Peach Jam Hand Pies


Whoever still has jam left over from last year raise your hand!

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Our apricot, plum and apple were quickly devoured and the prickly pear was all sold out or given as gifts.

The five jars of white peach jam in our pantry, on the other hand, were still waiting for their day in the sun.

What to do with all of this?!  I wondered.

And then I had an idea….

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PIE!!!!

My peach jam was thick and full of large chunks of white peaches making it the perfect hand pie filling.

A lover of all types of fruit pies, I think hand pies are such a fun, portable way to get your pie fix.  (And did I mention they are a great way to use up your extra jam?)

Warm spices, tart peaches and a buttery, flaky crust–you’ll definitely want to get your hands on these!  😉

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Jam-filled Hand Pies

Makes 4 large, 6 medium or 8 mini

Ingredients:

*1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour + more for dusting and rolling

*1 teaspoon kosher salt

*2 teaspoons granulated sugar

*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed

*1/3 cup + 2-3 Tablespoons ice-cold water

*Approx. 3 cups jam, preferably thick and not runny

*Egg wash: 1 small egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten till smooth

Preparation

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Whisk the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon together.

Cut in the butter with a pastry fork or two knives until the butter pieces are the size of small peas.

Add 1/3 cup water and stir dough in one direction.  If dough is still crumbly, continue to add a tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl when stirred.

Dump dough onto plastic wrap and knead a few times to smooth.  Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Assembly

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Divide dough evenly into 4, 6 or 8 pieces and roll into balls.

Lightly dust counter with flour and roll dough 1/4″ thick, rotating and flipping dough often to maintain shape.

Add a couple heaping spoons of jam in the center, leaving at least a 1/2″ border along the bottom.

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Fold dough over jam and pinch edges to seal.

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Fold edge up and over.  This keeps the juices in the pie from leaking out.

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Then dip a fork in some flour….

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…and impress along the folded edge of the pie.

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Carefully poke vent holes into the top of the pie.

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Place pies on a greased pan and place in the freezer to chill.  This keeps the dough from shrinking while it bakes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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When oven is ready, remove pies from freezer and brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20-25 minutes 0r until golden brown.

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Cool pies on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

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Perfect for a picnic or, since it’s hot out there, dessert on the couch!

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Enjoy your Wednesday!

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This is my first original recipe entry to Taste of Home Magazine as one of their new field editors.  For more great recipes on every pie you can imagine, check them out at www.tasteofhome.com!

Mojito, Anyone?


Let’s say we all stop what we’re doing for a while and take a little break.

Mojito, anyone?

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It’s summertime which means we can either complain about the mosquitoes or celebrate with a mojito!

(Or at least we can enjoy a mojito while swatting at the mosquitoes…)

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While thumbing through a copy of The Bartender’s Bible a few years ago, I stumbled upon this recipe and it’s been a favorite at our house ever since.

However, since everyone likes their drink a little different (I muddle the mint twice as long and add only half the sugar), feel free to tweak this recipe to your liking.  Just don’t tell your mixologist friends. 

Serve on the back deck with friends and a ridiculous amount of chips and salsa and you’ve got yourself an instant party.

Enjoy!

Mojitos

(Source: The Bartender’s Bible)

For one mojito, you will need:

*2 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice

*2 Tablespoons superfine sugar (regular sugar doesn’t dissolve as well)

*6 large mint leaves

*2 oz. light rum

*1 cup crushed ice

*3-4 ounces club soda

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Muddle sugar and mint leaves with a pestle and mortar to bring out the fragrant oils of the mint (about 10 seconds).

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Squeeze the juice from two large limes and strain.  This will give you approximately 2 ounces of lime juice.

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Pour a cup of ice into a cocktail shaker.

OR, if you’re like me and don’t own a cocktail shaker, I find that a protein shaker bottle works just as well.

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Pour in lime juice and 2 ounces of light rum.

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Carefully dump in the sugar and mint mixture.

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Give the mixer a good shake for about 30 seconds.

Pour into a glass.  It is traditional to strain out the mint leaves and ice first, but I like all those yummy bits in my mojito.

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Pour the club soda over the top and serve.

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For a sugared rim, gently dip the top of your glass into lime juice and then into sugar.

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I’m a sucker for a salt rim, so I like to dip my glass into a mixture of sugar and kosher salt.

Because I’m a rebel.

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Thank you for sharing this refreshing little break with me.

Shall we do it again next week?

Lemon Mousse & Raspberry Crepe Cake


If you haven’t decided what to serve your Easter guests yet, maybe this will inspire you:

crepecake

These delicate layers of crepes, raspberry jam, whipped cream and lemon curd will melt in your mouth.  (I should know, I just ate a piece.  hee hee)

Lemon Mousse & Raspberry Crepe Cake

First, the crepes.

It’s definitely worth making your own.  Just think, it’s the only step where you really have to cook.  🙂

This is my go-to recipe because it produces flavorful crepes that are sturdy enough to handle.

Crepes

Makes 16 9″ crepes

NOTE: Make sure your ingredients are at the mentioned temperatures.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or half n half, room temperature
  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest, optional

Whisk butter and sugar until smooth.  Stir in vanilla, milk and water.Whisk in flour until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time until just combined.  Stir in salt and lemon zest.

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To Cook:

Heat a butter-coated crepe pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into the center of the pan and quickly rotate the pan around to cover the bottom:

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Cook crepe for one minute.  Loosen edges with a spatula and carefully flip crepe over.  Cook another minute.

Transfer to a plate to cool.

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Allow crepes to cool completely.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lemon Curd Mousse

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 heaping cup lemon curd, homemade or store-bought

Pour cream into a large bowl and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.  Chill beaters as well.

Remove bowl from freezer and whip at highest setting until firm like whipped cream (3-5 minutes).

Gently fold lemon curd into whipped cream in a figure-eight pattern with a spatula until fully incorporated.

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Cover and chill until ready to use.

Assembly

NOTE: It is best to assemble the cake the day you will be serving it.

You will need:

  • 15 crepes
  • Lemon curd mousse
  • Jar of raspberry jam
  • Fresh strawberries, sliced length-wise 1/4″ thick

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Center a crepe onto a plate or platter.  Spread with a thin layer of mousse (about 3 Tablespoons).

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Place a crepe on top of mousse and add a thin layer of jam (about 2 Tablespoons).

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Continue layering crepes, mousse and jam.

When you get to the 7th crepe, top with mousse and a layer of strawberries:

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Cover strawberry layer with a crepe and lightly press to push out any bubbles in the cake.

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Continue building layers.

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Once you have finished building the cake, spread a thin layer of jam on the top crepe followed by a thick layer of mousse.

Top with sliced berries.

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Chill cake for at least an hour before serving to allow the layers to settle.

Serve.  Eat.  Repeat.

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Happy Easter, everybody! 

May it be a tasty one filled with hugs and laughter.

Giant Oatmeal Cookies


Which type of oatmeal cookie do you prefer?

S o f t  and c h e w y

Light and crispy

I’m a soft and chewy gal myself, but yesterday I was in desperate need of a great big, giant oatmeal chocolate-chip cookie that was both chewy on the inside and crispy on the edges.

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Since I only have a recipe for soft oatmeal cookies, I went on a search and found just what I was looking for at Whit’s Amuse Bouche, a cute and quirky food blog.

What I love about this recipe?

It contains:

1. Cinnamon

2. Nutmeg

3. A conservative amount of butter.  (Less butter = healthier cookies = I can eat more.  Right?)

So if you have a big cookie craving or just a lonely cup of coffee begging for a friend, these oatmeal cookies will surely hit the spot!

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Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 5 large cookies or 2 dozen smaller cookies

*1 1/2 c rolled oats

*1/2 c flour

*1 t cinnamon

*1/8 t fresh-ground nutmeg

*1/2 t salt

*1/2 t baking soda

*1/2 c brown sugar

*1/4 cup granualated sugar

*6 T butter, room temperature

*1 large egg, room temperature

*1 t vanilla

*3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, raisins, pecans, cranberries–whatever you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.   In a separate bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down bowl and add the egg and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Add the oat/flour mixture, just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Bake, 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet, for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool* on racks.

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*Careful!  Cookies will be very soft when they first come out of the oven but will firm up after they have cooled.

Let Them Drink Cake!


I can’t always hold my liquor, but I can always hold my cake.

Especially if it’s rum cake!

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For many years, my family has followed Bacardi Rum’s recipe for this tender, buttery cake, and ever year we wish we had baked two instead of just one.

This New Year’s Eve, wow your friends with this impressive dessert.  (You can keep the fact that it’s made from a mix a secret.)

Bacardi Holiday Rum Cake

In a large bowl, dump:

-One yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix (I use Pillsbury’s),

-3 large eggs (room temp!),

-1/3 cup vegetable oil,

-1/2 cup cold water, and

-1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum or whatever rum you want

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Beat cake for 30 seconds to incorporate ingredients and then another 2 minutes on high until the batter is smooth and light.

Now, grab a bundt pan and spray the dickens out of it with non-stick cooking spray.

(Those of you who have ever struggled removing a bundt cake from its pan know what I’m talking.  Douse that sucker!)

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Pour batter evenly into the pan.

Bake cake in a 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  Check cake after 45 minutes by sliding a toothpick in the center-most part of the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

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Allow the cake to thoroughly cool on a rack for at least an hour.

Carefully flip the pan over onto the cooling rack, releasing the cake.

Using a toothpick prick the entire surface of the cake.

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Time to make the glaze!

In a medium-large sauce pan (you’ll be sorry if you use a small one!), melt 1 stick of unsalted butter over medium heat.

meltbutter

Add 1/2 cup of water…

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…and 1 cup of sugar.

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Whisk until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Boil for 5 minutes.  (This mixture will expand during the boiling process.)

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Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in 1/2 cup rum.

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Stir glaze until smooth, then immediately pour over cake.

Here is how I glaze my cake:

Place the cooling rack with the cake on it over a large plate, and slowly spoon glaze over the top…

glazetop

…and sides.

glazeside

At first, the glaze will quickly run off the cake, but no worries, the plate is catching the excess.

Pour the excess glaze that gathers onto the plate underneath back into the pan, and repeat until the cake has absorbed the majority of the glaze.  (A little excess rum glaze at the bottom of a cake plate never hurt anybody.)

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For best flavor and texture, allow cake to set for at least an hour before serving.

(You could also make this a day in advance.  Just wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.)

Crispy, Creamy Peanut Butter Balls


It’s Christmas party time and you are in charge of dessert.  What to bring, what to bring?

I have-a your answer:

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Light and crispy, yet creamy and satisfying, these peanut butter balls are a great way to break out of the same-old-sugar-cookie rut.  And no rolling pin required!

Crispy, Creamy Peanut Butter Balls

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Melt a stick of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Stir in 2 cups of chunky peanut butter.

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Add a teaspoon of vanilla.

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Heat the mixture, stirring until smooth and well combined.

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Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl along with one pound of powdered sugar.

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Add 3 cups of crispy rice cereal and mix well.

Cook’s Tip: Clean, bare hands are the best way to evenly distribute the butters with the sugar and cereal.

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The mixture will be crumbly so the balls will need to be formed instead of rolled.

Take a couple tablespoons of the mix (enough to form a 1-2″ ball) and mush together until the heat from your hands holds it all together.  Then carefully form into a ball.

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Done!

Set balls on a cookie sheet and set aside while you prepare the chocolate coating…

Cook’s Tip: Skip the microwave on this next step, folks.  A double boiler system renders the best results.

Don’t have a double boiler? 

1. Add a couple of inches of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer (steaming, but not boiling) over medium-low heat.

2. Place a glass bowl over the pan.  Make sure the water is not touching the bowl. 

3.  If water starts to boil, turn down the heat–wouldn’t want to crack that glass bowl!

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Pour 12 ounces of chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s Special Dark chips) into the bowl along with 1/4 cup of vegetable shortening.

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Stir chocolate until smooth and shiny.

(If water starts to boil, turn heat down or off for this next step.)

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Roll balls in chocolate making sure to coat all sides.  Remove and place on a wax paper-lined baking pan to harden.

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To speed up the hardening, place balls in refrigerator.

Remove thirty minutes to an hour before serving as these treats are best served at room temperature

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Make sure to save a few back for yourself because there won’t be any leftovers.

The Recipe

Makes about 50 1-2″ balls

Ingredients

*1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

*2 cups crunchy peanut butter

*1 teaspoon vanilla

*1 lb. powdered sugar

*3 cups crisped rice cereal

*12 ounces chocolate chips

*1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in peanut butter and heat until well blended.  Add vanilla.

Pour peanut butter mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Add sugar and cereal and mix well.

Form mixture into balls and set aside.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening until smooth and shiny.

Rolls balls in chocolate.  Allow chocolate to harden before serving.

Light as Air Snickerdoodles


This Saturday afternoon, I made some snickerdoodles.

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By Sunday morning, they were gone.

A snickerdoodle is a tart drop cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sugar and develops a lovely crackled surface during the baking process.   I used to bake snickerdoodles all the time in college, and they became quite the favorite among my friends.  My only beef with the recipe was that I could never get it to produce the same results twice!

You may have experienced this problem with drop cookies, as well.  One batch comes out poufy and cake-like, another flat and chewy, and another with doughy centers and burnt edges.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

After studying some basic cookie-baking techniques, however, I realized that I’ve been making some crucial cookie-baking mistakes.  But instead of telling you all about them, let me show you instead.  This way you, too, can bake consistent batches of these light and airy snickerdoodles…or any other drop cookie for that matter!

Snickerdoodles

TECHNIQUE #1: ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS. 

REASON: When making cookies, it is important for all of the ingredients to be room temperature.  This ensures the best texture and most consistent results.

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Set out your butter and eggs about an hour or so before you start baking.

TECHNIQUE #2: SOFT BUTTER.  NOT SQUISHY BUTTER.

REASON: The softness of the butter makes all the difference in the structure and texture of a cookie.  Butter that is too cold will not create the desired air pockets in the batter resulting in dense, heavy cookies.  Butter that is too soft will not give the batter the structure it needs.

HOW SOFT IS SOFT? The butter should be soft enough to make an impression when pressed with the index finger but not so soft that it completely gives way when you press it.

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Avoid softening the butter in the microwave–it has the tendency to melt the butter too quickly.

TECHNIQUE #3: SPOON THE FLOUR.  DON’T SCOOP THE FLOUR.

Who all out there dips their measuring cup into the flour and scoops out the needed amount?

Stop doing that.

Please?

REASON: Spooning the flour into your measuring cup and then leveling off the excess is the most accurate way to measure flour.  Scooping your measuring cup into the flour compacts the flour which means you are most likely adding more flour to the recipe than you should.

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Using a whisk is a quick way to sift dry ingredients.  Watch out for lumps in your baking soda and cream of tartar.

TECHNIQUE #4: CREAMING THE BUTTER AND SUGAR

This is NOT properly creamed butter and sugar:

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This IS properly creamed butter and sugar:

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HOW TO CREAM PROPERLY: Use a wooden spoon and smoosh the butter into the sugar just until the mixture is uniform and pale yellow.  Do not over-cream. 

It is best to cream by hand since electric mixers tend to over-cream the fat and sugar.  If you must use a mixer, give the butter and sugar a few turns with spoon first.

Now add your ROOM TEMPERATURE eggs.  It is best to beat the eggs in by hand.

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Eggs can be quickly brought to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water.

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Beat eggs into butter and sugar mixture just until smooth.  Don’t overbeat or your batter will be tough!

(Not shown) Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Repeat with the second half of flour and stir until well combined.

TECHNIQUE #5: LOOK, MOM, NO [STICKY] HANDS!

Have your palms ever gotten ridiculously sticky after rolling dough balls?

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A spritz of cooking spray on the palms will quickly solve that problem:

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Roll dough into 1-2″ balls and then roll in cinnamon sugar before placing on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Sometimes I like to mix it up by adding 1/4th teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie Spice to the cinnamon sugar.

Bake the snickerdoodles at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Cookies will be very soft so allow them to cool on the sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

I look forward to making these again…especially now that I know they will turn out the same way again!

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Snickerdoodles

(Recipe by Fine Cooking)

Makes 2-3 dozen depending on size of cookie

Ingredients:

*1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

*2 large eggs, room temperature

*2 2/3 cups flour

*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1/4 teaspoon salt

*2 teaspoons cream of tartar

*Cinnamon sugar: 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar.  (Check for lumps of baking soda and cream of tartar!)

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until mixture is pale yellow (about 2 minutes).  Beat in eggs until fluffy.

Mix half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Add the rest of the flour and stir until well combined.

Roll into 1-2″ balls, roll in cinnamon sugar and place 3″ apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bale for 15-18 minutes until golden.  Allow cookies to cool on sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.