October 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #10
A favorite photo…
A few highlights…
- The tree house begins
- Family Fun night with all of us dressed in flamenco style
And a cookie recipe to go with it!
These are the Christmas treat that Nathan requests the most. When they turn out correctly, they make a lovely green and red addition to a cookie plate or a popular gift item. The temperatures are tricky, however, and I have had plenty of failed batches amidst the successes.
Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil, covering bottom and sides completely. Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the 1 cup sugar and the corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring often with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar. Carefully clip on a candy thermometer.
Cook over medium heat (mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface), stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 280 degrees F (soft-crack stage), about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another heavy bottomed saucepan, combine juice, pectin, and baking soda. Mixture will be foamy. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring often. This should take about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside.
When sugar mixture in first pan has reached soft-crack stage, remove from heat. Remove candy thermometer. Return pectin mixture in second pan to boiling.
Gradually pour the hot sugar mixture into the boiling pectin mixture, stirring constantly. This step should take 1-2 minutes. Don't rush! Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
Remove saucepan from heat. Pour candy mixture into prepared loaf pan. Let stand until firm--overnight is best.
While candy cools, make the flavored sugar. Place 1/2 cup sugar and the zest of the lime or grapefruit in a food processor. Pulse several times to combine well. Transfer flavored sugar to a bowl or lidded Tupperware.
When candy has set, use foil to lift it out of the pan. With a wet knife, cut candy into strips and then cut each strip into cubes. Toss squares in the flavored sugar to keep them from sticking together.
The gumdrops (if they turn out) keep well for several weeks.
April 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #4
A favorite photo…
A few highlights…
- Buddy Bear turns 10
- Spring piano recital
And a cookie recipe to go with it!
Sugar Cookie Bears
This sugar cookie recipe is the one my mom used every year for Christmas cookies. It is easy to work with, stays soft, and tastes really good. This year, the fun part was turning the sugar cookie dough into cute little bears!! (As an added bonus, that meant I didn't have to frost them when they were done.) You can find the link to the original bear instructions at the bottom of this recipe.
Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream together. Mix well.
Add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until evenly combined.
Divide dough into 4-5 pieces. Place each piece onto a sheet of waxed paper. Cover with an additional sheet of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-1/2 inch thick. (Thicker cookies use more dough, but stay soft longer and are sturdier). Chill for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Lightly grease cookie sheets. Use a bear shaped cutter to cut out the dough and transfer the shapes to the sheets. Gently press a whole nut into the center of each cookie. Fold the arms securely over the nut. (If the arms fall off, just press them back on!) Use a toothpick to poke in eyes and a nose.
Bake bears at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until set but just barely beginning to brown. Let cool on sheets for a few minutes before moving.
Store in airtight container at room temperature. Cookies should stay soft for a week or more.
One more fall post, and then I promise some pictures from our Thanksgiving travels, followed by lots of Christmas recipes.
These cookies won Nathan’s vote for favorite fall treat. I think he grabbed one every time he walked past the cookie jar! Maybe that’s why he is almost tall enough to look me right in the eye… Love this growing young man so much!!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
These soft cookies are full of satisfactory fall flavor while still meeting my need for chocolate. I got the recipe from a good friend at a cookie exchange many years ago, and it is certainly on our autumn treat rotation. Thanks, Becki!
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Beat butter and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Beat in pumpkin.
With mixer on low, add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix just until combined.
Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and nuts if desired. Don't overmix.
Drop by rounded spoonful or cookie scoop onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 about 12 minutes or until set and beginning to brown on the bottom. Try not to overbake--Nathan loves them soft!
These were popular at a Sunday lunch gathering so I am sharing the recipe for those of you who asked. In my personal opinion they were a bit too far on the sweet side, but that didn’t seem to keep lots of other people from enjoying them!
Caramel Apple-Nut Bars
Sweet autumn bar cookie with layers of oatmeal, apple, and caramel sauce.
Heat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of 9x13 baking pan.
In large bowl, beat 2 cups of flour, the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and butter with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press about 3 cups of mixture in prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes.
While bottom crust bakes, mix caramel topping and 3 Tbsp. flour together in a small bowl.
When crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle with apple and pecan pieces. Drizzle with caramel mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crust mixture.
Bake 25-30 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into bars.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Cookies
These decadent bar cookies were a definite hit at our Sunday lunch gathering. Salty and sweet, they make up quickly and are eaten just as quickly!
Salty Caramel Peanut Bars
These salty-sweet treats are appealing to the eye and to the taste buds.
Heat oven to 350. Line 15x10x1 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in mixer bowl and stir thoroughly. Add butter and cut in until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake 18 minutes.
While crust bakes, microwave ice cream topping 30 seconds or until of drizzling consistency. Pour into a small bowl and stir in 3 Tbsp. flour.
When crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle with peanuts and chocolate chips. Drizzle evenly with caramel sauce mixture. Sprinkle evenly with coarse salt.
Bake 12-14 minutes longer or until caramel is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool completely, about 1 hour. Refrigerate if needed to set chocolate. Cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store covered at room temperature.
Recipe from Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Cookies
I got this recipe at a cookie exchange. (Thanks, SL!) It makes rich, sweet, pretty layered bars that are always a hit. They also keep well, so they are nice for making ahead.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
In a mixer bowl, combine first 6 ingredients (2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, and salt).
Dump half of the oat/flour mixture into the prepared pan. Press to create a bottom crust with no holes. If needed, use a bit more than half the mixture to make sure the pan is well covered.
Bake bottom crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Mix the remaining 6 Tbsp. flour into the caramel ice cream topping. Stir until evenly combined. Chop nuts.
When the partially baked crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Then sprinkle nuts on top. Pour caramel/flour mixture evenly over that. Finally, crumble the remaining flour/oat mixture on top to form a final layer.
Return pan to the hot oven and bake an additional 30-40 minutes. The caramel should be hot and bubbly and the oatmeal topping lightly brown.
Allow bars to cool thoroughly before cutting. Sometimes the edges are hard to get off of the pan, but you can pick them off for nibbling after you have cut the rest of the bars out of the middle! Store in the refrigerator for best results.