Stereotyping.

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting. This morning the guys are out in the shop making sawdust. The gals are in the kitchen listening to Christmas music making good things. 🙂

I’ve cooked a lot of cranberry sauce from the whole berries, but I have never seen a slice of cranberry before.

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Cookies, baked & decorated.

I had a marathon baking session yesterday.   🙂

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I used a recipe from Southern Living‘s “Christmas at Home” 2009 special issue that I’ve had for years.

Sparkling Sugar Cookies  (made 4-5 dozen medium sized cookies when I made them)

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Coarse sparkling sugar sprinkles of your choice

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

Combine flour and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Divide dough in half. Cover; chill 1 hour.

Roll each portion of dough to 1⁄8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with desired cookie cutters.  Place on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes ( 14 worked perfect in my oven)  or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Add glaze (recipe below) and sprinkles (while glaze is still wet).  Leave flat until completely dry (this took quite a while for me).

Enjoy!

Simple Glaze  (makes about 1 cup)

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons hot water
Liquid food coloring (optional)

Stir together powdered sugar and hot water until smooth. If desired, divide mixture, and tint with food coloring.  Spread on cookies with spatula or dip, whatever works best for you.

 

 

Sugar bombs.

I was introduced to cake pops recently, when a friend brought a dozen to a party.  They are an excellent sweet treat.   This weekend I took a stab at making a batch myself.    Here’s how they turned out:

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I did a little research beforehand, googling a few recipes and how-tos.   This is the one I picked to guide me, and pretty much followed it exactly.   I made one modification – I detest frosting-in-a-can, as its main ingredient is partially hydrogenated fat.   I bought a powder mix instead – which was basically powdered sugar, really.   I just had to add butter and a bit of milk.  And it worked great for the frosting.  I mixed up half a box (i.e., about as much frosting to cover half a cake), on the advice of the how-to that I was following.   And it worked fine.

I bought pure white Wilton candy chips, and added food coloring.  I have to say that the “dipping” phase is still a mystery to me.  No matter what I tried, the candy coating was always the consistency of frosting.  I tried both the microwave method, as well as the double boiler method.   It was still very thick.    So I couldn’t really “dip” the pops.  I spun them through the coating and had to smooth with a knife most of the time.   No matter, though, they turned out fine.

Some people recommend buying floral arrangement foam to use as a stand to hold your cake pops.  I asked Monte to make me a few stands with wood scrap he had laying around in the shop.  They worked great.

Let the baking begin.

Fall means baking!   I made a loaf of banana bread this morning.  Yumm!

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I used a variation on a recipe from Monte’s America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.

Banana Bread

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1/4 c plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c pecans, chopped coarse and toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast pecans on baking sheet in oven while preheating, 5-10 mins.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

In separate bowl, mash bananas with hand masher, then add yogurt, eggs, melted butter and vanilla and stir by hand to mix.

Fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with spatula until just combined.   Fold in pecans.  Turn into greased and floured 9 1/2″ loaf pan and smooth.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Then test for doneness with toothpick.  If still too moist inside, put back in for 5 minutes and try again.   When done, cool in pan for 5 mins and then turn out onto wire rack.

Le pâtisserie.

Beautiful dessert.

Monte made a beautiful dessert tonight:  tarte aux pommes.  Right out of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Fantastique!

My niece, Rachel, arrived today for a few days visit.  We made cedar plank salmon and leek & mushroom risotto for dinner.  The apple tart topped off the evening.

Julie’s birthday is tomorrow, so we’ll have to celebrate in style.