Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smells like Christmas...

If you were to ask my mom, Christmas isn't Christmas without snickerdoodles. These are her favorite cookie, so when I went on my baking adventure 2008, I had to include them for her. I made 7 types of cookies, all with different flavors and textures. The simplest of these was the snickerdoodle. With just a simple coating in cinnamon sugar before baking, they have a subtle sweetness that matches their chewy texture beautifully.

Classic Snickerdoodles

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter; softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix sugar, butter, shortening and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  • Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookies cookies everywhere...

These cookies go by many different names Russian tea cookies, pecan balls, or in my family, snowballs. All of the recipes are very similar and they are topped with the unmistakable adornment of crisp white powdered sugar. The look of a powdered doughnut draws in kids and the unmistakable flavor hooks them for life. The cookie is slightly dry, and barely sweet, and definitely not overwhelming. My cousins have been known to eat entire tins before realizing what they were doing, or being caught by their parents!

Grandma's Snowballs
This recipe is written exactly how my grandmother wrote it on her recipe card...Not my style, but it is her recipe after all...

Beat well:
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together:
Egg mixture
1 cup butter or crisco
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar; sifted

Sift together:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Chill 30 Minutes in refrigerator

Form into 1 inch balls

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Bake 8 to 10 minutes

Roll in powdered sugar immediately out of oven; Caution will be hot!!

Cool and roll again in powdered sugar

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookie Spectacular.

I truly love the holiday season. Everything about it makes me happy. It is the time of year when I get to spend copious amounts of time with my family, bake obscene amounts of cookies, and finish the day with a wonderfully delicious Harpoon Winter Warmer. I really love that beer, I look forward to it all year long.

For my first of the many holiday cookie posts to come, I'm going to highlight chocolate chip cookies. This recipe was adapted from all recipes. This dough is by far the best cookie dough any of us have
ever had.

Chocolate chip cookies - Makes 3 Dozen (we got closer to 5 dozen worth of dough, but we actually produced 4 dozen cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened (I like to leave my butter out overnight if I know I'll be baking the next day)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package jell-o brand vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl cream together butter and both sugars. Blend in instant pudding mix. Add eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Mix in flour and baking soda.
  • Once blended stir in chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are slightly browned.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recipes to Rival Month 1

Squash soup is what was on the menu this month over on recipes to rival!
The requirements were that we had to make our own stock, something I had never done, use squash, and use a vanilla cream garnish of some sort. I was really excited when I read the challenge because I had been wanting to make squash soup since fall began. This finally gave me the perfect excuse to just do it already! I liked the leniency of this specific challenge because as long as I made my own stock and used a vanilla garnish, i could use whatever squash soup recipe I wanted. I ended up making up my own after reading and getting inspired by other recipes.

I started on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving by making the stock and roasting the squash. I used my two favorite squashes, butternut and acorn. They're so flavorful and naturally sweet.

Once my stock had boiled away for hours and my squash was wonderfully tender, both went into the refrigerator overnight.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving in my family is what we call pie day. All of the women come over to my mom's house and we bake all the pies and we do a ton of prep work for the big day. I made the soup for dinner for everyone, it was delicious. Everyone liked it. I uses the butternut squash, acorn squash, an apple and a pear. I used an immersion blender to smooth the squash, apple, and stock together.
Once smooth, I added some apple cider, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I tasted and tasted and tasted and couldn't figure out what to add in order to make it not taste like baby food. After some googling and searching, I decided to add 6 tablespoons of butter. That fixed my problem perfectly. It was amazing.

I then made whipped cream with vanilla bean. That was so delicious. I actually used what I needed for the soup, and then sweetened it for use on the pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving. So yummy!

I garnished with the vanilla whipped cream and some sage leaves.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DB: Caramel Cake!

I know I'm a little bit late with my Caramel Cake post, but Thanksgiving was just crazy!

This month's challenge was Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, by Shuna Fish Lydon. The host this month was Dolores from Culinary Curiosity with help from Alex from Blondie and Brownie, Jenny from Foray into Food, and Natalie from Gluten-a-Go-Go.

I was a little nervous about this month's recipe, simply because in the challenge there was a comment about how this cake it truly about baking. I was excited about that because I obviously like to bake, and I like a challenge, hence joining the group...However, I was nervous as this was the first time I took on a recipe that I thought to be challenging.

The recipe was very detailed with many different steps. We had to make a caramel syrup, brown butter, make frosting, and make a cake. The syrup was the part that I found to be the most difficult. I've made hard candy before, in the form of candy canes, but I had never made caramel. The recipe warned to wear long sleeves when pouring the water into the caramel, I ignored the long sleeves, but poured the water in with an oven mitt on my hand. Oh Boy! I was SO glad I made that decision. It really exploded. It was insane. I whisked it a little, and took it off the burner and let it cool. I read the recipe wrong and accidentally added like a cup of the syrup when it only called for 1/3 of a cup. oops. The cake still tasted pretty good, but it was a little overwhelmingly sweet, but that was to be expected when you mess up the recipe!

I made a 9x9 inch square cake, and it cooked for a relatively short time, like 30 minutes. It smelled delicious! While it was cooking I browned the butter and made the frosting. That part was truly delicious. I loved the brown butter, I thought it was delicious and added a great nuttiness to the frosting which balanced my excessively sweet cake nicely.
I loved the cake, and it would have been truly delicious if I had added the correct amount of syrup.