31 December 2009

a stop at cocoamoda

so on my way back from college station, I stopped at cocoamoda for a treat.  for mid-afternoon, they were really busy.  the food was wonderful as usual!  I opted for the blackberry crepes and they were magnificent; light and tender crepes with a wonderful blackberry sauce!  both boys just opted for some ice cream, which went great with my crepes.  of course I got some truffles and chocolate covered orange peel to bring home to michael.

11 December 2009

cherry dr. pepper cookies

I love the new cherry dr. pepper so I thought this year for my cherry cookies I would make these.  these cake-like cookies flatten in the oven before they puff up again.  makes 3 dozen cookies.

1 stick butter
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
2 c flour
1/4 ts salt
1/2 c dr. pepper
2 ts vanilla
1 c candied cherries, chopped
  1. preheat oven to 375 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. in a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. add in the egg and mix until well incorporated.
  3. sift the dry ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the dr. pepper, starting with the flour, then the dr.pepper, and finally the remaining half of the flour, mixing slowly.
  4. add the vanilla and cherries and blend well
  5. drop onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake in oven preheated oven for 10 - 12 minutes, until browned.

08 December 2009

boston cream candy

don't be tempted to use anything smaller than a 3-qt. pot for this delicious caramel fudge-like candy. you'll need the volume when the hot, sugary liquid foams up during cooking.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter; more for the pan
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecan pieces
2 cups sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup light karo syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. butter an 8x8-inch baking pan. line the pan with a piece of parchment large enough to hang over two sides. butter the paper, too, and tuck it flat against the pan. put the chopped pecan pieces in a handy spot where you'll be working.
  2. combine the sugar, salt, karo syrup, half-and-half, cream, and butter in a heavy-based 3-qt. pan, stirring with a wooden spoon over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. this can take a while, and it's hard to see; you should feel the texture (rub a little between your fingers or run your finger along the mixture clinging to the spoon) to be sure all the sugar is dissolved.
  3. turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture foams to a boil. add the baking soda. lower the heat and stir like mad. the mixture will double in volume and then gradually subside and begin to take on a golden hue. after the mixture settles a bit, put in a warmed candy thermometer. continue to stir constantly, scraping the sides, and cook over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers just 240°f. watch very carefully, as the thermometer will hover at 239° for a while and then move up. you must remove the mixture before it passes 240°f.
  4. remove the pot from the heat and take out the thermometer. continue to stir quickly. the candy will look like a loose caramel sauce. add the vanilla (watch out, it may sputter) and stir carefully to incorporate. add the pecans and continue stirring quickly. don't take your eyes off the mixture at this point. watch and feel it as it begins to thicken, lighten in color, and become harder to stir. when it has thickened enough to leave a path on the bottom of the pan while you're stirring, it's just about ready. the moment you notice that the mixture is just beginning to lose its glossy shine, turn it out into the buttered pan. don't wait until the mixture looks completely matte or it will be too dry when you try to cut it. if you stop stirring at the right moment, the mixture will firm up almost the second it hits the pan. too soon, it will never be anything more than caramel (although very good caramel); too long, it will harden in the pot.
  5. as soon as the candy cools (15 to 20 min.), cut it into squares. it will probably have tiny bubbles on top. it may well crumble when cut. if it doesn't harden immediately, just let it sit for several hours, even overnight, and it may harden. if not, you have great caramel.

07 December 2009

vanilla chocolate wafers

these cookies looked to interesting to pass up.  this is another recipe that you make up and then slice and bake from the freezer whenever you need cookies.  makes about 4 1/2 dozen.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
  1. sift flour and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. reduce speed to low. mix in egg yolk and vanilla. gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 1 minute
  2. remove half of the dough; set aside. add cocoa powder to remaining dough; mix on low speed until well combined. turn out chocolate dough onto a lightly floured work surface. roll into a 10-inch log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. repeat with reserved vanilla dough. wrap each log in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until slightly firm, at least 30 minutes.
  3. press handle for a long wooden spoon into side of chocolate log, making an indentation along its length. roll handle into and then away from log, creating an apostrophe shape, repeat with vanilla log. fit logs together; press lightly to seal. gently roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. preheat oven to 350 degrees. cut log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. if dough becomes too soft to slice cleanly, return to freezer until firm.
  5. bake until firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. transfer to wire racks; let cool. cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

06 December 2009

apple sage rugelach

I’ve been making this recipe for a few years now, but this year I made a change and made it with apple jelly and put some fresh sage in the dough. once your make them up, you keep them in the freezer until you are ready to slice and bake them. this makes them super easy, which always works for me!!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
8 ounces cream cheese, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons sour cream

3/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cups golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. for the dough: pulse the flour, sugar and salt in food processor until combined. add the butter and sage and pulse until it resembles coarse sand with some pea-sized pieces of butter, about 20 times. add the cream cheese and sour cream, and pulse until it comes together in a rough dough (with some uneven pebbles sized-pieces). turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. pat each portion into a flat square and wrap in plastic wrap. freeze dough for 15 minutes.
  2. meanwhile, chop the nuts in a clean food processor. add the jelly, raisins, salt, and cinnamon; puree to make a very smooth paste.
  3. roll a portion of dough into a 6 by 14-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. (don't worry about slightly rough edges; these will be rolled inside of the rugalach.) spread 1/4 of the filling over the surface with a small spatula. starting with a long side, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder ending with the seam on the bottom. press the top slightly to flatten; wrap in plastic wrap. freeze for another 15 minutes. repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (the cylinders can be frozen for up to a month.)
  4. meanwhile, evenly position the racks in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees f. line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  5. slice the cylinders into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and place rugalach seam-side down on the prepared pans. bake until pale golden and crispy on top, about 25 minutes.
  6. remove from oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. carefully transfer rugalach to a rack to cool. serve.

05 December 2009

kwanzaa star cookies

even though I do not celebrate kwanzaa, I could not resist trying these peanut butter cookies.  makes about 4 dozen cookies.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then lightly whisk and set aside.
  2. in a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and peanut butter until blended and creamy, about 45 seconds.  on medium speed, add the sugar and beat until light.  beat in the vanilla, orange juice, and zest until blended, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.  turn off the mixer, add half the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until blended.  add the remaining flour and beat until blended.
  3. using lightly floured hands, gather the dough into a ball. divide the ball in half and flatten each into a 6 to 8 inch disk.  wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until firm.
  4. preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  5. roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick, cut cookies using a star cookie cutter, close together to avoid re-rolling.  place the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.  bake in the middle of the oven until the cookies begin to color, about 22 minutes.  let the cookies firm and cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

04 December 2009


I have always wanted to make pralines for Christmas, but I can never get them to set.  this is my mom's no fail recipe.  makes 2 1/2 dozen

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. bring sugars and milk to a boil in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, stirring often.  cook over medium heat , stirring often for 11 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 228 (thread stage).
  2. stir in the butter and pecans, and cook, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer registers 232
  3. remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  beat with a wooden spoon 1 to 2 minutes or just until mixture begins to thicken and lose its gloss.  quickly drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto buttered wax paper.  let stand until firm.

03 December 2009

chocolate peanut granola

I love making homemade granola and when I came across this variation with chocolate and peanuts, I knew I had found a winner not just for Christmas, but any time of the year.  don't let the idea of making your own granola discourage you, it is really very simple.

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup (4 oz) sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (4 oz) white sesame seeds
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup (6 oz) apple sauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups (8 oz) raw peanuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  1. preheat the oven to 300 F
  2. with your hands, mix together the oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and cocoa powder until the cocoa powder is evenly disbursed.  using two spatulas, mix in the remaining ingredients.
  3. spread the mixture out onto two rimmed baking sheets and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, turning over about halfway through the baking and re-distributing the granola.  the object is to get it evenly golden without toasting it too much in one place.
  4. once it is baked, allow it to cool and store in an air-tight container

02 December 2009

bite-sized dark rum fruitcakes

my mom makes the best fruitcake cookies and I am always on the look out for a good recipe to try.  when I ran across this one it looked so good that I just had to give it a try.  makes about 5 dozen.

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice berries
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup diced pitted prunes
1 cup diced pitted dates
3/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
grated zest of 1 orange
  1. preheat oven to 300 F
  2. in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and mix well. in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.  gradually beat in the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  
  3. beat in the molasses, then the egg, until well blended, about 1 minute.  beat in the flour mixture in thirds, alternating it with the rum, until just blended.  with a wooden spoon, stir in the apricots, prunes, dates, currants, raisins, walnuts, and orange zest until just blended.
  4. line a miniature muffin tin with paper liners.  fill each with a heaping tablespoon of batter, about three-fourths full.  bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes spring back when pushed with your finger.  transfer to a wire rack to cool.  when completely cool, store in a airtight container for up to 1 month.

01 December 2009

my 25 candies and cookis for christmas

here is the list of the goodies that I am going to make for christmas this year, I will link them to the recipes once I get them posted:

bite-sized dark rum fruitcakes

chocolate and peanut granola
kwanzaa star cookies
apple sage rugelach
chocolate fantasy fudge
cherry and dark chocolate mini challah loaves
coconut sables
vanilla chocolate wafers
butter meringue nuts
pignoli cookies
chocolate peppermint pinwheel cookies
cherry dr. pepper cookies
holiday biscotti
soy nut brittle
brown family sugar cookies
ginger snaps
honey cardamom snowflakes
candy cane cookies
boston cream candy
chocolate-swirl peanut butter fudge
texas trash
white chocolate party mix
hazelnut brittle