December 15: Raspberry Macarons

Standard

So, I feel like I’m cheating.

I always want to do a different kind of cookie for 24 straight days. Key word there is “different.” But here’s the thing: I f-ing love macarons. Like, it should be illegal how much I love them. Like, it may be a felony in 48 states.

I made macarons again, with the same general recipe for the cookie, except I added a whole ‘lot of pink, blue, red, and burgundy food coloring to come up with a raspberry color.

I have no pictures of this process. If you need a refresher, see December 13’s post.

Now the filling was different on this one. I took a cup of raspberries and put them in a saucepan with a little water and about a tablespoon of sugar. I brought it to a boil until my mixture was almost like jelly. I let it cool a little and instead of straining the seeds out, I put it in the blender and pureed the s-t out of it.

In Old Trusty, I put in 1/4 c butter and whipped it up, then added some powdered sugar and the raspberry mixture. I mixed that up too. And then added more powdered sugar. And more. And more. It took a lot this time to get it to the right consistency–almost 3/4 of a bag.

Went through the same process with the cookies as before, and when I was done, the patron saint of raspberry macaron’s blessed me with a good batch of cookies.

They are amazing.

IMG_0832

(See recipe from December 13.)

Cookies today: 36

Cookies this year: 710

December 14: Toffee Grahams

Standard

Today we have a very special guest star.

Can I get a warm 24 Days of Cookies welcome for J-Dub!

(And the crowd goes wild mild.)

J-Dub doesn’t know she’s my guest start today, but she probably could have guessed as much. You see, dear readers, she recently posted this on my Facebook Page:

“I need 5 dozen cookies. What should I make?”

To which I replied, “You? A phone call.”

J-Dub doesn’t bake. She doesn’t cook. She doesn’t defrost. She barely assembles, and rarely goes grocery shopping. Hence, my confidence in her baking abilities.

But I suggested that she should make Toffee Grahams because they are super easy and quick–I even referenced her in the blog last year when I made these.

This week, she made them. Wait, that was the end result. Sorry to spoil the end of this horror story, but I feel you all will benefit by knowing that she actually made them successfully.

How she got to that point was a nightmare.

It started with some texts.

“So I am about to attempt those toffee cookies. How many gram crackers did you fit on a cookie sheet? I have them broken to fingers and have 24. The recipe says 48 fingers. Should this be enough to cover 2 cookie sheets?”

And then I got the picture.

jdub1

Oh honey.

I gently explained to her that the graham crackers needed to be “wall-to-wall” on the cookie sheet and that she may not want to use tin foil.

(And by gently, I mean I called her and yelled obscenities in her ear.)

I asked why she was even doing this, and practically in tears she told me that her kids’ new school makes every family bring 5 dozen homemade baked items for some cookie walk thing.

“It *has* to be homemade!” she cried.

I asked if she could get a waiver or a handicapped sticker or something, and it was a no-go. I don’t know for sure, but I think she tried to appeal the PTA.

I do feel bad about this. If she would have only told me this sooner, I could have written her a doctor’s baker’s note.

We hung up, but the texts continued.

“Shut it. Two sticks of butter. Short sticks or long sticks? Like four short ones?” she asked.

I should mention that Crunchy Granola was also on this series of texts, and she tried to help.

“Each stick is 1/2 cup”

I had never heard of short sticks of butter. I offered to drive down to help her. It’s only two hours…

Then, because I’m apparently the crazy one, she sent me this picture of her husband with said short sticks of butter.

jdub2

I swear to you, I have never seen such things. Is this what they sell in Milwaukee? Is this why everyone there is always so angry?

I should also tell you that while our text tirades generally are just me, J-Dub, and Crunchy Granola, for this special occasion, all of the husbands got in on the action too.

“[Disgruntled Husband] asked if the Keebler Elves sold you that butter.”

What I learned later is that CG and her husband were out Christmas shopping and also having a good laugh at what was going on.

Still baffled by the midget little person butter, I simply said that she needed 16 Tablespoons of butter, however that happened. But just to show you that I’m not always so sweet and darling, I added this:

“And I swear if you get out an actual spoon, I will end you.”

I still had no answers about the butter, but started getting more pictures.

jdub3 jdub5 jdub4 Jdub6

And in the end, J-Dub pulled it off!

jdub7

This is what she had to say about it:

“I am questioning my whole life. I’ve been living a lie. I can bake!”

And I took this opportunity to congratulate and encourage my dear friend:

“Well…You can assemble, boil, and cut. With heavy instruction.”

Let’s not get carried away, J-Dub.

So there you have it, if J-Dub can make these, there might be hope for humanity.

Now let me tell you about the time I saw her start a fire in a microwave by “making dessert.”

Toffee Grahams 

(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old Fashioned Country Cookies)

24 square graham crackers

2 sticks butter

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange cracker squares on a lightly greased cookie sheet with edges around it. In a saucepan, bring the butter and sugar to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over crackers, covering them well. Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares or 48 “fingers.”

(I made these today, too.)

Cookies today: 48

Cookies this year: 674

December 13: Lemon Macarons

Standard

A year ago, Disgruntled Husband and I spent three days in New York City, which was about as wonderful and magnificent as I ever imagined it would be. At the bakery across from where they film the Today Show, I bought some macarons, which were bright and pricey. Oh Sweet Lord, they were about the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

Fast forward to this November, where I had a hankering for said cookie. I tried to make them, and while they tasted like a macaron, they certainly didn’t look like it. I was determined to try again.

Thanks to an Amazon Prime account, I obtained caster sugar, almond meal, and a macaron silicone pan liner (more on that disappointment later). Today was the day I decided to give it another shot.

IMG_0810 IMG_0809

I separated my eggs, keeping the yolks for another recipe I have my eye on. I put four egg whites and the caster sugar inside Old Trusty.

IMG_0808

While those whipped up for 10 minutes or so, I got to work on my dry mixture…powdered sugar, almond meal, and salt…sifted twice.

IMG_0811 IMG_0812

(What this picture doesn’t show is that I had to switch to a metal strainer because the use of my dominant hand would be something I’d like to keep this holiday season. This is a heavy mixture, and I discovered quickly that I couldn’t pull the handle that many times.)

I threw out the big pieces of almond meal that were too big to go through my sifting mechanism.

This video was very helpful in my macaron-making:

I folded in my dry mixture as instructed.

IMG_0814 IMG_0815

And forced it through a pastry bag and plopped drops on my silicone macaron sheet, and then on another pan but on parchment paper.

IMG_0817 IMG_0816

I gently threw the pans down to eliminate any air bubbles. Then I decided that wasn’t violent enough and dropped them a few times from about five feet off my kitchen table.

After 20 minutes, I took the trays out of the oven. And then cursed Amazon.

IMG_0827

No 5 star rating for you.

But I had a helper in disposing of these cookies. My husband said he was glad these didn’t come off the tray because his original plan was to just poke a hole in some cookies and declare them “broken.”

IMG_0824 IMG_0825

For the filling, I used another recipe which was pretty straight-forward. No crazy ingredients required. However, it called for only 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, which we *all* know by now is not enough. I’m not sure how much actually went in, but I know it was the entire zest of one lemon.

IMG_0820

I then put that through another pastry bag and squirted my lemony-goodness on a cookie, topping it with another. I should have had more restraint so these would look prettier, but come on, it’s lemon filling. If a little is good, more is better. Right Christina?

(We have a theory about lemon curd, as in the Trader Joe’s variety is good with just a spoon and elicits pornographic sounds from our mouths.)

IMG_0830

They may not be pretty, but they are good.

Macaron recipe (from https://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/easy-macaron-macaroon-recipe/)

French Macaron Recipe Ingredients

4 large egg whites (or 5 small) 140g (4.94 ounces)
1/3 cup or 70g (2.47 ounces) caster sugar [*US cups 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp]
1 1/2 cups or 230g (8.11 ounces) pure icing sugar [US cups 1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp] OR 1 3/4 cups 230g (8.11 ounces) icing mixture [US cups 1 3/4 cups plus 4 tsp] 1 cup or 120g (4.23 ounces) almond meal [US cups 1 cup plus 3 teaspoons] 2g (0.07 ounces) salt (tiny pinch)
gel food colouring (optional)

(*cup measurements are metric cups where 1 cup=250ml in the USA cups use customary units so 1 cup = 236ml so you need to add a little bit extra as detailed in the recipe.).

Macaron Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 in American Fahrenheit)
Place egg whites and cater sugar in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until stiff enough to turn the bowl upside down without it falling out, continue to whip for 1-2 more minutes.  How long this takes will depend on you mixer.  Add gel or powdered food colouring and continue to mix for a further 20 seconds.

Sift the almond meal and icing sugar and salt twice, discarding any almond lumps that are too big to pass through the sieve. Fold into the egg white mixture. It should take roughly 30-50 folds using a rubber spatula.  The mixture should be smooth and a very viscous, not runny. Over-mix and your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under mix and they will not be smooth on top.

Pipe onto trays lined with baking paper, rap trays on the bench firmly (this prevents cracking) and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Check if one comes off the tray fairly cleanly, if not bake for a little longer (make sure you are using NON-stick baking paper or they will stick).

Lemon Buttercream Filling (from http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/lemon-french-macarons/)

  • • 3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • • 1 cup (130gr) powdered sugar
  • • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • • 1 teapsoon lemon zest
  • • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • • 1/8 teaspoon salt

While macarons are drying, prepare the lemon buttercream. In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined. Fill pastry bag and go to town.

 

Cookies today: 20 (but remember, they are sandwich cookies AND I had an Amazon fail)

Cookies this year: 626

December 12: Christmas Peppermint Patties

Standard

I ran around with my boys all day today, so when we got back to the house, I didn’t have a lot of time to make cookies. That, and somehow between my clean house of 4 p.m. yesterday, and waking up today, little elves came in my house and made it look like Beirut. I didn’t want to add to the mess any more than I had to.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, after looking through a couple of other ones. This one seemed to be easier than most and looked the nicest.

I assembled my ingredients and went to work. When I brought up the recipe online, the add below it made me laugh uncontrollably.IMG_0794

Sadly no, I will not be adding beef stock to this recipe.

IMG_0793

The recipe starts with 1/4 cup of softened butter and 1/3 cup of corn syrup. I decided to double it, as I had big plans for this little batch of mints.

Also? The corn syrup comes out so easily from its plastic squeeze bottle. Hear me, molasses manufacturers? EASILY.

IMG_0795

Once I add my powdered sugar, I was supposed to add my flavoring, more powdered sugar and then turn it all out on a cutting board to knead in more powdered sugar and food coloring.

I decided I wanted three different kinds of mints: wintergreen, spearmint, and peppermint. So I made each batch individually, starting by dividing my base into three bowl and only mixing flavoring and color in one at a time. It took awhile, but I was pretty excited at how it turned out.

IMG_0799

I kneaded each batch with more powdered sugar. (I did add food coloring in the mixing bowl though.) These suckers suck up the sugar! I decided it was the right consistency when the dough no longer stuck to the cutting board.

Also, when plopping sticky dough on to a pile of powdered sugar, keep in mind the force you are using. My pants paid the price.

Also, when plopping sticky dough on to a pile of powdered sugar, keep in mind the force you are using. My pants paid the price.

I then rolled each color into little balls, rolled them in sugar, and smashed (lightly) with a fork. Trust me on this slightly thing. I put my fork through a few of the first balls like I was avenging my father’s death, and I couldn’t get the tines back out.

IMG_0801

IMG_0802

They are currently sitting out overnight on the counter, under a big Tupperware container to protect the minty goodies from any feline inspectors.

IMG_0803

Easy Christmas Peppermint Patties

(from http://www.momontimeout.com/2013/12/easy-christmas-peppermint-patties/)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 – 2 tsp peppermint extract or mint extract OR any other extract you want
  • food coloring – preferably gel or paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (to roll balls in)

Instructions

  1. Combine butter and corn syrup together in a small bowl.
  2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and your choice of extract and beat until well combined. Add extract 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the mixture reaches your desired flavor.
  3. Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
  4. Turn bowl onto a cutting board sprinkled with last cup of powdered sugar.
  5. Knead the mixture until sugar is absorbed and is completely smooth.
  6. Divide dough into three portions.
  7. Tint one portion red with the red food color/gel and one green. Leave one portion white.
  8. Shape into 3/4 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
  9. Flatten gently with a fork.
  10. Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 day.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

Cookies (or candies, as the case may be) today: 93

Cookies (and candies) this year: 606

December 11: Christmas Cranberry Roll-Up Cookies

Standard

These are great cookies to make if you have some other stuff to get done around the house. Or, conversely, if you need something quick, you might want to plan on a different cookie.

I love these cookies. The red of the cranberry is so pretty in the pinwheel, and the dough is the right consistency of flaky and chewy.

Plus, and this is my favorite part, people look at them and assume they are a lot harder to make than they actually are. (I just keep thinking of that Rice Krispies commercial from when I was a kid with the mom in the kitchen, working “hard” at making the Rice Krispies Treats, and at then end, she throws a little flour on her face for effect.)

IMG_0777

I had a bag of Wisconsin’s finest bouncy cranberries in my fridge, just waiting for their ultimate death. I put two cups of berries in a saucepan, along with sugar and orange zest.

IMG_0778

(I bought this microplane last year for nutmeg. Haven’t used it with nutmeg once, but this thing has seen more citrus fruit than Carmen Miranda.)

A little water and time, and I was in business. Cranberries popping sound a lot like baby farts, in case you want to know.

I mixed up my dough in Ol’ Trusty, using the Cardamom I bought two years ago. Am I supposed to replace it? Does Cardamom go bad? It still smells like chai and cost me a kidney, so I’m going to keep using it until the bottle is empty.

Into the fridge the dough went for an hour or so.

IMG_0779

When it was ready, I pulled it out and tried my best to roll rectangles. Eh. Okay, I really didn’t try that hard.

IMG_0781

Then I spread the cranberry goodness on top, along with some crushed almonds. Roll like a jelly roll, wrap with saran wrap. Repeat with second wad of dough.

IMG_0783

I put them on a cookie sheet and set it in my Wisconsin Free Refrigerator–my front porch.

IMG_0785

Two hours later, I brought the tray back inside and sliced up the rolls in 1/4″ pieces. When it starts to get misshapen, just turn your log over. Or, do what I do and keep the ugly ones so you can eat those later.

Into the oven it goes for 11-12 minutes, and cools on a rack.

IMG_0787

Then, you eat the ugly ones.

Christmas Cranberry Roll-Up Cookies
(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

2 c. fresh cranberries
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. orange peel
1/4 c. finely chopped almonds
2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 t. cardamom
1/2 c. unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, combine cranberries, 1/4 c. sugar and zest. Add enough water to partially cover. Cook about 15 minutes, or until berries pop and most of the water has evaporated. Cool mixture.

2. Combine flour and spices. Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Add flour mixture.

3. Divide dough in half and chill.

4. Roll dough into 12″x7″ rectangle on parchment paper. Spread cranberries and almonds on each rectangle and then roll each like a jelly roll. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for at least 2 hours (at this point it can be frozen.)

5. Slice roll into 1/4″ slices and bake 1″ apart on lightly greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Cookies today: 46 (These also made 46 last year too. Weird.)

Cookies this year: 513

December 10: Pizzles

Standard

Today, I made the crowd pleaser Pizzles, and the actual challenge in these are not eating them the minute they come off the iron.

(Also a challenge? Having a Pizzle iron, but that can be rectified with an Amazon Prime account and a pressing desire to drop $40 on something you’ll use maybe twice a year.)

Pizzles are a wafer cookie from Italy. I made them last year, and they were divine.

They have a hint of anise, but not enough to make you run away, I promise! You barely taste it, and it deepens the vanilla flavor in the cookie.

It starts with six eggs. (I think that classifies these cookies as a health food now.)

IMG_0767

I mixed up the batter and started the long, arduous journey into counter-top desserts.

The good Captain oversees production.

The good Captain oversees production.

I used my cookie scoop to do these, making sure they were centered in the middle of the hot iron. (Oh, and I generally put a little coconut oil on it before I start, just to grease the iron.)

IMG_0774

(And yes, I’m now the asshole cook that uses hard-to-find ingredients.)

I take them off with a non-metal spatula, and start over again. And again. And again. It’s a good thing I had some time to do these. Four minutes isn’t a long time, especially when you are only doing two at a time.

But these? These are worth every minute.

Pizzles (Italian Waffle Cookie)

(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

6 eggs

3 ½ c flour

1 ½ c sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

4t baking powder

1T vanilla extract

1T anise extract

cap full of anise seeds

Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and melted butter. Follow with other ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Place 1 teaspoonful on each side and cook until delicately browned. Lay flat until cooled.

Cookies today: 90

Cookies this year: 467

December 9: Peppermint Meltaways

Standard

These were a big hit last year, and because I pander to the general public for attention, I decided I had to make them again.

IMG_0744

And the mess begins. Because this recipe calls for more corn starch than I used to use in battling my kids’ diaper rash, it got a little out of hand. And cup. And counter. I’ve clean it all up three times now, and I’m still slipping on the floor where it happened.

IMG_0745

I added some green Wilton food coloring to the batter this year, because I think you all know by now that my policy is “the more artificial colors there are, the better the cookies will taste.” This is the Kelly Green, and I think it turned out really well.

IMG_0746

With my handy-dandy (sorry, left-over from the kids’ Blue’s Clues days) cookie scooper, I doled out a dozen slippery spheres. And Hoover, my middle guy, decided it was his job to lick everything once I was done.

Hoover, making sure no leftover batter went to waste.

Hoover, making sure no leftover batter went to waste.

Let the cookies cool on a rack while you make up the frosting.

Gandalf kept an eye on these for me. (Don't worry, Mom, he didn't go on the table.)

Gandalf kept an eye on these for me. (Don’t worry, Mom, he didn’t go on the table.)

I used the recipe for the frosting, and had to actually make it twice because I ran out half-way through. I found it a little thick, so keep that in mind. And, of course, more food coloring. This time, it was from AmeriColor and it’s their “Super Red.” I wanted Wilton to go the distance for me, and in all colors but red they have. I needed something to put Santa to shame this year, and I’ve found it.

IMG_0751

I threw it (again) through my pastry bag with a big star tip and just plopped a big dollop on the tops of all of these cookies. I didn’t think about it at the time, but they have a certain rose-resembelance now.

IMG_0753

The fun part was crushing the candy canes. I put these guys in a ziploc bag–still with the wrappers on–and closed it. Then I took my super-heavy Pampered Chef meat tenderizer and crushed the hell out of them.

IMG_0754 IMG_0755

Side note: I made these last year the same way. Since then, I have noticed a notch missing from my stove. I could not figure out how this happened. Well, as I pounded this years brave peppermint soldiers, I figured it out. I must have hit the side of my stove with the meat tenderizer last year, because I did it again this year. So now I have a bigger notch missing from my stove, but fewer questions as to why.

IMG_0756

I sprinkled the candy cane ashes over my cookies as a garnish and boxed them up. These will certainly be the first cookies my kids devour in full this year.

IMG_0757 IMG_0760

Peppermint Meltaways

(from tasteofhome.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • FROSTING:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring, optional
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies

Directions

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners’sugar, milk, extract and, if desired, food coloring; beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies; sprinkle with crushed candies.

Store in an airtight container. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Cookies today: 41

Cookies this year: 376

December 8: Brandy Snaps

Standard

Anytime you can incorporate booze in a recipe, I’m on board. I’m not even sure how I found this recipe, other than I was on The Pioneer Woman’s website trying to win a contest (didn’t win) and I guess I saw the picture that goes along for this recipe on there.

I love The Pioneer Woman. I don’t want to be all hipster about this, but I was reading her before she ever had a cookbook out and before she was ever on TV.

She did such a beautiful job documenting how to make these, that my pictures will pale in comparison. I want to be her so bad, but I’m just not. At least, that’s what the courts tell me.

IMG_0652
So I started my slummed-down version of Princess Ree’s Brandy Snaps. I got out my skillet and threw in a stick of butter. Yes. Off to a good start. Then I measured out 1/2 cup of molasses, which took longer than the labor with my first child. I poured the molasses on the butter, which was quite satisfying, and then added the sugar. Before I turned on the stove, I read ahead a little and saw I needed to get my other ingredients ready, since I really, really didn’t want to deal with burnt butter, sugar, and molasses in my nice All Clad skillet.

IMG_0653 IMG_0655

I was quite serious about this. When the recipe said to let it boil for a minute, I wasn’t about to take any chances.

IMG_0657

When it was time, I threw in my remaining ingredients and stirred it all up. The final ingredient is brandy, and because we live in Wisconsin, we happen to have a small bottle on hand.

IMG_0656

Wine bottle shown for scale.

Wine bottle shown for scale.

I was unsure if parchment paper would work for this, but I gave it shot anyway. Measured out about a tablespoon per cookie, leaving a lot of space around each one, as the spread out.

IMG_0661

Oh, and I made a mess too.

IMG_0663

Ten minutes later, I pulled the tray out of the oven and thanked Ree for having a picture of what they were supposed to look like. If I hadn’t known, I would have thought something went horribly wrong.

IMG_0666

Now, when I pulled them out of the oven, they reminded me of something else I’ve made in the past: some Chewy Ginger Cardamom cookies that didn’t turn out so well. See?

Not-so Chewy Ginger Cardamom cookies from 2012. If I only I knew then what I know now...

Not-so Chewy Ginger Cardamom cookies from 2012. If I only I knew then what I know now…

But had I known what I could have done with those a couple years ago, maybe I could have made some sort of Ginger Cardamom cannoli. Hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway, I waited a few minutes until the cookies didn’t stretch when lifted, and I wrapped the warm cookies around my stainless steel whisk.

IMG_0667

Turned out really well. I mean, it looked like I was the oil assistant on Kim Kardashian’s latest photo shoot, but that’s the price I paid for deliciousness.

IMG_0668

Now, I will say that not all the cookies turned out so well. I had to set another tray-full on the counter away from the stove, and those cooled much quicker…too quick to wrap. Just so you know.

When I was done with all the cookies, I got going on the whipped cream. I put my mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes, just to make sure it was really cold.

Now, before I start this part of the recipe I want you all to benefit from the wisdom that comes from my mistakes. The VERY last line of Ree’s recipe says something like “Serve immediately.” I didn’t see that until I had already filled the cookies. If you are not planning on serving these immediately, wait to fill the cookies until you are. Disgruntled Husband and I got a little intoxicated on the couch because we didn’t want the cookies to go to waste. This morning, I pulled the container out of the fridge, and the cookies were no longer crispy. In this case, you want them to be crispy, so plan accordingly.

IMG_0673

I made the booze-infused whipped cream and filled my pastry bag with it.

With a star tip, I filled half of the cookie, then turned it around and filled the other half.

IMG_0674

And just so you know, they are divine. ::hiccup::

Brandy Snaps

(from www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Ingredients

  •  COOKIE
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1/2 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Brandy
  • 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  •  Filling
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Brandy (more To Taste)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.

To make the cookies/shells, melt butter in a skillet with molasses, sugar, and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Allow to bubble and cook for one minute, then turn off heat.

Dump in flour, ginger, and salt. Stir together quickly until just combined, then stir in brandy.

Use a tablespoon to spoon mixture onto cookie sheet; do only eight cookies per sheet, as they will spread out in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until bubbling in the oven. Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow to cool on the pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Lift up circles one at a time and drape them over a cannoli mold (or a large metal handle of a whisk or potato masher!) The cookies will naturally drape over the mold; help it along by pressing the seal.

Slide cookies off the mold and set them on a cool plate. Repeat with remaining cookies. Be prepared to slightly reshape cookies as they cool. Fill with cream filling when completely cool.

FILLING

Combine cream, sugar, and brandy (make sure cream is very cold.) Place into a cold mixing bowl (chill ahead of time) and mix on high until cream is very stiff. Place cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip. Carefully fill cooled brandy snaps. Serve within a couple of hours.

Cookies today: 17

Cookies this year: 335

December 7: White Velvet Cut-Outs

Standard

A long time ago, in an apartment far, far away, I made my first cut-out cookie as an adult. Disgruntled Husband and I were newly married his oma (German for “Grandmother”) gave me a cookie cutter.

IMG_0638

That brought my count up to one. When Christmas rolled around, I brought out the cookie cookbook from my teens and made cut-out cookies with my one cookie cutter.

IMG_0637

I didn’t make these last year and I found that I missed them. The recipe is super simple, but makes for a very tasty cookie. Instead of narrating the entire process, I think I’ll just use the pictures I took today, along with the recipe at the end.

(Oh, and the icing method and recipe can be found on my pinterest board, or on the sole November 2014 post on this very blog.)

IMG_0633 IMG_0634 IMG_0639 IMG_0641 IMG_0642 IMG_0643 IMG_0644 IMG_0645 IMG_0646 IMG_0647

White Velvet Cut Outs

(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Cookies)

1 c. butter, softened                           1 egg yolk

3 oz. cream cheese, softened              1/2 t vanilla

1 c sugar                                          2 1/2 c flour

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Beat in sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla, then stir in flour. Gather dough in a ball and chill overnight. To prepare, pre heat oven to 350. Rolll dough out to 3/16″ and cut into desired shapes. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are light brown.

Cookies today: 37

Cookies this year: 318

December 6: Gingerbread Men

Standard

I venture to say that Gingerbread men and women are one of those things that it’s “just not Christmas until…”they show up in a box of cookies.

Now, to that end, I have made them today–but I really don’t like them. I don’t know why. I like molasses. I like ginger and cinnamon and all the other Christmas spices. But somehow, I only like the smell of these.

But that little red-headed girl of mine just loves them. So I make them.

I start with shortening. Now, if you’re a novice baker, let me tell you that shortening means Crisco. You can use butter or margarine if that’s all you have, but generally if a recipe calls for shortening, you best find the white grease and use it. Because my mom is southern, I grew up with Crisco and thought everyone knew what it was. Since growing up and moving to Wisconsin, I have discovered that this is simply not true.

While my shortening was being beaten, I dug out the two jars of molasses from my fridge. I use molasses two times a year–when my mom is visiting (because you dip biscuits in molasses if you’re from North Carolina) and when I make gingerbread cookies.

IMG_0594

It takes a while to get all the molasses out. I have two jars because a few years ago, I decided it was easier to just get a new unrefrigerated bottle and use that than it was to pry open the bottle in my fridge and attempt to pour it out.

But enough about my problems.

Once I add the molasses, sugar, and egg, I get my gingerbread voodoo spices out and go to work. Spices and baking soda goes in, and then the flour. Most people would stop the mixer to add things.

IMG_0595

Not me. Nope. It’s just not worth it unless I can try to time the beater’s revolutions with the adding of the flour. Sometimes it gets messy. (Okay. It’s most of the time.)

Throw it in the fridge and attempt to get the rest of your Christmas crap done.

Fail miserably, and three hours later, roll out your choice of gingerbread shapes.

IMG_0628

I am a purist and go for the men and women, but there’s no law saying you need to.

IMG_0630

While you are busy rolling out the second tray of cookies, yell at your kitten for jumping on to the first tray sitting on the table, throw out those cookies, and mumble under your breath.

A naughty kitten did this.

A naughty kitten did this.

Once they are cooled, you can decorate them. I use a Wilton bag and a small round tip. Sadly, this year I didn’t make any anatomically correct gingerbread people because my kids were home. I mean, not that I’ve ever made them in the past…

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mini Me was sad when she got home from school, and this particular gingerbread man had a frown instead of a smile.

Mom’s Gingerbread Cookies
(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. shortening
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves

Ingredients for Powdered Sugar Icing

1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
1 T. milk

Directions:

1. Beat shortening until softened. Add molasses, sugar, and egg, beat again, and add spices and soda. Beat again and add half the flour.
2. Add the rest of the flour, mixing well.
3. Refrigerate for three hours
4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookies.
5. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes, ice with powdered sugar icing

Cookies today: 35

Cookies this year: 281