Christmas Cookies

December 25, 2009

Here is just a fraction of my holiday cookie baking.  Sadly, these were the only two recipes I managed to take pictures of so far.

Anyways, on a happier note I just won a giveaway from Patrica’s blog:!  Patrica has such a wonderful blog with tons of recent holiday cookies.  I won Dorie Greenspan’s famous book!  Something I have wanted to get for over a year now. I read the email about two minutes ago and it absolutely made my night!  I have never won anything like this before. yay me.

I made sugar cookies.  This recipe is from recipiezaar and claimed by a blogger to be the best recipe ever.  Although I didn’t find them to be “the best”, they were pretty decent.  I made a batch of royal icing from Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition desserts and  decorated them with sprinkles.

Granny’s Sugar Cookies
Makes approximately 84 cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened (do not substitute!)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream sugar and butter till fluffy; add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture till completely blended. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters dipped in flour to prevent sticking. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until just faintly golden around edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with frosting if desired.

To make about 1/2 cup of Royal Icing, combine an egg white and a pinch of cream of tartar in a bowl and whisk until foamy.  Sift 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and add to the egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time.  Beat for about 2 minutes until smooth. Can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Next are the S’mores cookies.  These are supper delicious with crushed graham crackers, Hershey’s bars, and mini marshmallows.  They have been making an appearance on tons of blogs and I knew I had to make them!  Somehow, my cookies didn’t turn out looking quiet as beautiful as everyone else’s. They ended up looking pretty chunky and rustic looking, not very round and flat, but I think it gave them good character 🙂 I love how you can see the Hershey’s chunks!  Please Enjoy!

Here is the recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, remove from oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a piece of a hershey’s bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for 3 more minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Hey I’m in the Paper!

December 21, 2009

I teach cooking classes at an after school program in Marin City for “at risk” youth at Bayside Elementary.  I began this program after volunteering for over 40 hours at the school.  The children are truly wonderful individuals and I wanted to just share my passion and teach them how to cook.  So I went around and solicited money from local business and now I show up every week to make delicious meals!  Last week we made sushi, it was awesome. Well, I ended up in the Marin Independent Journal!  Pretty Sweet 🙂

Check it out! ME in the paper!

I am also on the after school program blog

I will update you with Holiday baking later… trust me there is A LOT.  My camera is temporarily at my friend’s house so I will pick it up a little later and share some wonderful christmas cookies with you all.

Happy Holidays!

I am thankful for the pie

December 10, 2009

Have I really waited until December 9th to post my thanksgiving recipes!?

Sorry. I’m lame. busy, busy school.  Today I had three projects and a paper due.  I stayed up until 2:30 am  last night and fell asleep on the couch, only to wake up to my dad at 7:15 am with 20 minutes to spare before I had to leave the house.  Mad rush down to the gas station, I grab a cup of coffee, wait out in the unusually frigid 30 degree morning air, jump into my carpool, head to the city and make it into my first period with a minute to spare.

I have to make a hip joint for anatomy class.

I have to make a surrealist art object and write a paper explaining it en Francais.

I have an essay due on the Dubliners by James Joyce for my AP english class.

I have to document and present my science research project and attend a three hour seminar after school.

Every spare moment of the day I’m scrambling to put together the next project. fml.  But I got it all done. yay me. and attended the painfully long science research seminar for my eighth period class. wooot. So now I’m home and have a whole lot of time to bake and relax. WRONG.  I have a whole lot of time to begin the rat-race cycle once again. Two english essay final exams on Friday to be prepared and much, much, much, much more to do.  But enough about my lameness.  Let’s get to my delicious Thanksgiving shall we?

I am so blessed and thankful.

I have an amazing, wonderful family.

I am thankful for my health

I am thankful for laughter

I am thankful for my friends

I am thankful for music

I am thankful I am able go to such an amazing school!

I am also thankful for this pie.

Delicious, rich bittersweet chocolate nestled in a creamy filling bursting with buttery toasted pecans on a  heavenly, flaky crust.  This was my rich chocolate pecan pie.  Twas good… to say the least.  We took the leftovers back home from our friends house and my mom ate it for breakfast.

I also baked up some NY Time CCC dough I had in the freezer and made a delicious tasting, but pathetic looking apple tart (noticed it is not pictured), but the recipe is amazing. I’ve bloged about it before.

The dinner was scrumptious of coarse: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beens, carrots, cranberry sauce, dressing/stuffing,layered salad and the most delcious honey/ bbq ham I have ever tasted.

The layered salad was pretty awesome too.  Just put together in layers in the serving dish and tossed up all together right before serving.  It’s almost like a coleslaw; creamy with lettuce, tomato, peas, onions, bacon and more.  I usually like really simplistic, healthy foods, but it’s thanksgiving; I guess we are all looking for something a bit more indulgent.

Other desserts (NOT baked by me) were these chewy ginger and sugar/ shortbread type cookies as well as this other pretty apple pie.  We also had a great pumpkin pie. (not pictured)

Try this awesome chocolate pecan pie out.  I got it from Annie’s Eats, she has such a terrific blog.  I followed this recipe to the T but used a pre-made gluten free pie crust for the sake of time.  I posted the crust recipe anyways. Enjoy for you holiday baking!

Double Chocolate Pecan Pie

For the crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into medium cubes (about 16 pieces)
3 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter to the bowl and mix on low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal and the largest chunks of butter are not much larger than peas.  Add the water to the bowl and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until chilled.

On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the pie dough out into a 12-inch round.  Transfer the round to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pie pan.  Trim the edges as necessary and create a fluted pattern using a finger to make the indentations.  Freeze the dough-lined pie plate until firm and very cold, about 30 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to lower middle position and heat the oven to 375° F.  Remove the dough-lined plate from the freezer, press a sheet of foil inside the pie shell and fill with ceramic baking beads.  Bake about 30 minutes, until the dough looks dry and light in color.  Carefully remove the foil and weights.  Continue baking the crust 5-6 minutes more, until light golden brown.

While the pie crust is baking, make the filling.  Melt the butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Remove the bowl from the double boiler but maintain the simmering water.  Stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is absorbed.  Beat in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla.  Return the bowl to the double boiler and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is shiny and hot to the touch, about 130° F on an instant-read thermometer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans.

As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, lower the oven temperature to 275° F.  Pour the filling into the pie shell.  Scatter the chopped chocolate pieces over the filling and press into the filling with the back of a spoon.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven about 50-60 minutes, until the pie looks set but slightly soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed with the back of a spoon.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 4 hours.