My Unofficial Version of the Pink Leaf Cookie from Italian Bakeries

pink cookie sandwich baking partyFor as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the pink leaf cookies with the chocolate sandwich middles that you get at Italian bakeries and sometimes in the gourmet cookie assortments at the grocery store if you are lucky. These cookies come in pink and green sandwiches in the exact same leaf shape, and they have a layer of chocolate holding them together. I believe the pink cookie is a strawberry flavor and the green cookie is supposed to be pistachio, I THINK. For almost as long as I’ve loved these cookies, I’ve been desperate to learn how to make them. I’ve scoured the Web and asked chefs and others I know who love to bake. Always coming up empty handed, I thought about reverse engineering the cookie with a basic Italian butter cookie recipe. I found a pretty good amount of success with this method.

WARNING: STOP reading here if you might be disappointed in learning of a possibly different origin for these scrumptious cookies other than the quaint Italian bakeries of your childhood or the pleasant Italian women you’ve pictured baking these from scratch —

Okay, you’ve been warned… I also, through my research, came up with a new theory that the pink and green leaf sandwich cookies might be a product of a company that mass produces them for sale at bakeries and so forth. Sort of like a Nabisco or Keebler, but more upscale and more “white label.”

kitchenaid-mixer

Again, just my suspicion, but it would certainly explain why a recipe is so hard to come by! And also why, no matter what brand, store, or model, I cannot find quite the right leaf shape cookie cutter or cookie gun with leaf shaped disks.

From a previous blog post I wrote, I’ve received a few requests for my version of the pink leaf bakery cookie recipe, so here goes nothing! If you try it, please let me know in the comments what you thought and if you have any improvements or modifications that may be useful to other people.

Unofficial Italian Bakery Pink Leaf Cookies Recipe:

pink-leaf-cookie-dough

Ingredients:
1/2 pound butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
pink-leaf-cookie-cutter1 egg
1 tsp strawberry extract, or to taste
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
Red food coloring

(Yields 40 cookies, depending on size. I usually double the recipe. When you need two cookies per sandwich, the recipe doesn’t stretch very far…)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer (my favorite), cream the butter and sugar until super fluffy (around 3 minutes or so).
  3. Add eggs and strawberry extract and mix until blended completely.
  4. On the lowest speed, add in the flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt.
  5. Mix the dough just until it’s blended. Avoid overmixing.
  6. Add in a few drops of red food coloring and mix with spoon until blended. Adjust to your desired shade of pink.
  7. pink-leaf-cookie-pressFill your cookie gun (cookie press) or roll out a handful of dough for use with cookie cutters.
  8. Attempt to make equal numbers of the same shape of cookies – for example, I have used the Wilton Cookie Pro Ultra II Cookie Press as well as the Wilton Leaves and Acorns Cookie Cutter Set, although you can find other cookie cutter options as well. You will need pairs of cookies to make the little sandwiches. Space them apart by about two inches on your cookie sheets.pink-leaf-cookie-tray
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown.
  10. Cool on cooling rack.
  11. Heat about 1/3 of a bag of semisweet chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup. Be careful not to overheat – I put mine in for 60 seconds followed by another 10 seconds, mixing in between.
  12. chocolate-leaf-sandwich-cookieUsing a spoon or other utensil, spread the melted chocolate on the bottom of one cookie and press the other half together so they stick.
  13. Place on a sheet of wax paper inside a plastic container.
  14. Repeat for all cookies until done.
  15. Place container inside refrigerator for about 10 to 20 minutes to “set” the chocolate. This way the chocolate won’t melt and smear as much as it otherwise might.
  16. Enjoy and share your cookies and this pink leaf cookie recipe with family and friends!

pink-leaves-on-tray

Please let me know what you think of this recipe if you decide to try it! I would be glad to use your comments to further improve the recipe for our readers, myself, my family, and friends. Also, if you’ve attempted the green leaf cookies, please share as well. Thanks, and happy baking!

pink-leaf-sandwich-cookie

Five Fun Baking Parties for Adults

pink cookie sandwich baking partyBaking parties for adults can be a great deal of fun. You can get together with your friends, and have fun together by baking and decorating cakes and other baked goods. You can find a number of fantastic social ideas for baking parties. No matter what time of year it is, you are sure to find a party theme for baking that suits your needs.

Halloween Baking Party

Halloween is a fun occasion for kids and adults alike. A fun twist on a traditional Halloween party is a Halloween baking theme party. Instead of having a regular party on Halloween, you can host a baking party. You and your guests can bake cupcakes, muffins, and cakes, which are Halloween themed. For example, you could make jam filled cakes, cupcakes that feature ghosts, Frankenstein, and anything else that relates to Halloween. You should decorate your home and the baking area with a Halloween theme in mind, and you could even purchase Halloween themed baking accessories.

Healthy Themed Baking Party

While baked goods are delicious and baking parties are a lot of fun, they aren’t great if you are trying to stick to a healthy diet. However, baked goods don’t have to be completely unhealthy. You can make cakes using organic flour and wholemeal flour, as well as reduced fat products, fruits, grains, honey, and other healthy ingredients. If you and your friends are on a diet, then a healthy baking themed party can be a great idea. This type of party is ideal for a person’s birthday. You simply purchase healthier ingredients, such as dried fruits, whole grains, and wholemeal flour, and encourage your guests to make healthy yet tasty baked treats.

Christmas Baking Party

Christmas is the ideal time to host a baking theme party. You can invite your friends, family, and your neighbors to enjoy a fun Christmas party with a twist. You can purchase Christmas themed baking accessories and bake Christmas themed items, such as Santa cookies, gingerbread men, and cupcakes that feature Christmas themed subjects, such as reindeer and candy canes. It is a great way for you and your friends to have fun together and get into the holiday spirit.

Patriotic Baking Party

Whether it’s the fourth of July weekend or you are just feeling patriotic, a patriotic themed baking party can be a lot of fun. You can decorate your homes in red, white, and blue, and bake patriotic themed cupcakes and cakes. You could even purchase patriotic baking accessories for your guests to use when baking.

Picnic Themed Party

baking theme partyA picnic party theme for baking can be great fun on a sunny day. You can decorate your home in a picnic theme by using lots of decorations that feature gingham and checked print. Once you and your friends have baked some tasty treats, you can put them into cute picnic baskets and eat your baked treats on your lawn with your friends, washing them down with some lemonade or iced tea. You will not only have fun baking with your friends, but you can also enjoy the fresh air and a picnic filled with baked goods.

Vegetarian BBQ Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho says that grilling is just about burgers and ribs? You can just as easily grill tofu, tomatoes, peppers, and other tasty veggies to create a light and healthy meal for everyone to enjoy. It’s the perfect food for those hot summer days. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, a vegetarian barbecue is the most natural choice. Meat lovers may also accept the idea since it’s nice change from the usual all-meat grill menu. Grab an apron, get that grill out of the garage, and pay attention, because we are about to give you some delicious vegetarian BBQ tips and recipes that will leave your mouth watering.

1. Stuffed BBQ peppers

These delicious peppers are guaranteed to impress all of your friends and family and keep them coming for more. Not only are they very easy to prepare, but their rich flavor and strong aroma will also make your mouth water as soon as you smell them. Stuff the peppers with a mix of rice, onions, mozzarella, and gorgonzola, and then grill them for 15-20 minutes, turning them lightly until they get a nice brown color. Vegans can create their own cheese substitutes with tofu “ricotta” or agar. Serve the peppers with some mashed potatoes or pasta as a side dish and you’ve got yourself an ideal light summer lunch!

2. All-veggie grill platter

Looking for some inspiration for a light veggie lunch, you check your kitchen and see you have some asparagus, carrots, and onions. “What can I make of these?”, you think. Well, why don’t you grill them all and create a tasty BBQ veggie platter? The end result – everyone licking their fingers and rubbing their bellies in satisfaction after a delicious meal. Don’t just stop at these tasty vegetables; take whatever you got stored and just throw them in the mix – you just can’t go wrong! The whole thing takes only 15-20 minutes and the fascinated compliments you receive from your friends while they eat it will definitely make your day. Toss with some olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Have fun and be creative.

3. Grilled eggplant salad

This summertime dish is an absolute must for every green lover and it will make your mouth explode with delight with the first bite. The entire meal takes about 45 minutes to prepare and is very simple. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds, sprinkle them with salt and olive oil, and grill them for 5-10 minutes while preparing the dressing that consists of oil, vinegar, tomato, garlic, and paprika all mixed in a blender. Pour this over the eggplant, toss some green salad and cheese (or cheese substitute if you’re a vegan), and voila! Lunch is served. Not only is this dish very low cal but it’s also extremely healthy and very light to eat in these extreme hot days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, all grilled food tastes a whole lot better with a dip. Create your own tasty vegetarian dips in just a few minutes and store them in the refrigerator for the next time you need to use them. All you need is a blender and a creative mind – take your favorite greens, blend them together for a minute or two and you’re all set! The possibilities truly are endless. After giving you all these tasty vegetarian recipes and tips, all we have to say is: have fun grilling and bon apetite!

Extra Cheese- If You Please

Cheese tray Our long love affair with cheese in America dates back to the days of Christopher Columbus and the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 near Plymouth, Massachusetts. Even though the pilgrims brought no cows initially, milk and cheese became important staples in the colonists’ diet. Goats and buffalo provided the milk and therefore, the cheese, until cows were shipped from England, sometime later. It is believed by historians that goat and buffalo cheese was presented to the Native Americans during the first Thanksgiving celebration. The actual creation of cheese is unknown but, credible historians believe its existence predates recorded history and its discovery was probably accidental.

Today, cheeses’ nutritional data and fat content are important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right cheese to purchase for your family. Cheese, as we know, is high in fat, sodium, and dreaded calories. But, the cheese nutritional value is believed to be more beneficial to the body when it is moderately consumed as part of a healthy diet, rather than removing cheese from your diet all together. Most cheese on the market today contains Zinc, Vitamins A and B12, Phosphorous, and Calcium in abundant concentrations, making it vital to a healthy diet. Currently, 54 countries produce 606 types of cheese with many different textures and colors presenting a wide variety of flavors. The pickiest palate can find a flavor as well as the nutrition that he or she needs to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Cheese wheel Cheese has long been accused of playing a major role in the obesity epidemic in America. When reviewing the published nutritional facts for cheese, it is apparent that the high fat content, calories, and the amazing flavor of cheese, could easily lead us to over indulge on our favorite. But, not all cheeses are bad when trying to control your weight. If high fat content and calories are your concern, you can find several options that will treat you to an amazing cheese without the increased fat and calories. Many types of cheese are also offered in a low fat, low sodium variety. Cottage cheese is naturally the lowest in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, while cream cheese, among others, contains an amazingly high fat content. Knowing the difference can be important when trying to win the battle of the bulge.

Cheese, along with milk and yogurt, provides a unique combination of nutrients that, studies show, offers many health benefits; helping develop strong bones in the young and actually helping improve bone health for the aging population. Calcium fights the onset of osteoporosis and helps reduce high blood pressure when consumed in moderation.

Cheddar cheese is perhaps the most versatile and common cheese in the world. Created in England, its wide range of sharp, smooth flavor has helped cheddar become the most purchased and consumed cheese in the world. A little higher in calories and sodium but yet, its richness in vital nutrients makes this cheese beneficial to a healthy diet.

American cheese is actually a “processed” cheese made from a milk, milk fats, solids, and whey protein. It was initially made from a mixture of cheeses, more often than not Colby and Cheddar (which are American created cheeses as well). Since blended cheeses are no longer used in its production, American “cheese” is now pasteurized and classified a processed cheese food. Instead of the word “cheese”, it is now called “American slices” or “American singles”. Most companies that produce individually wrapped American cheese label the package with individual cheese slice nutrition statistics to clearly show the good and the bad cheese nutrition data compiled by the Office of food safety (FDA). Though criticized for its high fat content, it is still purchased and consumed in large quantities. It contains an abundant amount of our daily required vitamins, calcium, and protein, helping us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In the United States alone, we consume over 32 pounds of cheese per person annually, slightly increasing yearly. Cheddar, American, Mozzarella, Colby, and Provolone (in that order) remain the favorites and most purchased cheeses in the U.S. with an average personal consumption of 10 pounds of each per year. It’s obvious in America that we continue to say, “extra cheese please”.