Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Copycat Thin Mints

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s also Girl Scout Cookie time – time to make some Copycat Thin Mints! While I love Thin Mints and I love to buy them and I love to support the Girl Scouts, there are times when you run out of them and you NEED them. That means you NEED to try and replicate them. Because you NEED them. To be honest, they’re not exactly the same, but they come darn close! Hence, the name. I was a Brownie when I was in second grade, but that was long before the cookie selling was a thing. I loved being a Brownie, but I would NOT have loved having to sell cookies. I was totally in it for the projects – crafts, baking, building. One of my favorite projects was a block of wood that we hammered and pounded with different tools to make dings and dents and scratches and holes in it, stained the block of wood a dark brown (it was the 1960’s, after all), glued on a photo of ourselves which we had cut out into a circle, and glued a piece of white rope around the photo to finish it off. It was so my kind of project. Although it was not the most flattering photo since we had to wear our Brownie uniform and they were NOT flattering.  Plus, it was taken during our Brownie meeting after school. The afternoon sun was going down and we had to face the bright sun to take the photo – you know – to not get dark shadows on our faces. I couldn’t keep my eyes open because it was too bright, so in the picture I’m trying to shade my eyes. Ha! Priceless! Loved it!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Thin Mints

Melt together in a microwave safe bowl:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon coconut oil (I ended up adding about 1 Tablespoon total – more on this later)

Microwave for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments until melted.

Stir until smooth.

Add:

1/2-3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Stir.

Dip into chocolate mixture:

1 sleeve Ritz Crackers

Set on parchment paper lined baking sheet until firm (I put the baking sheet into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up – not because I couldn’t wait any longer or anything).

4 simple ingredients – genius!

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the bowl. When melted, add the peppermint extract.

I did my usual dipping with a fork, just like I did when I made Dipped Oreos. Put the cracker into the lovely bowl of minty chocolate, let it drip back into the bowl, tap the fork on the edge of the bowl, and scrape bottom of the cracker on the edge of the bowl before putting on the baking sheet.

Here’s where I had to add more coconut oil. The chocolate was so thick, it broke the crackers when I tried to tap the fork on the side of the bowl. I added more coconut oil – about 1 Tablespoon total – stirred it up and tried again. That worked better. Counting the broken ones, I got 18 crackers out of this amount of chocolate.

Minty, crispy, delicious. They’re a perfect cookie for St. Patrick’s Day.

These aren’t exactly the same as a Thin Mint, but they sure are close! It’s always nice to have a quick snack when you need one. The ingreidents are things you can keep in your cupboard so you can make these at a moments notice – or whenever the craving hits you. Make a batch of these Copycat Thin Mints when you run out of the cookies you buy from the Girl Scouts – on second thought make 2 or 3 batches – you won’t be sorry!

 

 

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Easy Coffee Cake

Everyone needs a recipe for an Easy Coffee Cake. We all love having friends and family over for a visit, and this easy recipe would be great to pull together last minute, or have already made up in the freezer to pull out and warm up when last-minute guests show up. This one really is ridiculously easy, and it’s ridiculously delicious! It makes a small pan so you don’t have a lot of leftovers. You may or may not be happy about that, but sometimes you just need a little somethin’. You all know how I love these recipe from Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and that’s where I found this one. Grandma (and the rest of the family) had so many recipes for coffee cake: Coffee Cake, Coffee Cake #2, Coffee Cake #3, Overnight Crunch Coffee Cake, Streusel Cake, Sour Cream Coffee Bread – and this is just a partial list! You should check them ALL out, because they’re ALL delicious!

I’m not even kidding when I say this family had/has a thing for coffee. As you can see in this photo from 1960 where both sets of my grandparents were on a trip to Massachusetts to visit my mom and dad. This was after they were married, my dad was stationed out there in the Army, and mom was expecting me!

I love this one so much – look at this! They’ve stopped at a drive-in restaurant to have a “bite to eat” (as Grandma would say), and they’re all having coffee! Look at how cute the cups are! I can’t help but wonder who took the photo! Ha! Maybe it was my mom – this may have been when both sets of parents drove her out to meet my dad when he was stationed out there. I know the coffee wasn’t as strong back then as it is now, because when Grandma and Grandpa came to stay at our house, my husband would make coffee in the morning, and Grandma had to put water in it because it was too strong! That was probably because he enjoyed his coffee pretty strong (he also liked a local brand and ground his own beans). She always loved to give him a hard time about his strong coffee!

Well, when you have coffee – especially in the afternoon – you really should have coffee cake with it. So here we are. We all know Grandma loved to entertain and she loved to bake delicious treats to have when the ladies came over – for coffee – or she had to bring something to church for a special occasion. She would have loved this easy recipe.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Easy Coffee Cake

Sift together:

1 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix in:

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

Melt right in the baking pan:

2 Tablespoons fat (I used butter)

Pour into rest of ingredients.

Mix lightly and pour into 8″ x 8″ pan.

Sprinkle with topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Topping:

Mix together:

3 Tablespoons soft butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

I always love a recipe that uses ingredients that you have in your cupboard.

Nothing special is needed to make this coffee cake, but simple ingredients make the most delicious things.

You might want to make the topping first and have it ready to go. I put the cake in a foil pan so I could put it in the freezer. If you use your good pans for this, they’re tied up in the freezer until you use the cake. That is one thing I have learned the hard way.

Oooh this topping is gonna be good!

I was right – so good. It makes a nice, cinnamon-y, crusty top!

I wanted to show you what the cake looks like, but I seriously put this piece back into the pan to put in the freezer for later use.

Afternoon coffee here we come!

So there it is. So easy to make, so delicious, and so great for last minute visitors to enjoy! We love an easy recipe here on Plenty Sweet Life! Give it a try – you’re going to love this Easy Coffee Cake, too!

 

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Banana Cream Pie

Today I’m sharing how I make Banana Cream Pie! My dad loved pie, and recently my sister and I were talking about it – which WAS his favorite –  was it Banana Cream Pie or Coconut Cream Pie? Neither of us could remember, so when I went shopping for the ingredients, I only found Banana Cream Jello Pudding – I couldn’t find Coconut Cream Jello Pudding. So there it is – Banana Cream Pie MUST have been his favorite! Next week would have been his 80th birthday, so in his honor, I decided to make this pie. Here is a photo of him with his older brother and his older sister – he’s the baby. They all look so dressed up in this one! He looks like he’s about a year old here, so that makes this photo almost 80 years old! Is this kid just the sweetest, or what?!!! Look at those cheeks and the chubby little legs!

And what about his hair with the little part in it already?!! So cute! Well, you can tell by the cheeks on this baby that he’d grow up to love pie! 🙂 I used to make this pie for him when I was pretty little – that’s how easy this one is to make!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Banana Cream Pie

Prepare one pie crust – either graham cracker crust or regular baked pie crust. If using a regular pie crust, blind bake it until it’s fully baked. You can find out How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust in my last post.

Layer in bottom of prepared pie crust:

1-2 ripe bananas, sliced

Prepare according to package instructions:

1 package of Banana Cream Jello Pudding (I used the Cook-n-Serve kind, but in a pinch, you could also use Instant Pudding)

2 cups milk

Cool pudding.

Pour over top of bananas in crust (I made two layers of each: banana, pudding, banana, pudding – that makes more banana in each bite!).

Smooth the top of the pudding.

Chill.

Top or serve with whipped cream.

Have one pie crust baked and ready to go. If you don’t know How To Blind Bake a Pie Crust, you can check it out here.

First slice up 1 banana and layer the slices in the bottom of the crust.

Next, layer on half of the banana cream pudding, then another banana, and then the other half of the pudding.

Here is the finished pie. My pudding got a bit lumpy because I tried to get the pudding to cool first. I don’t think that’s necessary. You can put it into the pie crust while it’s still warm – it’s going to go into the refrigerator to chill, anyway.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator for several hours (if you can wait that long).

I was going to have my daughter bring her brulee torch with her, but I forgot to call her. I tried to use the broiler to make a crust on top of the banana slices, but it didn’t work – don’t do this unless you like really soft and cooked banana slices. That didn’t go as planned, but it was still pretty – AND delicious. Next time, if I don’t borrow my daughter’s torch, I’d just put a plain slice on top.

This is seriously the easiest-pie-ever to make. It’s another recipe – if you want to call it a recipe – that checks all our boxes for easy to make and ridiculously delicious. Do me a favor and make this pie in honor of what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. I’d love it if everyone made a Happy Birthday “toast” to him with a slice of this Banana Cream Pie!

 

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Upside Down Cake

This recipe for Upside Down Cake comes from one of Grandma’s sisters. I can’t even say that it’s good – it’s got so much brown sugar on the top, it’s like candy – that’s how good it is! It’s amazingly delicious and it’s stupid easy to make – perfect! Just what we like! I know I’ve shared in past posts about how close Grandma and her family was, and that they had a lot of family gatherings/Sunday night suppers, even after they all married and had their own families, but I’d like to think that this cake was one of those things that was shared at one or more of those gatherings or Sunday night suppers. There is no baking temperature or time on this one – AGAIN – so I had to do a little internet research to find out at least how long to bake it. In doing so, I read that this cake was popular in the 1920’s-1930’s because that’s when canned pineapple started to be more readily available, especially here in frigid Minnesota. That’s about the time that Grandma’s siblings began to marry and start their own families, so I’m going to just go with that story! Let’s make this delicious/candy/simple cake!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Upside Down Cake

In a 9″ x 13″ pan (the recipe says a fry pan or cake pan, so I used a cake pan), sprinkle:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

Place on top of sugar:

1 20 ounce can pineapple rings

maraschino cherries, in the middle of the rings (I only had enough cherries to cut in half and put in the middle, but if I hadn’t used the cherries left from holiday baking, I would just use the whole cherry)

Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat:

3 eggs

Add:

1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons pineapple juice (I just used the just – or syrup – from the can)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

Pour batter on top of pineapple rings (the batter was thick, and there wasn’t a lot of it, so I used a spoon to get it on evenly, then spread it with a small offset spatula).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (if you use a fry pan or smaller cake pan, you might need to leave it in for a bit longer – keep an eye on it).

Let cool on rack for 10 minutes.

Run a small knife around outside edge of cake.

Flip over onto serving platter and serve either warm or cold with whipped cream.

The recipe says to use a fry pan or cake pan. When getting ready to make this cake, I was looking at several cake recipes, so somewhere along the line I thought it said a 9″ x 13″ pan. Regardless, if you use a smaller pan (maybe a 9″ x 9″ or a cast iron fry pan), it’s a LOT of brown sugar – it was a lot of brown sugar for this larger cake pan. I melted the butter to make it easier to coat the pan before sprinkling on the brown sugar.

Now to make a pretty design with the pineapple and cherries. Technically, the recipe card doesn’t call for cherries, but I’ve always seen cherries inside the pineapple rings on these cakes, so I put them in. Luckily had just enough cherries left from holiday baking – just enough! The can of pineapple only had 10 rings, so I improvised by cutting two of them in half for the corners.

There are just a few ingredients for the cake batter – it just didn’t seem to make a LOT of batter.

I used a spoon to evenly put on the batter, then I smoothed it out with a small offset spatula. There is so little batter, you can see the pineapple rings through it! It barely covered!

After baking, you can still almost see the rings, but the cake looks delicious!

I don’t have a platter big enough to turn out a whole cake this size, so I just used one of my baking sheets. It all came out without sticking except for ONE pineapple ring. I just used a small knife to life it up and flip it over back on top of the cake.

Perfect – I won’t tell if you don’t! 🙂

This cake really is a thing of beauty. Seriously.

It’s almost like a candy with all that brown sugar melted on top! The cake might be a bit thin made in this big of a pan, but the family all agreed that it made for crispy edges and more of a caramel type topping. I have to admit that there was a bit of the brown sugar caramel left on the pan after flipping it upside down – I used a spatula and put that goodness on the corners since they got only half of a pineapple slice.

The recipe card says to serve it with whipped cream, so I had to oblige. I put it on the side so you could see the pretty cake and pineapple design. This is one of my new favorites – don’t tell me, you’ve heard that before! I know I say it all the time, but in this year of finding easy yet delicious recipes to make, this one checks ALL the boxes. It’s just SOOOOOO easy to make and it’s SOOOOOO delicious. Did I say it was delicious? I think I did. Anyway, this is going to be one of your new favorites, too, trust me – you’ve heard that before, too! Bring this Upside Down Cake to your next family gathering – you’ll be SOOOOOO loved!

 

 

 

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Chocolate Fondue

I love Chocolate Fondue! It’s something that’s reserved for only once or twice a year, because boy oh boy – it’s a real treat! Valentine’s day would be one of those times when this special treat would be allowed and welcome. If you can’t make a special treat like this for your valentine, who would you ever make it for? It’s another recipe that’s quick to make, easy to do, and is – I mean, this totally goes without saying – amazingly delicious! It’s also tremendously romantical. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles, and start melting – the chocolate, I mean – come on!

Speaking of romantical, I’m sharing a photo of these two very special valentines today – my mom and dad – which was taken before they headed out to their senior prom in 1958. For some reason this photo has a pink tint to it – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Don’t they just look like a perfect couple? She’s got on that beautiful pink gown with the white gloves to match and he’s looking pretty dapper in the white tux coat and bow tie! She was probably telling him what to do and he was giving her a hard time about it! Ha! Two and a half years after this was taken, they were married, dad was in the Army, and the first of their two bouncing baby girls was born – me! When I look at this photo of them and the room behind them, it tells so many stories of their life to come. Sigh. Such a sweet picture. Ok – on to this romantical treat!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Fondue

In a saucepan, heat on low:

1-1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)

1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/3 cup heavy cream or half-n-half (I used half-n-half)

Stir often until chocolate is completely melted and smooth – do not boil.

Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add more milk, if necessary, depending on how thin you want it.

Pour chocolate mixture into a fondue pot to keep warm.

Serve with dippers:

strawberries

bananas

cookies

graham crackers

pretzels

marshmallows

the list is endless here!

Such simple ingredients make an amzaing treat!

Melt the chocolate and the milk and cream in the saucepan, then into the fondue pot with it!

Here is my platter of dippers: Strawberries, pretzel chips, marshmallows, Nilla wafers, Oreos.

Here you can see how the bowl keeps warm – with the little tea light candle underneath. This is really, really easy to do and it’s so pretty. You may want to serve this for more people than just you and your valentine. They’ll be impressed and very, very happy.

The chocolate is so smooth, so pretty, so chocolatey!

This is it – time for the special, special treat for that very special, special valentine! Round up their favorite things to dip, make up a batch of the delicious chocolate, and get romantical. Your valentine will be so, so, so happy that you took the 10 minutes it takes to make this special Chocolate Fondue treat – just for them!

 

 

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Dipped Oreos

How cute are Dipped Oreos? You can dip them and decorate them and make them pretty for any holiday or occasion! I’m going to make them and decorate them for Valentine’s Day. That is the next holiday, right? I mean, seriously, these are the easiest, yet most festive holiday treat you can make. I’m being real here – these are the easiest EVER! You can use any color of candy melts to dip these, but I happened to have some almond bark left from making Christmas treats, so that’s what I’m using. You can really dip anything in almond bark, and decorate it appropriately for any occasion – pretzels are always fun to do or Ritz Cracker Cookies. You could even make and decorate some Almond Bark Cookies with holiday sprinkles. This time I’m using Oreo cookies to dip – let’s get festive!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dipped Oreos

Melt according to package instructions:

1 package of almond bark (I only had 4 cubes left from a whole package, so that’s how much I made – you could also do this with chocolate)

Dip one or more of the following into melted almond bark (you can also push a lollipop stick into the cream part of the Oreo cookie to make these a lollipop – I’m leaving them plain):

Oreo cookies (this is what I’m using today)

pretzels

peanut butter sandwiched between Ritz Crackers (Ritz Cracker Cookies)

anything you can think of and would like to dip in almond bark

Sprinkle with festive holiday sugars or sprinkles.

Let dry and harden on a parchment covered baking sheet.

I used my mom’s old mixer bowl to melt the almond bark – it keeps the almond bark warm and makes dipping easier. At this point, you could also color the almond bark, if you want to. Remember that you can’t use regular food coloring to color almond bark – you need to use powdered food coloring, or the almond bark will seize up and get lumpy or solidify. I just like how the white almond bark contrasts and shows off the pretty colored sprinkles better. Just use a fork, tap it on the edge of the bowl, and scrape the bottom of the cookie on the edge of the bowl. There really is nothing easier to dip than Oreo cookies, but dip whatever you want!

Once dipped, just set the almond bark covered cookies on the parchment lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with sugars or sprinkles.

I got about a dozen cookies from the 4 cubes of almond bark I used.

I just love little treats like this – they’re so pretty!

These are so easy to make, they’re so fun to do, and they’re sooooooo good! This is another ridiculously easy, yet festive way to celebrate any holiday or special occasion. Kids or grandkids would love to get involved and help make these – maybe for a special parent or grandparent?! Trust me your valentine is going to LOVE these Dipped Oreos.

 

 

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Freezing Cookie Dough

I want to discover the joys of Freezing Cookie Dough, because I’m all about anything easy and make-ahead these days. Our kids all live on their own now, and I really don’t find the need to make a big batch of cookies – unless they are coming for dinner and we all need a treat. Instead of making and baking whole batches of cookies, I’ve decided to try and freeze the cookie dough balls before baking them. This is supposed to be good for making just 1 cookie, or making a whole pan full – depending on your craving for said cookies. Now, to be fair, by husband is not really in favor of this system. He’d rather we just make a whole batch at a time and have them available for munching at that time. I’m trying to watch the fat (for Ebenezer’s sake), and I like this idea. I sometimes just want a cookie, or have a craving for one (just like anyone else), but if there’s a whole batch available for munching, I will munch the whole batch. You see where I’m going here – and I don’t need any cracks about my willpower – or lack thereof. So here we go – let’s give this freezer thing a try. I used the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies – Made with Butterscotch Chips for this batch.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I doubled this recipe.

Sift together:

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup soft shortening (I used butter)

Blend all ingredients.

Add:

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

3/4 cup chocolate chips

First I mixed up the batch of cookie dough. I made a double batch of this recipe since they’re going in the freezer, and this recipe makes a small batch.

Next I used my trusty scoop and scooped the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

I got 2 baking sheets full of cookie dough balls (44 balls) from this double batch. Then they went into the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Once the balls had been in the freezer for 30 minutes, I took them out and put them into a zip top freezer bag.

I labeled the bag with the date (they should be good at least 3 months), the kind of cookie dough (I may have several different kinds of cookie dough balls in the freezer at one time), and the baking instructions.

Just to show him how great this system is going to be, I took pity on my husband and left out 6 balls to bake for him that night. (Ok, ok, I had a couple – man, these are good!) I put the frozen balls on the baking sheet while preheating the oven, then baked the frozen balls for a few more minutes than if they weren’t frozen – these baked at 375 degrees and took 15 minutes to bake instead of the 10-12 minutes recommended on the recipe.

The cookies are delicious – that goes without saying – but I LOVE doing this and having them ready in the freezer. I have made other kinds of cookies that you roll into a log and can freeze for later use, like Butterscotch Cookies and Christmas Cookies, and you can also freeze cut-out dough in a disc like pie crust for cutting out and baking later, but THIS is a game changer. I’m going to try other kinds of cookie doughs to do this with, like Ranger Cookies, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Date Rocks, and maybe even Aunt Julie’s Summer Cookies. Try Freezing Cookie Dough and you, too, will see how easy it is to pull out just the right number of cookie dough balls to bake for your cookie craving!

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Tree Rolls

There’s nothing better for Christmas morning than having a beautiful batch of Christmas Tree Rolls in the freezer, ready to go for a festive and ridiculously delicious Christmas breakfast. In the fall, I made a half batch of the recipe for Buns that my mom has made since the 1960’s, and I used 1/3 of that half batch to make the small pan of Lingonberry Rolls that we enjoyed for our Thanksgiving morning breakfast. With the other 2/3 of that half-batch, I made these rolls for us to enjoy for our Christmas morning breakfast. My mom made these rolls for the family for Christmas morning sometimes during my childhood. She would make the Buns, then once she was tired of making the buns, she would use the last of the dough to make caramel rolls. Earlier on she would make Swedish Tea Ring to give away as gifts, or for us to have on Christmas morning. In later years, she would sometimes change it up and make Christmas Tree Rolls (occasionally also giving those away as gifts) and pop them into the freezer for Christmas morning. Now, I have to say, these Buns and caramel rolls have been a totally necessary item for everyone in the family for all holidays and anytime in-between. There’s nothing better slathered in melty butter, warm out of the oven. If you make the full batch of these Buns, it’s a big chore. My sister and I would help mom out (when we HAD to), but it’s a lot of work to do the whole batch. You mix up the big bowl of dough, knead it, let it rise, form the buns one by one, let them rise, and then bake them. I’m not complaining – besides learning how to make them, those warm buns were totally worth the work, and they freeze perfectly so there was usually a container of buns in the freezer (if my sister didn’t get to them – she had a thing for frozen baked goods – ha). Slowly, over time, mom hasn’t been able to continue her bun making. That means it’s time for the rest of us in the family to pick up the slack and start making them again – even if it’s for special occasions like a holiday, because they’re perfect for leftover turkey or ham sandwiches! But it’s still a lot of work to make those Buns, and when we get tired, we’ll just make caramel rolls like mom did. For now, I’m glad I only tackled a half-batch and made these melt-in-your-mouth delicious Christmas Tree Rolls for Christmas morning!

Yes – this a very well-used and well-loved recipe and recipe card!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Christmas Tree Rolls

Follow the recipe for Buns or Lingonberry Rolls.

I used about 2/3 of a half batch for these rolls.

If you want to make buns, too, use half of the batch of the original recipe to make these rolls and the rest of the dough can be made into buns.

For the frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

2-4 Tablespoons milk, or enough to make it spreadable

food coloring, if desired (I used green)

For ornaments:

maraschino cherries (I let them sit on a paper towel for awhile to dry off a bit)

sprinkles

Roll out dough into a long rectangle – or close to the shape of a rectangle.

Spread with about 1/2 cup softened butter, and sprinkle generously with about 2-3 Tablespoons cinnamon and about 1/4-1/2 cup sugar. You could mix the cinnamon and sugar together, if you want to, but I didn’t here. I didn’t do it here, but if you really want to make these special, you could also add chopped raisins, nuts, and cherries at this point.

Roll it up as tightly as you can, and cut it into slices to make the rolls.

I cut the tube of dough, with a serrated knife, into 12 rolls to make this tree – arranging them right on the baking sheet. They don’t look exactly the same size, but after rising and baking, they’ll be fine. You can see the cinnamon and sugar peeking through! Can’t wait!

After baking – oh yum. See – the rolls all ended up about the same size. Ha! They almost ended up right off the sides of the pan! To keep these for Christmas morning I wrapped a piece of foam core with foil (making a “platter” to set them on), taped it on the backside, and put the rolls on that so I can wrap them well with plastic wrap and a piece of foil and put them in the freezer. Just make sure that the “platter” you make will fit in your freezer before you go to all the work and have to do it all over again!

After putting the rolls onto the serving “platter”, I frosted them with the above recipe of frosting, put cherries in the middle of each roll as an ornament, and used holiday sprinkles (plus a little brown sugar for the “pot” on the bottom) all over it for added festiveness! I mean, really! Just look how festive! Perfect for Christmas morning. Or gift giving. Or a hostess gift. Or a teacher gift. It’s just perfect. Make some Christmas Tree Rolls for your Christmas morning breakfast, make a big pot of coffee to go with them (since you had a late night putting together toys, wrapping, etc.), and let the festivities begin!

 

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Swedish Pepparkakar

I have never made Swedish Pepparkakar before, but my understanding is that they are thin, spicy, gingerbread type cookies. Um – ok! Grandma used to buy this kind of cookie in a tin for us every Christmas, and, well, let’s just say they evaporated pretty fast in our house, so I think the family is going to appreciate this one. This recipe came from one of Grandma’s old church cookbooks, and you know what that means! It’s a good one! This recipe calls them Swedish, but I have also seen them labeled Norwegian. I think we’ll just go with Swedish for this one. I don’t know how authentic they are, but let’s just pretend they are. Grandma loved spicy cookies like this – she was Swedish, after all. She would have loved these cookies, and she would have loved them with a nice cup of coffee. She and her friends and family were big on coffee and sweets and telling stories while they were enjoying those coffee and sweets. I miss the smell of coffee and sweets and I miss listening to those stories.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Pepparkakar

This is the full recipe, but I made a half batch.

Mix together:

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup white syrup

Sift together with 4 cups flour (or more, if necessary):

1 large teaspoon ginger (I just made it heaping)

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix wet and dry ingredients.

Roll out real thin.

(The recipe says to bake in a moderate oven, which I think is 350 degrees, so that’s what I went by.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (there is no time here, but that’s how long it took in my oven).

All the usual spices here – cinnamon, ginger, and cloves!

You do think of molasses in this type of cookie, but syrup?

This makes a pretty big batch, but these cookies will keep for a long time. One source I saw said that they keep for months! I don’t think we’ll get to find out about that – if you know what I mean!

The dough was a bit tender, probably because it doesn’t call for being chilled, so I used more flour than I normally would when making cut-out cookies. Before baking, I took a pastry brush and brushed the excess flour off of the top of the cookies. This was a half batch, and I still got 4 pans of cookies.

I don’t use the waste-dough until I’m ready to roll it all the second time.

Oh how I love the smell of these spicy cookies baking! I made most of the cookies in the shape of hearts, but as the dough got re-rolled a few times, I started making some of them in Christmas shapes.

There was something so special about rolling out these cookies on my great-grandparent’s table. They were both Swedish, with my great-grandfather immigrating here in the 1880’s. I also served the coffee and Swedish Pepparkakar on their china. Grandma used to tell stories about how her whole family would gather around that table!

Family tradition is so important, and making these cookies at this time of year has brought that to the forefront for me once again. It’s times like this that I miss my grandparents – both sets – and I miss listening to their stories of hearth and home, friends and family, and love and loss.

If you like gingerbread, and you like thin and crispy cookies, these are the ones for you! They are so perfect with a cup of coffee, or any hot beverage. Sit down with your family and swap stories of family – now and long ago – share some love – and some Swedish Pepparkakar!

 

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Gingerbread Biscotti

Today’s recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti is a take on a previous post where I shared delicious, crisp Biscotti. There are so many things you can add to the biscotti to make it your particular favorite – this spicy mix is so nice for this time of year! I’m using the same recipe as I did for the first Biscotti – just adding a delicious Gingerbread Spice Mix that you can use for other things, as well. How cool is that?! I think these biscotti are a delicious and festive addition to any holiday cookie tray. If you put some in a cellophane bag and tie it with a pretty holiday ribbon – voila – instant hostess or teacher gift!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Gingerbread Biscotti

Mix together:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar (you could use brown sugar to make it even more caramel-y)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

the Gingerbread Spice Mix listed below

Mix together and add:

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons molasses

Splash in and mix all together:

a splash of milk, maybe about 1/2 cup or so, depending on how dry the mixture is

Make two “logs” – I do this right on the baking sheet – about 3″ wide by 10″ long.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and let them cool 15 minutes (I usually don’t wait this long).

Take the “logs” off of the baking sheet so you can slice them – they will stick a bit, so you’ll need to use a spatula to get them off of the pan.

Lower oven to 325 degrees, cut the biscotti into 1 inch slices with a serrated knife, using a light hand.

Put slices onto baking sheet and bake again about 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through (you’ll need a spatula for this also as the slices also stick a bit) – my oven usually takes about an extra 3 minutes on each side (8-11 min total on each side) – you can make them as crisp as you’d like.

Gingerbread Spice Mix:

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ginger

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cardamom (I have one daughter who is a cardamom freak, so I tried it with the cardamom – I do think it takes away a bit from the gingerbread flavor, so leave it out if you’re not into the cardamom)

Make double, triple, or more of the mix and use it in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, over ice cream, on pudding – you get the idea.

Mix up the gingerbread spice before you start so you’re ready to go. Make up some extra to use throughout the season!

The spices, plus the molasses (which I added to the eggs before adding them to the dry ingredients), make this so good and – well – spicy!

Here is the approximate shape I make the “logs” into when putting the dough onto the baking sheet.

After baking, they flatten a bit. They also stick to the pan somewhat, so I use a long spatula to loosen them while they’re cooling. If you don’t have a long spatula, just go around each edge with a short one.

Then slice the “logs” about 1/2″-1″ thick. The thicker you cut them, the longer they’ll take to bake.

Lay the slices out onto the baking sheet for the second bake – don’t forget to turn them halfway through or one side will be crisp and the other side won’t.

Once they’re out of the oven and they’ll be fairly firm. They’ll firm up even a bit more once they cool.

There you go – ready for a nice cuppa!

But it’s that time of year, and if you want to make these festive and pretty for gift giving, why not add some powdered sugar frosting drizzle and some sprinkles? You can never have too many sprinkles, especially this time of year. For the drizzle – 1 cup powdered sugar and enough milk to be able to drizzle the frosting.

Oh my – so pretty!

These biscotti are so delicious – perfectly spicy for this time of year! I make these all through the fall and into winter, because they’re just so good! You’ll have many, many opportunities to enjoy these with a cup of coffee, and they make wonderful gifts, too. You could use these for a hostess gift, a teacher gift, I mean, the list goes on and on. I think they’re a pretty and festive addition to any cookie tray – and they’re amazingly tasty, too. Make a double batch of these Gingerbread Biscotti and you’ll have enough to share – maybe – but I wouldn’t count on it cuz you’re gonna want to keep them all for yourself!

 

 

 

 

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