Friday, December 18, 2009

Gingerbread Bears

Another Christmas cookie for gift giving - gingerbread men. This is Dorie Greenspan's fabulous gingerbread recipe: it's traditional in taste, and the texture of the baked cookie is variable depending on how you like your gingerbread (bake less for a softer, chewier cookie and the suggested time for a firmer cookie).

Spice Roll Out Cookies
Bon Appétit
Makes 60 small or 20 large cookies

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice, nutmeg, mustard, and cloves into a large bowl. Beat the butter in a second large bowl at medium speed until smooth.

Add brown sugar to butter and beat 1 minute. Add the molasses and beat until fluffy. Add egg and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. At low speed, beat in vanilla. Add the flour spice mixture and beat till just blended.

Form dough into ball and divide in half. Form halves into balls and flatten into disks. Wrap separately in plastic and chill until firm; 4 hours to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Work with just 1 disk at a time, leaving the other chilled, roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to 1/8 inch thickness for small, 2 inch cookies and 1/4 inch thickness for 3 to 4 inch cookies.

Using whatever cookie cutter you prefer, cut out cookies and transfer to parchment lined sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place in freezer on waxed paper lined sheets for 5 to 10 minutes. Use scraps to re roll and cut more cookies until all scraps are used.

Bake until cookies are firm on top and slightly darking around edges, about 8 minutes for smaller cookies and 12 minutes for larger cookies. Cool completely on rack.

Decorate with royal icing, then sprinkles or other decorations, if desired. Let stand till icing is set.

Pin It

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Homemade Caramels

We're including handmade caramels as one of the gifts we're giving this Christmas. This recipe? Solid gold. The caramels are silky soft, absolutely delicious, and completely addictive.

Candy making is definitely a love it/hate it affair. Candy making is time consuming. I hand wrapped every.single.caramel. It was a labor of love.

I think it was worth it.

There are just a few simple rules to follow for this failproof caramel recipe:

1. use a candy thermometer,
2. have all of your ingredients and equipment at the ready, and
3. ensure your sugar stays in the middle of the sauce pan so as to avoid crystallization

On to the recipe.

Failproof Homemade Caramels
Givers Log
Makes about 60 (I cut my caramels approximately half the size of AmberLee's, so I got 120+)

2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a standard size baking sheet with parchment paper. Allow parchment to rise up the sides rather than just lining the bottom of the sheet.

Cut butter into small cubes and melt over low heat in a medium size sauce pan.

Add and mix sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Remember to pour sugar in center of pan, and if any sugar crystals stick to the side of your pan, brush them down with a damp pastry brush.

Cook and stir on medium high heat until boiling, then clip your candy thermometer to the side of pan. Do not allow the thermometer to touch the bottom of the pan.

Reduce heat to medium or a temperature which allows for a steady, moderate boil. Stir often.

When the thermometer reaches 244F (this will take approximately 30 minutes), remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the caramel into your prepared baking sheet - use caution! This is a very hot mixture.

Allow to cool overnight then use a pizza cutter to slice into desired slices. Another idea (but one that I have not tried) is using mini cookie or hor doeuvres cutters to create shaped caramels. Wrap each caramel in wax paper and twist the ends to close.

I found that cutting worked best for me after the caramels sat overnight, then spent some time in the freezer. I also froze the cut caramels prior to wrapping as they are quite soft when room temperature.
Pin It

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best Sugar Cookies Ever

The quintessential sugar cookie. I think it's one of the trickiest cookies to bake simply because everyone has their own idea of how a sugar cookie is supposed to taste or what the textures is supposed to be like. Mine are either dry and crumbly, or they're a perfect crumb with hardly a flavor to speak of. The sugar cookies that make me cringe are the ones you see so covered with decorative icing that the cookie goes undetected.

This particular sugar cookie recipe turned out to be a huge winner - it was the first time I've tried this cookie recipe and I've already made it twice - that's over 150 cookies
. They are tender and almost chewy. The vanilla comes through just enough to give the cookie great flavor without overpowering and they are delicious even without frosting - we haven't actually had them with frosting yet.

We'll definitely be including these in our handmade Christmas gift baskets.

Granny's Sugar Cookies

Makes approximately 84 cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups butter, softened (do not substitute!)

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream sugar and butter till fluffy; add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture till completely blended. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour to prevent sticking. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just faintly golden around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with frosting if desired.

Pin It

How To Set A Table

Here's how to properly set a table:

Start with the
dinner plate. Set it in the middle of the place setting, directly in front of the chair. Place the bread plate above and to the left of the dinner plate with the butter knife resting on the bread plate. Fold the napkin and lay it to the left of the dinner plate with the folded edge facing away from the plate.

A handy bit of info I've brought out numerous times deals with which side of the plate to lay your
utensils. Fork has 4 letters and so does left, therefore the forks go on the left side of the plate. Knife has 5 letters as does right, therefore the knife and spoon go to the right of the dinner plate. The knife's blade is always pointed towards the plate and the forks should rest atop the already laid napkin.

Always ensure your utensils are laid down in the order that they'll be used from the outside in.

wineglass and water goblet are positioned above and to the right of the dinner plate. The wineglass will be the closest glass to the plate, and the water glass above and just slightly to the left of it.

dessert utensils. While it is completely acceptable to lay the table with the dessert utensils already placed, proper placement is important. They'll be situated above the dinner plate with the spoon on top and pointing towards the left, and the fork below the spoon with the tines pointing towards the right.

Pin It
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...