31 December 2008


this is one of my favorite breads to make (I know, there must be a little jewish woman in me somewhere! :-) it is great and so easy, it does take a while (2 1/2 hours rising time), but it is mostly inactive time. mike's going to use it in the morning to make strawberry french toast, I can't wait!

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 ½ packages)
5 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cup warm water
4 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
  1. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle
    attachment, mix together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar the water, 1 ¼ cups of the flour, the salt, and the oil. mix on low speed for 1 minute (alternately the dough can be mixed by hand in a large bowl).
  2. add the eggs, the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar, and half of the remaining flour and mix until incorporated. add the rest of the flour and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes; if the dough is too wet, add a little more flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
  3. remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled large bowl. cover with a slightly damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 ½ hours.
  4. pre-heat the oven to 350. lightly butter a 12” baking sheet.
  5. remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll them into strips about 8 inches long. press the 3 strips together at one end and then braid the dough strips, crossing the strip on the left under the middle strip, then the right strip under the middle, and so on 6 or 7 times, until you complete the braid.
  6. pinch the ends together and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. let rise for another 10 minutes. bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

30 December 2008

food gifts from germany

a friend of mine just got back from Germany and I got a bag of candies for the kids and spices for wine for us!  as michael has gotten me out of my shell, I have discovered how much I like trying new foods!  in fact, someone was writing about spiced wine on one of their blogs the other day and I thought "that sounds so good, I should try it sometime"  I can't wait to try the spices and candies although I guess I will have to wait until the boys are back home before I can try the candies.

29 December 2008

date night at 135 prime

we went to 135 prime, arguably the best steakhouse in waco, for dinner tonight.  we probably go there at least once every couple of months, so we pretty much have down what we are going to order.  it was monday night, which is prime rib night -- michael's favorite.  so here is what we ordered:

I got the monroe margarita, which is a margarita with olives and a splash of olive juice, I never thought I was an olive fan, but this drink is great and it is what I always get at 135.
michael got a mexican martini and said it was really good.   he usually gets the bogart's bourbon (maker's mark and amaretto), but he decided to branch out tonight.

we always split their house salad, and it is incredible.  it is field greens with sliced apples, blue cheese, and candied pecans topped with a maple vinaigrette.  there are no words to describe how good this salad is.  I am going to try to recreate it for new years eve dinner, and if it is a success, I will post a recipe.

we split the prime rib, and it was wonderful, as usual.  I never had prime rib before michael.  it is one of the many wonderful foods that he has introduced me to.

sides (the sides at 135 are served family style, which makes for easy sharing):
I always get the steamed broccoli with hollandaise for my side and tonight was no exception.  the broccoli is always steamed perfectly and their hollandaise is wonderful.
mike usually gets the creamed spinach for his side.  he says 135's cream spinach is the best he's ever had. I won't take offense to that because I've tried it and it is really good.  tonight, though, mike decided to just share my broccoli.
we usually split the macaroni and 4 cheeses. I know, you don't think of macaroni and cheese at a nice steakhouse, but it is unbelievably good!  we decided to branch out tonight and tried the fried potatoes, which are basically homemade potato chips.  I asked for some bearnaise sauce to go with the potatoes, and that was a good choice.  the potato chips with the bearnaise sauce were wonderful.  I'm not sure if we have a new standard or not.

desserts (one of the reasons that mike and I like to split meals is so that we can have dessert):
I usually get the creme brulee for dessert, which is perfect. it is smooth and light and the perfect ending to a heavy meal.  tonight, however, I decided to split a dessert with mike.
mike always gets the bailey's chocolate cake.  this is a rich chocolate cake with chocolate icing and a shot of bailey's irish cream poured on top.  unfortunately, they do not have this dessert anymore, so mike had to choose something else.  I am going to try to recreate this cake for mike. if I am successful, I will post the recipe.
we decided to split the dulce de leche cheesecake.  it was really good. it had great flavor, and was very creamy.  it was a little bit heavier than what I was looking for, so I'm glad we were splitting it.  I usually do not share my desserts that easily!

25 December 2008

candy candy cane cookies

the original recipe calls for peppermint extract, but I don’t like peppermint (and I am the one baking), so I use strawberry extract instead.  you can also shape these as sticks if you can’t ever get your candy canes to look right (it takes some practice).

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups (10 ounces) butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ teaspoon red food coloring or enough for desired color
¼ teaspoon strawberry (or peppermint) extract
red sugar, optional
  1. preheat oven to 375°.
  2. in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and egg.  beat at low speed, scraping the bowl a few times until mixture is well blended.
  3. 3. set aside half of the cookie dough.  into remaining dough in bowl, knead in red food coloring and strawberry extract until well blended.
  4. on a lightly floured surface, using hands, take 1 teaspoonful of plain dough and roll into a 4-inch rope.  repeat, using tinted dough, rolling the red rope in the red sugar if you want before twisting.  place the ropes side-by-side and gently twist together.  pinch ends lightly to seal.  move cookie to parchment lined baking.  repeat with remaining dough.
  5. bake cookies at 375° for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around edges.  remove to racks with a spatula; let cool.  store in tightly covered container for up to 1 week.  makes about 4 dozen candy cane cookies.

24 December 2008

chocolate hazelnut stars *

chocolate and hazelnut is one of my favorite combinations. add in some spiced rum, and you know you have a winner!!

1 cup hazelnuts (5 ounces)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch-process)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon spiced rum

  1. toast nuts in a small baking pan in oven until centers are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. wrap in a kitchen towel and cool to warm, then rub off any loose skins. chop nuts.
  2. sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg and rum. at low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. stir in nuts.
  4. divide dough in half and form each half into a 5-inch square. wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
  5. preheat oven to 375°f with racks in upper and lower thirds. line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. roll out 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of parchment into an 11-to 12-inch square. freeze on a tray until firm, about 20 minutes.
  7. remove top sheet of parchment and cut out with star (or any other shape) cookie cutters, arranging them 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets.
  8. bake cookies, switching position and rotating sheets halfway through, until firm and tops are slightly cracked, 8 to 12 minutes total. transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
  9. repeat with remaining dough (cool baking sheets and line with fresh parchment). reroll scraps once for extra cookies if desired.
  • dough can be chilled up to 1 week.
  • cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

23 December 2008

peanut brittle

I love peanut brittle, but the first time we tried to make it, it was horrible (it turned out green!).  once we tried this recipe, it’s been a winner every time.  if you have a spilat mat, it works much better than the waxed paper to cool the brittle on, just butter it or spray it real good with cooking spray first.  using cooking spray instead of butter on the waxed paper or spliat mat will alter the taste of the brittle a bit, but it is much easier.

1 cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
1 cup peanuts (or pecans)
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. butter (or spray with cooking spray) two sheets of waxed paper (or a spliat mat).
  2. combine sugar and corn syrup in 1 ½ quart bowl, stir well.
  3. microwave on high 4 minutes.
  4. stir in peanuts, microwave high 3-5 min until lightly browned (golden).
  5. add butter and vanilla to peanut mixture.  microwave mixture one minute
  6. stir in soda until foamy
  7. quickly pour on prepared waxed paper and let cool
once the brittle has cooled, break it up into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

22 December 2008

texas trash

there are many variations to this snack, but this is my mom’s recipe and therefore this is the only correct one.

½ stick margarine
1 ¼ t seasoned salt
4 ½ t worcestershire
4 c chex cereal
2 c cheerios
2 c cheese crackers
1 c nuts
1 c pretzels
  1. microwave margarine to melt.
  2. add seasoned salt and worcestershire; mix well.
  3. pour cereal, crackers, nuts, and pretzels into a large zip-lock bag.
  4. pour margarine mixture over, seal and shake well.
  5. pour mixture into a large bowl and microwave on high 5 to 6 min., stirring every 2 min.

21 December 2008

macadamia double decker brownies *

these are so good, I can not even describe it. mike has requested that I make these at other times of the year other than just Christmas, because at Christmas “we end up giving too much of it away”

for the brownie layer:
cooking spray
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

for the macadamia layer:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1-1/2 oz. (3 tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups roughly chopped salted macadamia nuts
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  1. position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325ºf. line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving some overhang on the sides, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds to 1 minute until completely melted. add the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. whisk until well blended, about 1 minute. add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. add the flour and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. scrape into the prepared pan and spread evenly. bake until the top is shiny and dry-looking and the brownie springs back very slightly when pressed with a fingertip, about 20 minutes. (the brownie should not be completely baked.) remove from the oven and put on a rack.
  3. in a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and flour. whisk until well blended, breaking up any large clumps. add the corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla. whisk until blended, about 1 minute. add the eggs and whisk just until combined, about 30 seconds. (don’t overmix or the batter will be foamy.) add the nuts and coconut and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly blended.
  4. pour the macadamia topping over the warm, partially baked brownie layer. using a spatula, carefully spread the mixture into an even layer. return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, 37 to 40 minutes. transfer the pan to a rack to cool completely.
  5. using the foil as handles, lift the rectangle from the pan and invert onto a work surface. carefully peel away the foil. flip right side up. using a sharp knife, cut into 2x2-inch squares and then cut each square into triangles.

20 December 2008

chocolate swirl peanut butter fudge

I used to always make acorns (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate) every year, but they are really a pain to make, even though I love them.  once I tried putting chocolate in my peanut butter fudge recipe, it worked out so well, I never made acorns again.
1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan 
1 cup peanut butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 pound powdered sugar
½ cup mini chocolate chips

  1. microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes.
  2. add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.
  3. pour into a buttered 8 by 8-inch pan lined with waxed paper.  sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top (you can leave them on top or swirl them throughout the fudge).  place a second piece of waxed paper on the surface of the  fudge and refrigerate until cool.
  4. cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

19 December 2008

chocolate pretzels

these cookies are very fun to make and look very impressive.  make sure you roll the balls into the full 12” ropes, you can still shape them with shorter ropes, but they look better and taste better with the longer ropes.

¼ cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coffee (or espresso)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
sanding sugar for sprinkling

  1. stir cocoa powder into the coffee until dissolved; set aside.
  2. put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment.  mix on medium speed until creamy.  mix in vanilla and salt.  reduce speed to medium-low.  mix in 2 eggs, then cocoa mixture.  gradually add flour and mix until a smooth dough forms.  turn out onto a piece of plastic and pat into a square.  wrap dough, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
  3. preheat oven to 325.  divide dough into 24 equal pieces.  roll into balls.  shape balls into 12” ropes.  twist each rope into a pretzel shape.  space 1” apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  4. whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl.  brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar.  bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until dry, about 35 minutes.  let cookies cool on sheets.  cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.  makes 2 dozen.

16 December 2008

strawberry toast

this is our traditional Christmas morning breakfast. one of my twitterfriends asked for this recipe, so here it is from mike

This is a Christmas morning tradition from the Berger household that we have continued. Since we usually make this in the winter, we use frozen strawberries. You can use fresh strawberries or other berries. Just cut them up, add sugar and let it sit in the fridge for a while. The sugar will macerate -- draw out the juice from -- the berries.

1 pkg Frozen Strawberries, Thawed (alternatively cut up fresh strawberries, add 1-2 T sugar, mix, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes)
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, sliced in half diagonally to make triangles
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/4 cup milk
powdered sugar
vegetable oil for frying
  1. Place flour into a shallow pie plate, add eggs and most of the milk. Whisk until smooth, adding additional milk to thin out the mixture, if needed. You are looking for thinner than a paste, but thick enough to not be absorbed by the bread. You want the batter to coat the bread, but not be soaked up by the bread.
  2. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed saucepan. Dredge bread triangles in batter, turning to coat on all sides (I find it easiest to handle the bread in the batter using 2 forks). Fry until golden brown, turning once. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve warm, topped with powdered sugar and strawberries, or maple syrup.
Strawberry toast is best served on Christmas morning with mimosas and sausage from Vincek's Smokehouse, East Bernard, Texas. Here's to Christmas morning traditions.

snowball cookies

these are usually one of first cookies that I make at christmas. most years, I end up making a second batch because I have eaten almost all 4 dozen of these cookies before I finish the rest of my treats. one word of advice though, don’t start eating these when you are rolling them in the sugar (I usually lose at least half a dozen that way.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
¼ cup sugar (you can use red or green to make these festive)
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar
  1. pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. in a large mixer bowl, combine all ingredients except powdered sugar. beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (3 to 4 minutes).
  3. shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls.
  4. place 1-inch apart on cookie sheets.
  5. bake for 18 to 25 min. or until very lightly browned.
  6. dust with powdered sugar.
  7. cool on pan for 15 minutes and then move to cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. roll in powdered sugar when cool. makes about 4 dozen.

15 December 2008

peppermint macaroons *

I do not like mint, so I do not cook with it normally (that’s the joy of being the one who cooks, you get to choose what you cook!). I decided to try this recipe anyway, since I give away the majority of my christmas cooking. after seeing how easy these were to make, I’m sure I will be making them again!

2 egg whites (at room temperature)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (14 ounce) packages shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup white-chocolate morsels
1/2 cup crushed peppermints

  1. preheat oven to 300 f. line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. in a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and salt until foamy, about 2 minutes. whisk in condensed mild and vanilla. fold in coconut, chocolate morsels, and crushed peppermints.
  3. using a 1 1/2 inch spring loaded ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets; bake for 20 minutes, or until coconut just begins to brown. let cool on pans for 10 minutes. remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. makes about 2 1/2 dozen macaroons.

14 December 2008

chicken fricassee and dumplings

one of my twitter friends asked for a chicken and dumplings recipe this morning.  so I decided to share my mom's chicken and dumplings recipe.  I think I will make this for dinner tonight, it's great this time of year!
1 cut up chicken (sometimes I will get the package of just drumsticks and use that)
1/4 cup flour, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
3 tablespoons margarine
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
  1. place chicken in a large ziploc bag and sprinkle with flour.  seal bag and shake to coat chicken with flour
  2. heat oil over medium heat in a wide skillet.  add chicken and brown on all sides
  3. once chicken in browned on all sides, remove chicken from pan
  4. add onions to pan and brown
  5. put chicken back in the pan with 1 cup water and reduce heat to low
  6. simmer for 45 minutes
  7. remove chicken from pan
  8. add margarine and remaining flour to the pan to make a roux, once roux is lightly brown, stir in milk (adding more flour it is too runny or milk if is too dry)
  9. put chicken back in the pan adding more milk if needed for the liquid to cover chicken.  follow the recipe below to make the dumplings and finish cooking the chicken.

3 T shortening
1 ½ cups flour
2 t baking powder
¾ t salt
¾ cup milk
  1. cut shortening into flour, baking powder, and salt
  2. mix in milk
  3. drop onto chicken and cook uncovered 10 minutes (gravy barely simmering)
  4. cook covered 20 minutes

13 December 2008

virtural cookie exchange

I just participated in a virtual cookie exchange at http://cottagemagpie.com/giveaways/virtual-cookie-exchange-2008/

I am I HUGE food nerd if I think that is really cool?

peanut butter and nutella cookie sandwiches *

I LOVE nutella and the past few years I have been trying to make a least one Christmas cookie recipe with nutella. this is the recipe that I tried this year and it is really good!
2-1/2 cups smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon frangelico (hazelnut liquor)
nutella (for filling cookie sandwiches)
  1. preheat oven to 350 and line four cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, and baking soda on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. add the eggs and frangelico and mix on low speed until just blended, about 25 seconds.
  3. shape level teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls. arrange the balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. (do not press down)
  4. bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed and crackled but still moist-looking, about 9 minutes.
  5. transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool about 10 minutes. move the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. repeat with the remaining cookies.
  6. turn half of the cooled cookies over so they are flat side up. spoon nutella (about 1-2 teaspoons) onto the center of each cookie. top with the remaining cookies, flat side down. press gently on each cookie to spread the filling almost to the edge. set on the rack until the filling is firm, 20 to 30 minutes. makes about 100 cookies or 4 dozen sandwiches.
the balls of dough may be frozen before baking for 1 month. thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.

12 December 2008

chocolate fantasy fudge

when I first started doing my christmas cookies and candies, I went through my mom’s recipes to get the ones that I wanted to try.  I found her dad’s, (my grandfather) recipe for fudge and I tried it, but I couldn’t get it to set up.  I tried it a couple more times before I finally called my mom to tell her that I tried the recipe and couldn’t get it to work.  she then shared with me that she has trouble with that recipe and so she uses the one from the back of the marshmallow cream jar.  this is that recipe and it sets up perfectly every time!

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 small can (5 ounces) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
6 (1 ounce) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
6 (1 ounce) squares sweet (or milk) baking chocolate, chopped
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. line 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; set aside. place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. boil 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°f, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. remove from heat.
  2. add chocolate and marshmallow crème; stir until completely melted. add walnuts and vanilla; mix well.
  3. pour immediately into prepared pan; spread to form even layer in pan. let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled; cut into 1-inch squares. store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

11 December 2008

white chocolate party mix

this is a great snack and kids love to help mix it all together.

10 oz. mini-pretzels
5 cups cheerios
5 cups corn Chex cereal
2 cups salted peanuts
1 lb. M&Ms (I usually use peppermint M&Ms and they are great!)
24 oz. vanilla chips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. combine 1st 5 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. heat vanilla chips and oil in microwave on med-high for 2 minutes, stirring once.
  3. microwave on high for 10 seconds.
  4. stir until smooth. pour over other ingredients in the large bowl and mix well.
  5. pour onto on wax-paper in a single layer and let cool.
  6. break apart and store in air-tight containers.

10 December 2008

pecan tassies

this is my mom’s recipe. I am not usually a pecan pie fan, but these bite-size goodies are really worth the effort! if you have silicone mini-muffin tins, they make these a lot easier to get out.

1 stick butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup flour
1 egg
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans
  1. mix butter, cream cheese, and flour until thoroughly blended and chill while preparing the filling.
  2. beat egg, brown sugar, rum, lemon juice, and vanilla until well combined, stir in pecans.
  3. preheat oven to 350.
  4. lightly grease mini-muffin tin and divide chilled dough between the 24 mini-muffin cups (about 1 teaspoon of dough a piece).
  5. press the dough into the mini-muffin cups and add 1 teaspoon of filling into each cup.
  6. bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on wire racks. makes 2 dozen.

09 December 2008


this is one of my favorite recipes from my mom. the candy will dry quickly once it begins to cool, so have someone help you drop it onto the waxed paper.  you need to make this on a dry day, since it will not set up good if it is too humid.

2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup chopped pecans

  1. combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan, stirring over low heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. cook until candy thermometer registers 260 or until it reaches the hard ball stage.
  3. remove from heat and cool slightly.
  4. beat egg whites until stiff.
  5. pour hot mixture very slowly over egg whites, beating constantly on low speed.
  6. continue beating until mixture becomes very stiff and loses its glossy appearance. this will happen, but it may take 10 minutes or longer.
  7. add vanilla and pecans and beat a few strokes by hand to improve texture.
  8. drop by large spoonfuls onto buttered wax paper. let dry on waxed paper overnight.

08 December 2008

coconut sables*

this was a new recipe this year and when I was making it up, I could not stop eating the dough (that’s always the sign of a good cookie right?).  no matter how many times you reroll the scraps, these cookies always come out tender and delicate, which is another reason I liked this recipe. you can roll out sheets of dough and freeze them, well-wrapped, for several weeks. stamping frozen dough won’t affect baking time because it’s rolled out so thinly. unsweetened coconut can be found at health-food stores.

2-1/2 oz. (2/3 cup) finely ground almonds
2-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
10 oz. (2-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
10 oz. (20 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
5 oz. (1-1/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

1. blend the ground almonds, coconut, and flour; set aside.  with the paddle of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy but not melted. add the salt and confectioners’ sugar; mix on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 5 min., scraping down the bowl as needed. reduce the speed to low and add the egg; mix until incorporated. add the flour mixture; as soon as the dough comes together, stop the mixer.

2. divide the dough into three parts. roll each part between two sheets of parchment to about 1/8 inch thick. transfer the dough, still between the parchment, to baking sheets and chill in the freezer for about 30 min.

3. heat the oven to 375°f. line a baking sheet with parchment. when the dough is quite firm, peel off the top sheet of parchment and stamp out shapes with a 2-inch round scalloped cookie cutter (or whatever shape you like, though shapes with skinny parts will brown unevenly). lay the cookies 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. reroll the scraps, chilling first if necessary.

4. bake until the cookies are light golden around the edges, 8 to 10 min., rotating the sheet halfway through. cool on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle (about 10 min.) and then transfer the cookies to a rack. makes about 6 dozen.

07 December 2008

honey cardamom snowflakes *

I really love the flavor of cardamom, so when I saw these cookies, I knew I had to try them. I added the orange juice because I think oranges and cardamom taste great together.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  1. sift together the flour, cardamom, salt, and baking soda.
  2. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. scrape down the bowl and the beater. add the orange juice, honey, egg, and vanilla. continue mixing on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough is well blended and comes together in moist clumps, 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. divide the dough roughly in half. on a piece of plastic wrap, shape each dough half into a smooth 5-inch disk. wrap well in the plastic. refrigerate until chilled and firm enough to roll out, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  5. position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºf. line two or more cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.
  6. working with one disk at a time, roll the dough on a floured work surface to about 3/16 inch thick. dust with additional flour as needed. choose one or more snowflake (or any other shape) cookie cutters that are about 2-1/2 inches wide and cut out shapes.
  7. arrange the cookies about 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets. gather the scraps and gently press together. re-roll and cut. repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. bake one sheet at a time until the cookies’ edges develop a 1/4-inchwide light-brown rim, 11 to 13 minutes (rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning). let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 10 minutes and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. makes six dozen
the plastic-wrapped dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month. thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.