Cinnamon Caramel Donuts

photo(8)

‘Tis the season..Fall that is! The season of cinnamon, apples, soups and stews is upon us and I have to say it’s one of my favorite times of the year. I willingly embrace the change from sandals to boots, iced tea to warm cider and humidity to a warm blanket.

One change that always signifies the beginning of Fall to me is the opening of the cider mill just outside my hometown. The excitement of waiting in line for a freshly made donut while watching the cider being made has not waned since childhood. Unfortunately, since moving six hours away, I don’t always make it home while they’re open. You can imagine my jealousy this weekend when my best friend back home instagramed a video of those freshly made cinnamon donuts being churned out.

In an attempt to curb my craving (and my jealousy) I set out to make my own donuts. Last year I brought you my Mini Apple Donuts but I think these cinnamon donuts with a caramel topping are even better. Don’t have a donut pan? I impulse bought one like this a few weeks ago and I’m already dreaming up plenty of other ideas for it!

Since I’ve been gone for so long I think I owe it to my amazing fellow bloggers to bring two treats to our Fiesta Friday get together today! Hope they like these!

Cinnamon Caramel Donuts
Makes about 12 donuts
Donuts:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1/4 cup honey

Caramel Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your donut pan. Combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until combined, the mix should resemble a cake batter.

2. Pour about 1/3 of the batter into a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, a zip loc bag with the tip cut off works just as well. Carefully pipe the mixture to fill about 3/4 of the donut pan. Bake at 350 for about 13-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one comes out clean.

photo(11)

3. Allow the donuts to cool a but then carefully remove them from the pan.

photo(10)

4. To make the caramel add the sugar, cream and butter to a pan on low heat. Whisk the mixture for a a few minutes until the sugar melts and it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.

5. Allow the caramel to col for a few minutes, then dip the cooled donuts in the caramel or drizzle it over the top, enjoy!

photo(9)

Half Moon Cookies

cookie

Half moon cookies bring back great memories for me. My grandpa used to own a carpet shop in my hometown and the store was later turned into a bakery. Because it was once my grandpa’s, I always felt a big connection to that bakery.

Often on Saturday afternoons, after a day of running errands with my mom, our last stop would be the bakery and as a reward I got to pick out my sweet treat. Even though I have an almost insatiable sweet tooth, there was only one cookie in the bakery that I was interested in. My eyes saw right past the cakes, the chocolate chips and the muffins and were only focused on the chocolate half moon cookies. The moist soft cake and the mounds of chocolate and vanilla frosting made this cookie irresistible to me.

I don’t see half moon cookies in many bakeries anymore. Lately I’ve been thinking of these cookies and really craving one. I tried one recipe a few weeks ago and they came out terribly. I tried to make my own recipe, but couldn’t get the consistency right. So, after an extensive Google search for a well reviewed half moon recipe, I found this one from Saveur. The only thing I changed to the cookie batter was using almond milk instead of dairy milk. Instead of the frosting they show, I used a good old buttercream. Sinking my teeth into these frosting covered circles of goodness were well worth the three tries it took to get them right!

To make it even better, it’s Fiesta Friday! Check out Angie’s Blog and join the party!

Half Moon Cookies
Cake:
3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cup sugar
16 tbsp. butter cut into pieces
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. One at a time, add the eggs to your sugar and butter, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl after each one. Then add the vanilla extract.

cookie7

3. Add half of the flour to the sugar and butter and mix to combine. Next add half the milk. Then and the remaining flour followed by the rest of the milk and mix until it has all combined.

20140306-212144.jpg

4. Spoon out tablespoon sized amounts of the batter and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies tend to spread quite a bit so leave a good amount of room between them. Wet your finger with a little water and gently press down each ball of batter to flatten it a little, this will help you get a flatter cookie instead of one with a huge bump in the middle. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

cookie6

cookie5

5. While the cookies are baking make your frostings. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. If you’re frosting is too thick add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove half of the frosting and place it in another bowl. Then add the cocoa powder and combine thoroughly.

cookie4

6. Cool the cookies after taking them out of the oven. Once they’ve cooled turn them upside down and frost the flat side. Frost the vanilla halves first, then the chocolate. Enjoy!

cookie3

Mom’s Lemon Cake

photo(52)

I’m excited to be joining another Fiesta Friday!  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, Fiesta Friday is The Novice’s Gardener’s weekly blog party and you should definitely join! Check out the info the guidelines here.

Well, every party needs a cake right!? So that’s what I’m bringing this week! This is my mom’s lemon cake recipe that I altered just a tiny bit. She usually puts a delicious lemon glaze on it, but I’ve been good about going to the gym and eating fairly healthy this week so I decided to just dust it with some powdered sugar instead (I know it’s not really healthier but it helps me feel less guilty). She also usually doubles the ingredients shown below and bakes it as a bundt cake but again, I’m trying to make it a little bit lighter. This cake looks deceivingly simple and plain, but it is incredibly moist while still being light, fluffy and feels super soft in your mouth. This cake also fills your kitchen with the smell of fresh lemons and if you close your eyes and take a deep breath you can almost pretend it’s finally Spring.

Mom’s Lemon Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree and grease a round cake pan or spring-form pan.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and shortening in a large bowl. Next add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Then add your lemon juice and lemon peel.

photo(48)

3. In another bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and combine. Then add half your milk and combine again. Finally add the remainder of the dry ingredients and the remainder of the milk and mix well.
photo(50)

4. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and cook at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.

photo(51)

5. When the cake has cooled sift the powdered sugar over the top, enjoy!

photo(53)

Sweet and Spicy Beets

photo(43)

I feel like beets are a vegetable that don’t get the attention they deserve. I only recently started cooking with whole beets and they are delicious! Not only do they taste great, but their color is so beautiful, they can make a really pretty side dish.  Also, besides their great looks and taste, they’re very good for you.

Beets can be prepared very simply. This recipe highlights their sweetness while adding just a little kick from the chili herb vinegar. The vinegar I used here was one I received in my oh so great farm basket a few weeks ago. If you don’t happen to have chili herb vinegar in your kitchen (which I’m assuming most people don’t) you can get a similar effect by adding just a little bit of siracha or any hot sauce to apple cider vinegar – basically you just want some tang and some spice. These are great on their own as a side dish, or as a topping for a salad or flat bread.

Note: This recipe only makes enough for 2 people (or 1 very hungry person!) so you’ll want to double or triple if you’ve got a crowd.

Sweet and Spicy Beets
3-4 whole beets
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili herb vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash your beets and peel them using a potato peeler. Then cut each one into 1 inch sized chunks – I find it’s easiest to cut the beet in half, then cut each half into small pieces.

photo(40)

3. In a small bowl add your olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

4. Toss your beets in the mixture and pour the entire bowl evenly over a baking sheet.

photo(41)

5. Bake at 400 for about 40-45 minutes, until you can easily stick a fork in the beets, enjoy!

photo(42)