Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Cookies 2008: All the Rest of the Days

Family always comes first. So since my mom and grandma arrived, my blog was abandoned. They returned to San Diego two days ago :( , so time for an update. Since I only got one day of cookies posted, I'll go ahead and post the rest of them now. I'll do a separate blog for Christmas, which was very nice, thank you for asking.
Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies
I made these last year, but this year I did a much better job. Practice makes perfect I guess.
Cut Out Sugar Cookies
Another repeat, but some classics just can't be left out.
Gingerbread Men
Another classic. These were better last year. I under baked these for some reason, and they were soft. Which is fine, but a couple lost their heads. Decapitated gingerbread men just don't look right in a Christmas Cookie tray.
Gingerbread Wreaths
The same dough as the men, but I followed the tutorial from here for the decoration. Not as pretty as hers, but the kids loved them.
Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake Cookies
I'm not a fruitcake lover (it's the nuts), but these were actually pretty good. Very appropriate for the season, and the bonus is that there isn't a whole fruitcake sitting around, not being eaten.
Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Diamonds
These are made with the same dough as the cut out cookies, but with dried cherries mixed in the dough. The dough is spread into a thin layer in a cookie sheet then baked, topped with chocolate and chopped hazelnuts.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies
Vince's favorite. And Annamaria was quite the little helper.

Another repeat. Also another favorite.

Rainbow Cookies
Now these have a story. I've been wanting to make these for years. I'm not exaggerating, years. But the recipe calls for three 9x13" cake pans. I only ever had one. By the time I got around to purchasing two more, they were packed up and we moved to Texas. Where, you guessed it, they were stolen. Since we will never replace everything that was stolen, I was back to just one 9x13" cake pan. So this year I decided to go on with the recipe anyway, and make due with my one lonely 9x13" pan. The cake layers are made with whipped egg whiles and marzipan. Apparently marzipan is not a hot seller out here in the boonies. I did find it, overpriced and hard as a rock, but I found it. So after breaking it down in the food processor so I could incorporate it into my egg whites and other ingredients, I thought all would be fine. I separate the batter into three bowls, one left as is, one colored green, and the last colored red. I decided to bake the uncolored batch first, popped it into the oven, and set the timer. My time was up, I pulled the layer out of the oven, let it set as told, then pulled it out of the cake pan so I could prep the pan for the next layer. But while transferring the white layer to the cooling rack I dropped it. Not the cooling rack, my finished white layer. Parchment paper side up, cookie layer side down. Of course. So I sat on the floor, but my head in my hands, and regrouped. These are now called The Cursed Rainbow Cookies from Hell in my house.

Nanimo Bars
It wouldn't be Christmas without them.

Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas !

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookies 2008 Day 1

It's that time of year again. Time to pack on the extra pounds and drive myself crazy with all there is to do. My mom and grandma arrive this Friday, Sophia's birthday is Saturday, I need to wrap up Harrison and Sophia's school work for the Christmas break, I started my cookie baking on Sunday, and I have three Christmas dresses to complete before Saturday morning when the photographer is scheduled to come over and take some family photos since we'll all be together for the holidays. (How's that for a rambling sentence?) On top of all that, I'm feeling like a single mother since Vince has been working late last week and this, since he's working on about six projects at work, and the most important has a deadline of "by year end". Not that I'm complaining, I'm more than grateful that he even has a job, unlike so many right now. He has been kind and helpful enough to run errands for me on his way home and on his lunch break though. So I haven't been completely without help.

So before I get going this morning, a couple of cookies, or candies . . .

Torrone. It's an Italian confection. A soft honey nougat studded with pistachios and almonds, sandwiched between edible rice paper. The rice paper is tasteless, but essential since the candy is so sticky.

Divinity. The classic southern treat. A white creamy fudge made with egg whites and pecans. I don't know why it's considered "fudge", but whatever. Vince requested this one, and while I usually make it in drop form, it wasn't setting up properly. I don't know if my candy thermometer was acting up (not unusual), or maybe the humidity was too high that day (I don't think so), but whatever the reason I decided to make it tray style, and it turned out just fine. As evidenced by the two missing pieces Vince has since snatched.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Jaw Dropping

This morning on my quick run to the grocery store (They had boneless/skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.48 a pound, today only, how could I pass that up?), I noticed that the price of gasoline was $1.49 a gallon. A $1.49! I felt as if I should pull in and fill 'er up, but my tank was 3/4 full already. I don't know how long this is going to last, and I was annoyed to say the least to be charged over $3.00 a gallon last summer, (over $4.50 while in California), but I'm going to be extra, extra irked when is goes back up again, because now I know, I know, it's artificially inflated. So like all things in life, enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Colors of Fall

One of my regular blog reads is Cake Wrecks, which is always good for a laugh and helps me feel not too bad about my cake decorating skills. Through Cake Wrecks I found this other blog which has become one of my favorites. It's called Cake Journal, and it's by a woman named Louise in Denmark. Her skills are truly inspiring. And what's even better is that she posts tutorials, giving even the baking/decorating challenged some hope. So feeling all inspired and fired up I decided to do some baking the week before Thanksgiving. Louise posted a tutorial about Marshmallow Fondant and made it look so easy I just had to give it a try. So in honor of the season I tried my hand at a little bit of fall foliage.

The pumpkins were the babies favorites.

Green Maple leaves.

Oak leaves that were colored with cocoa which gave them a nice chocolate flavor.

And when I had just scraps left, I combined them all and rolled out multi colors for the remaining leaves.

To finish them off I gave them a dusting with gold Luster Dust. I only wish my camera could capture how nice they turned out. The pictures don't do them justice.