Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

New in the Christmas Eve cookie/treat rotation – salted caramel snicks. It is basically a thumbprint cookie and you fill the little divot with a home made caramel sauce. Once again, I made the dough, refrigerated it, baked the cookies a couple of days later, again stored in the fridge and made the caramel sauce a day later. Worked out pretty good. Before I went forward with the caramel, I had the Boy test the plain snick and he really like it.

D&D_2523This was really pretty easy to do and when you sort of divide the labour over a couple of days, it is even more so. I like working like this so I can bake/prep a little bit after work each day – gives me some fun without being too terribly stressful. And thinking ahead when baking is always a good thing.

Snickerdoodle Dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
12 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Salted Caramel Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Make the snickerdoodle cookies: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar and kosher salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Whisk 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, vanilla and egg together in a large bowl until well combined. Pour in the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until the dough just combines.

Stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, portion and roll the dough into 30 (1-inch) balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar to coat, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the balls 2 inches apart. Using the end of a wooden spoon or your index finger, press each dough ball in the center to create a deep divot. Refrigerate the dough balls on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until light golden brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the salted caramel filling: Pour the sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it turns liquid and deep amber brown. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until smooth. Add the cream and kosher salt and stir until incorporated. Fill the divot in each cookie with the hot caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Let the caramel cool for 30 minutes to set before serving. [I just need to make this again to just eat w/a spoon.]

21 December 2017

Source: Ree Drummond

Wednesday Cooking School

So tonight The Boy and I made carrot cake. It is one of his favorites.  I have made carrot cake for D&D_1233him many, many, many, years  – big birthday cake for him. When I said The Boy and I made a carrot cake, I really mean just him. I am kind of the director in this movie. Suggesting, demonstrating, etc. To me, you learn by doing, so I let him do the doing.

So I get home from work and he’s here already – good start. As I go up to change (I’m a mess when cooking, so I have to change my clothes), I say to him, start peeling the carrots. Simple enough, right?  A few minutes later he’s still peeling that first carrot … There was almost no carrot left. I said, what are you doing? Do you not know how to peel a carrot?  Apparently not. So I explained how to peel a carrot. And then explained for the cake we would be grating the carrots for the cake. Poor guy, he just didn’t know.

Lesson: don’t assume things in Wednesday Cooking School.

I am not a fan of making cake after work, but this wasn’t too horrible. Only about 2 1/2 hours, but excellent time spent hanging out with The Boy. Yes, that’s the best part.  Indeed.

I’m kind of excited that his next choice is Eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise. I started this stupid idea on New Year’s Day of 2009. What the hell – make a very complicated thing for New Year’s Day – does anyone do that? Apparently I do. And we did it weekend after weekend that year. But since The Boy is coming over after work, it will be for dinner, and in my small brain, that is a good thing.

Carrot Cake

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Carrot Cake

This is a recipe from a friend. It is her grandmother’s recipe. I love grandmom recipes. I have so few from either of my grandmothers that I just love those grandmom recipes from friends. When a recipe goes down through a couple of generations it means something: It works; it is a favorite; it is loved; it is important. That has a certain Siren call to me.

To my way of thinking, that is largely what this site is all about. Leaving behind what is important to me, and hoping that The Boy finds them worth something in the future. That sounds a bit depressing, but I do not mean it in that way.

From my friend Elaine – from her Grandmother. This is a half recipe. It makes a 2 layer cake, but you could double it to make a 4 layer cake which is what the original recipe does.

Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (local Renfroes) *
1 tsp orange zest

Prepare two 9 inch round pans with baking spray, line with parchment and spray parchment. Preheat ove to 350 degrees.

Sift together over a piece of waxed paper the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. In a large measuring cup add canola oil and eggs. Whisk with a fork to combine. Slowly add to dry ingredients while on low. Add carrots, pecans, and orange zest and mix until just combined.

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Carrot Cake – for The Boy to take home.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Do the toothpick test. Remove and cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, remove parchment, and cool completely.

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and orange juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

Once cakes are cooled, frost those layers, and the sides if you want. But we did not do it.

Notes: This is the first time I’ve made the recipe and I’ve made just a half recipe because I only have two 9 inch round pans – that’s how it goes. I have been using a recipe from Mrs. Fields (you know, the cookie lady) since about the time The Boy was born and it has been a huge birthday cake for him for donkey’s years. But this was so much better. I think the canola oil (my choice of vegetable oil because it so neutral) made it so unreally moist.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be ugly about the originally recipe that I made, but this was one of those – wow! – moments. I am just going to say that some times, really old recipes are the best. Next time, I will add raisins because they really add something to carrot cake.

This is the L year. Ugh. This will be a theme. Unfortunately.

Wednesday Night Cooking (Baking) School

 

Wednesday Cooking School

Well the Boy has taking an interest in cooking and so we have started some cooking lessons, especially for the things he loves which are mostly things I don’t have recipes for. They are things that you have to make by doing.  Wish I had learned how to make cornbread dressing this way, but I did not. Sigh. D&D_0329

So we started a couple of weeks ago with his perennial favorite. Home-made sloppy joes. It may sound odd, but this is an excellent non-recipe recipe. I love this way to much to admit. And the cole slaw to go with it, which is a bit of riff on cole slaw with Eastern North Carolina pulled pork barbecue.

So I taught him how to make both because it is just a taste-as-you-go kind of thing. Which is why it really is stupidly-wonderful as long as you get the hang of it

So we’ve had another lesson which I need to make again and post here, but it is my mom’s homemade mac n cheese. The Boy has never had anything out of box, only this. Yes, he’s a bit spoiled, but then again, so was I. It is not difficult if you know what you are looking for – it is a bechamel and then you go from there. Should have taken a picture, but – damn, but that means I will have to do it again soon – such a burden. I’m sure the Boy would not mind having some more homemade mac n cheese.

I have to say, I’m having so much fun doing this. The next project is a serious baking deal, but again – one of his favorite things and it is a new version of a recipe I love from a friend – it is her grandmother’s recipe and I am really looking forward to it. Yep – I am that food nerd. Do not care – spending time with the Boy is great.

Cannot wait to see what happens next.

Best Sugar Cookies

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Sugar Cookies

Remember when I was “devastated” over a lost sugar cookie recipe? I really did look everywhere, which to me meant I looked in binder after binder and I decided one thing – I’m bloody terrible at keeping up with recipes. Once I pull them out of the binder everything pretty much goes to hell. I finally found this recipe on the back side of another cookie recipe that I had been planning to make for a few weeks – duh, turn things over. This is not the first time this has happened. Sad.

That said, I’ve been making this sugar cookie recipe for about ever – over ten years now. Originally, I made this for Christmas – Christmas Eve in particular, but with so much other stuff going on, I kind of pushed these into the new year and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. A few years back I started making these for Mardi Gras. I had the colored sugars for it, but that was about it.

The cookie cutters I used for a few year are those of my mom. She had a set of card suits cookie cutters – spade, heart, diamond, club – which is kind of strange to be honest, but she was a great card player, especially with her sister. I never could get the hang of gin rummy. But I am happy to have these cookie cutters – along with a couple of others. They have been around as long as I can remember.

I do like to order weird colors of sanding sugars (those are usually the ones on sale), so one year I got a dark purple and a pale green – both from William-Sonoma. When you mix the pale green with a Christmas green, it works. Kind of like when you mix orange and yellow together you get the gold that you’re looking for  – the Mardi Gras colors.

Truth be told, I have ordered Mardi Gras cookie cutters for our pot luck at work. This makes me happy. I guess it’s just the simple things – or maybe I’m just a bit simple.

So here’s the recipe from the Food Network Kitchens – at least I think that’s where it is from. Again – me a keeping up with recipes – ugh.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Sift flour into butter mixture, 1 cup at a time until just combined. Dump out onto plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Cover with plastic and chill 3 to 4 hours.*

Roll out dough until 1/4 inch and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Brush and sprinkle with colored sugars. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes until edges are slightly golden. Remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.

December 2002 – best sugar cookies ever
January 2003 – bake on parchment, spilled sugar comes off easier than a Silpat – for cast boy – granulated sugar is pretty too.
24 December 2003 – 8 minutes, to D&S for Christmas Eve
24 December 2004 – vvg as always
24 December 2006
December 2007
December 2008
February 2012 – Mardi Gras
28 January 2014
19 January 2016 – Mardi Gras practice

*Or overnight. This dough keeps pretty damn well for a few days as long as it is properly wrapped.

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.

Spinach Dip

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Spinach Dip with Hawaiian Rolls

I have had this recipe, dare I say it, since the late 1980’s. And now I feel pretty much -ancient – yep. I am sure there are better variations, but this is the one the Boy likes, and to be honest, I really like it too. Although I don’t think the Boy understands that there are water chestnuts. He says he does not like them – funny – will not tell him for a few more years. This is a variation from my friend Marie in my first real job. We worked in a distribution company and it was a great job and I learned so much about working in the real world. My French Silk Pie recipe also comes from this time period. And a few other recipes that I will have to bring out of the 80’s just for fun. Or just to make me feel, um … old.

I am sure in the 80’s I did not use King’s Hawaiian rolls, but now they are a requirement. Thanks Boy – and that was an excellent move on your part.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, drained and all the liquid pressed out
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
1 can water chestnuts, minced
King’s Hawaiian Rolls

Mix together cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add vegetable soup mix, and mix to combine thoroughly. No, I mean it. This is important.
Add spinach and water chestnuts and mix. Refrigerate overnight.
Let sit at room temperature for about an hour or so. Serve with Hawaiian rolls. Sliced horizontally and then vertically, so you get 4 pieces of Hawaiian bread from each roll.  Not sure how this worked out, but it is a pretty good combination
I make this for the Boy. Every Thanksgiving.