Friday, December 31, 2010

Mister D ~ A New Year Brew ~ Part One

Three and a half years ago, Brendan made his first batch of mead with our friend Nate. Since then, we've completed eleven other batches. We have one brewing in the carboy. And tonight, we got started on our next batch, called Mister D (A nod to Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine, particularly his incarnation from The Percy Jackson Series), which will have a grape flavor.

Tonight we took three gallon ziploc bags full of grapes from our friend Penny, two cans of grape juice concentrate, and two campden tablets and used the following process:

Wash children's stinky feet in sink with lots of soap.

Place children in bowl to stomp on grapes. They provided a variety of sound effects, including, "Ewwww." "It's sqidgy." and "There are grapes between my toes!"

After the juice was stomped out, we used our trusty bag to strain out peels, pulp and pits, leaving us with a gallon and a half of juice mix.

Pitched two campden tablets to kill any unwanted bugs, either from the grapes or the feet.

Let sit overnight in food grade plastic bucket.

Project Life

Tomorrow it begins. January 1, 2011. I will begin using Project Life by Becky Higgins.

Everyday a picture.

Everyday journaling.

A chronicle of the year. Our lives. Can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Logs

Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Logs

1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 c flour
1 c butterscotch baking pieces
1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips for dipping

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in flour, and stir in butterscotch chips. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 9" long log. Flatten so logs are about 2 1/2" wide. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hrs. Preheat oven to 350. Slice chilled dough into 1/4" slices, place on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. When cool, melt chocolate and dip one half of each cookie. Set on waxed paper and leave until the chocolate sets up.

Cranberry Drops

Cranberry Drops

1 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c dried cranberries
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter with brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Once well combined, beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in flour. Add cranberries and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until tops are lightly browned.

Lemony Bonbon Cookies

Lemony Bonbon Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/3 c powdered sugar
1 T lemon juice
3/4 c flour
1/3 c cornstarch
24 pecan halves

1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp softened butter
3-4 tsp lemon juice

Cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and chill 2 hrs. Shape dough into 1" balls. Place the pecan halves on two ungreased cookie sheets. Top each pecan half with a ball of dough; flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool completely. For icing, combine powdered sugar, butter and enough lemon juice to achieve spreading consistancy. Spread over cookies. Let stand until set.

Hidden pecans

Iced and ready to go



1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tblps white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Cream together butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Chocolate Hazelnut Macadamia Bars

Chocolate Hazelnut Macadamia Bars

1/2 bag of mini marshmallows
1 bag of chopped ready to use macadamia nuts
2 bags bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chocolate hazelnut spread
1/2 c whipping cream
1/4 c butter

Line 9x13 pan with foil and set aside. Combine marshmallows, nuts and one bag of chips in a large bowl, set aside. In medium saucepan, combine the other bag of chips, choc-hazelnut spread, whipping cream and butter. Heat and stir over medium low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add chocolate to marshmallows, nuts and chips, stir to coat well. Spoon mixture into prepared pan, and spread evenly. Cover and chill 30 minutes. When set, remove from pan by lifting foil. Cut into desire size pieces.

Melted mixture

Marshmallows, nuts and chips

In the pan

Ready to eat!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c butter
1 3/4 c sugar
4 eggs
2 T finely ground espresso beans (can omit if desired)
1/3 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 c chocolate chips (can use raspberry choc chips, if you can find them, for a Raspberry Mocha Cookie)

In medium sauce pan, combine bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter. Heat and stir over low heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Combine sugar, eggs and ground espresso beans and beat with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until well mixed and color lightens slightly. Add cooled melted chocolate, beating until combined. Stir together flour baking powder and salt in small bowl. Add to chocolate mixture, beat until combined. Stir in chocolate (or chocolate raspberry pieces). Cover surface of dough with wax paper and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop out balls of dough onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven about 13 minutes, or until the tops are just set and the cracks on top do not appear moist. Let stand on cookie sheet one minute, then transfer to wire rack.

Melted chocolate and butter



Eggs, sugar, and espresso

Adding chocolate

Adding more chocolate

Ready to bake

Baked and yummy!

Slipper Cookies

These had always been called Lemon Logs, until last Christmas Season when Raven said, "Are those Slipper Cookies? They look like slippers." And so they received a name change from the three year old.

Slipper Cookies

1 c sugar
1 c butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tsp lemon extract
2 1/2 c flour
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp slat
1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips for dipping
sprinkles for dipping (optional)

Cream sugar, butter and cream cheese. Add yolk and lemon extract. Stir in dry ingredients. Refrigerate 2 hrs. Shape into logs. Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. Once cooled, dip into chocolate and sprinkles.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stripey Cookies - My Signature Cookie

This cookie has been my favorite since I was a little kid. We could get them at the grocery store on Long Island, but when we moved to NH, there were none to be found. So, we would get some every time we went back to NY. Eventually they made their way to NH stores, but about the same time my mom found a recipe. It's a fairly involved recipe, so they are pretty much Christmas-Time-Only cookies.

Stripey Cookies

1 batch homemade almond paste (see below) You can also use 1 store bought tube of almond paste
1 1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp almond extract
2 c sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
green food coloring
red food coloring
1 jar seedless raspberry preserves
2 bags bittersweet chocolate pieces
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Break up almond paste in bowl. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in flour and salt. Beat egg whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into almond mixture until well blended. Divide mixture into 3 equal portions. Add green coloring to one, red to another, and leave the third yellow. Coat three 9x13 pans with cooking spray and line with wax paper, allowing the paper to come up on the short ends. Spray paper. (If you don't have three pans, the same pan can be used, just allow for cooling in between batches.) Spread each batter into pan(s) one at a time. Bake for 15 minutes or until middle is set. Immediately remove cakes from pans using the wax paper overhang, and set on cooling rack. Heat preserves in saucepan. Place the green layer on a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet, spread half the jam on green layer. Slide yellow layer on top; spread with remaining jam. Slide pink layer onto yellow layer. Cover with wax paper and weight down with large wooden cutting board, or heavy plate. Place in refrigerator overnight. The next day, trim the edges around the entire sheet of cookie. Cut cookie into strips approximately 9" by 1-1/4". Melt small batches of chocolate, and spread over strips, add sprinkles if desired before chocolate sets. When chocolate does set, cut into 3/4" wide cookies.

Almond Paste

1 1/2 c blanched almonds (mine weren't blanched though)
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt

Food process almonds until close to being a paste. Add sugar, egg white, extract and salt. Can divide into one cup portions. Refrigerate up to one month, or freeze up to three months.

Almond paste, ready to put in the cookie dough

Yellow layer of cookie.

Pink and green layers


Melted raspberry jam

First layer

Layers glued together with jam

Heavy wooden cutting board to weigh it all down

Scraps off the sides

Cut into strips, ready to be coated in chocolate

First row coated, sprinkles being applied

A beautiful, beautiful cookie

One Thousand Cookies in Four Days

That was it. The Grand Total, One Thousand Cookies. Baked solely by me in four days. That's 83 dozen, folks. I made some of my favorites - Stripey Cookies, Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nutella Macadamia Bars, and Slipper Cookies. I tried a few newbies as well - Lemony Bonbons, Cranberry Drops, and Snickerdoodles.

I gave most of them away to Cub Scouts, Teachers and Neighbors.

I was asked if I had worked at a bakery, if I am going to start a cookie business, and whether or not I'm just plain crazy. To which I responded:

No, I have not worked at a bakery.

Yes, I have thought of opening a cookie business, but need to figure out government regulations on something like that.

No, I don't think I'm crazy, although I may come up with the 12-Steps to Cookie Baking Addiction anyway.

It was a blast, as far as I was concerned. Mostly I just enjoy making the cookies and giving them to people that will appreciate them :).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sugar Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes

For those of you that know me and my baking, you know that these are some of my tried and true fall backs. I didn't even take any pics! Although, I will be making some Russian Tea Cakes this week, so should get a couple then. And will make the sugar cookies again for Santa on Christmas Eve with the kids, so will get some then. Here are the recipes though :)

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla (or almond)
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 c flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Combine dry ingredients, and add to creamed. Roll out to 3/8" and cut our desired shapes. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. Make sure you don't overbake!

Russian Tea Cakes

1 c butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c flour chocolate chips for filling

Preheat oven to 400. Mix the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and flour to make dough. Wrap dough around a chocolate chip to make a one inch ball with a filled center. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 min. Can roll in powdered sugar after baking, or roll in sugar crystal sprinkles before baking.

Peanut Butter Munchies

These are brilliant. They are so tasty and they keep very well. I ate the last one this morning (made them four days ago) and it was just as good as it was on Thursday. The outside is nice and chocolatey without being to sweet and the middle stays super creamy. Will definitely be making more for our gift boxes this week.

Peanut Butter Munchies

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c peanut butter
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter, sugars, and 1/4 c peanut butter until combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, beat well. Mix flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a small bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Form dough into 32 balls about 1 1/4" and set aside.

For filling, combine powdered sugar and 1/2 c peanut butter. Break into 32 small balls and match up with cookies. Slightly flatten each ball, and place filling in the middle. Reshape ball around filling.

Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until just set.

Chocolate Jubilees

Another one of the keeper recipes I discovered last week. I LOVE the combination of cherries and chocolate, and although I'm not such a fan of maraschino cherries anymore, these were so good. I may be making another batch this week for the presents I need. It's a very large recipe, and I'm estimating it made 90 cookies using a tablespoon cookie dough scooper.

Chocolate Jubilees

2 c butter
2 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp almond extract
4 c flour
1 c oatmeal
1 c cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 12oz. bag bittersweet chocolate chips
20 oz maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1 c sliced almonds

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in extract. Combine flour, oats, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chips, cherries and nuts.

Roll into 1.5" balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 min.

Peppermint Snowballs

These sounded great! Shortbread type cookie on the outside, cream cheesey peppermint filling on the inside. And they tasted great, there was no denying that. But they were such a pain to make, that I don't think I'll make them again.

Peppermint Snowballs

1 c softened butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c ground nuts, optional

2 Tbsp cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp milk
3 Tbsp crushed peppermint candies

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour. Stir in nuts, if desired. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, milk, and candy in a small bowl. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Flatten and add a half teaspoon of filling. Reshape ball around filling. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-14 min, or until firm.

The filling was delicious!

Pineapple Chocolate Chip Cookies

At first glance, you think, "Really? Pineapple and chocolate chips? Hmmmm. Interesting." But I took the plunge, and I LOVED how these turned out. They are moist, and cakey, and delicious. In the future, I would definitely make them the day that they are to be eaten, or given as presents. The moisture and cakey-ness didn't hold up as well as other cookies can.
Pineapple Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
16 oz crushed pineapple, drained
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts, optional

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in pineapple and vanilla. Combine dry ingred, and gradually add to the creamed mixture.Stir in chips and nuts, if desired.

Drop onto greased baking sheets 2" apart. Bake at 375 for 10-12 min.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Six Batches Down

Wednesday night I was able to make one batch of cookies, Pineapple Chocolate Chip Cookies. Today, I made Peppermint Snowballs, Chocolate Jubilees, Peanut Butter Munchies, Sugar Cookies, and Russian Tea Cakes.

The pineapple choc chips, chocolate jubilees, and peanut butter munchies are all keepers. Unfortunately, the peppermint snowballs, which sounded so promising, similar to the Russian tea cake on the outside, with a cream cheesy peppermint filling, were a very big pain, and I probably won't make them again.

Here are some pics. I'll post recipes when I can, probably on Monday!