmas was two months ago. Not only is it droopy, but the branches are so dry and bristle that if a spark were to fly out from the fireplace and hit it, the whole tree would probably burst into flames! I don’t know what we did to it, but it’s been the biggest disappointment of this Christmas season. :(

So not only do I have the stores fighting against keeping the Christmas spirit alive – empty shelves, Christmas items condensed into one space, the arrival of Valentine’s and spring stuff – but our tree as well!

So. Sad.

If I could go out and buy a new tree right now I would.

Ok, so last post I talked about favorite Christmas movies and then mentioned that in today’s post we would discuss music – you game? Here ya go:

Favorite Christmas Work: Handel’s “Messiah” (this recording is my favorite)

Favorite Christmas Composers (i.e. composers whose music best imparts the spirit of Christmas): John Rutter, Michael W. Smith, and Alan Silvestri (check out these albums here, here, here, & here)

Random Favorites:

…and I could go on and on, but I hope you get something from this sampler! What is some of your favorite Christmas music? :)

Since we’re on the subject of favorites, we need to talk about this shortbread. This shortbread is a family favorite and that’s because not only is it a family recipe, but it’s authentically Scottish.

HOW COOL IS THAT??

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

My mom is part Spanish and part Scottish, so I don’t even need to tell you which side of the family this recipe came from… ;)

I’ve shared this recipe in many forms, but now I’m giving you the original un-altered version. It’s buttery (but not too buttery), easy to make, perfect for gifting, has the perfect amount of crunch, and yum, yummy!

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

Enjoy, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Cottura felice!

P.S. I’m going to be a little absent from the blog (or at least not posting as much) for the next few weeks to enjoy some baking, family time, and playing travel agent – I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Classic Scottish Shortbread
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Ingredients

  • 6 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. (4 sticks/1 lb) butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp. slices
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar.
  2. With your hands, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended, about 5 minutes. It will be done when dough forms a moist crumb and there are no visible chunks of butter.
  3. Using your hands, mix in egg yolks. Start with three, mix, and form a small ball. If the dough is too dry and falls apart, add another yolk - you should need no more than 6 yolks total. Also keep in mind that this is a very crumbly dough in general, but it should still hold together when you squeeze some together in your hand.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Divide dough into 7 tennis ball-sized balls.
  6. On a floured surface, pat each dough ball into a round ½ in. thick and about 5 ½ in. in diameter. You can also use a rolling pin if needed.
  7. Place cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and you can either bake them whole, press in designs with cookies (however, don’t press all the way through), or cut into 8 little triangles.
  8. Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired (you might need to press it slightly into the round so that it’ll stick better :).
  9. Bake at 350° F. for 15 min, then turn the temperature down to 300° F. and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and light brown. The shortbread should not be golden brown or they will be overcooked (please don't use my photos for reference as you can see my cookies were, um, slightly overdone...).
  10. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

You can also cut out shapes and ice these (like gingerbread), if you desire - just make sure the cookies are completely cool before icing. :)

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https://sempre-dolce.com/classic-scottish-shortbread/

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Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie

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Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie: This gingerbread skillet cookie if full of spice and chocolate(!). Easy to make and featuring little bites of crystallized ginger inside and extra melty chocolate chips on top, you won’t want to pass on this treat!  

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

I’m in a complete state of writer’s block right now. Like, I’m literally just staring at the computer screen without much going through the brain. To help myself out, why don’t we talk Christmas favorites? So… what movies do you like to watch?

Here are my family’s Christmas essentials:

Some others to check out:

That pretty much covers it – next time we’ll talk music (woot, woot!). What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

Well, here we are, six days away from Christmas and I have another skillet cookie for you. Skillet cookies are a good way to enjoy cookies without having to make batches of them, which is great if you’re short on time – or even if you’re not! Also good if you don’t want a dozen of temptations lying around… just sayin.

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. They are delicious in their original form (my sister usually makes them every Christmas season), so I thought it would be fun to transform into a skillet version.

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

Again, skillet cookies need to be eaten warm – this is super tasty with a dollop of whipped cream on top (on each slice that is – that little dollop on top of the whole cookie? Purely for aesthetic purposes…).

Something to note on the recipe is that it yields a thinner skillet cookie. So if you would prefer a thicker one, I would suggest doubling the recipe (or 1 ½ it).

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.Com

Cottura felice!

Chocolate Gingerbread Skillet Cookie
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. crystallized ginger
  • 1 1/2 C. + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/c C. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 C. molasses
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ C. semi-sweet chocolate chips for topping
  • decorator’s sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a food chopper (or small food processor), pulse crystallized ginger until it is broken into slightly smaller pieces.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, both gingers, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for 2 minutes then scrape sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. Add brown sugar and beat until combined.
  6. Add molasses and beat until combined. Scrape sides of bowl.
  7. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 tsp. VERY HOT water.
  8. Add half of flour mixture to to butter mixture and beat briefly to combine.
  9. Beat in baking soda mixture and then remaining flour mixture.
  10. Stir in the 1 C. chocolate chips.
  11. Pat dough evenly into a 10 in. cast iron skillet (alternatively you can use a 9-10 in. lightly greased cake pan).
  12. Sprinkle ¾ C. chocolate chips and decorator’s sugar (if desired) on top.
  13. Bake for 20-21 minutes, until firm and a toothpick come out clean when inserted.
  14. Serve warm.
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https://sempre-dolce.com/chocolate-gingerbread-skillet-cookie/

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Gingerbread Skillet Cookie

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 Gingerbread Skillet Cookie: This giant gingerbread cookie baked in a cast iron skillet is easy to make and a different way to enjoy a Christmastime classic!

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

I know I say this sort of thing a lot, but can you believe that Christmas is just about one week away??

One. Uno.

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

I really need to sit down and pull my act together – I’ve been so busy that there just hasn’t been time to think through much. Like, it just hit me on Tuesday that I need think about what dessert/s to make for Christmas day. Yeah, totally on my game…not.

This year there have been a couple of things throwing me off, or at least I think are part of the problem. The first being that Christmas is on a Sunday. I’m not sure why that would make a difference, but for some reason it seems like it has (if anyone could give me a logical explanation as to why, I’m open for it!).

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

The second being that my family isn’t doing gifts this year, which I think has been the biggest thing to put me in a muddle (instead of gifts we’re treating ourselves to a snow vacay in Colorado, come January).  In a way, it has been nice not having to rush around buying gifts, but this is definitely a new and different experience!

Regardless, we’re 10 days away and I’m not ready. Stop the clocks, please!! (And someone please ban stores from clearing out their Christmas items 3 weeks before the holiday – #totalmoodcrusher)

How is your Christmas season going? Are you prepared and ready? Or are you still in a whirlwind of events, parties, and shopping?

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

One thing you might be ready for is this Gingerbread Skillet Cookie. If you like gingerbread, then you’ll like this, because it’s basically one giant gingerbread cookie! It’s also easy to make and perfect if you don’t feel like chilling, rolling, and cutting out dough. Maybe it seems wrong to make gingerbread that’s not in shapes and smiling at you, but you gotta try it at least once. :)

You can ice this cookie if you want, but since it’s almost a necessity to eat skillet cookies warm, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can, however, sprinkle it with some pretty decorator’s sugar! (And yes, I know mine is iced – the things we’ll do for photos, right?)

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie | Sempre-Dolce.com

This is one of two skillet cookies and one of four(!) cookie recipes coming your way over the next  week – cottura felice!!

Gingerbread Skillet Cookie
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 C. butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 C. molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 2/3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves, optional
  • decorator’s sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add molasses, egg and water and beat until combined.
  4. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together remaining 8 ingredients.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients, beating to combine.
  6. Press dough in a 10 in. cast iron skillet, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired.
  7. Bake until edges are firm and toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  8. Best eaten warm and topped with some whipped cream (or ice cream!).
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https://sempre-dolce.com/gingerbread-skillet-cookie/

Recipe adapted slightly from Taste of Home.

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Pretzel Cookies

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The Lowdown: These dense, fudgy chocolate peppermint cookies are coated in sugar and topped with peppermint pretzel bark to make for a sweet and salty treat. Perfectly pepperminty, chocolaty, and irresistible, these cookies are great for gifting, party taking, or personal enjoyment! 

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

So I went into Williams-Sonoma the other day…

And might I say that it is not a good idea to go into Williams-Sonoma at Christmastime and with an empty pocketbook when one wants buy the whole store? That place knows their business and how to execute warm, festive feelings. They also know how to do things right in the sugar and peppermint department.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Anyway, so while there I SAW A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER!! (8^0

OK, so that’s not what I wanted to tell you – even though it’s true and I can finally cross that off my list of “would like’s”. (I’ve always wanted to see an MLBer in public… #dontask #crazyfan)

No, I actually wanted to tell you that I saw these Peppermint Bark Pretzels and knew at once they had to come home with me; I knew that they needed to be a topper to something chocolaty and delicious. Cookies perhaps?

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

I was a little undecided but they just seemed to keep calling, waiting to be set on top of some warm chocolate cookies to melt and make someone happy. So I caved and they came home.

And that’s how these cookies came to be. The end.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Oh, I suppose I should actually tell you a little about them, huh? Well, these cookies have been a staple in my family for yearss. They’re little chocolate delights; dense, fudgy, rolled in sugar and best eaten warm when the topping (in this case the peppermint bark pretzels) is all melty and heavenly. Sosososo good and perfect for this time of year. And you can top them however you like; a simple glaze, peppermint or chocolate kisses, chocolate ganache, truffle halves – it’s up to you!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

Also, to compliment the bark on top, I added a hint of peppermint extract to the cookie dough. This adds a nice little something extra without being too much.

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies | Sempre-Dolce.com

These chocolate peppermint cookies make for good gifts and are a total party cookie. The recipe yields 20ish (about two inches in diameter) cookies, so if you plan on gifting or making for a party you might want to 3 or 4x the recipe – they can be addicting, I warn you…

Couttura felice!

Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark Cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ C. milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • extra sugar, for coating
  • 20 Peppermint Bark Pretzels or desired chocolate candy (see post for topping ideas)

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, milk and extracts until fluffy.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and salt.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until blended.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle. (If you are a little short on time you can also freeze for about half the time.)
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper
  7. Place extra sugar (start with about ⅔ C.) in a small bowl and if desired, add some sparkling sugar.
  8. With the palms of your hands, roll dough into 1 ½ - 2 in. balls, coat in sugar, and place on prepared cookie sheet, spaced about 2 in. apart.
  9. Flatten cookie dough balls slightly.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set.
  11. Remove from oven and immediately place 1 peppermint bark pretzel on top of each cookie (see note below!).
  12. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Notes

Feel free to experiment around with the toppings! Take a look near the end of my post for some ideas. If you would like to make a glaze, here’s what you need to do:

Before baking, instead of flattening slightly, press thumb gently in center of each cookie.

Let cookies cool slightly before spooning glaze in the center.

To make glaze: in small bowl whisk together 1/2 C. powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. softened butter, 2 tsp. milk, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (or peppermint extract) and whisk until smooth.

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https://sempre-dolce.com/chocolate-peppermint-bark-pretzel-cookies/

Recipe adapted from Hershey’s.

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