Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Delicious Honey Cranberry Pinwheels

Although it's Halloween, there is nothing scary about these cookies, folks!  In fact, a case could be made that these cookies are actually good for you (well...perhaps we should say that they're not as bad for you).  The dough includes whole wheat flour and canola oil and, according to the recipe makers, they clock in at only about 54 calories a cookie.  The recipe comes from the Eating Well website where it has received rave reviews.  I see why--they're tasty and chewy and they make a nice impression.  Robert gives them his thumbs up!  They were also well-received at the Friends of the B.F. Jones Memorial Library annual wine and cheese fundraiser last Saturday. :)

This makes a very soft dough especially for rolling, yet the canola oil makes the dough less sticky than you'd expect.  Refrigerating the dough also makes it more manageable. Don't let the long list of ingredients deter you.  The recipe isn't that complicated to make.

Honey Cranberry Pinwheels

1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (could use orange zest)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (or allspice)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (or allspice if you used it in the filling)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons low fat milk
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon (or orange) zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For filling:  Combine all of the ingredients in a non-reactive* pan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.  Let boil about five minutes until the fresh cranberries pop and soften.  Remove from heat and cool.  Place in a food processor and process the filling until finely ground. Place in refrigerator while you make the dough.

For dough:  Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda and spices in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, honey, eggs, milk, zest and extracts and beat well.  Stir in half of the flour mixture to incorporate then add the other half. (If you're using a mixture, switch to a wooden spoon when you add the second flour portion.)  Stir to thorough combine, but don't over-mix.  Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to make the dough easier to work with.

To form the cookies:  Take 1/2 of the chilled dough and place between two sheets of waxed paper (about 12 x 18 inches long).  Roll out dough into a 12x15 inch rectangle.  Place the rolled out dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  This will make it easier to spread the filling on the dough.  Remove top sheet of waxed paper and spread 1/2 of the cranberry filling over the dough--it will be thin (I used my hands to get the filling to the edges.  With the long end parallel to the counter, use the waxed paper the dough is resting on to help you roll the dough into a tight, round log.  Place the log on a clean sheet of waxed paper, roll it up and twist the ends to make the log as tight as possible.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least four hours (and up to three months**).  Repeat with the other half of the dough and filling.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Unwrap the roll and, using a long serrated knife, slice the cookies into 1/4 inch wide slices, turning the log as you slice to keep the cookies as round as possible.  Place the slices on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  

Makes about 90 cookies.

*Non-reactive pans are stainless steel or enamel--not aluminum (or copper!)
**If you're freezing for an extended time, don't defrost before slicing the cookies.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Honey Chocolate Shortbread Ribbons

I'm still in the midst of my cookie baking extravaganza here.  The recipe for these honey chocolate shortbread ribbons is from the National Honey Board, where I get a lot of great recipe ideas.  I have to confess that these aren't Robert's favorite.  The recipe calls for orange peel, which adds a tang to the dough that Robert isn't that fond of (he ate a few of 'em though!).  You could skip the peel if you'd prefer.  In that case, I might be tempted to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the dough, just to kick up the flavor a bit.

Honey Chocolate Shortbread Ribbons
1 cup butter, softened
2/3rd cup  honey
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Cream the butter and gradually drizzle in the honey, beating until light and fluffy.  Add the orange peel and beat to incorporate thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder and then stir into the honey-butter mixture, combining well.  Remove about 1/3 of the dough to another bowl and add the melted chocolate to it, combining well.

Line one 9 inch square pan and one 9x5 inch loaf pan with waxed paper, letting the paper hang out of the sides so that you'll be able to lift the dough out once it hardens. Flatten the chocolate mixture into the loaf pan and the remaining dough into the square pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the 9 inch pan and cut in half.  Place the chocolate dough in the middle of the two halves and press lightly but to be sure the layers hold together.  With a large, sharp knife, cut the block lengthwise to make two logs.  Wrap each with wax paper and then with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least four hours (or freeze up to three months).

Preheat oven to 375.  Slice the logs about 1/8th to 1/4th inches wide and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 7 to 8 minutes until lightly browned.  Makes about four dozen cookies.

And stay tuned!  The recipe for Robert's favorite honey cranberry pinwheel cookies coming soon!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Honey Almond Rugelach

Though I haven't been posting much on the blog recently, get ready for a run of cookie recipes!  The Friends of the B.F. Jones Memorial Library annual wine and cheese is Saturday, October 27 and I've been making a bunch of cookies in preparation.  These almond rugelach cookies are classic--not too sweet--and the hint of honey in the filling really comes through.  They're one of my favorite cookies to make.  This recipe comes from a small cookbook published by the National Honey Board in 1994 called Sweetened with Honey the Natural Way. The recipe is also available on the National Honey Board's website--click on the link.

And stay tuned!  Recipes for shortbread-like honey chocolate ribbons and some delicious cranberry pinwheels will appear in future posts!

Honey Almond Rugelach
1 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons honey, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, chopped (I used cherries)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add three tablespoons of honey and mix well. Add the flour, stirring until the dough comes together.  Form into a disk, wrap well and refrigerate for at least two hours.

In a small bowl, combine the almonds and chopped cherries. Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of honey over them and mix well.

Divide the dough into fourths and roll one piece into about a 9-inch circle.  Combine two tablespoons of honey and the lemon and mix well.  Brush the dough with the honey-lemon mixture.  Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over the surface. Spread about 1/4 of the almond/cherry mixture over the surface.  Cut the circle into 8 wedges.  Starting with the wide end, roll up each wedge and then curve the cookie to make a crescent shape.  Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

You can freeze these cookies unbaked.  Thaw them out before baking.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chewy Pecan Honey Cookies

We've been major blog slackers here at SteffesWood Apiary.  Teaching and flying are occupying us a lot these days.  I had a chance to make these delicious cookies last weekend, though.  I'm testing out cookie recipes for the annual Friends of the B.F. Jones Library wine and cheese fundraiser on October 27.  The fundraiser always includes an elaborate and delicious cookie table and I wanted find some honey-based cookies to add to the offerings.  These are a keeper.  They're chewy, have a lot of great honey flavor and a nice little crunch from the pecans. I wasn't so sure about the recipe at first because it doesn't include any eggs--but these are delicious and have a wonderful texture.  I highly recommend them!

Chewy Pecan Honey Cookies
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the honey and cream well. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, finishing by hand if needed, trying not to over mix.  Stir in the pecans.

Using about one teaspoon, form the dough into balls and place on the prepared cookie sheets. (You can chill the dough for about 10 minutes if it's very soft--don't chill for much longer, though, since the honey will harden making it hard to form into balls.)  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown and set.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.