December 18: Meringue Cookies

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I had a little help making these.

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Larry Potter–now a fully grown 13 year-old man-boy–wanted to make some cookies unassisted. The four egg whites needed to make this recipe turned into about 8, due to some mistakes in de-yolking. But he finally did it.When the egg whites were whipped, he added the rest of the ingredients and left. It’s okay. I told him to. The next step involved a pastry bag, and I make a big enough mess as it is.

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Now, here’s the awful truth: it’s nearly impossible to make meringue cookies in 100% humidity. They need to be whipped and dried, and the barometric pressure just doesn’t care. Even still, we (or at this point, I) forged on. About 15 minutes later (WAY longer than it should have taken), my mixture was stiff enough to pipe on to cookie sheets.

The recipe says to leave them out at room temperature. That was not going to happen.

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Even for Louisiana, it’s a weird and too warm Christmas. I put the trays in the oven at 200 and checked on them frequently. After about 20 minutes, I had some cookies.

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Snowflake Meringue Cookies
(from The Spirit of Christmas Cookbook, Volume 4)

Ingredients:

4 egg whites
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. almond extract
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. cream of tartar
decorating sugar

Directions:

1. Cover baking sheets with waxed paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add powdered sugar, almond extract, cinnamon, and cream of tartar; beat until very stiff.
3. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Make snowflake design. Add decorating sugars.
4. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

December 17: Gingerbread Wookie Cookies

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There’s a fad on FB (and probably other forms of social media and internet-ing) where someone takes a recipe and does a fast-action shoot of it. They’re interesting. I’ve never made a recipe from a video like that. But that all changed.

This fast little video amused me so much, I had to try it.

Because the video already exists (and in viral form), I decided not to take pictures of the actual making of the dough. That, and I forgot. But here’s when I took it out of the fridge to start cutting out my wookies.

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I did what I was supposed to…stretch out the gingerbread men. I found that starting with the legs one at a time was easier, but as the dough warmed, I could stretch them head first. (This kinda sounds like a mafia how-to.)

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I pricked them with a butter knife and baked them for 10 minutes at 350. Every time I pulled a batch out of the oven, I just laughed. I was baking Wookies!

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When it came time to decorate them, I lined them up like playing cards and went to town. Melted chocolate chips makes for a good medium.

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Insert Chewbacca roar.

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And, in case you are wondering, they are delightfully Chewie. 😉

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Gingerbread Wookie Cookies

(from http://www.buzzfeed.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Once dough begins to form a ball in the center, dust generously with flour. Separate into three sections to make rolling easier. Cover dough with plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Dust a smooth surface with flour, and roll out a section of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter, or a knife to slice out your Wookiees.

Wookiees are tall, so you may want to stretch out the head and feet! Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and score the cookie’s surface to look like fur.

Bake at 350˚F/180˚C for 10-12 min. Your Wookiees will puff up quickly! Next, with melted chocolate in a piping bag, add the bandolier, eyes and nose.

 

December 16: Stroopwafels

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Truth be told, these are the fanciest cookies I make. They are also the ones that take longest to create. They are ALSO my personal favorites of any of the cookies I make, and if you get one, it’s because I really, really like you. Actually, with this economy, I’m going to need to bump that up to love now.

(They are also the cookie that got me an award and some serious poetic street cred because I wrote a poem about making them. But we don’t need to talk about that.)

(I can see you’re not going to let this go…here’s the link.)

I don’t expect any one to have a pizzelle iron at home (or even better, an actual Stroopwafel one), but on the off hand chance you do, well, let me introduce you to my favorite of the favorites.

This one needs yeast. Don’t be afraid of yeast. Just make sure the water you’re using is warm, not hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast.

IMG_4556While my yeast was yeasting, I went to get my flour. I was digging at the bottom of the barrel (bucket) for this recipe, but thankfully, I had enough.

(Also, I keep flour and sugar in food grade buckets. Write a cookie blog sometime and tell me you won’t do the same.)

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You have to cut the butter into the flour, and I find it’s easier if you cube the butter first.

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Anytime I bring out my pastry cutter, I think of my friend Jenny B., who once had some very important questions about using such a device. You don’t need one–you can do the same thing with two knives–but I’ll tell you it’s easier to use the pastry cutter.

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After I added in all the other ingredients, I mushed it into a ball and let it rise for an hour.

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And through the magic of the Internet…

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Time to make the heavenly filling for the Stroopwafel. It’s pretty easy–butter, brown sugar, dark Karo syrup, and cinnamon. This is the Karo syrup, in my Pampered Chef measuring cup–a measuring cup that has paid for itself many times over because of it’s syrup-measuring (and peanut butter, and mayonnaise) abilities.

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Let it boil until it reaches the soft ball stage. Don’t let it go any further than that, or you will have crunchy cookies that take your fillings out.

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Once the filling is done, I like to pour mine into an extra large measuring cup.

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The dough needs to be made into cookies. I take biggish balls (okay, 8th grade boy…) and press them until they are juuuust lightly golden. It takes a few tries. You want it just on the brink of being fully cooked.

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I take a serrated knife and cut through the cookie. This is why you want the cookie to be just almost done. It helps you find the sweet spot in the cookie without tearing the whole thing apart. I would have had a picture of this for you, but I’m a safety gamble using two hands doing this, and I wasn’t about to try it with one, just so there’d be a picture.

(Adulting kind of blows, btw.)

I filled the cookies with the delicious insides. I don’t know why this picture is sideways. Deal with it.

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And then I quickly put the tops on the cookies, pressing lightly.

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As you can see above, these cookies make my counters look like there’s been a struggle. Or neglect. Or both. But all in the name of good cookies.

It’s recommended that you put a Stroopwafel on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea to really get the insides gooey. This was a coffee cup I painted at one of those “Paint your own ceramics” places a few years ago. It’s holiday-themed and says exactly what you think it does.

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Again, you are only getting my stash if I love you.

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Stroopwafels

(from http://www.food.com)

Ingredients

Waffle cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

Filling

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons dark corn syrup

Directions

Preheat a pizzelle iron.
To Make Waffles: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Cut butter into the flour. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well and set aside to rise for 30 to 60 minutes.
Roll dough into 12 small balls; Squeeze each ball into the preheated pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds. Cut the waffles into two thin waffles and spread with filling.
To Make Filling: In a saucepan boil the brown sugar, the remaining one cup of the butter, cinnamon (this is a must-have ingredient), and dark corn syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage (234-240°F, 112-115°C), stirring constantly.

To Assemble: Cut each waffle (only if home-made waffles) into 2 thin waffles and spread with filling. Repeat this process until all the filling is used. If using store bought, simply spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on one waffle cookie, let it cool about 1 minute, and squeeze a second cookie on top.

 

December 15: Orange Drop Cookies

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This cookie comes with a story. I mean, they all come with a story, but this one comes with a recent story.

We had an apple tree at our old house in Wisconsin. We got it (and another one that didn’t make it) many years ago when our city cut down our large tree for power line reasons, and we got three new trees out of the deal. (Other one was a beautiful Blaze Maple.) Hoover, our middle son, loves apples, which is why we chose an apple tree.

Fast forward to now, and we live 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where we have no apple trees (I don’t know if they grow here or not, but we don’t have access to one anymore).

Hoover has always been obsessed with seeds and planting and all sorts of stuff. He used to save his orange seeds in Wisconsin to try and plant orange trees. Guess what; it didn’t work.

But, do you know what does grow in Southwest Louisiana?

The other day, our grandfatherly neighbor came to the door with a grocery bag full of oranges from his tree. Hoover’s enthusiasm seemed to charm him, and he then offered Hoover the chance to pick oranges whenever he liked. Hoover and I went to his side yard and encountered a 20 foot Satsuma Orange (or tangerine, possibly…jury is still deliberating what a Satsuma really is–other than a scent at The Body Shop) tree.

Walter (not the neighbor’s name, but it’s something like that) is lousy with oranges, and looks to be quite sick of them, much like my dad was when he had two giant apple trees. He emphasized that any time he wanted to pick oranges, Hoover (and his brother and sister) could and should, otherwise they’d just go to waste.

Didn’t have to tell this kid twice.

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He asked me if I could make orange cookies with the oranges. Many years ago, I made Orange Drop cookies, so I knew I could. And how can you resist fresh oranges?

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This is some of Hoover and Mini-Me (my daughter)’s second stash, after they juice a half-gallon of juice by hand. (And then drank it.)

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Luckily, I had a helper in juicing.

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Had to strain it so I’d just get the juice.

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Chopping a half cup of walnut, graciously given to me by my poetry professor Amy!

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Into the oven it went. Now, I’ll say this. These cookies come out looking light and airy if you do it right. I did it right. 🙂

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Seriously, don’t they look like meringue tarts?

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The frosting involved a pound of powdered sugar, and more orange juice and zest. This is probably the tastiest frosting I make, and the fresh ingredients only enhance it!

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As my kids noted, they aren’t all that orange. When I’ve made these with regular store-bought juice, they aren’t all that orange, either. But, they sure do taste (and smell…holy smokes, the smells in my kitchen…) great!

Orange Drop Cookies

(I’m sorry, I can’t remember where I got it from! If you do, let me know and I’ll credit it accordingly!)

1/2 c shortening                                   2 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar                                             1/2 t salt

2 eggs                                                 1 T grated orange peel

1/2 c orange juice                                 1/2 c walnuts

1 1/2 t baking powder

Cream together shortening and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add orange juice and mix. Blend in dry ingredients. Drop onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Orange Frosting:

6 T Butter                                              2 t grated orange peel

1 lb. bag of powdered sugar                    2 T orange juice

1 1/2 t vanilla

Cream together butter and orange peel; gradually add about half of the sugar, blending well. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Add enough sugar to make spreading consistency.

December 14: Butter Mints

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Not technically a cookie, but that’s okay because it’s not technically December 14 anymore. I didn’t make them last year, but decided these needed to be apart of our Cajun Festivities.

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The recipe isn’t hard: butter, powdered sugar, extracts, cream, and some food coloring.

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I decided to just do red and white this year. After I split my mints in two batches, I dyed half of it red. Scorcese red. (Name the movie!)

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I did something else different this year and wrapped one half of the dough in the other half, hoping for a two-toned effect. Seems to have worked.

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I once watched a show on how they made candy canes. It was something similar.

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A great, minty, no bake treat!

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Butter Mints

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon half-and-half cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Red and green paste or liquid food coloring, optional


Directions

In a large bowl, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cream and
extracts. If desired, divide dough into portions and knead in food
coloring.
Form into balls by teaspoonfuls; flatten into patties, or roll
between two pieces of waxed paper to 1/8-in. thickness and cut into
desired shapes. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or
overnight. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: about 8 dozen.

 

December 13: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(I took a week mental health break, but I’m back at documenting what was made. And they were made!)

It’s the old standard. The cookie everyone lists as their favorite. The kind that will evoke happy memories of home and love and deliciousness.

I try not to do a Chocolate Chip cookie for the blog, as I know there are so many others out there that beg for airtime. But, as I was home in Wisconsin for a weekend, two friends invited me to their home for Friend Christmas. They insisted I needn’t bring anything. I was okay with that, but thought I should bake a batch of cookies. Another friend, hearing all of this, went on a 10 minute spiel about what the perfect Chocolate Chip cookie was like. I was amused. After that, how I could I not make Chocolate Chip cookies?

I found this recipe a few years ago on Pinterest, looking to make a different kind of cookie. Well, the base for it (it was one of those “s’mores inside a chocolate chip cookie” cookie), is this recipe. The s’mores cookie turned out fine, but the real star was the Chocolate Chip cookie recipe.

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One of the key differences for this recipe is that it calls for 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted, and then cooled off. It’s a weird request, and had the recipe not held up, I’d totally would have made fun of it. It holds ups, therefore, I hold my tongue.

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In went the rest of the ingredients into Nichole’s highly superior KitchenAid.

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And I balled up the dough and baked them.

Now, the recipe does have some pretentious instructions as to how to bake these. Follow it, don’t follow it, it’s up to you. I’ve done the whole “break it apart, put the jagged edges up, turn every 5 minutes” thing, and I didn’t see much of a difference.

I don’t have too many pictures for this recipe, as I was making it while waiting for my ride to the party. My ride was also the friend that gave me the cookie specifications he expected, so he was the first one to sample. He said, “Mmm. Hhghgg. Orrr!” Which was loosely translated to “You got it right.”

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

(from http://www.smells-like-home.com)

 

  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp (10 5/8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (7oz)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (5oz)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions.Preheat oven 325°.Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined.Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball.Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves.Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes).Do not overbake.

 

 

December 12: Snickerdoodles

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I think the cat’s out of the bag now. I’m resuming my status as a Cheesehead for one weekend only.

My friend Nichole was nice enough to put me up for my time here. I’ve known Nichole for 8 years now, and amongst the many things I know about her, I know that her favorite cookie is Snickerdoodles. While she was at work this morning, I decided to whip up a batch to thank her for letting me stay with her.

Have you ever tried to cook at someone else’s house? What about bake? Thankfully, she had all of the ingredients on hand for Snickerdoodles (which I pretty much knew she would, since she and I are cut from the same cloth), but trying to find all that I needed was another story. Thankfully, I did find it all, minus the potholders, but I used her nice hot pink hand towel for that. (Surprise, Nichole!)

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Again, you guys have seen many pictures of the inside of my mixing bowl, so I don’t need to take you through what it looks like when you cream butter, shortening, sugar, and eggs together.

But Nichole’s mixer is far superior to mine, so I thought we should all admire it for a minute.

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(A few years ago, she brought her old mixer to where we both worked so our friend could try to fix it. He ended up electrocuting himself. So now she has this one.)

When it came time to add the 2 3/4 c of flour, I went rogue. You see, another thing I know about Nichole is that she likes to incorporate whole wheat flour whenever she can. This is her flour bin:

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And I could tell it was a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat. Some sleuthing in her pantry uncovered this, and it’s what I used. She’ll thank me later.

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Also, when I bake someone surprise thank you cookies, I like to make a mess of their wonderfully clean kitchen. It’s an important part of the process.

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When it came time to bake the cookies, I looked for a cookie sheet, only to discover that Nichole has the largest cookie sheet known to man. If you need a gross of cookies baked at once, see Nichole. She can lend you this pan.

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I rolled the dough in cinnamon and sugar and baked them at 400 for 10 minutes. When they came out, I put them on paper towels because I didn’t know where her wire rack was. Unlike all the rest of my cookies, this batch is just for one person.

Well, most of it.

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I hope the rest of these make it until she gets home.

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Trisha Yearwood’s Snickerdoodles

(from http://www.foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 medium eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the eggs and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and stir into the shortening mixture.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon.

Shape the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls (1 tablespoon per ball), and roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar. Arrange the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake two sheets at a time until the edges of the cookies are set but the centers are still soft, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Transfer the cookies to wire racks for cooling. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

December 10: White Velvet Cut-Outs

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I started this recipe last night since it has to chill in the fridge for awhile. I don’t have picture of me mixing together the dough, since it’s pretty basic and I feel like you all have seen enough pictures of flour in my mixing bowl.

So this morning, I took out the dough and went to work. Now that I’m done with school for the semester, I theoretically have time to do cut-outs.

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Instead of my normal bell cookie cutter, I wanted to try something I saw on the internet–triangle trees, cut with just a pizza cutter.

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Worked out pretty well.

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I realized that isosceles triangles look better than equilateral, but since Mr. Harris (my high school geometry teacher) wasn’t here to yell at me about the difference, I just triangle-d in all different ways.

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I baked them as instructed, and went to work on the frosting. Now, online, the Christmas trees were in odd colors. Hey, I’m all about odd colors.

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I did my best to recreate what I saw on the internet. I mean, I could have brought it up, but that would have been no challenge at all.

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But when it came time to do the teal, it got a little messy. So I decided to just do some graffiti frosting drizzle at the end.

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Eh. They’ll do. 🙂

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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.

December 9: J-Dub’s Toffee Grahams

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Because of last year’s phone/text tutorial to J-Dub (see here for a re-cap), I can’t not think of her with these cookies.

I have since re-named them in her honor.

You’re welcome, J-Dub.

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Me and J-Dub. I will pay dearly for this. It’s worth it.

These are what you can make when you have 30 minutes to make something homemade and need something you can’t really screw up.

(Also, the heart of why J-Dub now has these named in her honor.)

The first step in this recipe–at least in my house–is to fetch the dirty pot from the sink and wash it. (Shut it. You know it’s the first step at your house, too.)

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I put in the two sticks of butter and cup of brown sugar. Rocket science, I tell you.

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And–helpful hint–you can use the wrappers from the butter to grease your cookie sheet. I’m like Martha Stewart and Pinterest, all rolled up into one fabulous red-headed baker-slash-poet.

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And then there’s the not so secret ingredient:

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This recipe calls for 24 squares of graham crackers, which because of my Yankee grocery store, I never understood. The south has the monopoly on square graham crackers. (I’ve only seen rectangles in the past.)

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Line up the graham crackers wall-to-wall.

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And after the butter and sugar mixture has boiled for two minutes…

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…pour it on the graham crackers and spread it out…

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..and add pecans, then throw it in the oven for 10 minutes.

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Once it’s done and has cooled (this is cooling part is very important, unless you’d like to visit your dentist unexpectedly), cut into little strips.

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Easier than putting in a bakery order; slightly harder than pushing a cart through CostCo.

J-Dub’s 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.”