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.

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

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.

 

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!