Butternut Squash Cookies

While I was on a short break from baking I spent time painting, remodeling my kids rooms and participating in the Artist Trading Cards project. All these activities are coming to their end (will write about it in the future) and I am again longing to spend time with my favorite friends: flour, butter, rolling pin and the rest of the gang. 🙂 I really enjoy fall baking! When I think of fall baking, I think of apples, pumpkins, squash, cinnamon, brown sugar and fragrant aromas enveloping the whole house. Last week I baked a butternut squash for dessert and had about a half of it left. I came to the idea to use it as a filling for cookies. The cookies turned out to be a huge hit with my family and friends, so I hope you will enjoy them too. These are absolutely one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. They melt in your mouth and are delicious warm or cold, just by itself or paired up with a cup of milk, coffee or tea.

Butternut Squash Cookies                                              

[printable recipe]

Yields about 40 cookies

* First bake butternut squash or pumpkin with 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar and 1 TBSP butter.

Cookie dough:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) butter (softened)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 350 g (12.3 oz) all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) baked and mashed butternut squash (or pumkin)
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 80 g (2.8 oz) walnuts (chopped)

* Before starting with the dough prepare a fresh butternut squash or pumpkin. I use butternut squash because is most flavorful in my opinion. You will need about half of one medium squash. Peel it, remove seeds and cut into cubes. Mix with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and one melted tablespoon of butter. Place it into a casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes at 400 F (200 C).

For the cookie dough beat together softened butter, sugar and salt until foamy. Add one egg and egg yolk until incorporated and then add flour (little by little) until all used up.  You may want to leave the dough in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.

While the dough is resting mash 250 baked butternut squash, add brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Mix until well incorporated.

On a floured surface roll your dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Cut into 1 ½ inches squares so your cookies are even in size. Pat each rectangle with your fingers until about 2 inches in diameter. Place a teaspoon of filling onto cookie dough, close it up and lightly flatten it. Place it onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat until all cookie dough is gone.

Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 12 minutes. Don’t let them brown, they need to stay light. Cool slightly and dust with powder sugar. These cookies melt in your mouth! You can also choose different fillings such as almond filling, poppy seed, chocolate, nutella, etc.

Apple Dumplings with a twist

One beautiful, sunny fall weekend in September, we made a trip to the Amish country in Northern Indiana. Driving through the rolling fields of corn, beans and soy, with patches of autumn colored trees was just amazing and so peaceful. We spent the afternoon at the local Apple Festival and enjoyed the sights of the homemade baked goods, Amish made items, apples, mums and Amish children in their simple, pretty attires.

My daughter and I ate some wonderful apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream and since that weekend I wanted to make them myself. Today was a perfect day, since I bought some small Jonathon apples at the Farmer’s Market.

For this recipe, in addition to Amish apple dumplings I was also inspired by stuffed baked apples (a desert from Bosnia). The end result was super delicious! Take a look!

Dough:

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 9 tbsp (130 g) cold butter
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • grated peel of 1/2 lemon (+ juice)
  • 1 egg
Filling:
  • 6-8 small apples
  • 1/4 (50 g) raisins
  • 1/2 (50 g) chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark rum ( or 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp of milk
1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel and mix well. Add butter and work it into flour until small crumbles form. At the end add the egg, knead it well. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. For filling combine raisins and walnuts, add brown sugar and rum (or cinnamon, or both) and set aside.
3. Wash, pat dry and peel and core apples. Brush with lemon juice and set aside.
4. Roll out the dough on lightly floured surface. Using rim of a small bowl, cut out circles for the dumplings. Cut out decorative hearts, flowers, leaves or similar with a cookie cutter.
5. Place an apple in the center of the dough circle, fill the core with the raisin-nut mixture. Enclose the dough. Brush some water over the top and place the decoration.
6. Place the apple dumplings into a buttered (or parchment paper covered) pan. Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes at 375 F or 190C.
Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or apple dumpling sauce.
Note: I didn’t find necessary to make the sauce since the dumplings are already sweet and vanilla ice cream was just perfect addition.

Peach Upside-Down Cake

After making peach jam last weekend, I had some peaches left and decided to make this delicious peach upside-down cake. I usually make this cake with plums, but thought peaches would work just as good. This cake is really easy to make, it’s moist and not too sweet, just yummy! 🙂 Enjoy!!!

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 peaches (peeled and pitted)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup (125 g) sugar
  • 1 small lemon (zest and juice)
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup (175 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Also needed:

  • a small cooking pot
  • 9 inch (23 cm) round springform pan
  • parchment paper
  • aluminum foil

1. Wash the peaches and cut a small cross on the top and the bottom of each. In a small cooking pot boil some water, place peaches inside for 30 seconds, take them out and let them cool down. Peel them, remove pits and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside.

2. Mix butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add a pinch of salt, zest and juice of one lemon. Add an egg one by one, mixing well after each. Fold in sour cream and at the end fold in gently (by hand) flour combined with baking powder.

3. Line the 9 in springform cake pan with a 9 in diameter parchment paper. Combine 2 and 2 tbsp white and brown sugar. Arrange sliced peaches in alternating rows (see below), sprinkle with sugar mixture. Pour the batter over the peaches.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 385 F (about 195 C). Take a 20 in piece of aluminum foil and fold its ends as to make a square pan. Place the cake on the middle oven rack and the aluminum foil pan just on the rack underneath (to catch the peach juices and keep the oven clean).

5. Bake about 30 – 45 minutes until golden brown or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Note: Springform cake pan vs. regular cake pan. For this kind of cake I prefer a springform pan. Why? Well, let’s just say I learned from my own mistakes! 😀 In a regular cake pan juices from the peaches/plums can’t ecscape and cake turns out soggy. In the springform juices can drip out (reason for using aluminum foil catcher) and the cake turns out perfect.

Peeled, pitted and ready to go!

Now sprinkled with sugar!

Pour the batter on the peaches.

Enjoy! 🙂