It’s so great to be home at my parent’s for the holidays—we’ve been enjoying each other’s company being that this is the only time during the year where I am home for a whole month. I always feel sad to leave my apartment and all my college friends, but spring semester will come soon enough, so I’m not worried.
I’ve been enjoying everything Christmas related, besides just cookies of course. Like shopping, and taking random mall photos. This actually went on my cards this holiday season!!
This year, instead of buying individual gifts for all my college friends, I decided to spend a whole day baking away and give them goodie bags—after all, who doesn’t like a supply of sweets to help pound through the last week of finals. So here’s what I put into the bag..
- Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies (recipe here)
- Cinnamon Roll Popcorn (recipe below)
- Pumpkin Donut Muffins (recipe below)
- “Best popcorn ever!”
- “Can I have all the recipes?”
- “Can you make more of those cookies?”
- “Did you make those donuts, or buy them?”
Needless to say, the recipes were all a great success.
Pumpkin Donut Muffins
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 14 ounces)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (original recipe uses nutmeg and allspice)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (This is almost the entire 15-ounce can of pumpkin)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. I used mini muffin pans. Spray the pan with Pam with Flour, or butter and flour the cups.
3. In a bowl, whisk together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
4. In a small bowl or measure cup, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.
5. With the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
7. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture. Do not overmix.
8. Spoon into batter. I baked the mini muffins for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. While the muffins are baking, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
10. After the muffins sit for 5 minutes, remove muffins and brush the entire muffin with the melted butter. Toss and coat in the sugar mixture. Eat warm or let cool completely.
11. Hint: I wore disposable gloves and my left hand held the muffin for the melted butter basting and my right hand mixed the muffins in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
12. I got 46 mini-muffins from this recipe. The original recipe yields 12 regular size muffins. I think the mini-muffins are the perfect size...like donut holes.
Cinnamon Roll Popcorn
· 12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)*
· 1 C roughly chopped pecans
· 1 C brown sugar
· 3/4 t cinnamon
· 1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
· 1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
· 1/2 tsp. baking soda
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 3 squares almond bark
- Preheat oven to 350 F
· Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside. And by large bowl, I mean like, twice as big as you think you really need.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Again, use a bowl larger than you think you need to avoid scorching hot caramel goo accidents. It's really important to incorporate the cinnamon into the brown sugar at this point. For some reason, if you don't it does crazy things. I don't know why. Try it and then email Alton Brown and ask him if you really want to know.
Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything.
Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine.
Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.
You can microwave it a little longer, but just beware that if you over cook it, it will reach the hard candy stage and you'll end up with a giant clump of tasty concrete-like substance with little popcorn pieces stuck to it.
· Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.
Pour it right over the popcorn and pecans. Stir right away, and stir lots. Take too long and the caramel will harden on you. Keep stirring until everything is well coated.
Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.
Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. "Sample." If it's not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes. "Sample" again. This will not be the end of "sampling."
When it's done, give it a final stir and let it cool off for a bit while you melt your almond bark (just nuke it in the microwave according to the package directions).
Now, just use a fork and drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture.
Stay tuned for a cookie-a-day till Christmas!
What treats do you make for your friends and family?