Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 Holiday Baking Journal

Welp, this isn't much of a "journal" really, because the holidays are all past now. And people probably don't need recipes anymore since everyone is on their New Years Diet! But I did bake this year, not as much as last year though. And I thought I'd document the goodies, better late than never! You can always use the recipes next year.



preheat oven to 350 (F) and grease a 4-5 cup glass or pyrex baking dish/casserole . I use a nonstick spray like Pam.

Put 2 cups milk and 1 Tbsp butter and 1/2 cup yellow polenta in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. turn heat to low and cook , stirring constantly til it thickens..should be about the consistency of oatmeal. Remove pot from heat. Stir in 1 cup corn kernels .

In a small bowl, beat 1/2 cup egg substitute (I use safeway 'best of the egg') with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking powder (not soda) with a whisk until somewhat frothy. Gradually fold the egg mixture into the polenta mixture, try not to stir all the air out of the eggs.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan, and bake at 350 (F) for about 30-40 minutes. It's done when it starts smelling really good, the top is light golden brown, and you can stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean.

The baking time depends on the pan used, a high pan with small diameter needs more time than a wide shallow pan. The best size is about 7-8 inches diamter, that allows it to have some depth and rise nice and high.

options and substitutions

I have made it with whole milk, but usually now I use nonfat. I have even made it with half water and half milk if I was low on milk, you can also use some chicken broth for part of the liquid.

I have made this with normal cornmeal, the stove cooking part takes less time that way but the result is not as yummy, to me. Polenta is a very coarse grind of cornmeal, it's also sold as 'corn grits' in packages. Don't get the white corn kind, get the yellow. Don't use instant polenta or the precooked logs of polenta, just plain old normal dry polenta is what you want.

The original recipe called for 2 whole eggs. I use the egg substitute because it's basically egg whites with a little yellow color , it whips up higher without the yolks, but you can use 2 whole eggs if you like.

The corn kernels are optional, you can use fresh or frozen or canned, I just use frozen because it's easier. I mix them in still frozen, you don't have to thaw them, they'll thaw out when they hit that hot polenta.

Another nice addition is some grated cheese, I like to use romano or parmesan, but any kind is good. I usually layer in half the polenta, then the cheese, then the rest of the polenta with a little bit of the grated cheese on top.

You can make it southwestern by adding some chopped chile peppers to it.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Recipe borrowed from Passementerie

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9 inch pie plate, buttered

7-8oz shortbread (this is usually 1 package of shortbread cookies)
2-3 tablespoons melted butter

Pulse shortbread in food processor until finely crumbled. Use your hands to mix in melted butter until small clumps form, then press butter & shortbread mixture into buttered pie plate to create crust. If the crust seems a little too soft put it in the fridge or freezer for 10-15 minutes before adding the filling.

Pie Filling...
1.5 cups pecan halves or pieces, toasted
3 oz. coarsely chopped baking chocolate
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoon brandy
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup

Mix all ingredients until combined. Pour pecan mixture into crust. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees.
Apple Tart

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Banana Pecan Bread

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Orange-cranberry-pecan scones
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preheat oven to 375 F
grease & flour a pizza pan (round cookie pan)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

cut in: 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, until mixture is crumbly and no big chunks of butter remain
(I cut in with a pastry blender)

In a small bowl beat 2 eggs and 1/3 cup whipping cream to blend.
reserve 1 tablespoon of this mixture, then stir the rest into the flour mixture and mix well with a fork until all dough is moistened.

Stir in 1/3 cup of orange-flavored craisins (dried cranberries)
and 1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Knead gently on floured board, just 3-4 turns, until dough forms neat ball.
(don't over-knead, it makes a tough gluten-y dough and you want tender scones)
Put the dough ball in the pizza pan and pat into a 1-inch thick round.
Cut into 6 wedges, and leave in place.
Brush the top with the reserved egg-cream mixture, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 25 minutes at 375 F

The wedges should separate pretty easily- enjoy with butter, jam, clotted cream, or my favorite: lemon curd!

You can substitute raisins, currants, blueberries, etc for the cranberries.

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sliced bosc pears with dulce de leche pudding, whipped cream and candied pecans.
I suppose you could broil or roast the pear but this one was so perfectly ripe I just used it raw, and it was delicious! The recipe for the candied pecans is in last year's baking journal.

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Apple-pecan-cinnamon bread

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homemade candy
L-R: cinnamon glazed almonds (recipe in 2007 baking journal)
dark chocolate-cherry-pecan clusters
orange toffee glazed almonds (recipe in 2007 baking journal)

dark chocolate-cherry-pecan clusters
melt organic dark chocolate in a double boiler
stir in chopped raw pecans and dried tart cherries
spread on a buttered plate
put in fridge to harden
break into small clusters


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Left: white chocolate, pecans, and dried cherries
Right: Crunchy turtles: Pecans, caramel, marshmallow, chocolate, mini-rice crispies

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Spice cookies (recipe in 2007 baking journal)

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Cocoa crispy-marshmallow treats, Bright-eyed susans, jam thumbprints

Bright-eyed susans recipe:


* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 3/4 cups flour
* about 24 chocolate non-pareils

Cream together butter and sugar until well mixed.
Add egg, vanilla and salt until blended.
Sift in the flour and mix until blended.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in refrigerator. (not freezer)
Shape cookie dough into 1-inch balls; place about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.*
Place a chocolate non-pareil on each cookie, flattening the cookie.
Bake at 400°(F) for 8 to 10 minutes. Bake until set but not brown.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

option: you can use Chocolate Stars or even Hershey Kisses if you can't find non pareils


Chocolate-mint rice crispy treats
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups mini-marshmallows
6 cups cocoa crispies cereal
1/2 cup Andes peppermint crunch baking chips

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add cocoa crispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. stir in peppermint crunch baking chips

4. Spread in a 9x13 inch cake pan which has been sprayed with a nonstick spray. (like Pam)

5. Let cool and then cut into squares

6. Om Nom Nom!


Rocky road brownies
1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 stick butter , melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl in the order in which they're written. Stir, then beat the mixture till smooth.

Stir in 1 cup chopped pecans

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake the brownies in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 minutes, or until they're just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Take them out of the oven and sprinkle some mini-marshmallows on top.
Return to oven for 5 minutes until marshmallows soften and puff up.
Remove from oven.
Rocky road brownies , fresh from oven
Let them cool completely .
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in a double boiler
spread melted chocolate over marshmallows
Rocky road brownies- after adding chocolate
put in fridge to harden chocolate
remove from fridge when chocolate is firm, and serve at room temperature
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Makes about 2 dozen brownies.