Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Holiday Baking Log

1. Thanksgiving: Chocolate Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving pies 2009
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.

2. Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving pies 2009

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin. (unspiced, unsweetened, just plain pumpkin.)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell


MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

3. Banana-pecan bread

4. Cranberry bread

5. Apple-pecan bread

6. English shortbread, dipped in chocolate

English shortbread cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I prefer unbleached flour)
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (NO margarine, no substitutions)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F

Combine flour and salt in bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
At low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended.

Knead dough lightly on work surface.
Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a slightly flattened disc. (a squished ball)
Place one disc on a lightly floured board. Sprinkle lightly with flour and cover with a sheet of wax paper.
Roll with a rolling pin until dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Remove wax paper.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or knife.
I also used some cookie stamps- these are glass stamps that imprint a design into the cookie.
Do not re-roll the scraps- bake them in the irregular shape they are and eat as testers.
(re-rolling makes the cookies drier and tougher, less melt-in-your-mouth)
If you want to minimize waste*, cute shortbread into bars or fingers.
Lightly prick cookies all over with a fork. (you don't want to penetrate all the way, just a couple of millimeters)

Bake about 20 - 25 minutes at 325 F until cookies are lightly golden at the edges.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

To made the black & white cookies:
Melt candy making chocolate or chocolate chips at LOW temp in the microwave. Be careful not to burn it- only microwave it on 30% power for 30-60 seconds at a time, then stir.
When chocolate is melted, dip one half of each cookie into chocolate and lay on a buttered plate. Put the plate in the fridge for a few minutes to harden chocolate.

* it's really not "waste" because you will eat all the scraps too!

7. Rolled spice cookies

Rolled spice cookies

1/2 cup shortening, I use Crisco sticks because it's so easy to measure
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream together shortening and sugar until well mixed and fluffy.
mix in egg.
sift together all the dry ingredients, then add to shortening mixture.
mix until all dry ingredients are incorporated and dough holds together
wrap dough in waxed paper and chill at least 30 minutes.
Flour a smooth surface and flour your rolling pin. I use a rolling pin cover which is like a thin knitted sock, and a rolling cloth which is like thick cotton canvas. They make rolling a little easier but you don't need them, you just may have to use a little more flour.
Divide the dough in half and roll out half at a time, until it's about 1/8 inch thick.
Cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters and place on baking parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Spray lightly with Pam cooking spray, and Sprinkle with colored sugar. (the Pam makes the sugar stick better)
Bake on in a preheated 350 (F) oven for 10 minutes.
Cookies should be lightly brown at edges but not too dark.

8. Cuban Wedding Cakes aka Mexican wedding cookies

mexican wedding cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup hazelnut meal *
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces
extra powdered sugar for coating

preheat oven to 325 (F)
Mix together the first 4 ingredients.
Stir in the vanilla.
With a pastry blender, cut in the butter.
Mix until dough looks line fine crumbs and holds together. All dry ingredients should be incorporated.
Knead dough with your hands a few times gently. Just squish it together to make sure all the dry stuff is mixed in.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls, and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 325 (F) for 25 minutes. The lower temperature and slower baking time keeps the balls in their shape, so they don't spread out.
Cool 5 minutes, then roll cookies in powdered sugar. I use Snow White Non-melting Sugar because it won't dissolve or go invisible on a moist or oily cookie.
If you use regular powdered sugar and it does soak up the oil and melt, cool cookies completely and roll them in powdered sugar a second time.

* Nut meal is very finely chopped nuts. You may use hazelnut meal, almond meal, or pecan meal. You can also make your own by putting toasted unsalted nuts in a blender but be careful not to make nut butter.

9. Key Lime Pie

10. Dark chocolate spritz cookies
I made these extra dark, they are almost black. The black cocoa tastes like oreos.

dark chocolate spritz

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (no margarine!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa (I used black cocoa from king arthur flour but you can use regular cocoa)
optional: 2 Tblsp espresso powder from king arthur flour

Cream first 4 ingredients until light and fluffy.
Sift flour and cocoa together, then mix dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
This dough is versatile: you can shape it into balls, flattened balls, you can form it into a log, chill and slice. I chose to use my cookie gun because it makes pretty shapes.

Bake 7-9 minutes until set. The dough is dark so you cannot judge doneness by golden brownness. Push gently at the edge of a cookie, if it moves as a semi-solid unit rather than just making a dent, the cookie is done.
Cool, and then decorate if you wish.

11. Chocolate Rugelach

chocolate rugelach

Ingredients :
8 ounces cream cheese, room temp and cut into chunks
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temp and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can Love'n Bake™ Chocolate "Schmear" Filling

Cream the butter and cream cheese and sugar.
sift in the flour and mix until dough can form a ball
pat the dough into a flattened round, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 375 (F), and grease 2 cookie sheets

divide dough in half and roll out half of it on a floured surface into a circle about 11 inches in diameter.
place a large dinner plate on dough and trim around edges with a knife.
spread the chocolate "Schmear" Filling on the circle.
Cut the circle into quarters, and then cut each quarter into 4 pieces, to form 16 wedge shaped pieces.
Roll up a triangle starting from the wide end, and tuck the point under the cookie on the baking sheet.
Repeat with other half of dough.
Take the scrap dough (from cutting the circles) and reroll it to another circle shape, to make a third set of 16 cookies (which will usually be smaller and less perfect than the first two sets. That's OK- these are your testers that you eat yourself, and save the pretty ones for company!).
Don't reroll the dough more than once or too much gluten will form.

mix 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon cold water.
brush cookies with egg white glaze and sprinkle with sugar.
bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.
cool on a wire rack.

Note: you can also make almond or cinnamon rugelach with the same dough, just substitute the filling.

12. Pink Peppermint Meltaways

These mint meltaways are from page 113 of "The Betty Crocker Cooky Book".

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops red food coloring
2 1/4 cups cake flour*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Andes peppermint candy baking chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Cream butter, sugar, peppermint extract and food coloring thoroughly.
Measure flour and salt into a bowl, blend into butter mixture.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes at 400 (F). Cookies should be set but not brown.
While warm, sift a light dusting of powdered sugar over cookies.

* cake flour is important to this recipe. Cake flour has less gluten than all-purpose flour so it makes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookie.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Baking Logs

I was going through my cookbooks today and I found my Christmas baking logs from the past 18 years. I bake lots of different cookies each Christmas and being my usual hyper-organized self, I keep lists!
I thought it was time to get those lists onto my computer so I just typed it all out and decided I might as well blog it. These lists are an interesting artifact, to see how much or how little I made each year, what flavors were exciting me the most, etc.
In 2002 I made a lot more breads, muffins and scones because my ex-bf preferred them to cookies. It's also interesting to see which cookies keep making repeat appearances year after year, and which recipes are tried once and then dropped.

So without further ado...

Christmas Baking Log

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Reverse chippers aka pearls and chocolate (chocolate cookie, white chocolate chip)
3. Bright Eyed Susans
4. Lemon Spritz
5. Crisp Almond Slices
6. Mint-chocolate trees (green mint spritz, dipped in chocolate)
7. Buttermint kisses

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Reverse chippers / Rocky Road (chocolate cookie, white chocolate chip, nuts, marshmallow on top, covered in chocolate)
3. Lemon Spritz
4. Mint-chocolate trees (spritz)
5. Chocolate Spritz
6. Almond Spritz
7. Cuban Wedding Cakes (aka Mexican wedding cookies)
8. Chinese Almond Cookies
9. Sugar Cream Sandwiches
10. Chocolate Pretzels
11. Chocolate-orange bars

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Lemon Spritz
3. Mint-chocolate trees (spritz)
4. Reverse chippers / Rocky Road
5. Bright Eyed Susans
6. Sugar Cream Sandwiches
7. Chinese Almond Cookies

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Lemon Spritz
3. Mint-chocolate trees (spritz)
4. Bright Eyed Susans
5. Chinese Almond Cookies
6. Cuban Wedding Cakes

1995 (no records)
1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Lemon Spritz
3. Cuban Wedding Cakes
4. Glazed nuts
5. Spiced nuts

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Cuban Wedding Cakes
3. Lemon bonbons
4. Orange butter cookies
5. Butterscotch balls
6. Orange chocolate chip
7. Rose’s butter crescents
8. Brown sugar thins
9. English shortbread
10. Chocolate rolled cookies, dipped in white chocolate
11. Glazed almonds
12. Cinnamon pecans
13. Maple glazed walnuts

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. English shortbread
3. Cuban Wedding Cakes (with hazelnut instead of pecan meal)
4. Cinnamon chip
5. Lemon chip
6. Chocolate-mint chip
7. Chocolate with white choc/raspberry chips
8. Orange-lemon Pandoro
9. Cocoa-cabernet pound cake
10. Glazed almonds

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Bright Eyed Susans (multicolor non-pareils)
3. Lemon cream cheese cookies frosted & lime jimmies
4. Chocolate-caramel chip
5. Chocolate-mint chip
6. Chocolate almond Biscotti
7. Storebought gingersnaps received as gift- I dipped them in chocolate and decorated
8. Orange Pandoro
9. Peppermint Bark
10. Pralines
11. Glazed almonds
12. Nephew’s B-day cake: scratch white cake, scratch lemon curd filling, scratch vanilla buttercream frosting
13. Thumbprint jam cookies
14. Cuban Wedding Cakes (with hazelnut instead of pecan meal)
15. Simply Perfect dinner rolls (yeast)
16. Cinnamon rolls

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Cuban Wedding Cakes
3. Lemon meltaways, frosted & lime jimmies
4. Caramel chip Toll House
5. Crisp sugar cookies, fiori di sicilia flavor
6. Rainbow chip brownies
7. Orange-currant mini-muffins
8. Glazed almonds (3 batches- vanilla, butter toffee, cinnamon)
9. Glazed sunflower seeds
10. Chocolate hazelnut Biscotti, dipped in white chocolate
11. Rolled spice cookies (second batch, painted ornaments)
12. Lemon bars
13. Lemon Pandoro
14. Lemon bread pudding
15. Crispy Buttercream chocolates (candy)

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Cuban Wedding Cakes
3. Lemon meltaways with lemon chips, pink frosted
4. English Shortbread
5. Chocolate chocolate chip cookies with pecans, dipped in white chocolate, with dark chocolate jimmies
6. Glazed almonds- English toffee flavor
7. Glazed sunflower seeds
8. Pandoro
9. Cocoa-cabernet pound cake

2001 (living with my ex)
1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Lemon bars
3. Chocolate chocolate chunk cookies
4. Cheese wafers
5. Cuban Wedding Cakes
6. Millionaire’s Shortbread
7. Lemon loaf cake with candied lemon peel
8. Glazed almonds- (cinnamon, vanilla)
9. Sunflower seed brittle

2002 (living with my ex)
1. Glazed almonds
2. Chocolate hazelnut Biscotti
3. Cuban Wedding Cakes
4. Chocolate chip cookies
5. Cheese Pennies
6. Butterscotch-pecan cookies
7. Beer Bread
8. Apple-whole wheat muffins
9. Pumpkin muffins
10. Pecan muffins
11. Currant muffins
12. Peach-spice scones
13. Blueberry scones
14. Cappuccino chip scones
15. Cinnamon pecan rolls

2003 (no records)

2004 (no records other than photo of Christmas day)
1. Cream puffs
2. Peach upside-down cake (using frozen home-grown peaches)
3. Bright-eyed susans
4. Pink peppermint meltaways
5. Glazed almonds

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Marshmallow crispy treats
3. Chocolate graham crackers with peppermint bark
4. Glazed almonds
5. Cherry-almond cookies (red sugar)
6. Pine nut cookies (green sugar)
7. Beautiful leaf-crust apple pie for Thanksgiving

1. Rolled spice cookies
2. Cuban Wedding Cakes
3. Lemon bars
4. Toll house- with white chocolate chips & toffee bits
5. Marshmallow crispy treats
6. Pandoro
7. Cinnamon rolls in star-shaped pans
8. Mint Meltaways
9. Pink peppermint bark stars (in candy molds)

1. Rolled spice cookies- polar bears (recipe in this blog)
2. Bright-eyed susans (recipe in this blog)
3. Cuban Wedding Cakes (recipe in this blog)
4. Mint Meltaways (recipe in this blog)
5. Millionaire’s shortbread (recipe in this blog)
6. Chocolate Rugelach (recipe in this blog)
7. Chocolate graham crackers with peppermint bark (recipe in this blog)
8. Glazed pecans (recipe in this blog)
9. Lemon loaf cake with candied lemon peel (recipe in this blog)
10. Black chocolate cake with nutella, Kahlua pastry cream, and chocolate buttercream frosting)
11. Cream puffs with key lime filling

1. Rolled spice cookies (recipe in this blog)
2. Chocolate Pecan Pie, Thanksgiving (recipe in this blog)
3. Apple Tart
4. Banana Pecan Bread
5. Orange-cranberry-pecan scones (recipe in this blog)
6. Apple-pecan-cinnamon bread
7. Cinnamon glazed almonds
8. Dark chocolate-cherry-pecan clusters
9. Orange toffee glazed almonds
10. White chocolate, pecans, and dried cherries (candy)
11. Crunchy turtles: Pecans, caramel, marshmallow, chocolate, mini-rice crispies
12. Chocolate-mint rice crispy treats (recipe in this blog)
13. Bright-eyed susans (recipe in this blog)
14. Jam thumbprints
15. Rocky road brownies (recipe in this blog)

2009, so far
1. Thanksgiving: Chocolate Pecan Pie (recipe in this blog)
2. Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie
3. Banana-pecan bread
4. Cranberry bread
5. Apple-pecan bread
6. English shortbread, dipped in chocolate
7. Rolled spice cookies
8. Cuban Wedding Cakes aka Mexican wedding cookies
9. Key Lime Pie
10. Dark chocolate spritz cookies
11. pink peppermint meltaways
12. chocolate rugelach