Easter Recipes

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By Collier Curran

Though not everyone celebrates Easter, I am always excited when the holiday approaches. Usually taking place in those tedious weeks between midterms and finals, Easter offers a one-day reprieve from ruminating about papers and exams. Also, since I love all things food, Easter provides an opportunity to repeat that big meal usually reserved for Thanksgiving and winter holidays.

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Fall Baking in a Dorm Room: Small Batch Apple Cinnamon Scones

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By Collier Curran

Some of my fondest memories from home involve fall baking. I will always remember running off the bus after school and opening my front door to be greeted by the warm and comforting smell of cinnamon and nutmeg. Whatever my mom was baking–cupcakes, cookies, bread–would waft through the house and blanket the existing coziness of my favorite season.

Now that I am in college, I am determined to recreate the comfort of home baking in my studio apartment. One of my favorite ways to do so is through small batch recipes. Recipes that fall under this description generally feed about two people (or one if you are hungry and determined), cutting down on waste while still allowing for that comforting baking experience. Specifically, these small batch apple cinnamon scones are perfect for making in your dorm room or apartment. With them come certain advantages, such as: using cold butter (meaning that you can decide to make these on a whim and can avoid the pain of having to wait for the butter to soften when you just want to bake already), and How-to-Make-Soft-Scones-Picturehaving fresh pecans in every bite (this may be a stretch, but these provide a chunk of your daily protein!). I will warn you; I recently bought pecans at Morton Williams and my debit card was certainly not pleased. However, if you are willing to make the investment, you can chop them up into small pieces and make a minimal amount of nuts go a long way. Then, you have the rest of the bag to add to oatmeal, granola, or simply to snack on. If not (or if you have an allergy), these would also be delicious nut-free!

Lastly, I will provide a small tip for dorm room bakers. The recipe recommends that you roast the pecans before adding them to the scones. I will second this notion, because I believe roasting adds a great depth of flavor to the scones, but I know many of you are rolling your eyes even thinking about roasting the pecans in the oven before you even start the recipe. So, here comes the tip! Believe it or not, you can actually microwave your pecans and still get the wonderful roast-y flavor! Simply spread your chopped pecans out on a plate and microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring halfway through if your microwave doesn’t automatically rotate the food. Microwaving the nuts is such a simple tip which will really amp up this dorm room recipe. Who knows, you may want to double this recipe once your friends catch wind of your new baking expertise!

Check out this recipe on the blog One Dish Kitchen in order to read the original commentary and find similar small batch treats.

Small Batch Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Makes 4 Scones

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter , cut into small pieces, 1/2 stick
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup pecans , chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped apples (Appx. 1 small apple)

For the Glaze (optional, but delicious)

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar , sifted
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

*A note: I also suggest using pre-made apple pie spice in place of just cinnamon. Similarly, do not be afraid to go a little heavy on spice. I find that in scones, the spice can often get lost among the other ingredients, so more is necessary to really get that spicy fall flavor.

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and sugar.
  4. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. (Note: if you don’t have a pastry blender, don’t fear! You can simply mush the butter into the flour mixture with the back of a fork or with two crisscrossed knives.)
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the milk. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  6. Gently stir in the toasted pecans and the diced apples.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead very lightly and form a circle. (Add a little more flour to the dough if the dough becomes too sticky to handle).
  8. Cut the dough into 4 wedges.
  9. Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let cool on baking sheet for a minute, then transfer onto wire rack.
  11. To prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and maple syrup until smooth. Spread over the tops of the cooled scones. Top with additional chopped pecans, if desired.

Ta-da! There you have it. Beautiful scones for you to enjoy during the fall season, especially as midterms approach. Take a study break and try these out! If you liked this recipe, check back soon, as I am seeing these posts turning into a series…

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Russian Tea Cakes: The Best Cookies for Any Occasion

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By Collier Curran

I distinctly remember my first interaction with these mildly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and admittedly messy cookies. My family and I were on vacation in the beautiful Cayman Islands in the winter of 2016, and our hotel had placed a display of these cookies out for guests to enjoy. Never one to turn down free food, I tried one, unsure of what to expect underneath the thick powdered sugar coating. Immediately, I was hooked.

I went back for more cookies repeatedly throughout my stay, and began scouring Pinterest for a recipe as soon as I was on the plane home. I am delighted to announce that this easy homemade version may even be better than the ones at the hotel (but don’t tell them I said that). These cookies have a mild buttery and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

Full disclaimer: I found this recipe from the blog Crazy for Crust over a year ago, and have loved it ever since. I use a mix of pecans and walnuts that I blend up finely before adding to the cookies. As the recipe notes, there are many options for the nutty component, though I love the subtle but delicious taste I get from both pecans and walnuts.

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These cookies are so simple to make, and rolling them in powdered sugar is one of the most satisfying moments a baker can experience, in my humble opinion. 

They are great to bring to parties or to make for guests, because they can easily be made the night before the big event (if you can manage to resist them for that long!). I have made these many times both for my friends and for friends of my mother’s, and I am always asked for the recipe.

Russian Tea Cakes

Makes 48 Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts and pecans)

Powdered sugar for rolling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If the dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in sugar until coated. (My tip: definitely take this time to make sure the cookies are not only cool enough for you to handle, but also firm enough that they will not crumble when rolled in the powdered sugar. The first time I made these cookies, a few of them fell apart because I did not allow them enough time to sit before rolling in sugar.)
  5. Place on a rack to cool. (You may want to re-roll them after they’ve cooled for the maximum powdered sugar content, which is highly recommended.)

And there you have it: delicious, easy, and crowd-pleasing cookies for your next event or for a relaxing weekend with friends. Physically resembling snowballs, they are perfect for the cooler months ahead and are a great way to impress friends and family when returning home for the holidays!

I made this batch for a holiday party and they were a hit!

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The Glory of the Great British Baking Show

By Allison Yeh

Warning: This is not Cutthroat Kitchen but rather a dozen amateur bakers with soothing British accents making biscuits and other delightful treats in a tent. That being said, The Great British Baking Show, available on Netflix, is life changing. Never before had I craved sponge cake or felt compelled to analyze the sogginess of a pie. The soothing background music paired with an even keeled narrator voice eases any tension felt by the people competing against one another. The judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (real names, I swear), love using constructive criticism and often express sheer joy at a contestant’s “good bake.” They also love eating the food and making it look exceptionally “scrummy.”

The show is set up in 50 minute episodes containing three challenges: Signature Bake, dudebiteTechnical Challenge, and Showstopper, all surrounding a theme (eg. pastry day). The contestants’ range in age and background – a middle aged firefighter or a seventeen year-old girl living at home – are refreshing after watching shows like Chopped where professional cooks call upon their egos to help them through each challenge.

Another unique aspect about the show is how it informs the viewer of baking techniques. Contestants will give advice as they bake of what will make their cream “curdle” or how to get the best caramel. Not only are you watching an exciting competition, but also you are remotely learning how to bake. It’s only natural that at the end of binging all three seasons you may feel feel qualified to judge a dessert at a soggybottomrestaurant on its uneven layers of icing or it’s close textured sponge. While Chef’s Table may promote a sense of culture in your air of fine dining, The Great British Baking Show allows you to feel like an expert in the field of enriched dough versus regular dough. With quirky side notes and two show hosts whose presence seems annoyingly extraneous, GBBS takes on a whole new genre of food competitions, and perhaps highlights how America does it all wrong. After all, the winner of the show receives a nice glass trophy and nothing more.

 

In Dorm Dining: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Holiday Treats

By Ama Debrah

This Thanksgiving break, I took advantage of being the only one in my six-person suite and, for the first time this semester, ventured into the far-off land of the kitchen. As I will tell to anyone who asks, I can cook, and I can actually cook relatively well. The reason, I’ll explain, the general extent of my cooking is heating ramen noodles isn’t because of my lack of ability, is because, simply put, I’m terribly lazy. However, suddenly bitten by the Holiday-bug, I decided to crack open my copy of College Cooking and use the four-day break to indulge my sweet tooth. Here are two tested and successful sweet treats to try this Holiday season.

Peanut Butter Cup Bars
You’d want to lick this pan, too

I chose this recipe not only because it said in the description that they were ridiculously easy to make, but because I’m a huge fan of Reese’s peanut butter cups. Although the preparation was rather messy, the final product was absolutely delicious. I brought them to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner for a desert and almost caused a riot when my younger cousins attempted to stick their heads in the pan to lick the chocolate sauce off the bars.

Ingredients
1 cup of butter
1 jar of peanut butter
12 graham cracker squares
1 package of chocolate chips
3 cups of confectioner’s sugar

Directions
First, preheat the oven to 350° F. Next, put the butter and peanut butter into a large bowl and stir until both ingredients are combined. After this, crumble the 12 graham crackers and stir the crumbs and the sugar into the mixture. I was worried that somehow I would mess up the recipe because my crumbs were either too big or too small, but, in the end, the size doesn’t really matter. Next, spread the mixture evenly in a 9 by 13 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes. After waiting for the bars to cool for five minutes, spread the chocolate chips over the bars, and after another two minutes, spread the chocolate over the bars evenly and cut into 48 squares (six rows of eight, works). At this point, it is very important to wait until the bars are cool before eating. Overtaken by gluttony, I tried to eat a bar after only waiting ten minutes after removing the bars from the oven, and I almost completely scorched my esophagus, (though, it still might have been worth it). In fact, the bars tasted even better the next day!

Peanut Butter Hershey Kiss Cookies

These cookies were always a holiday favorite at my house, although I would spend half of the time trying to steal the Hershey kisses before my mom could put them on the cookies. They are also super easy to make and are a little less rich and intense than the peanut butter cups.

Peanut Butter Cup Bars = demolished.

Ingredients
3 dozen Hershey’s kisses
½ cup of Crisco
½ cup of peanut butter
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of packed brown brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1-¾ flour

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375° F. To make the batter, first unwrap the Hershey’s kisses. Next, mix together the Crisco, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Then, blend in the flour, baking soda, and salt until the mixture is completely combined. After you’re done, shape the balls into about the size of a rounded teaspoon, and roll the balls in sugar. Next, place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for eight minutes. Remove the balls from the oven and place a chocolate kiss on eat cookie, pressing down so that the cookie cracks around the edge. After all of the chocolate kisses have been placed, bake the cookies for 2-5 minutes longer. Each batch makes about 3 dozen, but they’re so delicious that you shouldn’t expect to have any leftovers after the first day.

Ama is a sophomore at Barnard and Food Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.