Haniela's: January 2012

Pretzel Bites

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I've been ogling  pictures of Pretzel Bites on Pinterest for several weeks, I love mini desserts and I'm also big into bite size appetizers, not only these delicious soft pretzels look appetizing(and they  really are!)  they are really easy to make too.In fact they are so easy to make I doubt you'll ever buy soft pretzels ever again.
In case this is your first time working with yeast, working with this dough is a special treat, I really can't think of the easiest yeast dough to work with, it is really forgiving.

I made traditional  soft pretzels many many times and so to make the Pretzel Bites I decided to use the same recipe I use for big twisted pretzels.
Make sure you get pretzel salt, it makes them really pop.

Soft Pretzel Bites

Yeast Dough
1 1/2 cup warm water
1tsp honey
1package dry yeast

2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cup bread flour
1tbl kosher salt
6tbl melted butter

Baking Soda Solution
5cups water
1/3cup baking soda

Egg Wash for brushing
egg yolk
1tbl water

olive oil to coat the bowl

pretzel salt
caraway seeds(optional)

pastry brush
board for rolling
parchment paper
kitchen scissors
slotted spoon

Make the Dough
Pour warm water into the bowl of your mixer, add honey and stir in yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. Make sure you use warm water, not hot. Hot water will kill the yeast

Add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of bread flour, melted butter and salt into the bowl with yeast and knead , using a dough hook attachment. If dough is too sticky add additional 1/2 cup of bread flour. This dough when kneaded is somewhat on a dense side. Knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough comes into a smooth ball.
Lightly coat a large bowl with the oil and put the dough into the bowl.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for a hour.

Preheat oven to 450F

Forming the Pretzel Bites
Invert the dough onto a clean work surface(DO NOT USE ADDITIONAL FLOUR), cut dough into 6-8 sections and using palms of your hands roll the dough and form long ropes.
Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut the ropes into small pieces.

Dipping in Baking Soda Solution
(don't skip this step, I've tried it without and  pretzels were not as good. Baking soda is the agent that will make your Pretzels  turn into that nicely brown/golden color)

Make the egg wash : mix together water and egg yolk, set aside
Have  pastry brush, slotted spoon, pretzel salt, kitchen scissors, and baking sheet ready

Bring 5 cups of water to boil, add 1/3 cup baking soda.
Put about 5 pieces of pretzel dough into the simmering solution and let cook for 30 seconds. Remove pieces with slotted spoon and place them on baking sheet, continue with remaining dough.
Once done, brush each piece with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and using scissor cut + into the each pretzel piece. Gently transfer pieces onto a clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.

Once you take them out of the oven, transfer baked Pretzel Bites onto a cooling rack, though I can guarantee you will be very much tempted to eat one straight from the oven, I recommend letting them cool for just a few minutes.

You can visit my You Tube Channel and view a my video tutorial on how to make Soft Pretzel Bites.

~Valentine's Day with Victorious Cupcakes~

Monday, January 30, 2012

I decided to invite Victoria from Victorious Cupcakes over to my blog today. I first found Victoria on her Facebook Page  and I'm constantly amazed by her beautiful cupcakes and wanted to share her talent with you as well.

 Just like a lot of mommies who are bakers Victoria has her own chief taster, her adorable daughter.

 How did you get into cupcakes, how long you've been making cupcakes?
I started baking nearly 2 years ago. I thought after buying shop bought cakes for 3 years I would like to have a go at birthday cakes for my daughter's birthday. Millie wanted 'The hungry Caterpillar - which seemed simple enough.
 Your most requested cupcake flavor?
I'm not a business so don't get many requests but the favourite, with my friends and family are chocolate with chocolate buttercream and butternut squash with maple buttercream.

Favorite frosting?
 My favourite frosting has to be the one I use with my Red Velvet Cupcakes.

I'm sure you will have tried this kind, I love it as it's not so sweet, the Americans definitely know how to make a great frosting.

After seeing all these beauties I think it is time to bake some cupcakes, what do you think?

~Chocolate Cherry Mini Whoopie Pies~

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can you believe I thought Whoopie Pies are kind of a new invention? According to Wikipedia these cake, cookie or a pie like treats have been around for some quite time, like a long long time. What's even worst is that I live in PA, only couple hours from Lancaster where apparently Whoopie pies are really big sellers and I've never been there to try them! Would love to try some of those.

For those who have never made these, like myself, they are quite easy to make too, though most recipes ask you to spoon the dough onto the baking sheet I find it a lot practical to pipe them. If case you own a small cookie scoop you can also use that.
My favorite part about these was the "dipping in chocolate part", it added a such a nice texture, perfect little crunch before you sink into a soft cookie/cake like texture.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies(makes about 30 minis, and 15 large ones)

1 3/4cup cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
12tbl butter at room temperature)(about170grams)
1tsp vanilla extract
1/4cup buttermilk(make your own) or plain yogurt
1/2cup warm espresso or 1/2cup warm black tea, or warm water

Dipping Chocolate Wafers- Merckens, about 2 cups

1 package cream cheese
1/2cup butter(60grams)
1/2cup cherry preserve
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract

Preheat Oven to 375F
Line Baking Sheets with parchment paper

Make the Cake Rounds
In a large bowl sift together, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, set aside
In a small cup combine coffee(if using)
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beat well until doubled in volume, and pale in color, scrape the sides frequently
Beat in vanilla extract.
In a small dish stir together buttermilk(yogurt) and coffee if using.
Set the mixer to low speed and alternatively  add buttermilk/coffee and flour mixture, starting and ending with flour.

Fill the pastry bag fitter with large round tip and pipe small round onto the prepared baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and gently smooth out the tops if necessary.
Bake for about 7-10 minutes, depends on big your cookies. Cookies are done when tops spring back when lightly pressed.
Let cool completely before filling.

Dipping in Chocolate
Line the baking sheet or a tray with wax paper
Place the chocolate wafers in a heat proof bowl that has been wiped clean and dry. Any trace of water will ruing any chocolate
Place the bowl on the top of the pan with simmering water. Gently stir the chocolate until it melts.
Dip each cooled cookie round into the chocolate, about half way then gently shake the excess off and place the dipped cookie onto the sheet lined with wax paper. Once done, place the  baking sheet into the fridge for 10 minutes, this will also ensure that chocolate will harden in a shiny finish.

Make the Filling
Measure 1/2 cup cherry preserve, roughly chop any big pieces of cherries.

Beat the butter until creamy, gradually add cream cheese and beat until smooth and well combined. Lower the speed of your mixer and add powdered sugar, add vanilla extract and lastly stir in cherry preserve.

Fill the cookies with cherry filling and sandwich them together. Store in the airtight container in the cool place.

~Pretty Painted Cookie~

Friday, January 27, 2012

I hope everyone is having a great Friday, it has been raining here most of the day and a light fog has settled in for most of the day. I'm about to start our dinner but first I wanted to send you a pretty message into your email inboxes on Saturday Morning. :-)

 Ever since I've seen  Liz's(Arty McGoo) Painting on Cookies Tutorial I wanted to try making a more detailed design on my cookies too. Obviously I have a lot to learn but I'm quite happy with this cookie and will be trying this technique in the future more often.

Sugar Cookie Recipe
Royal Icing Recipe
  • Firstly I flooded the cookie with white icing then I made sure to let the icing dry for several hours
  • Secondly I very lightly dry brushed(with a flat brush) the whole cookie with light pink, by dry brush I mean : I dipped the brush into the water and then pink paint and then I gently brushed the brush against the paper towel to remove most of the water and some paint, brush was pretty dry when I applied the stroke onto the cookie, also as you see I was applying strokes in one direction only. After this you have to let the painted layer dry completely before adding more details
  • Thirdly, once first layer was dry I added details,using a fine brush I added stems, flowers and leaves.
  • It is quite fun to paint on cookies, and it was rather fast too. I might try this again in the future.

Roasted Heart Potatoes

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I could talk about potatoes for hours, there are countless stories I could tell you about these tasty vegetables, funny stories, delicious stories, they make me smile and ultimately  they make me  realize we really eat a lot of potatoes!
You should see the looks I get explaining people we buy potatoes in a 50 pounds bag and it is only 2 of us eating them(I occasionally share a dish with neighbors). That's right 50 pounds for 2 people. It will last us probably 2  maybe 3 months. Summer is potato hot, we love to grill them. Needless to say we are big potato eaters.
I love them in any form possible : boiled, roasted, grilled, raw, sliced, grated, roasted in the skins without skins, potato sauerkraut kielbasa casserole,  boiled with skins and then peeled, sliced and  lightly salted, or with a cup of milk and loads of butter or with salted sour cream...

I like roasted potatoes but they take so long to make so I started to par-cook them before I roast them in the oven. They are so much better than fries, in my opinion.
Par-cooking really helps, it cuts on the roasting time so they are easy to prepare any time of the week.
You  par-cook potatoes by boiling them in water for couple of minutes.

Why Par-Cooking Potatoes makes crispier roasted potatoes ?
While you simmer peeled, sliced, cut up potatoes in the water, starch and sugar from potatoes is drawn to the surface of the potatoes and then in the oven sugar and starch will create a nice crisp shell around the potatoes.

I was feeling little hearty and made heart shaped roasted potatoes, by all means you don't have to do this,(it takes some time *) though  they are so cute, would be perfect for Valentine's Day Dinner. Normally I just cut potatoes into cubes to save time.

 * you can also make cubes  and only few heart ones, one or 2 hearts will add a little flare to your dinner plate too, doesn't have to be the whole bunch of hearts, little heart goes a long way.

Roasted Potatoes

6 large potatoes(about 2 pounds for 4 servings)
1/4cup olive oil
1 to  2tsp  kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2tsp caraway seeds
1/2tsp paprika(optional)

Make Heart Cutouts
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with non-stick spray or brush with oil.
  • Fill a pot with  about 1quart -2quarts of water, add 1tbl salt, bring  to boil, then reduce  heat to gentle simmer.
  • In the meantime peel potatoes, slice them, using a small metal cookie cutter cut out as many hearts as you can. Reserve scraps in water, you can also par-cook scraps or make mashed potatoes
  • Cook potatoes in simmering water for 3 minutes, drain potatoes and let cool slightly.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the marinade : olive oil, salt, caraway seed, pepper, paprika.
  • Pour marinade over potatoes, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Spread marinaded potatoes evenly onto the baking sheet.
  • Roast them for 20-25 minutes, in halftime using an off set silicone spatula carefully turn the potatoes (don't forget to use oven mittens when handling hot baking sheet!).
  • If your oven has a broiler, broil potatoes for additional 5 minutes or  until they are golden on brown.

Roasted Heart Potatoes


You can omit caraway seed and use rosemary, or other herbs you like.
You can also add garlic, just make sure you add the garlic no more than 1 minute before you plan to take the potatoes out of the oven, otherwise garlic can burn and it will become bitter.
I also like to roast potatoes with couple of bay leaves and peppercorn, adding garlic at the end. That is my dad's recipe.

Linking to

~Decorated French Macaron Cookies ~

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I thought it would be fun to make French Macaron Cookies, the decorated kind.
I hope you can forgive me if I had you fooled by the name French Macaron Cookies and  you were expecting  the famous kind of French Macarons.  Don't worry though I will be making the the famous ones  soon, I have egg whites aging right now.
Today though I'll show you  a different kind of Macarons.

This whole idea started to simmer when I received  French Macaron Soap from Kasey at KcSoapsNmore.
I gave the soap to a friend  as a Christmas gift, funny thing she  thought it was a cookie and cut it in half because her kids were fighting over it...then realizing it smelled like soap, ending  on her bathroom sink.

French Macaron Cookies (the decorated kind)

You need:

How To:
  • Make the cookie dough, cut the cookies and bake them, let cool completely, best to let them rest till next day, cookies behave better
  • Outline and flood top and bottom of the cookies, leaving center line empty
  • Once flooded areas are dry fill in the center line with a contrasting color icing(for example, if your top and bottom are flooded with chocolate flavored icing, flood the center with raspberry, or if top and bottom are lemon flavored icing, flood the center with chocolate flavored icing..etc. Make them taste yummy
  • Let the cookies dry completely and then add all the details with an edible food pen

Here there are all sitting pretty by the Eiffel Tower...

~Recycle Chobani Yogurt Containers into Storage or Cookie Gift Containers~

Monday, January 23, 2012

I buy plain Chobani Greek Yogurt for several reasons :
  • I usually get a fat free one and it still tastes deliciously creamy and rich on its own
  • I buy it plain so I  can also use it to make my salad dressing, throw in some salt, mustard, pressed garlic or finely chopped onion, add little lemon juice, herbs, freshly ground pepper, little honey and you are good to go.
  • I use it in baking, as an ingredient in cakes, cookies or as a filling too.
  • Few weeks ago I realized these Chobani containers are pretty sturdy and are reusable, I started using them  and they actually work, I store my sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and in a large container I store apple chips I get at a local farmer's market.
  • I figured if I can save every container for the whole year, I'll have cookie gift containers for Christmas to give. Give them a little treatment with pretty paper and a ribbon and they are perfect, lid is clear, see through which also makes for a nice presentation. Not bad, not bad at all. What do you think?
  • What is also fantastic about these is the way the lid was designed, containers  kind of lock into each other when you store them on top of each other.
  • There are different sizes of Chobani yogurts  available on the market right now :single serve and  multi- serve. I use only multi-serve ones, those containers come with a handy lid so you can reuse them over and over.
  • Multi serves come in 2 sizes : 32oz(907grams) and 16oz(454grams). I've turned them both into reusable containers with no problems so far.

Chobani Yogurt Containers  turned into Storage or  Cookie Gift Containers

You need
  • Empty containers and lids that have been washed, Do not wash these in the dishwasher!
  • Gently remove the label
  • Trace the label onto a thick craft paper, cut it out - this will be your template to use for future use
  • Get a nice scrapbooking paper or wrapping paper you like and trace the template onto the paper, cut it out.
  • Glue the new container label onto the container
  • You can add a  pretty ribbon or a gift tag if desired

 Make delicious Graham Crackers and fill the container with cookies.

Linking up to Tidy Mom

Layered Chocolate Vanilla Cheesecake

Friday, January 20, 2012

This is one of my favorite cakes of my childhood, my friend's mom used to make it all the time and boy did I love it! I still do. It is so easy to make and really  a no-brainer .

In my opinion everything is better with cheese.  You see over the years I've developed a strong affection for cheese and though I tried (multiple times) breaking it off  it is very unlikely that this romance  will ever end.

This cake is very popular in Slovakia, it is extremely easy to prepare, uses the most common ingredients and is delicious.

Why I love this cake:
No need to roll the dough
Not too sweet
Tastes even better second day
Great to take along to a picnic or as school lunch, it holds up pretty well

Layered Chocolate Vanilla Cheesecake (8-9 inch tart pan size, or a square pan)

1 3/4 cup(245grams)all purpose flour
3/4cup powdered sugar(80grams)
1tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbl Cocao powder, for more chocolate flavor use more if  desired. I use dark cocoa powder.
1stick(115grams) butter

Cheese Layer
2cups(380grams) farmer's cheese-make your own * read about possible substitutes below
1cup(100grams) powdered sugar
2egg yolks
2egg whites
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon

*If you don't have time to make farmer's cheese, you can substitute with ricotta cheese.
I haven't tried this recipes with cream cheese alone, my only concern is that with cream cheese alone texture of  the baked cake will be different, more dense than just with farmer's cheese or ricotta cheese
 You could also try  1:1, cream cheese : ricotta cheese.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

Use 8-9 inch tart pan, or you can use a square pan as well, this cake works well cut into bars too.
Spray the pan with a nonstick spray.

Chocolate Dough
In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, add egg yolk, room temperature butter, vanilla extract,using your hands make the dough.
You can also use stand mixer attached with paddle attachment to mix the dough. Divide dough in half. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in a plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Once chilled take one disk out.
*if you can't seem to get the dough to come together, add 1tsp milk

Grate half of the chocolate dough directly into the  prepared pan, making sure you cover the whole bottom, without bottom of the pan peeking through.

Cheese Filling

Generally farmer's cheese isn't smooth, it has a texture to it. If you want the filling to be smooth process  farmer's cheese, egg yolks, sugar,  vanilla and lemon zest in a food processor. This filling is not too sweet, if you prefer sweeter taste, add more sugar.

In a clean bowl beat 2egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks are formed.  With a silicone spatula gently fold the meringue into the cheese filling.

Spoon the filling on the top of  the grated dough in the pan, spread evenly in the pan.

Take the remaining disk of chocolate dough from the fridge and grate it over the cheese filling, until completely covered.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Let the cake cool completely before transferring it to the cake plate. You will have to lightly loosen edges with a knife or a fork. Use a wide cake spatula to transfer cake. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Cake tastes best when cooled, and even better one day old.
This cake keeps for several days, store covered in a cool place.

~Valentine's Day S'mores~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Valentine's Day is around the corner and I wanted share with you all really yummy treat you can make for your friends, dear ones, children or for yourself. I'm a giver so I gave some to my friend's kids and to my Zumba instructor for her kids.

These Valentine's Day S'mores may seem to be  little too complicated to make, but  in fact the most time consuming to make are  Perfect Graham Crackers , but even so they are  totally worth the time because they are delicious.
They are perfect to munch on alone, drizzled with some dark chocolate or you can use them to make these festive Valentine's Day S'mores.

Valentine's Day S'mores
You need:
  • Perfect Graham Crackers -RECIPE- ( makes about 50 ,depends on the size of the cookie cutter,  I use a metal cookie cutter, about 2 inches wide and 2 1/8 inches high, you can get a  similar cutter at Karen's Cookies. For the small opening I use a super mini heart cutter, it came with the linzer cookie set.
  • Homemade Marshmallows - RECIPE  - makes about 20 heart cut outs( amount depends on the size of the cookie cutter)I decided to make them extra special by adding 1/2 cup dry cranberries into the whipped batter just before spreading  it in the pan. You can also use cherries if you'd like or bit of mini chocolate chips would be lovely too.

  • Dipping Chocolate- Merckens Chocolate Wafers, about 2-3 cups
  • How to Put Sandwich Cookie Together -Once you bake your cookies and make marshmallow cut outs you can make sandwich cookies.

In a heat proof bowl and over the pot with simmering water melt the chocolate wafers. Use a tiny bit of melted chocolate to adhere cookies to the marshmallow, you can either spoon some chocolate onto the cookies or spoon slightly cooled chocolate into the sandwich bag and pipe chocolate  onto the cookies. How to fill  a zipoc/sandich bag with chocolate. Once you sandwich cookies and marshmallow together let the chocolate set. Then if desired dip  1/2 of  the sandwich in the chocolate, shake of the excess and let harden.
Store S'mores in the airtight container in a cool place.
Serving Suggestion : microwave for 3-5 seconds and enjoy