Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lots of baking pics, and recipes.....

So, I thought I'd post some pics of the cooking & baking that I've been doing over the last 48 hours. This first is my first lot of cookies: Almond Shortbread.

I used 1 c butter (REAL butter), soft. Cream in 1/2 c sugar and 1 tsp almond extract. Add up to 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix well with hands to blend. Up to a Tbsp of milk may be added if dough is too dry to stick together, but you don't want it really sticky. It SHOULD be somewhat crumbly as you press it into the pan. Press dough into 8x8 inch baking pan. Bake at 325 deg. F. for 18-25 minutes or till it turns golden around the edges. Cool about 10 minutes in the pan before cutting, then allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from pan. The best way to remove shortbread is to place a cutting board, face down, over the top of the pan, then invert the pan so that the cutting board is now face-up, and the pan of shortbread is face-down over top of it. Then tap the bottom of the baking pan to cause the shortbread to pop out & fall to cutting board.

Now, a pic of the melting chocolate for the Rocky Road candy. This is a recipe I remember my mom making occasionally as a kid, mainly at Christmas time.

Rocky Road

16 oz milk chocolate

3 c mini marshmallows (I think I would have been better off with only 2 cups. With 3 cups of marshmallows I had to use a full 2 bags of chocolate chips, at approx. 23 oz total.)

3/4 c broken walnut pieces

Partially melt chocolate in double-boiler over hot water; remove from heat & stir until melted. Stir in marshmallows & nuts. Spread in buttered 8 inch. square pan. Chill. Makes about 4 dozen pieces. (I cut mine a bit big & didn't get NEARLY 4 dozen pieces!)


Next, my attempt at Opera Fudge. I found this recipe on recipezaar.com. I'm not ENTIRELY sure what I did wrong, but I think I overstirred it. It resulted in a yummy blend the consistency of frosting. I'm going to hold onto it, refridgerated, for a week or so & see if I can't come up with a cake to use it on. *grin*

When we were at Great-Grandma's house last weekend, DH's Aunt M. expressed the wish that she could remember her grandma's "Opera Fudge" recipe, as she's been wanting some. So I thought I'd come home & find a recipe online then suprise them with a pan of it.

Opera Fudge (White Fudge)

2 cups sugar
1 c heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Oil a jelly roll or 8x8 inch pan. Combine the sugar, cream, and salt in a 3 qt heavy pot, stirring to blend well. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.

Cover at let boil undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Uncover & wash down sides of the pot with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. (Have seen directions elsewhere to use hot water for this task.) Continue to boil over medium heat, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage (234 deg. F). Remove the pot to a cooling rack and let cool to lukewarm (110 deg. F.) without stirring.

Add the vanilla, whip until creamy, then spread in the oiled pan. To keep it creamy, cover the top of the candy with a damp cloth or paper towel for at least 30 minutes. Uncover, let set until firm, then cut into squares. Store in airtight container.

(Some of the notes direct that this fudge develops the best flavor if you let it sit overnight before sampling. That with this recipe one should stir constantly UNTIL it comes to a boil, then don't stir again at all until the candy has cooled to 110 deg. F.

Anyway, I didn't pay close enough attention to when it started boiling, I think, and stirred after it had hit boil stage. I also attempted to cool it down by beating some air into it, before it had completely cooled. (Ooops! That's what I get for not reading all the notes with the recipe.) Anyway, it's LOVELY frosting, just not very good fudge.

Now a picture of almost all of my baking, thus far. At the top, in the green square tin is my Almond Shortbread. Next to it in the large yellow-rimmed round tin is the Rocky Road. Below the Rocky Road is a round tin full of green peppermint patties (recipe to follow). Next to that is a rectangular box with Fudgy Buttons (recipe to follow). And next to that is an 8x8 pan with the attempted Opera Fudge. At the bottom is a square red tin with Brown Sugar & Spice Shorbread (recipe to follow), and the last round tin is my pathetic attempt at Minty Meringues (base-recipe to follow).

And, last but not least, these are the second 1/4 of a batch of Scandinavian Almond Bars I made last night. Ooooooooh so yummy!!!!

Scandinavian Almond Bars (A Taste of Home recipe)

1 cup sugar
1/2 c butter or margarine, softened (I doubled the recipe & used 1/2 cup of each butter & margarine, though I generally cook ONLY with butter unless directed otherwise.)
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1-3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 c sliced almonds, chopped

Icing:
1 c confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 to 2 Tbsp milk

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar & butter; beat in egg and extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide dough into fourths; form into 12" x 3" rectangles. Place 5 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Brush with milk; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325 for 18 to 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and edges are lightly golden-brown. Cool on pans for 5 minutes then cut diagonally into 1 inch slices. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over bars. Yield: about 4 dozen.

One note, be sure to leave plenty of spreading room on the pan as these cookies SPREAD!!! A LOT!

*****

Brown Sugar & Spice Shortbread (a Taste of Home Recipe)

1 cup butter (no subsitutes!) softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves (the spices are MY addition!)

In a mixing bowl, first combine the spices, cream butter & sugar with the spices. Gradually stir in the flour. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pat into an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan. Bake at 300 deg. F. for 25 minutes or until edges begin to turn a golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before cutting, then allow to finish cooling in the pan before inverting it over a cutting board to remove pieces from pan. Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

(I must cut my cookies considerably bigger, because there is NO WAY I'm getting 3 and 4 dozen pieces from a little 8x8 inch pan.)

*****

Peppermint Patties (A Taste of Home recipe that started life as "Minty Snowmen")

4 Tbsp butter (no substitutes), softened
4 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 to 1 Tsp mint extract (depends on how strong you like them, I only used 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
4 c confectioners (also known as powdered) sugar
several drops of green food coloring, as desired. Or mints may be left white.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup, extract, food coloring, and salt. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Knead until mixture forms a ball. Pinch off almond sized portions & roll into balls. Place on waxed paper then flatten with heel of hand & allow to harden slightly for a couple of hours before removing to tin. Seperate layers with wax paper.

*****

Fudgy Buttons (A Taste of Home recipe)

2 Tbsp butter or margarine (again, I used only butter)
1-1/2 tsp baking cocoa
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp milk
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

In a small saucepan, melt the butter; remove from the heat. Add cocoa and mix well. Stir in sugar. Add milk and stir until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfulls onto waxed paper; flatten tops & shap into 1 inch patties. Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen.

*****

Triple Chocolate Kisses (a Taste of Home Recipe, the base of which I used for my pathetic Minty Meringues)

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract (for which I subsituted an equal amount of mint extract)
1 square (1 oz) semisweet chocolate, grated (did NOT use)
42 milk-chocolate kisses
baking cocoa

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form, about 6 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes. Beat in extract. Fold in grated chocolate. Insert a medium open-star tip in a pastry or plastic bag. Fill with the meringue. On lightly greased baking sheets, pipe forty-two 1-inch circles. Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each. Pipe meringue around each kiss in continuous circles from the base to the top until kiss is completely covered. Dust with cocoa. Bake at 325 for 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Instead of doing all the instructions with the chocolate, I used the mint & was going to dollop them onto a greased baking sheet. Unfortunately, I think I overbeat the eggs & they collapsed as I wound up with not stiff-peaks at all, but a kind of runny, glossy egg-mix that fell in plops off my spatula. *sigh* Also, in other meringue recipes, the instructions direct the baker to lower the oven temp in the last few minutes, before turning off, but leaving the meringues on the pan in the oven. Supposedly this protects from the meringues collapsing in on themselves. I followed the directions as in THIS recipe & took the meringues out too cool, and they DID collapse in on themselves. Also, the green food coloring I added gives them an unappealing color. They have the appearance of brittle mint-green cow-patties. *sigh* This is another one to try again at a later date.

*****

I am still going to make Peanut Butter Fudge, hopefully this afternoon.

Peanut Butter Fudge (from Quick Cooking magazine)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1-1/3 cups peanut butter
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme

In a saucepan, bring sugar & milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and marshmallow cream; mix well. Quickly pour into a buttered 8-inch square pan; chill until set. Cut into squares. Yield: 3 to 4 dozen.

*****

A couple more recipes that I'd like to make, if I can scrounge up the time, are

Creme Cheese Drop Cookies (from my CPD Sister Cypress)

3 oz cream cheese, soft
1/2 cup butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds (or other nut) - finely chopped
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Cream together cheese & butter. Add sugar gradually, creaming after each addition. Add nuts. Fold in flour and blend until smooth. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten dough with wet fingers until wafer thin. Bake 10 minutes.

*****

Apricot Crescents (a Taste of Home recipe)

1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
sugar

In a bowl, cut butter into flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg yolk & sour cream; add to crumb mixture and mix well. Chill several hours or overnight. Divide dough into 1/4ths (fourths). On a sugared surface, roll each portion into a 10 inch circle. Turn dough over to sugar top side. Combine preserves, coconut & pecans; spread over circles. Cut each circle into 12 wedges and roll each wedge into a crescent shape, starting at the wide end. Sprinkle with sugar. Place, points down, 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 deg. F. for 15 to 17 minutes or until set & very lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 dozen.

*****

I WAS going to make Spritz cookies last night. Little rosettes with maraschino cherrie halves in the center. However, I couldn't find my baggy of cookie-press-pattern disks. I looked everywhere I could think they might possible be. But they weren't to be found. *sigh* So much for making Spritz cookies this year. This was another of my mom's normal line-up of cookies to make every Christmas, when I was growing up. She made Spritz, and Pecan Tassies, and Mexican Wedding Cakes (or Russian Tea Cakes, as they were also known, also called "snowballs"), Rocky Road, Turtles, Chocolate Fudge WITH nuts, and Chocolate Fudge without nuts, Sugar cookies, and Magick Bars. And I'm sure there were others, but I don't recall them right off.

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In other news, it warmed up on Friday. I went to let the dogs out & found I wasn't shivering like crazy and the dogs weren't in a massive rush to come back inside. Turns out it'd "warmed up" to only -13 deg. below 0 (zero). Then Saturday it warmed up even further to actually about 10 degrees ABOVE Zero. Today it's cooled back off only slightly. Down to about Zero. DH and the FIL and DH's uncle are out re-assembling the canvas car-port for DH's truck. They're also, hopefully, going to get the last of the christmas lights up on the house so we can actually have Christmas lights this year. *smile*

I went out to plug in my car this morning when I got up, and found 1/2 of our out-door extension cord set-up missing. It's such a great distance between our out-side plug-ins & our vehicals that we've got 2 long extension cords running across the back yard to plug in the vehicals where they sit inside their carports. Well, the cord closer to the cars was missing. Right off MY thought was that DH forgot to unplug yesterday when he left for FIL's house. He said that he didn't, though, so somebody evidently stole one of our extension cords last night. *sigh* That was a good, sturdy cord too!!! But we had a spare, so my car is plugged in so I can leave for work in an hour. It sucks, though, that somebody decided to come into our yard (into our BACK yard, no less!) and steal one of our cords!! And it reminds me that we really need to be more vigilant about locking our doors.

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I may well not be getting on again before Christmas. We've got a busy next few days ahead of us. Today I'm working my usual Sunday hours. Tomorrow (Monday) I'm only going in for about 4 hours as well, as we'll close at 5:15 pm instead of 9:15. Tuesday is, of course, Christmas. Wednesday & Thursday I will be back to work as normal. I will probably be on shortly on Wednesday, but as my Dad is going to be watching DD for me over the Christmas break (the 5 days when _I_ or DH are not going to be home), I'm going to have to leave early to drop DD off at Dad's on my way in to work. I will also be taking advantage of the chance to sleep in till 9 all mornings. So, I will have considerably less time to be online till Friday, at the soonest.

So, if I don't see you again before Christmas, I wish all of my friends a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! And, for those who celebrate Yule, I hope you had a VERY BLESSED YULE yesterday!!!!!!

Have a Blessed Day!

4 comments:

barefoot gardener said...

I wish I had your skills in the kitchen....

Blessed Yule and Merry Christmas!

Tori_Z said...

Going to have to snag those recipes and put them on my recipe page when I have a chance (like towards the end of the week, or after the new year). They sound delicious, and I'd like to try some of them. Maybe when Mam and I do our holiday baking next year we'll be making more than mince pies and cookies? LOL!

It's getting ridiculous how nothing is safe any more... Even in your own yard. *sigh*

Belated blessed Yule to you and your family. And, hope you have a very merry Christmas! :)

Robin said...

I bought three packages of break-apart Nestle cookies and baked them tonight. You make us all look bad.

Just stopped by to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas! Hope it's wonderful......

MarmiteToasty said...

HAPPY CRIMBO (((((Kati))))) fank you for being a part of my world.... I love me blob maties so very much..... may your crimbo be filled with love and grub and hugs and kisses and special friends and family........

Your baking is so wonderful, Ive been baking like a dog on heat lol...... and today I bought meself a crimbo pressie..... my lads laffed.... some new, fairly expensive baking tins and a wonderful little ORANGE tiny omellet pan ..... not diamonds or gold but very precious things for me :).....

be safe, be well, and love like there is no tomorrow..... happy crimbo matie..... XOX