August 2016 in Review, and Christmas Cookie #8
A favorite photo…
A few highlights…
- Local park adventures with friends
- Watching the summer Olympics
- Squeezing in some final fun craft projects before school
- Back to School for a 6th grader and a 3rd grader
And a cookie recipe to go with it!
Mexican Wedding Cakes
These are one of Katya's Christmas favorites. The recipe is too big to double in my mixer, but it still makes a generous amount. I use the instructions from my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but I know this is a common one that comes from many places.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
To make superfine sugar, process 1/3 cup sugar in food processor for about 30 seconds. I usually process 1 cup or more and store it in a jar for future use.
Put the 1/3 cup superfine sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, along with the butter. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Process 1 cup of nuts in a food processor to the texture of coarse cornmeal, about 10-15 seconds. Dump into the butter mixture and barely stir in.
Process the remaining 1 cup of nuts until just coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds. Add them to dough and barely mix.
Stir in flour and salt and blend just until the dough becomes cohesive.
Working with a scant Tbsp. of dough at a time, roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 325 degrees until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes. Place powdered sugar in a lidded tupperware container or bowl.
Roll warm or room temperature cookies, 3-4 at a time, in powdered sugar to coat well. Store at room temperature for a week or more. If desired, roll in additional powdered sugar just before serving.
This dough can easily be shaped and frozen, then baked at a later time. Just add 2-4 minutes to the baking time.
If you decide to host a tea party for an American Girl doll’s birthday, you need to make cream puffs.
If you make cream puffs you will have to use several egg yolks for the perfect pastry cream.
If you use egg yolks for the pastry cream, you will have egg whites left over.
If you have egg whites left over, you will need to make meringue cookies.
If you make meringue cookies, you will want to try a new kind.
If you try a new kind of meringue cookies, someone will ask you for the recipe.
If someone asks you for the recipe, you better post it on the blog.
And all that from a little doll’s tea party!
Praline Meringue Puffs
These meringue cookies are super sweet and satisfyingly nutty. They are more on the chewy side rather than the crunchy side, a good thing for many (even though it disappointed Nathan!) They give good praline flavor without the need to actually crystallize the pecans.
Preheat the oven to 325. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, place the pecans and pulse 3-5 times until the pecans are coarsely chopped.
Add the flour, 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, and the salt. Pulse once or twice more to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy and opaque. Increase the mixer speed and beat until whites begin to form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the white sugar until the whites form glossy peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and the vanilla. Continue beating until the meringue is stiff and smooth when rubbed between the fingers.
Lightly fold the pecan mixture into the meringue mixture just until evenly incorporated. Don't mix too much or the meringue will deflate.
Use a small cookie scoop or two spoons to drop the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets by heaping tablespoonfuls. Space about 1 inch apart.
Bake all the cookies at the same time. Bake for about 10-12 minutes if you want chewier meringues, or rotate the sheets at 10 minutes and bake an additional 10 minutes (total of 18-20 minutes) for crunchier cookies. Cookies are done when they are lightly colored all over.
Let cookies cool completely on parchment or foil before attempting to remove. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.
This recipe came from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.
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