Sugar Cookies with Hershey Kisses

Another cookie at the request of someone to help me push my limits. I cannot remember the last time I purchased Hershey Kisses – it might be never, but someone at my beach local requested a Hershey Kiss cookie and I was loathe to do it with the traditional peanut butter cookie part. Guess that’s my prejudice – it is not a combination that I care for. So I found this recipe for a sugar cookie, to my mind, a more neutral base.

It is the hazard of being a food blogger: You make something, but do not get to shoot photos because a certain 20-something year old lives with you or at least stops by often eats everything before you have the chance to take pictures. Damn it. Well, guess that means I will have to make this again sometime soon. I do have a shite load of Hershey Kisses still left in the pantry, sort of like all those M&M’s I have in pantry.

It is not that I do not like chocolate, I just don’t seem to be distracted by it like lots of people (read: women) are. A chocolate kiss here and there is nice, but I can let an open bag sit in the pantry for just about ever. It is always the way it has been for me.

1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
35 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped, um … duh
1/2 cups powdered sugar (optional – for rolling – really, not optional in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift over a piece of waxed paper, flour, salt, and baking soda.

Beat butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Slowly blend the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture.

Shape  cookies into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in powdered sugar.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the cookies are just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Move cookies to a wire rack to completely cool. Makes around 35 cookies.

Bench Notes: This dough takes a little work. It is not easy. You have to man-handle it a bit to get round balls of dough, but it is certainly worth the effort. The Boy was my taste tester for the first one.

Yes, I do that. Bake the single cookie just to see how it works. Since I had never done something like this before – I mean with the Hershey Kiss – I figured it was a wise thing to do. Nothing worse that throwing a whole pan of cookies in the oven and not really having a clue how things are going to work. And then have to throw them in the trash can. That just about kills me. So I have learned my lesson – a test cookie is a good thing.

Maybe next time there will be a picture. Hopefully.

Butter / Egg Usage – September 2016

8 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats – 3 Tbs – regular plain old rice krispie treats that I love.

9 September 2016 – Brickle Bits of Snicks – 8 Tbs / 2 large eggs – for Chad.

dd_156222 September 2016 – Rice Krispie Treats with brown butter, vanilla, and sea salt – 4 Tbs

23 September 2016 – Apple Cake – 2 large eggs

Sad, sad month of baking/cooking. Sigh. Still damn hot outside. That is our life, but I will be wearing shorts a lot longer than most of you. Just saying.

Hello Tourists

Tourists –  We thank you for visiting our fair state. It makes it possible for us not pay state income taxes. But here is the problem – do you act like such jerkish dillweeds at home?  I am just wondering, because I am really hoping you do not. I would like to think I would not be a total dillweed in your hometown. Honestly, I am pretty sure I would not be.

Pensacola Beach SignYou drive like the speed limits do not apply to you, especially on our bridges which are our lifelines between Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pensacola Beach. Honestly, we have enough of our own dillweeds for this idiocy – just saying.

We do not mind not being able to get to our own beach in the summer.  We understand first, the snowbirds, then the spring breakers, and then the tourists – we get it. Just please do not try to run us down on our own streets. It is just not right.

It will not be long until we get our beach local back, and while we appreciate you supporting our places for a few months each year, we support them when you are all gone – through the fall and winter. This is our hometown and it would be lovely if you were not so cavalier in our home.

 

Our Summer: Blue Angels

We live in Pensacola and the Blue Angels are our home team, as it were. The first weekend after the 4th of July is always Blue Angels’ weekend on the beach, an even bigger weekend for us here than the 4th of July. Tourists come in from all over for the Blues. No, really, all over.

Since we moved to Pensacola the MotH and I have made it a tradition to go to the Thursday beach practice. It is the one most people, excepting locals, do not know about which makes it the most fun. We go to our beach local, Shaggy’s, because it is on the center line of the show it is a great show and a great place to watch from. I think this show is a little better than the homecoming show because where we watch they are pretty much direct above us, while we drink a few beers.  At the homecoming show, in November, you are behind a line that mostly the planes do not cross. Except for the sneak attack – best part of the show, in my opinion.

I am just such a fan of Bert  – do love that amazing plane. The best start ever. You do just have to experience it.

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My Bert – best bit of the Blue Angels – yep, totally.

So a few weeks ago on a Thursday we were out on the back deck of Shaggy’s and watching my personal favorite plane – Bert – better known as Fat Albert doing things a plane that large just should not be able to do – at least to my mind. This plane is just beyond amazing. I know everyone is thrilled by the jets, but a US Marine Corp Lockheed C-130t Hercules just rocks my world. Also cool – it is flown by a woman. Yep.

I am too busy enjoying myself to take pictures or video – there is a long dissertation about living in the moment that I will not get into at this point, but it will happen at some point. That said, we were watching Bert being the bad ass that she is and there were people on the deck at Shaggy’s that did not seem to notice. Wait, what?

When the jets went overhead it pretty much got everyone’s attention – they are low and loud (and awesome!!). So there was a family – wife, husband, two kids and grandma. They had NO CLUE what was going on – they were just having lunch. So they asked and I explained and then the phones came out for pictures and video to take take to their home state Missouri. The kids loved it – and so did grandma. It was fun to watch.

This is such a huge part of our life that is funny to realize some unsuspecting tourist gets a cool show they have no idea is coming. We are privileged to live here and this is one of the reasons why. There are days when you are puttering around town and see the Blues flying or you can to to practice during the week – it is our home team.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Today the Boy locked himself out of his vehicle and the MotH went and provided him with the spare key. It is now on him – he now has the spare. But I sent M&M cookies because I had made them this weekend and I know they are one of his favorites.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

That said, I still bake like he is here most of the time which, with his life, is not the case. So I share my baking with my friends at the office, which I’ve always done and I appreciate the fact that they don’t mind to be (unwilling) guinea pigs. But I also ask friends at a restaurant that we frequent for what they would like. It makes me try different things, which makes me happy. This was new to me – peanut butter and chocolate mixed together. I would have never done this on my own. That said, I love peanut butter and like chocolate well enough, but mixing them is just  – ewww for me. So I had the MotH try these bars and he was a fan.

But this past weekend we could not get to the beach to deliver them. So now I have the bars in the freezer so I can make someone kind-of-happy if we get out there any time soon. I hope so, but right now the forecast does not look good – it is supposed to be sunny this weekend. Strange as it sounds, I’d like some rainy weather so I could get to my local at the beach. I am sure you have figured out where my local is – Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tbs milk
1 large egg
1 Tbs vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, line with a parchment paper and spray again.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Set aside for a mo (a moment – get used to it).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla, and peanut butter.

Add flour mixture into peanut butter mixture. Until just combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

The dough is a bit stiff and you have to press into the pan (use wet hands) to get it evenly spread. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until edges are lightly brown and the center does the toothpick thing correctly but it is difficult with all those chips involved. Just give it a go or two.

Source: Six Sisters Stuff

Notes: As said, I made these for a friend who particularly asked for this combination, but so far from the comments from my office they have been very well received.

The End of Winter (for us anyway)

Well, we don’t really have a true winter here, but it does get cold for a few days at a time. Then it warms up – then it gets cold again – then it rains –  then there is an amazing amount of pollen (damn clover) – this is winter in North Florida. I only have a limited number of long sleeved shirts to deal with season – I think 6? And way more shorts than pants. Sartorial choices.

Last weekend, Sunday was going to be “cold” by our standards (cannot wear really cute open toed shoes), and I joked at Shaggy’s the rainy Saturday prior that if there would be a fire (yes for me) on Sunday, because I would be wearing socks and that is equal to winter where we live.D&D_0670

That Sunday, I was so pleased to be able to get to the beach – because it was too cold for the locals,  and sorry tourists – it is the randomness of travel and you got stuck with “cold”weather for a beach town – no, really I am sorry about that not that I could do anything to fix it. During spring break if it is sunny and warm we locals cannot get out to our beach at all – reference: 2 weeks ago. I do not like to get stuck on the 3 mile bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.  I can handle the Bob Sikes bridge traffic to the beach, but do not want to get stuck on the 3 mile. Ever.

But, last Sunday,  I felt like the happiest person when we got to Shaggy’s, There was a real wood fire. I was told it was for me. But I’m hoping all the other people who were not expecting that kind of “cold weather” appreciated it too because the place was totally packed. This is the only local restaurant that I know that has a real wood-burning fireplace and I do love it so. I am pretty sure I will not see a fire there again until November or December of this year.  We won’t talk about how the fire was started, but is was so very appreciated. I love my local. The place I am  very happy to be. Thanks you guys – you are the best!

 

Butter Usage – by month – (February 2016)

February 1 – 2 Tbs – Grilled Cheese Sandwich – yep boring, but I love a good grilled cheese. Of course with applesauce.

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Spiced Pecans

February 4 – 16 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Walnut Blondies

February 5 – 16 Tbs – Sugar Cookies

February 6 – 4 Tbs – Spiced Pecans Will be making these again even if they are a bit sticky – but we’ve had a rather damp winter  – hence, no taffy (total bummer.)

February 20 – 3 Tbs – Parmesan Rosemary Crackers

February 20 – 8 Tbs – Oatmeal Pecan Toffee Cookies

February 24 – 4 Tbs – Carrot Cake – frosting

February 27 – 16 Tbs – White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Butterscotch Brownies – basically, Blondies

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Butterscotch Chocolate Blondies

I have always had an affinity for blondies. I guess it is because it is a nice mix of cookie dough w/chips and, honestly, it is dead simple – no batches of cookies, only turning the pan once – simple and done. Now the Boy is a blondie fan so I try to make things for him that I think he will enjoy and – again – dead simple. I guess that may mean I am kind of lazy.

I do love butterscotch. I am well aware the butterscotch chips are, truth be told, not real, but as America’s Test Kitchen says – sometimes you just need a butterscotch chip to have the right butterscotch flavor. Improving the world through chemicals – sounds so 70’s and slightly mostly creepy, but this recipe is pretty much, um, great.

This time I made them, I added a few semi-sweet chocolate chips just … well, just because I had some left from another recipe and it seems to work pretty dang well.

1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened (16 Tbs)
1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar – I always use light brown sugar
1 Tbs vanilla – yeah! Not may recipes call for this much, but I never measure strictly. More is better. Kind of like chocolate or cheese.
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13” baking pan. I still have a preference for William-Sonoma (RIP Chuck Williams) gold-touch baking pans. They are beyond words my favorites and I am slowly replacing everything I have with them.

Sift together, over a piece of waxed paper, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy (someone needs to define “fluffy”). Add eggs, one at a time and then mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of butterscotch chips and all chocolate chips.

Spread dough in pan and smooth. Top with finally 1/4 cup butterscotch chips (and a handful of chocolate chips if you are so inclined). Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until they begin to pull away from the edge of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

24 December 2009

15 February 2014 – for Em. vg not too dense – try adding a bit of chocolate

19 December 2015 – for sharing at the holidays with friends.

I think this may be my new favorite Blondie. It is really good. And I think that may be the mix of the chips, but it is probably it is the tablespoon of vanilla. Yep, that may be it.

Pinwheel Cookies

I’ve been making cookies / desserts at the suggestions of others just to get me to try new things, and one suggestion a couple of weeks ago was a pinwheel cookie. The guy that asked for it said his mom used to make them for him, but had not in a while.

Well, after I checked into what a pinwheel is, I understand why his mom doesn’t make it anymore. You have to really love someone (which I suggested his mom may not do any more – which was mean, but funny) to do this amount of work … And this much frigign’ math. But, since I have never 1) eaten a pinwheel or 2) made a pinwheel. I took it as some sadistic challenge. And so far that seems to be an accurate statement of the experience. I’ve gone so far as to clock the active time involved in putting this damn cookie together. I even made templates – who what nerd does that?? Me. sigh.D&D_0854

Yields about 10 dozen 2-inch cookies. If you can roll everything in the correct dimension. Yep that was wasn’t me.

13 1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbs. boiling water
3 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted but still warm

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed until smooth, about 2 min. Add the sugar in a steady stream and mix for another 2 min. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined. Remove 2 cups less 2 Tbs. of the dough and set aside.

Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiling water and set aside briefly to cool. Then mix the espresso and cocoa powder into the remaining dough. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the warm melted chocolate and mix just until thoroughly combined.

Portion each flavor of dough into three equal pieces. (For accuracy, use a scale – yes, do this) Shape each piece into a 5×5-inch square on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap well. The chocolate will be thicker than the vanilla. Refrigerate the dough for 30 min. (If the dough becomes too hard, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling) = 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, tear off twelve 12-inch squares of waxed paper. Roll each piece of dough into a 7×7-inch square between two sheets of the waxed paper. Without removing the waxed paper, layer the squares of dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 15 min. Have ready three 15-inch sheets of plastic wrap = 20 more minutes.

To shape the cookies, remove one square of the vanilla dough and one square of the chocolate dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from each. Invert the chocolate square over the vanilla square (or vanilla can go on top of chocolate; try some of each for variety), taking care to align the two layers as evenly as possible. Using your rolling pin, gently roll over the dough to seal the layers together. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper.

Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, carefully curl the edge of the dough up and over with your fingertips, so no space is visible in the center of the pinwheel.

Using the waxed paper as an aid, continue rolling the dough into a tight cylinder. After the cylinder is formed, roll it back and forth on the counter to slightly elongate it and compact it. And then roll is really crunchy sparkling sugar (not in the original recipe, but so worth it). Transfer the log to the plastic wrap, centering it on the long edge closest to you. Roll tightly, twisting the ends of the plastic firmly to seal. With your hands on either end of the log, push firmly toward the center to compact the dough. It should be about 9 inches long and 1-1/2 inches thick – or whatever it is – really.  Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate the logs until firm enough to slice, about 3 hours, or freeze for up to three months = 20 more minutes.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Working with one log at a time, roll the long in large grain sparkling sugar. Then, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to slice the dough into 3/16-inch rounds (I used my tomato knife, not thin, but beyond sharp). Set the rounds about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans and bake until the tops of the cookies feel set, 12 to 14 minutes, making sure to rotate pan halfway through. Let the baked cookies stand for 1 minute on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to three months = 12 – 13 minutes x 6 =78 minutes.

Total time, roughly, since I’m not good at math = 2 hours & 20 minutes, not including time in the fridge.

Fine Cooking

With this all said and done, now that I have experience doing it, I will make these again. Nothing is particularly daunting. There are just many steps and it takes time. It’s fairly forgiving too because my measurements of the squares were not correct. I just made them match and tried to make it close and it worked. As a not huge chocolate fan, this chocolate part of the cookie reminds me of Guinness – coffee, dark chocolate, lovely.

 

Magic Bites

Magic Bites

My mom made magic bars for us at Christmas. They were so rich, especially when cut into typical bar cookie size, so she always cut them into bite-sized pieces – no, I’m not kidding, like 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch. This recipe is supposedly  called Hello Dolly Bars, (which I only just heard of – ugh) but to me they are my mom’s Magic Bites (my change) so that’s just what I’m going to call them. After all, Hello Dolly Bars is kind of a dumb name. I’m just saying.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs sugar
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli is best)
1 scant cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press mixture into bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 8 minutes. Sprinkle pecans, coconut, and chips over warm crust. Pour condensed milk over top – do not mix.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbling at the edges. Let cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

* I did the math for you. Each panel of graham crackers has four pieces, so this uses 14 panels. For my graham crackers, this was a little over one package and a half of panels.

11 September 2015 – baking on this day is a peaceful thing.