18 December 2011

fleur de sel caramel crunch cups

makes 45 candy cups

fleur de sel
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 (14 oz) package caramels
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
1 cup coarsely crushed thin pretzel sticks
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. liberally grease petit-four pans or candy molds that you are going to use.  sprinkle fleur de sel in each pan.
  2. combine heavy cream and caramels in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring after every minute. stir in nuts, pretzels, and vanilla. spoon mixture into petit-four pans or candy molds, filling each two-thirds full. cool completely.
  3. place chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on hight 1 minute or until melted. stir until smooth. once caramels are cool, dip each in the melted chocolate and place on a cooling rack to dry. store candy cups in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

13 December 2011

cake batter fudge

this fudge is a smooth, creamy fudge with the unmistakable flavor of cake batter! it looks innocent, but one taste will bring you back to the days of licking cake batter off beaters. top this fudge with a scattering of sprinkles to complete the resemblance.

1 stick (4 oz) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6.5 oz) full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 oz) white chocolate chips
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup dry yellow cake mix
sprinkles, to decorate
  1. prepare an 8x8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. place the butter, sour cream, salt, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat. stir until the sugar and butter melt.
  3. continue to cook the fudge, stirring frequently, until it comes to a full boil. once boiling, cook it for five minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. if you are using a candy thermometer instead of timing it, it should be at 235 degrees.
  4. after five minutes, remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate chips and the marshmallow cream. stir vigorously until the chips and cream are melted and incorporated. if necessary, return the fudge to the heat for brief periods to melt the chips.
  5. add the vanilla and the dry cake mix and stir well. you can even use a whisk to make sure that any small clumps of cake mix are completely mixed in. taste the fudge, and if desired, add another spoonful or two of cake mix until the flavor is as strong as you'd like.
  6. pour the fudge into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. scatter the sprinkles all over the top and press gently so that they adhere to the fudge.
  7. allow it to set at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. to serve, cut it into small 1-inch pieces. store cake batter fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

12 December 2011

nutella mergingues

yields 15 to 20 meringues (depends on how big you make them)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, granulated sugar
¼ cup nutella

  1. preheat the oven to 300 degrees f. make sure you have one oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and one in the upper third of your oven.
  2. line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. warm the nutella in a microwave and let the nutella cool as you make the meringue.
  4. in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites. beat on medium-high speed until they are completely foamy.
  5. add the cream of tartar and the salt and continue whipping at medium-high speed until when you lift the whisk attachment, soft peaks form. this should take a few minutes.
  6. once you have reached the soft peak stage, increase the speed to high and begin adding the sugar a few spoonfuls at a time (this should take a few minutes).
  7. once all the sugar is in, the meringue should be very thick (almost stiff) and when you left the whisk firm peaks should remain.
  8. remove the bowl from the mixer and drop in all the nutella. with a rubber spatula, gently fold the nutella into the meringue three or four times. you’re aiming for a swirled effect so don’t overmix. this will also help avoid deflating the meringue.
  9. using two spoons, drop the meringue onto the parchment-lined baking sheets in large dollops.
  10. place in the oven for 10 minutes. after 10 minutes, immediately lower the heat to 200 degrees f. and rotate the trays. bake for an hour.
  11. after an hour, check the meringues. if they are completely dried out then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours to cool with the oven. if the meringues still look a bit “wet”, then continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. either way, once fully baked, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there for a few hours.
  12. when you remove the meringues from the oven they should be completely dry and cool and will sound hollow when you tap the bottoms.
the meringues will keep in an airtight container for a week.

11 December 2011

sherry butter nut drops

these were amazing, very easy to make with just a slight sherry flavor!
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup ground pecans
2 egg whites, beaten
pecan halves, optional
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees f.
  2. cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. in a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. mix the flour into the butter mixture, alternating with the sherry, making sure to finish with the flour. stir in the ground pecans.
  3. drop by the teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet and roll each portion between your palms to make smooth, even balls. press each one into the cookie sheet and brush with beaten egg white. using a fork, knife or another tool, press a design into the top of each cookie, or press a pecan half, right side up, into each ball or dough. bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. remove from the oven, let cool a few minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. cool and let cookies sit overnight to ripen. serve or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

10 December 2011

2nd annual-ish cookie baking extravaganza

today, my friend lara had her 2nd annual-ish cookie baking extravaganza at her house.  this was so much fun last time and I couldn't wait for the fun to start again.  here is what we made:
homemade thin mints
cinnamon roll cookies
chocolate mint sandwich cookies
italian wedding cookies
raspberry shortbread thumbprints
sugar cookies
white chocolate cranberry blondies
soft gingersnaps
lara's mom wrote a great blog post about the day, complete with pictures here

01 December 2011

christmas baking 2011

after taking a break from baking last christmas, I am really looking forward to baking this year!  here's what I'm making:
  1. sherry butter nut drops
  2. nutella meringues
  3. cake batter fudge
  4. dark chocolate fudge with dried cranberries and pistachios
  5. pecan bars
  6. chocolate strawberry rugelach
  7. gingerbread biscotti
  8. fleur de sel caramel crunch cups
  9. peanut butter shortbread
  10. spiced madelines