Monday Morning Sneak Peek: Gluten Free Peanut Butter

IMG_3520While they can’t be found yet on store shelves, you’ll see them soon. . . Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Dough is coming, and I was lucky enough to bake some up this weekend. While they are amazing plain, I experimented with a reverse peanut butter cup. After baking them in muffin tins, I filled them with chocolate pudding. Wow — so good. The kids also reminded me I could make it even easier by using Nutella as filling. However you choose to dress them up or down, you are in for a real treat with these.

You’ll need a package of Gluten Free Cookies (this will totally work with Chocolate Chunk or Fudge Brownie varieties too).

A muffin tin with some muffin paper cups.

Pudding or Nutella or Your favorite filling.

Preheat the oven to 325, put the cookie dough into the muffin papers in the tins.

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Bake according to the directions, and right before they are done, I use a spoon to press down the middle; this will let you have more filling room . .

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Let them cool a bit and FILL!

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Emergency Birthday Cake (Chocolate Rolls!)

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Saturday morning, the kids decided at the last minute to have some friends over, and upon arrival we learned it was someone’s birthday. Since it was a beautiful day, and I felt like getting into the garden for a bit, I was loathe to whip together a cake from scratch, so knowing the birthday boy was a chocolate lover, I improvised! With only a can of Chocolate Sweet Rolls on hand, I fashioned this 20-minute chocolate “cake.” So easy.

You’ll need

A can of Immaculate Baking Chocolate Rolls (set aside icing)

A tablespoon of Cocoa

Some chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 350, and open the can (carefully — under pressure!). Set aside icing. Place one roll in tact in the center of a baking sheet. Take a second roll and unravel. Wrap this roll around the first one and repeat until you have a big roll.

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Bake. Watch it closely, since you want the center to cook all the way.

While it’s baking, put the icing into a bowl, add the cocoa and mix together.

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Remove the “cake” from the oven (about 20 minutes) and let cool for a bit.

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Spread the “frosting” and adorn with chocolate chips and candles. Voila!

Cut as you would a cake.

Guest Recipe Monday: The Ninja Baker’s Cookie Bento

 The warmest Immaculate welcome to the newest member of our Guest Blogger Team, Kim Watkinson, AKA the Ninja Baker. Before we get to her amazing, creative post, here’s a bit about Kim in her own words:

“Although I’m a towheaded American, my only knowledge of language and food was Japanese until age 5. Tokyo, my hometown of 17 years influences my blogging, baking and book writing. As the Ninja Baker, I seek the sweet stuff of life: Recipes for happy living as well as the how-tos of delicious Asian fusion, gluten-free and American standards. At NinjaBaking.com http://ninjabaking.com I highlight scrumptious recipes, fun factoids about Japan and other cultures, plus a cheery thought or two.”

The Ninja Baker’s Cookie Bento

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“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.” So said Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Amen! Right? And we want to make sure these cookies are full of wholesome and delicious ingredients.

Wishing only well-being and good health to all kids, little and big, I do my best to use good-for-you ingredients in my baking — like the ingredients from the Immaculate Baking Co. which “uses only the best natural ingredients.” In their honor, I created a cookie bento box. (A Japanese-style lunch box.)

Bento boxes originated in ancient Japan, where wives would prepare rice balls (onigiri also called omusubi) and arrange them artfully in a box along with some fish and pickles. The luxury of the lunchbox would depend upon the budget of the housewife. (Some things never change.) You can bet the samurai were getting some high-quality fish while fieldworkers or farmers were lucky to get a sliver of any protein tucked into the rice. O-bento were also sent to school with boys.

Originally made out of lacquered wood, over the centuries they have evolved and you can find bamboo, metal, plastic (and disposable) bento boxes. All these centuries of bento box-making have produced some magnificent works of art alongside cutesy lunches featuring popular Japanese anime characters. I’ve made standard bento lunches.  But I was inspired to think outside the box and create a cookie bento!

Here’s the how-to on the Ninja Baker’s Cookie Bento Box.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Bento lunch boxes (available online at Amazon.com and http://bentocrazy.ecrater.com)

Clean paintbrushes

Orange gel food coloring

1 ½ inch round cookie cutter

1 melon baller or a ¼ measuring spoon

Fresh fruit cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon softened coconut spread (or butter)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup raisins

1 cup of almond butter (organic peanut butter is great, too)

Immaculate Baking Co. products:

  • Vanilla Sugar Cookies
  • Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Ready-to-Bake Pie Crusts

1. Pie Crust Cinnamony Carrot Cookies

Carrots

Mom always said eat your carrots =)

Ingredients:

1 Immaculate Ready-to-Bake Piecrust

1 tablespoon softened coconut spread (or butter)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup brown sugar

½  cup raisins

Instructions:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.

Bring an Immaculate piecrust out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (about 30 minutes.)

Unroll the piecrust onto lightly floured wax paper.

With a clean paint brush, or chopstick, streak one side with orange gel food coloring.

Carefully flip over.

Smother coconut spread over the white surface.

Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the spread.

With a 1.5 inches round cookie cutter punch out circles.

Roll and shape into mini carrots.

Tuck a few small raisins on the top half to create the wider part of the carrot.

With a clean paintbrush, smoothly paint on more orange food coloring.

Place on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

Cool for a few minutes before eating or placing the cinnamony carrot cookies into a bed of raisins in the bento box.

2. Vanilla Sugar Cookie Almond Sandwiches

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A classic PB with a sweet twist.

Ingredients:

1 package Immaculate Vanilla Sugar Cookies

½ cup almond butter

Instructions:

Bake the sugar cookies per package directions.

Cool.

Smother the middles of cookies with almond (or peanut) butter.

Sandwich together and place two into your bento lunch box.

3. Chocolate Chunk Cookies Dessert

For “dessert,” nothing beats an old-fashioned chocolate chunk cookie.

Ingredients:

1 package Immaculate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Instructions:

Bake the cookies per package instructions.

Cool.

Place them into your bento box.

Until age 5, I only knew the Japanese language and food. Rice balls with pickles or fish in the centers were a standard lunchtime treat. (They’re called omusubi as well as onigiri.) So, I created an “onigiri” using Immaculate Buttermilk Biscuits.

4. Immaculate Buttermilk “Onigiri with a Plum Pickle”

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A standard in many Japanese lunch boxes.

Ingredients:

Immaculate Buttermilk Biscuits

¼ cup of strawberry or raspberry jam (to resemble the plum pickle)

Instructions:

Bake the biscuits per package directions.

Cool.

With a melon baller or ¼ measuring spoon, scoop out a small bit of biscuit from the center.

Fill the hole with jam.

Place it into your bento lunch box.

Of course, my bento boxes are only ideas to spark your imagination and creativity. So assemble all of the above as you like along with some lovely fresh fruit or whatever your healthy self desires.

Wishing you sweet health and creative fun at lunchtime and always!

The Ninja Baker
 

Guest Recipe Monday: King Cake!

With Mardi Gras approaching and all eyes on New Orleans last night, I was reminded of our King Cake adventure last year:

Kathy from Louisiana told me about making King Cake using our cinnamon rolls. I was clueless and emailed her back: “What’s a King Cake?” She told me, “King Cakes are made during Mardi Gras.  Before baking, a plastic baby is tucked into the dough.  Whoever gets the piece of the King Cake with the baby inside has good luck for the remainder of the year. ” Well, with Mardi Gras upon us, I thought I would experiment with this great suggestion. The first difficulty, of course, was finding a plastic baby. I went from store to store, and here in Massachusetts, outside the realm of Mardi Gras tradition, store clerks looked at me like I was crazy. Eventually, I found a 12-pack (so if you need one, email me: laurie@immaculatebaking.com). You might have luck in the “Baby Shower” section of a party supply store.

Preheat your oven, gather your ingredients, and go! Be aware that you need to keep an eye on the cake since the middle takes a bit longer to bake. Essentially, you unroll a can (or two) of our rolls, braid them, and roll the braids into a spiral cake, tucking the baby in somewhere. Bake it. . .  Color the frosting (green, purple and yellow (gold) for Mardi Gras), pour it on to your cake and serve it up — our lucky baby finder was Mary! You can also make mini-king cakes from just one cinnamon roll, separated into 3 even strands. Here’s the story in pictures:

Getting started.

Unroll each cinnamon roll.

Braid 3 unrolled strands together.

Tuck the baby in

Roll 2 or 3 braids together in a spiral.

Divide the icing into 3 bowls.

Color the icing.

Forst the cake

Decorate with beads

The lucky slice!

A mini, individual king cake (made from 1 roll)

Guest Recipe Monday: Dressing Up the Classics.

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If you’re one of the few not succumbing to the New Year’s dieting craze, this guest recipe is for you! Thanks to Michele from PA who emailed me this great idea:

Here is my “Homemade Cookie” Recipe:
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2 Immaculate Baking Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough pieces
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
Pinch of oatmeal (optional)
Mix ingredients and form into a ball.
Place on cookie sheet and bake as directed on package.

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So, looking for a special sleepover dessert, I grabbed a package of Immaculate’s Organic Chocolate Chunk cookie dough. While the oven was preheating, I let the dough warm up a bit, and using Michele’s suggestions as the basis,  I fashioned a version of these treats. There were no chocolate chips or walnuts to be found in my house, so I substituted white chips and pecans. The result: 12 incredibly decadent, easy, mom-cheering treats.

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The “Little Black Dress” of Cookies: Accessorizing the Vanilla Sugar Classic

All Dressed Up

Everyone knows the invaluable place of the little black dress (lbd). Here at Immaculate, our LBD is Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dough. It’s classic and just right all on its own, but as the holidays approach, I’ve been playing with seasonal compliments to the cookies, and I wanted to share:

What you need

White Chocolate Covered and Candy-Cane Sprinkled Holiday Cookie.

You’ll need:

1 package of Immaculate Baking Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dough

3/4 package of “white baking chips”

4 small candy canes or peppermint candies  (and a little aggression since we are going to smash these)

A small baggie, something to smash candy with (yes, I used an office stapler), and a sheet of waxed or parchment paper.

Instructions:

Bake the cookies as directed and put on wire racks to cool.

When the cookies are cool, put candies in a sealed bag and pulverize. Pour onto a small, flat dish.

Put the white chips in a bowl and microwave for about a minute until melted (but not bubbling!). Give the white chocolate a stir.

smashed candy and melted white chocolate

Lay out a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and go!

Dip each cookie about halfway into the warm chocolate. If you do a light layer, it will harden up better (and travel better). Then dip the cookie (gooey side) into the candy. Lay on the paper to dry. Repeat . . . . sample . . . .repeat . . . .sample . . . share if you must!

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Put on waxed paper

Let us know what you’re cooking up for the holidays!

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Guest Blogger Monday: Tea Party Time.

With the Thanksgiving holiday, upcoming schools vacations, sick days, and the like, I was excited to see Jessica Cottrell’s Guest Blogger Post. I love the notion of a tea party — or in my house, a cocoa party — with your favorite snacks. Any favorite recipes you share with your at-home kiddoes?

Princess Tea Party Playdate

My 5 year old daughter had a playdate this week and she and her friend were playing a regal game of Princess and Pop Star when they decided they needed a tea party. This is my daughter’s favorite way of getting some treats out of me, and it usually works because I am a fool for little girls and all their glitzy Fancy Nancy inspired play. It’s also about the only time my tea set ever gets used, so it’s fun for me, too. But on this particular day I didn’t have any treats on hand and I really wasn’t in the mood to haul out ingredients to bake from scratch. I actually said no, until I recalled that I had a few cookies left in my package of Immaculate Baking Company Lemon Sugar Cookies. In order to make these worthy of a petite princess tea party, I wanted them smaller, so I cut each oversize cookie in half and sprinkled with purple sugar crystals. Since I only had four left that gave me 8 cookies, 6 for the girls and 2 for the chef, of course. To be honest, they ended up being normal sized cookies, so in the interests of having more delicate tea party finger foods, I would probably quarter the cookie dough next time. I baked them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and when I took them out I gave them an extra sprinkle of purple sugar for good measure.

It looked so cute that I decided to share, because it was such an easy way to make this playdate a special little memory, for 20 minutes until the cookies and tea were gone. And then the Princess and Pop Star fled for the great outdoors!