Thursday, December 11, 2008
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!
Graham Cracker Candy
from my sister & my Mammy
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)
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Buttered Rum Meltaways
adapted from Martha Stewart "Cookies"
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
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.
Friday, December 5, 2008
This has become my newest breakfast obsession. It’s my homemade egg mcmuffin. I read all the “Eat This, Not That” type of articles on what’s the better option at fast food restaurants, and was surprised to learn the McD’s Egg McMuffin isn’t that bad of an option. The more I thought about it the more I realized that it is a pretty well rounded breakfast. You’ve got your lean protein (2x actually), your dairy, and your carb. Don’t worry, learning this breakfast meal this was healthy, did NOT make me want to run out to the nearest McDonald’s. (Can I take this time to mention that I have been living within 2.5 blocks from a McDonald’s for over a YEAR, and have only went there or ate food from there ONCE. When they had their ice cream cones for like $.59 or $.99 or something.)
Obviously, I can make this much cheaper & healthier than getting it from the golden arches. I usually use a whole wheat english muffin, but, times are tight, and the whole wheat ones were like a dollar more, so I settled for white ones. It really doesn’t take much more time than it does to fix a bowl of cereal, and there is minimal cleanup as well. I definitely recommend this breakfast. It keeps you full until lunch!
Homemade Egg McMuffin
1 whole wheat english muffin
1/2 slice of cheese (colby, cheddar, pepperjack, whatever you've got on hand)
1 slice turkey bacon
Cook bacon in toaster oven at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes until done at desired crispness (or you can cook it in the microwave or a skillet, or regular oven). Meanwhile pan-fry egg in skillet on medium-high heat. I always break the egg yolk as soon as I put it in the pan. Toast english muffin in toaster.
When muffin is done toasting layer the cooked egg, a 1/2 slice of cheese (a 1/2 slice is always plenty for me), and the slice of bacon (cut in half), on the muffin. Add the top of the muffin. Heat in microwave 12-15 seconds on high (this step isn't absolutely necessary, it just helps to melt the cheese & soften the muffin.)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I had some amazing cupcakes planned out in my head to make for a friend’s birthday. Only to find out the day before he didn’t like one of the flavors. So I didn’t have much time to pick a replacement cupcake. I’m always interested in trying something new. A new flavor, a new method. I browsed one of my favorite food porn sites, I mean, food blogs, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, and I was immediately drawn to these cupcakes! I thought I’d give them a shot!
The method to make them was different that any cupcakes I’d made before. I really enjoyed that I got to try making a marshmallow frosting. In the end result, they were certainly yummy, but not my favorite. I’m not sure I’ll use the cake recipe again, but the frosting one I definitely will! I’m not sure if I over beat the egg whites, or what, but the cake wasn’t as moist as I prefer. It was more on the dense side. Again, they still tasted great, and got rave reviews, but not my cup of tea!
They were still the cutest thing ever, so I decided I’d go ahead and blog them! I can’t help but give my honest opinion. That’s something my friends all know about me. I have no problem giving you my honest opinion. I left in most of Peabody’s notes about the recipe. If you try this recipe, let me know your results!
Marshmallow Snowflake Cupcakes
adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, originally adapted from Cupcakes Galore by Gail Wagman
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg whites(plus a pinch of salt for them)
1 cup mini-marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine flour and baking powder together in a bowl; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together, beating till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, and beat until batter is smooth. (Don’t panic, this will look more like cookie batter than bake batter.)
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not to dry. Gently fold into batter. (This was a bit of a chore, just keep at it).
Fold in marshmallows.
Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full(even if you are using papers, be sure to grease down the top of the muffin tins as the marshmallow part tends to ooze over a bit). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.
2 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
Using a large bowl, preferably the top of a double boiler, mix eggs, sugar, corn syrup ans salt until combined. Place the bowl over simmering water ans whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, about 3 minutes(be careful to not make it too hot since you are using eggs and don’t want them to scramble). Remove heat and beat 5-7 minutes until frosting is cool and stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla. Decorate cupcakes to your tastes.