linzer stars

I know it’s after Christmas, but I still have a ton of holiday recipes that I want need to share with you all.  And even though Christmas is over, the holiday spirit isn’t over! Right guys?! We’ve still got New Years… and heck, we’ve still got Groundhogs day!  In my opinion, even a Thursday is worth celebrating with cookies… especially these lovely little star shaped jam filled ones.

This star shaped cookies look so festive, and so professional.  I added these to my holiday cookie assortment and they definitely added the visual appeal that even the most decadent brownie can’t attract. 

I made mine with my favorite Bon Maman Raspberry Jam.  But you could even fill yours with an assortment of jams if you want to be fancy like that.

So if the post-Christmas blues are getting you down, turn up some music, grab some friends, whip together a batch of these uber-Christmas-y star shaped cookies, and relive Christmas all over again!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2
    cups
    all-purpose flour


  • 1 1/3
    cups
    slivered almonds


  • 1 3/4
    teaspoons
    ground cinnamon


  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    fine sea salt


  • 2/3
    cup
    sugar


  • 1/2
    cup
    (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 1

    large egg


  • 2
    teaspoons
    dark rum


  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract


  • 1/2
    cup raspberry jam 

  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)


Pulse flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (no larger than poppy seeds).


Using an electric mixer at
medium speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3
minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Beat in rum
and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients. Beat dough just
to blend; gently knead if necessary to form a ball.


Divide dough in half. Place
each half between sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Working with 1
piece at a time, flatten dough into a disk; roll dough, occasionally
lifting paper on both sides for easier rolling, until 1/8 inches thick.
Chill dough in paper until very firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.


Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.


Working with 1 dough disk at a
time, remove top sheet of paper and, using 2-inch star cookie cutter,
cut out cookies. Transfer to baking sheets, placing 1/2 inch apart;
chill. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps; repeat rolling,
chilling, and cutting until dough is used.


Using 1/2-inch star cookie
cutter, cut out a star from the center of half the cookies. Working in
batches, bake cookies until light golden brown, dry, and just firm to
the touch, 11-13 minutes. (Cookies will firm up as they cool.) Transfer
to a wire rack; let cool. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


Bring jam and 1 teaspoon water to a boil in a small saucepan; let cool slightly.


Arrange whole cookies flat side
up. Spoon 1 teaspoon cooled jam in the center of each, dabbing slightly
to spread. Arrange cookies with cutouts flat side down on a wire rack;
dust with powdered sugar. Set atop whole cookies, lining up star points
and allowing jam to push up slightly through center. DO AHEAD: Linzer Stars can be assembled 8 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

everyday vita: a very cannella christmas

WOOO! Merry Christmas my little cinnamon sprinkles!  This post may be a little jumbled because:

a) I’m blaring Christmas music in the background — I have to listen to it because it’s not gonna be on tomorrow! (Sleigh Ride and It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas are my absolute favorites!)
b) I am still on a major sugar high from the humungous mug of peppermint hot chocolate affogato that I chugged this morning.
Please bear with me…

This morning started with a European-style Christmas breakfast.  I served a platter of both sweet and savory homemade croissants (ham and swiss, nutella stuffed, and of course, cinnamon sugar!).  I also served peppermint hot cocoa affogato for my dad and I (who said you can’t have ice cream for breakfast?!), and a big mug of dairy free peppermint hot cocoa for mom. 

Nutcrackers in the background — one for each member of the family (the baby one is for Carly)

 Since I’m a bit of a nerd and obsessed with anything having to do with typography, I made a menu to go along with my European-style breakfast. (hey, the glue gun was already heated up! wouldn’t want that to go to waste!)

To keep up with the button trend, I made my own Christmas cards for my mom, dad, and Carly of course!

After breakfast, we were all experiencing bouts of sentimentality and extreme sugar rush… so we meandered over to the Christmas tree.

 It’s our family tradition to open each of our presents one at a time in order to prolong the excitement of gift giving.  Carly didn’t seem to love this idea, and ran away with her stocking full of Sushi Pups and Milk Bones.

 But thankfully, she came back just in time to check out my package that came all the way from England!

I included my festive socks in this picture, a la Izy Hossack — except mine also has a curious little puppy in the frame

 
This past summer when I met Izy, the fabulous teenage blogger behind Top With Cinnamon, we decided to exchange various treats at Christmastime. 

I got a box full of little packages wrapped beautifully in Indian newspaper.

 She even stamped her note with a custom “TWC” stamp… Oh Izy, you never fail to amaze me.

 I got a jar of famously British Golden Syrup.   Maybe I’ll bake one of these golden syrup cakes, or some golden syrup dumplings. Or maybe I’ll just dump the entire draw and all of its deliciousness on plain ol’ pancakes and pretend I’m in merry old England… that works too.

 Oh yeah, and she also sent me all of these fabulous treats from the U.K. I’m planning on creating some crazy recipes with these, so stay tuned!  I’m also planning on eating some of these after I finish writing this post…

Those Jaffa Cakes are calling my name, so I best be going. I hope you’re having a wonderful day laughing with family, eating delicious food, blaring some Christmas music, and maybe even chasing after an unruly little doggy (shout out to all my Shih Tzu owners out there!).

Thank you each and every one of you for making Cannella Vita my special little corner of the internet.  Thanks to you all, my camera and keyboard are covered in butter and sugar, I have over 5 pounds of chocolate chips in my basement, and I couldn’t be happier.  Each and every day I look forward to writing new posts for you, and taking little snapshots of my life and treats.  Reading your comments and e-mails always makes my day.  Have a warm, safe, happy holiday!

With love,
Erica

everyday vita: diy button cards

Opening holiday cards is one of the biggest joys of the season — but buying cards in bulk is so last year.
Why be “mainstream” when you can join the homemade-holiday-card team?
$5.99 for a holiday card that blinks and sings? Although cool at first, the thrill wears off when it breaks and sings unpromted for the next two weeks.

A quiet, homemade card is not only cheaper and less annoying, but it also says “hey, remember me? I’m super artsy and am above the commercial holiday market.” Win-win-win situation!  Take that Hallmark!

Thanks to a glue gun, buttons, and minimalist designs, your cards can look like those $10 boutique cards (not like the ones you made your parents in elementary school). 

To add to the sentimental touch of my homemade cards (and also due to the fact that I’m terribly awkward when writing letters), I wrote a personalized poem in each of my cards.  It’s easier for me to write a two page rhyme than a four line sentimental note (thanks Freestyle Club!).  I’ll spare you the details of my super cheesy poems and leave my “super sick rhymes” to the imagination.  Let’s just say I rhymed “walks” and “Crocs.”  Take that T-Pain!

With love,
Erica

christmas crack

There’s two reasons this candy is called “Christmas Crack.”

1) It is traditionally made with Saltine crackers (personally, I like to use buttery Ritz)
2) It is INSANELY addictive — once it cools, you literally can’t quit eating it! (I had to gift it off to friends before I finished the entire tray!

Last Tuesday, I got home really late from track practice.  After I kicked off my sneakers and settled in to an episode of Modern Family, I realized that I hadn’t baked my Secret Santa her present!  It was too late to make any sort of quick bread or brownies, and I was too tired to even think about whipping up cookie dough (those 500m relays kill me every time)… 

Ritz crackers + butter + sugar + chocolate = SOLUTION!

This recipe is not only incredibly addictive, it’s also unbelievably easy and quick to make (for better or for worse…).  Just lay out the crackers, melt the butter and sugar, and melt the chocolate. DONE! I decorated mine by marbling white chocolate on the dark chocolate surface — however, the possibilities are endless (you could sprinkle the melted chocolate with some crushed nuts, sprinkles, or even crushed candy canes!). Once you get your first taste I know you will be hooked.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

1.5 sleeves of crackers* (enough to cover a baking sheet)
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
Sprinkles,  nuts, white chocolate etc. to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it
with parchment paper and spraying generously with nonstick cooking spray. 
 
Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet
so that there are no empty spaces in between them.
 
Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over
medium-high heat. Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a
rolling boil. Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture
over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover
most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee
will spread in the oven.
 
 Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes,
until the toffee is bubbling all over. Carefully remove the pan from the
oven and allow to cool for one minute.
 
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and
allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt (if they aren’t melting quick enough, pop in the oven for a minute and let the residual heat soften them). Once softened, use
an offset spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the
entire surface of the toffee in an even layer. While the chocolate is
still soft, decorate how you like.
 
Cool until set (I left mine on the counter overnight, but you could pop them in the fridge for 30 min, or even the freezer if you cant wait!). Once set, either slice into small pieces with a warm knife or break into small uneven pieces by hand, and
enjoy!

*I used Ritz, but Tollhouse, Saltines, Matzo, even graham crackers would be delicious!

white chocolate cranberry biscotti

I told you all about my holiday cookie boxes — now I get to tell you about all of the goodies that I stuffed inside of them.  Get ready for an overload of cookie recipes in the next few days (I owe it to you after being MIA for the last two weeks). 

In the past, I would have never ordered biscotti at a coffee shop.  Why would I choose a hard, crunchy cookie wrapped in plastic when I could have a warm slice of banana bread, or a delicious   slice of blueberry coffee cake? This recipe has entirely changed my views on biscotti. These are not the brick-like, tooth-breaking, stale biscotti that may come to mind. These are buttery, vanilla-y, and pure heaven when sitting alongside a dark, rich cup of coffee.

I made these for my friend Grace who loves the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere.  Emily Schuman (the genius behind Cupcakes and Cashmere) wrote that these were one of her favorite things to have with afternoon tea.  She makes hers with almonds and orange liqueur.  To make mine more festive for the holidays, I substituted white chocolate and cranberries for the orange zest and liqueur.  Grace, just like Emily Schuman, has a great sense of style. I am always jealous of her classic, stylish ensembles.  She loves J. Crew, and Tory Burch.  She even has a job at a classy, menswear store in the area.  Biscotti are the classiest of cookies (even the name “biscotti” sounds so sophisticated!) — so I knew they would be just perfect for my amazing, stylish friend, Grace. Watch out, because she just may be the next “Cupcakes and Cashmere” (she even has Emily’s long blonde hair!).

With love,
Erica

White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped or sliced almonds

1 large egg white

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking
sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into
medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, and vanilla extract in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir
with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds, white chocolate chips, and cranberries.

Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into
13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared
baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy;
brush over top and sides of each dough log.

Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes.
Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven
temperature.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using
serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange
slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn
biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
Transfer to rack and cool.

Do ahead: Can be prepared one week ahead, though mine have kept even longer. Store in airtight container at room temperature.