Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cranberry Cinnamon-Nut Bread

The newest edition of the Better Homes and Gardens new CookBook (15th) found its way under my tree this year, and to mark the occassion, I made the Cinnamon nut Bread from page 123 with the Cranberry variation. It was so awesome, I gained 2 pounds yesterday!
Doesn't it look fabulous?  It tasted fabulous too!
Tonight I will be making Olliebollen - a drop-donut type thing that is a Dutch tradition to ring in the new year. Come back tomorrow to see it!
Happy New Years Eve!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Choco-Cherry Supreme Cookies

One day closer to Christmas, and I made cookies for a cookie-exchange party today. They were fabulous!

Here is how you can make your own - and in time for Christmas too!

Choco-Cherry Supreme Cookies Recipe
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa                         
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup candied cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder  
1/2 tsp. salt                             

Cream butter and sugars together. Beat in the milk, egg and vanilla. Add the other ingredients and stir together until well combined. Drop tablespoon of dough on greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. If desired, top with a half cherry. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Yield: 30 cookies.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stained Glass Gingerbread Church

Hello once again! Today I want to share with you my newest creation - a stained glass church made from gingerbread!

You can see the "stained glass" effect better when I was assembling the pieces:

To do this effect (thanks to Megan at Kids First for explaining this to me), just crush hard candy (I had yellow, orange, green and red hard candies in a bag and used my meat tenderizer), place the gingerbread piece on tinfoil, cut out the shape to be stained and fill the space with the crushed candy. Bake as normal for the gingerbread and carefully peel off the tinfoil when the piece is perfectly cold.

Note: Through trial and error, I found it is much easier to transfer the gingerbread piece to a baking sheet BEFORE adding the crushed candy!

Here's what the pieces looked like before they were assembled:

Make sure you use enough candy. My crushed candy looked level with the thickness of the gingerbread, but it seeped a little around the edges and now appears less than half the thickness of the gingerbread.

This is the recipe I have used for years to make lots of gingerbread houses. I don't usually eat much of the gingerbread on my houses since it hardens a lot, but you can certainly make lovely gingerbread men with it too. If you store them with a slice of bread, they will soften/stay soft and be lovely.

Gingerbread Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 cup molasses
2 beaten eggs
6 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Beat all wet ingredients together. Stir in everything else. This will be extremely stiff dough. I wouldn't be able to make these without my KitchenAid mixer! Cool the dough if it is sticky. When cool, roll out 1/8 - 1/4" thick, cut shapes. Leave space between cookies on ungreased pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 11-13 minutes. If the edges are turning brown, they are done! If you want softer cookies, bake less. If you want to make walls for a house, bake longer until the edges are brown.

This recipe made my church and 15 3"- tall gingerbread men. The church is 5.5" wide x 8.5" long. The long walls are 6" high and the roof sections are 4" x 10". The peaked walls are 8.5" high at the peak, 6" high at the side and 5.5" wide.

To cut out the "cathedral" windows, I used a small round cookie cutter for the top and a knife to extend it down all the way. I should have made my door taller, so my gingerbread men would fit in! Oops.

To cement the pieces together, I used Royal Icing. I've talked about it before, but searching for things on this blog is proving to be a pain, so here's that recipe again:

Royal Icing Recipe
1 egg white
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or cover closely and refrigerate. This icing hardens quickly.
To assemble the pieces, fill a piping bag (fitted with a medium round tip) with icing (use the full 1 3/4 cups icing sugar to make really stiff icing) and pipe along the edges that will touch the display surface and the next piece you wish to attach. If the icing is stiff enough, two pieces should hold together without assistance. (Refer back to my second photo above. I piped the white icing along the roofline and laid the roof piece on top and it stayed exactly where I put it!)
I've been making gingerbread creations since I was in grade school and I have made one every year since! It is now a tradition I've been passing on to my children. They will decorate it with candy tomorrow! This is our creation from last year:
Have a great week getting ready for Christmas!