Archive for Uncategorized

Pepparkarkor: A Swedish Tradition

Pepparkarkor is a traditional Swedish cookie baked for the holidays. It’s flavor is similar to gingerbread, but it is very thin and hard. It is one of my earliest cookie baking memories from my childhood. This is a recipe that my Papa used to always make and decorate with a Royal Icing. He would put so much time and energy into creating these masterpiece cookies that were all most too beautiful to eat! I’d sit for ever and watch him decorate while they were spread out on the dinning room table covered in wax paper. As soon as I was old enough to help, I joined in! He always made them in his stand mixer. Finally one Christmas the thick cookie dough made the motor on the old mixer whine and it finally died. He had to trade it in for a high tech Kitchen-Aid. Now that my Papa is older, he doesn’t make his famous Pepparkarkor anymore.  It’s one of those things that I don’t think we have any pictures of, and it makes me very sad. But the memories I have are vivid and luckily I have his old recipe card and even his old cookie cutters. So I’m well prepared to carry on the tradition when I have a family of my own!

Here is the recipe per my grandfather’s handwriting (and a little help from me):



  • 1/2  Pound of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/14 Cup Molasses
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 7 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda


  1. Mix in usual manner. (Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Mix in wet ingredients like the molasses and milk, followed by the spices. Lastly add the baking soda and the flour, mixing until just combined)
  2. Dough will be quite stiff. Roll out small amount. Cut out one cookie, place in oven. If it spreads it needs more flour. If cookie only rises it’s OK. Bake 8-10 min, 357 degrees.

(The recipe continues on the other side of the card with the recipe for Royal Icing for decorating)

“From Betty Crocker Cookie Book Page 151”

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 3 Cups Powdered Sugar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff using mixer w/ wisk beater. Beat in 1 cup of sugar at a time running wisk at high speed for several minutes between adding more powdered sugar. Cover unused frosting and refrigerate.

Posted by on December 18th, 2010

Buttery Shortbread

This is a recipe for shortbread that my mom’s friend passed on to her. At my house it is known simply as “Andrea’s Shortbread”. My mom loves it because not only is it melt in your mouth delicious, but it’s terribly easy to make! With only 3 ingredients, who can complain?

Andrea’s Shortbread


  • 1 Pound of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 4 1/2 Cups of Flour


  1. Preheat oven at 300 degrees
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together and press into a 9×13 jelly roll pan. Prick the edges with a fork.
  3. Bake for 1 hour. The shortbread will still be very pale, it should not get too golden.
  4. Remove from oven and cut into squares while still warm, let cool completely before removing from the pan.

If you’d like to add some color to your shortbread, sprinkle with colored sugars right after removing from the oven. It makes them so pretty!

Posted by on December 16th, 2010

My Favorite Brownie Recipe!

The official name for these brownies are the “Better than Sex Brownies”. We make them all year long for all special occasions and my friends beg for the recipe! If you’d like to add some festive color,  you can substitute the chocolate chips with Nestle Holiday Swirl Morsels. They’re white chocolate chips swirled with red and green!


Better Than Sex Brownies


  • 1 boxed German Chocolate cake mix
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • One 14 oz bag of caramels (unwrapped!)
  • 2/3 Cup evaporated milk (divided into two 1/3 cup amounts)
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips (or holiday morsels)


  1. Grease and flour 9×13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 Cup evaporated milk. Spread half of the cake mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 6 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt unwrapped caramels in a saucepan with 1/3 Cup evaporated milk.
  4. After baking for 6 minutes, remove the pan of brownie batter from the oven. Pour melted caramel mixture over the half baked brownie batter. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Then spoon on the remaining raw brownie batter. Don’t try to spread it, just dollop it on.
  5. Bake for 18-20 more minutes or until the edges look done. The middle might look wet because of the caramel.
  6. Cool completely before cutting and serving. I recommend refrigerating before cutting. It makes them harder to cut because the caramel will be cold, but you will end up with much neater squares when the caramel isn’t gooey.


Posted by on December 15th, 2010

“Andy’s” cookies

These  innocent cookies have a sweet surprise in the middle! “Andy’s” Cookies have an Andes Mint surprise hidden in the middle! If you don’t love surprises as much as I do, you can chop up your mints and mix them in to your cookie dough the way you would chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies.

Andy's cookies

Andy’s Cookies


  • 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 Cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 Cup firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 packages of Ande’s Mints, cut mints in half to make small squares.
  • colored sugars or chocolate for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1″ balls and insert mint chocolate and shape dough around to cover the chocolate.
  5. Place cookies 2″ apart on your cookie sheet.
  6. If you want to decorate with colored sugars, apply before baking in the oven. Otherwise, wait until after baked and cooled to decorated with drizzled chocolate.
  7. Bake  about 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand  a couple minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen.
Posted by on December 14th, 2010

Perfect Cookie Icing

This delicious icing is what I use to add all the details to my cut out cookies. My icing is not too sweet and it hardens so that the cookies can be stacked when dry. Read the recipe and tips below to learn how you can make show stopping cookies for your holiday parties!

Perfect Cookie Icing

  • 3 Cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup (depending on how thick you need the icing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • assorted food coloring paste


  1. In a stand mixer, mix on a low speed your powder sugar and milk. Then add your corn syrup until it is the desired consistency. If the icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. You can experiment with different types of extracts for different flavors!

Decorating Your Cookies

Basic Decorating:

Using the thick cookie icing you can pipe designs on to your cookies. You can be as detailed as you like. While the icing is soft, you can add sugars or sprinkles. After the icing has hardened you can paint on a mixture of metallic luster dust and lemon extract (or vodka for a flavorless mixture)


To cover an entire cookie:


You first want to outline your cookie with your icing to create a wall or dam. You’ll want this icing to be thick so that when you pipe it, it will hold it’s shape.

img_4821Once the outline has crusted, you can now fill it in. You’ll want to use the same icing and thin it down slightly with corn syrup so that it will slowly puddle. You don’t want it to be too runny, or the icing might spill over! Fill your icing bag and carefully fill in your shape.


The icing will need a couple hours to set before any additional details can be added. They should dry overnight before attempting to stack or package. If the surface is still tacky, allow a few additional hours to prevent cookies from sticking together or ruining the designs.


Posted by on December 13th, 2010

Fool Proof Cutout Cookies!

I always hated making cut out cookies because I found that so many recipes would spread and lose their shape when they were baked. This recipe is like no other that I’ve tried. The cookies hold their shapes with clean crisp edges and they taste delicious! This is the recipe that I use for all of my cut out cookies in my photo gallery.

Christmas Tree Cookies

Fool Proof Cutout Cookies


  • 6 Cups of flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Cups butter (4 sticks)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and almond extract and mix well.
  2. Add dry ingredients slowly, periodically stopping and scrapping down sides of bowl. Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. turn dough out onto your counter and knead in any remaining flour from the bottom of the bowl. Then section the dough into 4 balls.
  4. Slightly flatten the balls of dough. You then want to roll out each of the balls of dough between two pieces of wax paper to your desired thickness. You’ll want to make sure that you have a clear shelf in your refrigerator so that as you roll out your sheets of dough, you can stack them on your shelf. Once the sheets of dough are chilled, you can easily cut out your shapes and transfer them to your parchment lined cookie sheet with out them breaking. Once you’re done cutting out your cookies, you can re-roll out your dough between the sheets of wax paper. This is a great method to prevent your cookies from breaking while transferring to your cookie sheet, and it prevents any unnecessary flour from being added to your dough. Extra flour can cause cookies to become tough.
  5. Bake cookies at 350 degrees. The amount of time depends on the size of your cookie, but typically about 8-10 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown.

Have any questions about this recipe? Leave a comment below, or email me at

Posted by on December 13th, 2010

German Pfeffernüsse

The name literally translates in German to “pepper nuts”. There are many variations on this recipe depending on country and region. But one thing that most of them have in common is that they have black or white pepper as an ingredient. Don’t let the pepper scare you off, they’re delicious! This is one of my favorite Pfeffernüsse recipes that I’ve tried. They’re much smaller than any of the other Christmas cookies that I make. They’re very addictive and their small peanut size makes them easy to snack on. Other than their deliciousness, one thing I love about these cookies is how wonderful your whole house will smell while your baking!

German Pfeffernüsse

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together  your flour, baking powder and spices.
  3. In another large bowl, mix together the brown sugar and eggs.
  4. Slowly mix together your dry ingredients into the egg mixture until a soft dough is formed.
  5. Roll your dough out into thin logs about the thickness of a pencil and cut crosswise into about 1/4 inch pieces.
  6. Sprinkle the pieces onto the lined cookie sheets. Separate any pieces that stick together.
  7. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. let the cookies cool then break apart any that stick together. The cookies will become crunchy as they cool.
  8. Store in an airtight container
Posted by on December 9th, 2010

Christmas Eve Cake

I made this cake for Christmas Eve two years ago, it was such a hit I’ll be making it again this year! This cake is made of layers of moist cake and rich chocolate fillings. The cake is then iced in a fluffy peppermint frosting. I cannot take credit for this amazing recipe, I wish I could! It was on the cover of Bon Appetit Magazine. As soon as I saw the picture on the cover, I knew that I had to make it! The recipe is time consuming to make just because there are so many different components, but it is totally worth it. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Devil's Food Cake with Peppermint Frosting

Devil’s Food Layer Cake with Peppermint Frosting



  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 cups ice water

Dark chocolate ganache

  • 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

White chocolate cream

  • 12 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
  • 3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

Peppermint frosting

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract


Cake – Can be made 1 day ahead

  • Preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in yolk. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.

  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely.

Dark chocolate ganache – Can be made 1 day ahead

  • Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour. Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

white chocolate cream

  • Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in saucepan. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. Whisk in extract. Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours.

  • Add 2 cups chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form. Cover and chill. Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.

  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up. Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake. Spoon 2 cups white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges. Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream. Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream. Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Chill while preparing frosting.

Peppermint frosting

  • Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk by hand to blend well. Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes. Whisk in peppermint extract. Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.

  • Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle chocolate curls or crushed candy canes over top and sides. Cover with cake dome; chill.

Click on the link below to view the original recipe at Bon Appetit!

Posted by on December 8th, 2010

Grandma’s Monkey Bread

For as long as I can remember Monkey bread has been a staple at our Christmas Brunch. This sweet pull-apart breakfast cake has always been one of my favorites! It is so easy and delicious. You can assemble the night before and refrigerate it for less mess in the morning.

I had to rummage through my grandma’s recipe box for this recipe, and here it is in her words!

(Hi Grandma!)

Grandma’s Monkey Bread


  • 4 (10 oz) tubes of Buttermilk Biscuits
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon


  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Butter


  1. To make bread: Cut each biscuit into four. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Dip each piece of dough in cinnamon sugar to coat. Place in well-buttered Bundt pan.
  2. To make topping: Combine ingredients in saucepan and heat to boiling over medium heat. Pour over biscuits in tube pan.
  3. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 5 minutes and then invert and remove pan. Biscuits may be pulled apart or may be sliced.

Another variation is that you can add a cup of chopped walnuts mixed in with your biscuits before adding the topping. YUM!

Posted by on December 7th, 2010

Christmas Coffee

My Auntie made this delicious coffee one year at her Christmas Eve party. It was warm and comforting with the tastes of the season. You can serve it in any mug, but she served it in glass Irish Coffee mugs with a dollop of whipped cream on top and a candy cane.

Christmas Coffee


  • 3/4 Cup ground coffee
  • 4 (3inch) sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 8 Cups of water
  • 1/4 Cup chocolate syrup
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • Whipped cream
  • Small candy cakes for garnish


  1. Place ground coffee, cinnamon, and cloves in a coffee filter. Add water to coffee maker and brew.
  2. Stir syrup, sugar, and anis into the brewed coffee.
  3. Pour into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and candy canes.

Makes 8 cups

Posted by on December 6th, 2010