Get Your Bake On!

Back in Denver and finally found the time to squeeze in some baking amidst the chaos of the week! Last week I decided enough was enough. It was time for some baking. I have been meaning to make a recipe I found for cheesy puff pastry pretzels for the last month or so. A busy week can always be made busier with some yummy puff pastry right? I mean really, when it takes 15 minutes to make a cheesy carb-loaded snack, you make the time.

I will confess I cannot shape pretzels for the life of me. I cut myself some slack since this was my first attempt, but I should blame my impatience in rolling out the dough. I was in a rush. I was hungry. I got sloppy. Therefore the strips of puff pastry dough ended up shorter than I expected and thus the misshapen pretzels ensued. Though they are not the perfect pretzel shape, they are cute little twisted snacks!

Cheesy Puff Pastry Pretzels (thank you Just A Taste!)

Ingredients:

2 sheets (one 1.1-pound package) store-bought puff pastry
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Dipping sauces (optional): yellow mustard or fig preserves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Remove the puff pastry sheets from the freezer and allow them to thaw completely.

Place one sheet of the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it until it stretches to approximately a 14-inch square.

Brush the puff pastry with the melted butter and sprinkle it with half of the shredded cheese. Use the rolling pin to press the cheese firmly into the dough.

Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 12 strips.

Shape each strip into a pretzel and then place the pretzels onto the lined baking sheet. Gather the excess cheese that has fallen off and sprinkle it atop the pretzels.

Repeat the rolling, topping and shaping process with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Bake the pretzels for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Next on the baking list were Russian Tea Cakes. This weekend I co-hosted a bridal shower and since the theme was an Alice in Wonderland mad hatter tea party, I thought tea cakes would be the perfect favor; particularly when they are nestled in a favor box that says Eat Me…

(so freaking cute, right? I must admit, I do impress myself at times).

Of course the simplest of recipes doesn’t mean that making them is simple, does it? Before I get ahead of myself, I have to tell you now I am in love with my KitchenAid mixer. It is beautiful and red and shiny and makes me smile every time I haul it out to bake.

Everything was going fine, the mixer was mixing away when suddenly that little round metal KitchenAid attachment just popped off. No warning, it just popped off and fell into the mixing bowl. Unfortunately I was not fast enough to catch it and my mixer started to make this terrible clicking noise and shaking before I could stop it… I am sad to say that my beautiful mixer is now injured and I am just praying that I still have an active warranty on the thing….

Aside from the damage caused to my precious mixer, (good thing I hadn’t picked a name out for it right? It’s not like I’m attached to the thing…) the cookies were a major hit. Obviously they are perfect for a tea party, but I think they ROCK as breakfast. Yes I eat cookies for breakfast. I would also eat cake for breakfast. Or ice cream. I better stop there before I start craving maple bacon ice cream… Too late. And my mixer that allows me to make ice cream is broken. Crap.

Russian Tea Cakes (from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book)

Ingredients

Cookies:

1 cup salted butted

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

Topping:

½ cup fruit preserves or ½ cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add vanilla, scraping down bowl as needed. Blend in flour and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Roll tablespoons of dough into small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place dough balls on lightly greased cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Press down the center of each ball with a spoon, forming a depression. Fill each with a teaspoonful of preserves or nuts.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cookies immediately to a cool, flat surface. When cookies are completely cool, dust them lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

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