Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Cookies Part Deux

As I continue to receive emails and teach classes on cookie baking I can really get a sense of how interested we are in it. Many people have fear on baking. I am often asked for tips on baking. When I talk about how easy it can be people look at me like a reindeer caught in the headlights. This time of year gives us a great opportunity to do the one thing that will make us better. Practice! When using chocolate for baking I look for the highest percent of cacao for an intensely rich yet balanced chocolate sensation. All of the companies are making 60 percent or more! So practice away with your friends and family and share some warmth this holiday season.

4 cups chocolate chips or pieces
1 14-0unce can sweetened condensed milk
2-tablespoon water
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread mixture into 2 9x6-inch rectangular pans that have been sprayed with bakers joy. Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 48 pieces

Peanut butter Fudge
4 cups brown sugar
2 cups evaporated milk
1-cup peanut butter
2-teaspoon butter
2-teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped peanuts

Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently until a little dab added to cold water forms a soft ball. Add peanut butter, butter, and vanilla; beat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add nuts. Spread in a buttered 9x6 inch pan; chill until fully set and cut into squares. Makes about 30.

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles
1 cup sliced almonds
1 ¾ cup flour
1-cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks butter
2 egg yolks
1-teaspoon vanilla
Juice of one lemon
1 cup dried blueberries
½ cup blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375.Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast stirring once until golden. Cool completely and leave oven on. In food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, 1-teaspoon lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add yolks and vanilla and process until mixture comes together in clumps. Transfer 11/2 cups dough to a bowl and stir in almonds for the crumble topping. Gather remaining dough into a ball. Spray 2 mini muffin tins (24 minis all together.) with bakers joy. Press 1 tablespoon of into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile stir remaining zest lemon juice, blueberries and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon 1-teaspoon blueberry mixture into each muffin cup. Crumble 1 teaspoon almond mixture evenly into each cup. Bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. When completely cool loosen edges with a sharp paring knife and carefully remove from pan.

Apple, cranberry, pear version
Follow the same recipe for the crust and crumble.
Peel and core 2 apples and a pear. Dice finely and in a mixing bowl toss with 6 ounces of dried cranberries, ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sugar. Proceed as in the blueberry version.

Chocolate Dipped hazlenut sticks
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chopped hazelnuts
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
in a large bowl be at butter and sugar with an eltric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks one at a time. Add vanills and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix well. By hand add the hazlenuts. Half the dough and place into two peices of wax paper and shape into a 11x2inch loaf. Chill the dough for about 1 half hour. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange on cookie sheet about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Half each slice lenghtwise to form sticks and seperate them. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden. Carefull remove sticks and cool completely. In a double broiler or a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water melt chocolate.gently dip each stik into the chocolate covering half of the sstick.Remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper for chocolate to harden.

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