Sunday, November 24, 2013

Santa's Shortbread Bites

How festive.






































I know that Thanksgiving is this Thursday and I am definitely ready for it. Some people seem to get really ticked off that Christmas decorations are up and Christmas music is playing prior to Thanksgiving, but I am not one of those people.  I have not put up decorations at my house yet, but I must admit it brings a smile to my face when I hear "White Christmas" playing at the mall and see decorations.  I made these cookies because I know a lot of my readers like to plan their holiday baking menus early and I did not want to disappoint.  These cookies are truly adorable.  They are not overly sweet and I think a nice addition might even be dipping the bottom in chocolate.  It was pretty easy to eat a handful just the way they are.

Santa's Shortbread Cookies
recipe modified slightly from Good Housekeeping

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons red and green nonpareils

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

in a food processor with knife blade attached, pulse flour and sugar until combined.  Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together.  Place dough in medium bowl.  With hand, gently knead in nonpareils until evenly blended and dough forms a ball.

On lightly floured wax paper, pat dough into a 8" by 5" rectangle.  Cut dough into 1/2 inch squares. Place squares 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased  large cookie sheet.  Baked 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Store cookies in tightly covered container at room temperature up to a week, or in the freezer up to 3 months.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Sooooo delicious!





































I turned 31 last weekend and to celebrate I was not in the mood for cake.  Each year for my birthday Zack will typically make whatever I request (often with a little help for me).  This year I told him I just wanted a hot fudge Sunday.  Zack, being the smart man that he is, suggested we make homemade hot fudge sauce.  I decided to make it myself and it was extremely easy and so worth it. This sauce is so incredibly delicious.  This would make a perfect holiday gift.  We have been eating it straight from the jar all week, it is just that good.

Hot Fudge Sauce
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

makes 1 quart

1 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Ghiradelli)
3 cups white sugar
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine butter, cocoa, sugar, and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and boil for seven minutes.  Remove from hear; stir in vanilla.  Carefully pour hot mixture into a blender and blend for 2 - 4 minutes.  Serve warm.  Store in refrigerator.

Note:  I did not do the step where you put it in the blender and cannot speak to how important that step is.



Monday, November 4, 2013

Apple Pie

November means pie.






































Around here it really seems we eat the most pie in November and December, with a slight uptick in the summer when I make a decide to make a Berry or Key Lime pie.  Pie is by far Zack's favorite dessert. He asked me to make him a pie for his birthday, any kind of pie.  Unfortunately I was not the best wife when it came to his birthday and instead he got brownies...from a box.  Zack, being the type of guy to just let things go, reminded me weekly that he never got his pie.  I decided I needed an end to his yammering so I made this apple pie and I enjoyed it just as much as him.  The filling is from a recipe I found online and it truly fantastic.  It was  a little runny, but the flavor was incredible.  I highly recommend you add this to your upcoming holiday menus.

Apple Pie
crust recipe from  Cook's Illustrated, filling recipe adapted from allrecipes.com


1 recipe for a 9 inch double pie crust (see below)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 assorted tart and sweet apples - peeled, cored, and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Mel the butter in a saucepan.  Stir in the flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Please the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly.  Slowly pour butter sugar mixture over the apples.  Cover with lattice work crust.

Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  COntinue baking 35-45 minutes, until apples are soft.


Vodka Pie Crust
recipe from Cook's Illustrated 

1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka , cold
1/4 cup cold water



2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Bakers Note: I have prepared this recipe in the food processor and by hand using a pastry cutter. It is definitely easier with the food processor, but tastes just as great doing it by hand. This is by far the best pie crust I have ever tasted!