Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marshmallows, Redux


I made marshmallows back in the fall for a camping trip I was going on with friends. They were so amazingly yummy. Everyone loved them, and was asking me about them when I went home for Thanksgiving. Sadly I didn’t have any then. I knew I would have to make them for Christmas.

The first batch I made I put in peppermint extract, instead of vanilla, I also swirled them with food coloring and cut them with cookie cutters. I’m glad I only did one batch like that. I felt the 2 Tablespoons of peppermint was incredibly overpowering. So when I packaged those up to give to my coworkers, I only put 1 peppermint marshmallow in the goodie bags, and filled the rest with plain marshmallows. When I was making the plain marshmallows I decided to seek out a different marshmallow recipe to see if there was one I liked better. I’m really glad I did, because I found this recipe. I ended up sort of using a combination of the previous recipe, and this one, and I think I’ve found a keeper! I ended up making 3 batches of the plain ones! These are just oh, so good. They truly melt in your mouth.

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Marshmallows II

adapted from Slashfood & RecipeZaar

Ingredients:

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Line 13 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Clip on candy thermometer and bring temperature to high. Cook syrup WITHOUT STIRRING until temperature reaches 244° (firm ball stage).

Immediately remove pan from heat. Using whisk attachment, turn mixer onto low, slowly pour the boiling mixture into the softened gelatin. Add salt, and turn mixer onto high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 12-15 minutes. Add in vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Using a lightly greased spatula (this part is very helpful!), pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, and spread evenly. Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

When you're ready to cut the marshmallow, on a smooth work surface (I used newspapers), flip the marshmallow pan over (so the plastic that was on top, is now on the bottom). Peel off the top layer of plastic. Grease a pizza cutter and cut marshmallows into squares. In a bowl combine equal parts cornstarch & powdered sugar. Toss the marshmallows in the mixture, and dust off excess powder. Eat & enjoy alone, or in s'mores or with hot cocoa!



Packaged up and ready to go!
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies


I’m still drooling over the Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook I checked out from the library. I made a long list of all the cookies I want to make. I know I won’t get to them all, sadly. I did make one batch of cookies, and they were yummy. This was another recipe I knew I HAD to make. YUM! They were a perfect Christmas season treat. It makes a huge amount, so I brought some into my work, and sent the rest off with The Boy to his work potluck. And honestly, if I had anymore molasses left, I’d be making these again!

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Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies

from Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook

Ingredients:

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Graham Cracker Candy


While at my parents over Thanksgiving break my sister wanted to prepare a dessert to take to our grandmother’s house (we call her Mammy). She kept asking me if I remembered the graham cracker dessert Mammy used to make. I didn’t remember at all. Then she started making it, and the smell was a little familiar. Once she finished making it, and it cooled, I ate one (and later ate many many more), and instantly knew I had eaten it once long before. Funny how the sense of taste can trigger a memory.

Anyways, this is a very very simple, but very addictive treat. I would guess this recipe is probably on some kind of website somewhere, so I apologize if someone thinks I plagerized. This is just what my sister emailed me, and our Mammy used to make it long ago (before there even was the internet!). You should definitely try this treat! It smells SOOOO good while baking!

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Graham Cracker Candy

from my sister & my Mammy

Ingredients:

Graham crackers (enough to fill up two cookie sheet, so just start with a whole box)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans is what she used, but walnuts would be good too)

Directions:

Line two (or just one large) cookie sheets with foil and cover the entire bottoms with graham crackers in squares (not crushed). Boil butter, and sugar for 3 minutes. Pour over the top of graham crackers. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool, then break up into pieces. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes


I recently had a Peppermint Mocha from the coffee shop by work, Dunn Bros. It was SO amazingly good. I knew I wanted to try and capture the essence of that drink into a yummy little cupcake. I think I got pretty close. The mocha flavor isn’t too overpowering and the peppermint is really refreshing. Perfect treats for my potluck at work! My friends & coworkers LOVED the peppermint frosting. It would be really fun to add to lots of different cupcake treats! My only advice is, if you plan on topping the buttercream frosting with more crushed candy, do it RIGHT BEFORE SERVING! I topped mine the night before, and come morning, the candy had completely dissolved into little pink puddles!

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Mocha Cupcakes
adapted from Taste of Home

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa (I used both regular cocoa & special dark cocoa, just because I love the special dark cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee (I used espresso for a stronger flavor)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, coffee, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Peppermint Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons peppermint extract (You could decrease this to 1 tsp for more subtle peppermint flavor)
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
4 candy canes crushed

Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add Peppermint Extract; mix well.

Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, beating until well blended after each addition, frequently scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick to spread, gradually beat in additional milk. Last, add in crushed peppermint bits. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Buttered Rum Meltaways


I love the library. I could honestly spend hours & hours roaming around. I love the fiction of course, but I could really get lost in the non-fiction aisles. Unfortunately I usually don’t have hours & hours to roam. I usually just check out the “What’s New” aisles on the first floor. That’s where I discovered this gem of a book. OMFG. This book is amazing! I love the way it’s laid out. There are categories of cookies such as “Soft & Chewy” “Crumbly & Sandy” “Light & Delicate”, & a photo index at the front. Yes, you heard me, a photo index! There’s a photo for EVERY recipe! I had originally seen the book sometime over summer, but didn’t check it out. Then, over Thanksgiving break I began to think about Christmas cookies to make, so I went online and requested this book. I was so excited when I got the email saying it was there waiting for me!

This is the first recipe I tried. I wanted to make something that seemed simple, but that seemed different from any recipe I’d made before. I settled on the Buttered Rum Meltaways. I was drawn to the fact that this dough needed to be put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, and up to one month. So I could easily make the dough, and then bake it right before a Christmas party!

These little babies definitely appeal to a grown-up palate. The mix of spices & addition of rum has warm mature flavor! So yummy.

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Buttered Rum Meltaways

adapted from Martha Stewart "Cookies"

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.

Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 1 1/4-inch log. Wrap in parchment. Chill in freezer 30 minutes (up to 1 month).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 weeks.


PS. If anyone wants to get this book for me for Christmas, I would be incredibly happy.