Thursday, December 16, 2010

For a little gift, I love giving Christmas cookies. I believe it is the best gift to give, as I am making them with love and care. So this holiday season, I made my bookers at Next a batch of Martha Stewart’s soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies and some soft, airy cut-out sugar cookies with a simple tinted glaze. I had previously gotten hints that chewy chocolate chip cookies were a major request, and this recipe was just perfect. They were a hit! It was amazing to see such hardworking people relaxing for a moment to enjoy a simple cookie! I followed Martha's recipe exactly:  Chocolate Chip Cookies
For the sugar cookies, I wanted them to be like the really fake, factory kind. Fluffy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, sugary goodness! I think I discovered just the recipe! The only slight disappointment was that, as these had to be packed for gift giving, I could not frost them with a rich butter cream. Instead I did various colors of glazes and festive sprinkles. I have to say they did look pretty cute. The day before I went to the most amazing kitchen goods shop on 8th street and Mercer. There I bought a candy cane, man, star, and Christmas tree cookie cutter and some gel food coloring. I could spend hours in that store! The walls are just lined floor-to-ceiling with everything a cook could ever want. 

Super Soft Sugar Cookies with Glaze
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
Sift and mix with sugar mixture:
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Chill the dough in some plastic wrap for an hour. Roll dough on lightly floured surface and cut with a simple cookie cutter. I cut these cookies thick, about 1/2 inch. Bake @ 
425 for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
For the glaze:
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-4 tbsp. milk
paste food coloring
In a medium bowl, dump in the powdered sugar and add, a tablespoon at a time, the milk until the glaze forms. It should coat the back of the spoon. Stir in the vanilla and color as desired in smaller separate bowls. Dunk the cooled cookies face down in the glaze and immediately add the sprinkles. They will be ready to pack/eat in at least 30 minutes!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Sinterklaas!

Last week I celebrated the Dutch version of St. Nick’s Day. For the event, I volunteered to be “Santa’s little helper” in the kitchen. My friend Nimue and I made traditional pepernoten, borstplaat, Taai-taai, and some little sugar wafers like a crunchy meringue. Pepernoten are the Dutch answer to gingerbread in my opinion. They make them very small, light, crisp, and highly spiced. They whole apartment smelled like the holidays after making them. Borstplaat is sort of like a fudge or fondant. It is a creamy and very sweet confection. Taai-taai in Dutch means tough-tough. That is exactly what they are! Similar to gingerbread cookies, these are very hard biscuits that are traditionally dunked in coffee or tea (similar to Italian biscotti). 
Here is a few recipes I found online that were similar to what we made.



Dad's Black Forest Birthday Cake

Such a joker family I have :) Witness food coma on the right and slight insanity due to anticipation of all the sugar in the cake on the left!!!

So for my dad’s birthday I wanted to make him his favorite Black Forest Cake recipe. I followed the recipe exactly, but when my cakes came out of the oven then had spilled through my spring-form pans! They were ruined. You see, I did not out of the hundreds of pans in my basement, have a standard 8in round. So I attempted and failed with the 8in spring-form pans. I did not give up though! I remade a chocolate cake using a trio of smaller pans, one a square, one a round, and one a heart. I soaked each one according to directions and once stacked, slathered on the chocolate buttercream frosting and whipped cream to create the illusion that the cake was a round dome! Then I poured over the leftover cherry syrup on top. If I do say so myself, it did not look half bad! Plus, my dad loves whipped cream so the extra on the cake was a welcome bonus. Emeril's Black Forest Cake

Thanksgiving Part Deux!

So I realize that Thanksgiving was almost a month ago! Ahh time flies when you're having fun :)
Anyways I just wanted to share with you a bit about my time at home. I made this cookies Wednesday night for my brother and his fellow college buddies. They had come over for a serious night of Mario Party 4 and reminiscing about their high school years. As always, they requested snacks. I had just finished baking my pumpkin pie bars and they all came upstairs hoping to dig in. In order to stave off the early consumption of my Thanksgiving dessert, I decided to research a recipe for a sweet and spicy pumpkin cookie. When I was searching, I noticed many recipes that called for a bit of molasses or maple syrup. Unfortunately, I had neither. Finally I found a recipe actually from here: pumpkin cookies

On another note, my brother's friends also gave me the opportunity to make classic Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies straight from the bag of chocolate chips! I honestly could not remember the last time I'd made them without adapting the recipe. They were a big hit with everyone! Not a morsel left when I went downstairs to clean up in the morning. This classic recipe produces a crunchy outside and a chewy inside. I always be sure to make some a little more baked than others for my dad. He LOVES crunchy cookies. Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip

For the big feast I made my mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, and three new additions. First, I roasted some broccoli, cauliflower, and parsnips together with some cumin, salt, pepper, parsley, and sage. Second, I roasted some sliced bell peppers, button mushrooms, red onion, garlic, and eggplant with lots of balsamic, soy sauce, worsheshire sauce, fresh thyme, pepper, paprika, and cumin. The third was just a simple salad of sliced apples, pears, mixed baby greens, toasted almonds, walnuts, and pecans, and some feta cheese with a honey, lemon, dijon vinaigrette. All were crowd favorites and I loved the small amount of leftovers after! For dessert I made some pumpkin bars that I’ve made for the past two years. I adapted the recipe from No one in my family is vegan by any means, or tries to eat fat free, but these pumpkin bars are a favorite of everyone- especially since I use stevia to sweeten them for my grandparents! Fat Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites. I actually attended two feasts within 3 hours. At the first, we had grilled turkey and a roasted turkey, various pastas, two kinds of sweet potatoes, apple, blueberry, pumpkin, chocolate, banana, and lemon pies. At the second we had a turkey my dad fried, an oven-roasted turkey, two different cranberry chutneys, and both a pumpkin praline and a pecan pie. I have a pic of the latter pies and my grandma pretending she's at Six Flags with the giant turkey leg. :)