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I promised a new take on the ma’amoul cookie, this one dates back to my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, first published in 1896, my version in it’s 12th edition. I first made this cookie in 2009 and have been keeping my eyes open for a new and updated version. I love the shape the ma’amoul brings to this old favourite and I love how the oatmeal adds a bit of texture to this delicious filled cookie. I would be leading you astray if I said this was an easily formed cookie, and I had to keep wetting my hands to make the dough pliable and not brittle around the sweet date paste, but once I got the hang of it, it went like clockwork.

Oatmeal Date Filled Ma’amouls

Still the same cookie, just in ma'amoul's clothing!

Still the same cookie, just in ma’amoul’s clothing!

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients for the Date Paste:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups oatmeal, pulsed for 2-4 minutes in a food processor

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small saucepan, put the dates, sugar and water and gently cook until thick and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
  3. Cream the butter and add the brown sugar, mix well.
  4. Sift flour, baking soda and salt and add to the butter sugar mixture.
  5. Add the pulsed oatmeal, mixing thoroughly and adding 2-4 tbsp water to make a dough that can be rolled.
  6. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  7. Make 23 g balls of the dough. Gently press each ball into the palm of your hand so that it covers the entire palm (you’ll need the extra to fold up and cover the paste). Add about 1 teaspoon of the date paste into the centre and bring all the sides up to close in the paste. Place the ball of fill dough into the ma’amoul mold and gently press in. Tap firmly to release. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool and enjoy!
The difference is that this is not a shortbread crust, it's an oatmeal cookie.

The difference is that this is not a shortbread crust, it’s an oatmeal cookie.

And that concludes the Christmas Baking 2012 Series. I hope you enjoyed it.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one. In fact, I’ve seen it many times on-line, mainly when I’ve been sulking around the net after hours. I even know of a few professional photographers guilty of it, but not during work hours. It really snuck up on me quite innocently. I uploaded it on my iPhone after I saw someone using it on Facebook. I thought, WHAT? How could that be? I was sure you could only achieve that look professionally. That is, what I mean to say, is that only a professional could achieve that look. But there it is on Facebook, and it’s more than just professionals doing it.

Of course, I am referring to Instagram, that incredible quirky photo app that can take photo, apply an effect and store it on various platforms. But if you’re sneaky like me, you might even use that shot for your blog. There I said it, yes, I have been guilty of using this app on my iPhone for some of my blog photos. And have received some very lovely compliments on some of those shots. Not that I’m saying I don’t like to use my lovely Canon Rebel, but it is a pain to get it all set up with the tripod and setting the aperture, blah, blah, blah…when all I have to do is reach over and shoot. Yep, that’s all I do. Sometimes I don’t even bother with lighting (the Naan shots, the Chicken Soup Shots to name a couple). Until now. Instagram was acquired by Facebook last April, and you know that can only mean trouble, with a capital T. So December 18 they posted an updated to their privacy policy which basically said that any photo posted on Instagram (and there is no other way to use it) belongs to them and they can sell it. REALLY? Sell. my. own. photos? I think not. But then later that same day, after a lot, and I mean A LOT of backlash they backtracked and took it all back. But it’s only a matter of time and frankly, I’m not sticking around for it. So I found a great app called Camera Awesome, it’s free and they won’t steal your photos — yet anyway, and it has A LOT more features than Instagram. Given, some of these features are for purchase, but they are only 99¢ so they are not bank breaking. The best features are the selected focus and exposure that operate independently to each other (unlike the iPhone camera). Also, it has some really cool features to change the sharpness, vibrance, temperature and contrast, so you don’t need to export and open in Photoshop. I also found an app that can super impose text over the existing photo, so I can copyright it direct from my iPhone. I’ll never have to fire up the iMac again. So now you know my dirty little secret, I hope I can trust you not to tell. 😉

Do you sometimes cheat and use your iPhone for the shot, and if so, what apps do you use to help you make them stand out?

My friend, boss, neighbour Kim and I exchange a small token gift every year and this year she got me something I had my eye on from over at Angie’s lovely blog, this beautiful cookie stamp! I couldn’t believe it, I was very excited to give it a go.

This stamp makes a lovely cookie

This stamp makes a lovely cookie. iPhone Photo.

I made the recipe that came with the stamp. Big mistake. It was way too buttery and the indentations all but melted into a flat, round cookie. I was disheartened. But then I remembered I had a batch of chocolate marshmallow fondant left over from cake pops I made a previous week, so I had an idea! The cookies had good texture and great flavour, you just couldn’t make out the stamp, so I rolled out the fondant to about 1 mm thick and pressed the stamp into it, cut it with a similarly sized cookie cutter and applied it to each cookie after it had cooled completely. SUCCESS! I’m tempted to make another batch because this one might have been sampled over.

So if you want to make cookies like this, just bake up a batch of your favourite shortbread or sugar cookies. You can buy the stamp at Chapters or Indigo or on line. The fondant is a very easy recipe from my dear friend Sawsan’s blog, Chef in Disguise. I simply added about 1/2 cup of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder to the finished fondant and kneaded it well to distribute evenly. It was very easy and very tasty!

They chocolate fondant covered cookies turned out better than expected.

They chocolate fondant covered cookies turned out better than expected. Instagram photo on my iPhone

Or you can head over to Ilan’s blog and bake up this recipe; Ilan is an amazing baker and blogger. Just make sure you leave out the leavening as he suggests so that your formed cookie doesn’t lose it’s shape.

A nice, old fashioned gingerbread cookie. And there is no question that they are 'Home Made'

A nice, old fashioned gingerbread cookie. And there is no question that they are ‘Home Made’. Camera Awesome Photo on my iPhone but I hadn’t figured out how to select focus with it yet!

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I got off to a slow start this year due mainly to the fact that my cold just didn’t want to give up, even though I was doing everything right, like my Chicken Soup, Kelly’s delicious alcohol free Hot Toddy and lots of ginger tea with honey. And I still have a slightly lower octave voice but I’m feeling a lot better!

My Hungarian blogging buddy Zsuzsa suggested I post a list of my baking again this year, so here you go, my friend! I will also snap a few photos and post recipes in the days to come. Previously posted recipes are linked back, unless the photos were gross, in which case, I redid them and posted them again with a little twist!

Here is this 2012’s round up:

Now I bet you’re wondering where on earth did I get this gorgeous cookie mold; my dear friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails was lovely to give it to me as a gift last June (shame on me for taking six months to make these gorgeous cookies with them). I know some of the bloggers (Betsy’s recipe, Sawsan’s recipe to name a couple) I follow have posted some very tantalizing recipes for ma’amouls, but I lacked their ingredients so I needed to find a recipe for which I had everything in my pantry. Plus these shortbread cookies have a lot, and I mean a lot of fat in them, so I searched and searched for a slightly lighter version. I made Bethany’s recipe with minor alterations and I also halved the quantity not knowing if we would love them. The dough is melt in your mouth shortbread dough, but it’s also a bit crumbly. The filling is lovely with the right amount of spice; before you jump to conclusions about the powdered sugar, I read somewhere that the date filled cookie is never sprinkled with powdered sugar . I will make these again, and I you’ll see how I’ve changed them up.

Ma’amouls

Please click here for original recipe, Bethany gives some great instructions.

IMG_3635_BLOG

Apparently the traditional ma’amoules are not dusted with powdered sugar.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 425 g semolina
  • 100 g potato starch
  • 225 g of butter, melted
  • 125 mL orange blossom water (I substituted water with a few drops of orange essence)
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1 ma’amoul mold

Date Filling Ingredients:

  • 125 g dates, pitted
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 25 g of almond flour
IMG_3634_BLOG

I was lucky that mine did not crack. Picture perfect.

Directions:

  1. Combine the semolina, farina, cardamom, sugar and butter together.
  2. Slowly add the orange water a tablespoon at a time, kneading it into a soft sticky dough (it shouldn’t stick to your fingers). Cover the dough and let it sit 2 hours.
  3. Prepare the filling while the dough rests. Add all the ingredients to a food processor container and process until smooth
  4. After it has rested, knead dough one more time and then divide into two or three even balls. Roll out each ball into a rope with a thickness of 2.5 to 3 cm. Cut to about 2.5-3 cm and roll into a ball.
  5. Flatten the dough using the palm of your hand on the counter and spoon a small size ball of filling into the centre. Lift up all sides and form into a nice round ball. It was suggested to roll this in some additional semolina before you press it into the mold, but it was greasy enough and the mold released it quite quickly.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven 200° C / 400° F until the sides are slightly brown in color. It will vary depending on oven — I baked mine for 20 minutes. Cool and serve.

No one will kick you out of bed for leaving crumbs!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! And anyone else who happens to celebrate Thanksgiving now. Hope you enjoyed an overload of turkey, stuffing and pies! And then there’s Black Friday, which for some reason Canadian retailers have jumped on and are promoting the heck out of it! Get out there and get some GREAT DEALS, but not before you leave me some of your lovely words.
Honestly, I don’t eat sweets. I just like to bake ’em! And fortunately, JT started a new job (and career) in June and his office are the perfect guiney pigs recipients of my baking! I wanted to bake another batch of the molasses spice cookies, but JT put in a request for something chocolate. OK, I can live with that. The cookies lasted less than one hour and JT only had two. He came home with a request for the next bake: macarons! Can you believe it?

A very tasty treat, if I do say so myself

The recipe is an adaptation from the wonderful Chocolate Crinkle Kisses I make every year at Christmas, but since it’s not Christmas yet (unbenounced to many department stores who are playing Christmas music incessantly) I altered the recipe to be a Chocolate Espresso flavour and I omitted the Candy Cane Kisses!

These cookies have a strong coffee and chocolate flavour and it’s texture is a little browny like.

An explosion of chocolate and espresso in every bite

Chocolate Espresso Crinkle Cookies

Makes about 30-36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup espresso powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the cocoa powder, espresso powder and sugar.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla Into the chocolate mixture.
  4. Slowly mix in all the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate Chips.
  5. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough into a small ball about the size of a walnut; roll balls in the icing sugar and press flat with the palm of your hand.
  7. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  8. Let the cookies cool on the sheet; transfer to racks to cool completely before storing.

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I thought I had my workout in the gym today. That’s what I thought when I got home and prepared to go for a walk around the hood and admire the changing leaves before they are all on the ground. I was wrong. As I went into the kitchen for a glass of water (the wine would come after the walk) I noticed the hardwood in front of our wine fridge was buckling a bit. No problem, I’ll just pull out the fridge and see what’s going on. I should have waited for JT to get home because clearly I was in the ‘blue job’ territory. But I just couldn’t help myself, I’m like that. I discovered that the fridge didn’t budge; oh no, it must be buckling under it and catching the little feet. Oh no. Now THIS is a challenge. Some brains and some brawn (and some good old fashioned Eastern European sweat) I managed to get the fridge out and the boards cut out (with my handy Dremel tool, which I use about once every four years). BRING ON THE DYI, I’m freakin’ READY! Tomorrow I’m ripping out tiles from the stairs and I’m cladding them in wood!

Fortunately, there was no water or even wetness below, so there is relief because if you’ve ever had a water leak, it’s almost impossible to figure out where it’s coming from. But now the question is, why did the boards buckle? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Doing manual labour like that inspires me to bake. Fortunately, my friend’s (boss, neighbour) daughter’s after school program is having a bake sale and since my friend (Kim) doesn’t bake much, I told her I would bake some cookies for the sale. I ended up making some old fashioned ginger snaps from my recipe from last Christmas, but then I saw a version Zsusza’s delightful cookie and was immediately drawn to it. I loved the way the cookie crackled on top. Well the kid got two batches for the bake sale (maybe a few were set aside!). I made a few alterations to the recipe, so please pop over to Zsuzsa’s blog to see the original recipe, I didn’t have nutmeg handy so I substituted allspice and I also added an extra teaspoon of dry ginger as well as a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. It makes for a lovely warmly spiced cookie. And baking cookies is a hell of a lot easier than pulling a stuck wine fridge out of its spot.

They are soft and chewy on the inside

Old Fashioned Molasses Spice Cookies

Makes about 30-36 cookies (if you don’t sample the cookie dough)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to (175°C) 350° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt; set it aside.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the molasses, egg and the freshly grated ginger and beat on low speed until just combined.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture.
  7. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Using a melon baller, form the dough into 19 g balls.
  9. Place the balls leaving at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (baking more will cause the cookies to be hard)
  11. The cookies will be very soft when you take them out of the oven but they will harden up as they cool, then transfer to a wire rack.

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Last night I was running around the blog-o-sphere looking for something to do and I came across my friend Jed’s recipe for his Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies on his blog (Sports Glutton). I love oatmeal cookies; maybe because you can almost convince yourself that they are healthy snacks (not even close! wink wink, Kelly). But what I do love about them is the bite of the rolled oats, the wonderful chewy texture and the warm spice of the cinnamon. I prefer traditional oatmeal cookies with just raisins (sometimes I put nuts in but I didn’t this time because JT was taking them into work on Saturday, and I figured it was just safer that way).
I want to thank Jed, that gluttonous-sports-loving-dude for inspiring me with his treasured recipe; sadly I didn’t have enough butter (WHAT?) in the house so I had to find a recipe that used slightly less butter and opted for my good old Fanny Farmer recipe, modified ever so slightly for our taste. I’m not sure why it’s called Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookies, perhaps one of my New England blog-friends can help with that. And if you love oatmeal cookies this is another great recipe, tipping my hat to my Australian friends (Charlie, Lorraine and Maureen)

Can you just taste that chewy oaty goodness?

Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookie

Makes 36 cookies, about 5cm (2.5″) in diametre (recipe has been adapted from the original Fanny Farmer Cape Cod Oatmeal Cookie, you can find it on-line, but it’s best to get her cookbook as there are several yummy treasures in it).

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (original recipe called for one but I like the heat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup melted shortening
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 177°C (350°F) degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt together in your food processor (metal blades) and pulse to combine well.
  3. Pour dry ingredients into a bowl and add the raisins and rolled oats and mix well.
  4. Mix cooled melted butter, shortening, molasses and milk with the egg and whisk lightly to combine. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until it is entirely incorporated.
  5. Drop by tablespoons-full* onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake until bottoms are golden-brown, 10-15 minutes (depends on size of cookie).

*I used a 4cm, (1.5″) ice cream scoop, packed well, and then I flattened the cookie with my palm as they don’t spread much.

May I get you a coffee or tea with your cookies?

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Just a quick word about the blog…I just posted my 500th post! Woohoo!

A week or so ago I was intrigued by a recipe at my friend Liz’s blog That Skinny Chick can Bake for Chocolate Meringue Cookies; it’s a meringue cookie for which you need not beat the egg whites. WHAT? How could this be? I had to give it a try! They were EVERY BIT AS GOOD as Liz made them out to be. EVEN BETTER some might say. So chocolatey and chewy with all the texture of a typical meringue cookie without the fuss. Please pop over to Liz’s blog to check out what all the fuss is about this cookie (plus she has some other tasty treats to ogle over).

So that got me thinking (oh oh, this means trouble), if it worked so well for the chocolate version, I wonder if I can work it with an almond version! So I tried and it worked like a charm! The first time too! Although, I did adjust the recipe a teensy tiny bit. I think next time, I will toast the almonds so that that they give the cookie a bit more interest.

Chewy, crunchy and very almondy

Almond “Meringue” Cookie

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 4 egg whites (no need to beat like with a traditional meringue)
  • 1 tablespoon almond essence

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line baking sheets with parchment and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix sugar, almond flour and salt in a bowl. Stir in almonds (if you are going to toast the almonds, I would allow them to cool entirely). Add egg whites and almond essence, and mix until just moistened. Do not over-mix batter. The batter should not be runny.
  3. Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Leave plenty of space between cookies as they spread quite a bit. I got about 12 per sheet in general.
  4. Bake until the bottoms begin to colour, about 12 minutes. Remove the parchment with the cookies from the hot tray and cool briefly before carefully moving to a cooling rack. Cookies are fragile, but I found them easily removed to a cooling rack with a large spatula. Store with parchment between layers.

If you like almonds, this is the cookie for you!

Norma, over at Garden to Wok had asked that I photograph my onion and garlic harvest, and I finally got around to it, sorry it’s been so late. I planted my garlic too early last fall and it sprouted and then proceeded to rot over the winter. I was so disappointed this spring when they didn’t sprout again that I pulled them out and planted more garlic and a few green onions. The garlic was planted too late and the heat, lack of rain did not help so they are a bit stunted. But I will persevere this fall and plant garlic again.

I like the contrast on the Canadian Soapstone counters

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This is the second last installment of the Christmas Baking Frenzy of 2011. The cookies I am posting today are a Christmas tradition that I started for my father-in-law and my husband’s brother-in-law, neither of whom should eat sugar; I present to you the Peanut Butter Cookie. Coincidentally, these are also gluten free.

The cookies are a little dry, so you'll need a cup of tea or coffee with them.

I was having a little fun with Photoshop

Sugar Free and Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Original Recipe by Paula Deen, Food Network
21 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 1 cup baking sugar replacement (recommended: Splenda)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar replacement, the egg, and vanilla, and beat until entirely combined. Roll the dough into balls (I used a 1.25″ melon baller).
  3. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Press down each cookie with the palm of your hand. With a fork press once in the typical PB Cookie method
  4. Bake for 14 minutes remove from the oven and cool.

On another note I wanted to share with you something absolutely AWESOME! For many years now, our neighbour to the north of us has brought Christmas to his house during the years our weather was not cooperative. This year was no different and although we have had a few light sprinklings of snow there was not enough to ‘stick’ and subsequently we have yet another ‘green Christmas’! Not to be outdone by nature, neighbour John goes out to the local skating arena and scoops up their leftover snow (what the Zamboni clears off the ice) and shovels it onto his front lawn in time for Christmas morning. The kids are teenagers now, but still LOVE this tradition and neighbour John is more than happy to oblige. Enjoy the snow.

The only lawn in Toronto that has snow!

Just in case you didn't believe me, that's our house next door!

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Hello everyone! Christmas Baking is over for the time being and I am quite happy with the results; there is a lovely variety of old and new favourites and I am excited about putting my gift boxes together for our friends and family. I still have a dessert to bake for Christmas Eve which we usually enjoy at my brother’s house (it will likely be a bûche de noël because that is what my family has done for years, and I just saw Charles’ at Five Euro Food which made me very excited to make it again!).

Here is a little synopsis of my Christmas baking over the years (not that I only started in 2007, but that is when I started to blog!).

In 2007 we had our Renovation party so I didn’t specifically do the cookie gift boxes because we hosted about 50 friends and family at our renovation unveiling party and I catered the entire event (I had serving help which was great!).

I designed these invitations for our Renovation Unveiling Party in 2007

In 2008 I made 11 items but I didn’t take a photo of them 😦

In 2009 I made only 9 items but I bought lovely ceramic casserole dishes to package the cookies in as gifts.

In 2010 JT had a health setback and I just didn’t do much baking at all (he’s ALL GOOD now).

And here we are in 2011 and my list of cookies with links are:

I was able to find these really cute cookie boxes at the dollar store! I line them with parchment paper.

Holy Bat Man, that's a lot of cookies!

I package each cookie box in a zip-lock bag and freeze it until we see the people that I prepared it for!

Your cookie box is ready, when can you come over to pick them up?

I wanted to mention some of my blogging friends cookie recipes which I am certain are equally, if not better tasting then my own.

Katherine at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide has mastered the perfect Macaroon. And check out Ann’s Cooking Healthy for Me Coconut Macaroons that she baked from her well loved Better Home New Cook Book. And then of course, there is Barb’s Coconut Pyramids at Profiteroles and Ponytails which are just so darn adorable. And pop by Jessica’s site Kitchenbelleicious for a truly lovely Espresso Crinkle Cookie that just looks like it would melt in your mouth. And then there is fellow Torontonian Divya at Flavour Fiesta’s healthier Choc Coco Truffles with Cherries. There are so many great cookie recipes out there and so little time to try them all — that’s why I love reading all the wonderful blogs, I can try ALL of your cookies in a virtual sense and not gain an ounce! The beauty of technology.

How many cookies did you bake this year, and did you bake any special needs cookies?

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Confession time: I made this cookie recipe about a week ago, but I completely forgot to add the brown sugar and I didn’t watch my syrup and it boiled up (sadly, I can’t blame it on drinking); the taste turned out OK while they were still warm, but the next day the cookies hardened so much that I was afraid I would crack a tooth on it. I don’t usually mess up a recipe quite so badly — into the composting bin they were tossed!

So I tried my hand at the recipe again. The success of this traditional cookie is melting the sugar, butter and syrups gently and not to over bake because then the cookies become way too hard. I used Moroccan Ginger which has a rather strong flavour making this cookie a bit spicier than most other recipes but then again, I like spicy!

Would you care for tea or coffee with your Ginger Snaps?

Ginger Snap Cookies

Makes about 36-46 Cookies depending on how big your melon baller is.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup black molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground all spice

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a small saucepan gently melt the butter, brown sugar and both syrups (do not boil unless you want to end up with jaw breakers!). Cool slightly.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium-sized bowl.
    Make a well in the centre and pour in the syrup mixture. Mix well to make a soft dough.
  5. Using a large melon baller shape into small balls (about the size of a walnut). Place each ball about two inches apart; press down to form even rounds abut 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until very very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for a minute and then remove to fully cool on a wire rack.
  7. Store in an airtight container or freeze. If they get too hard, add a slice of bread or a moist brown sugar disk for a few hours.

Or perhaps some Sherry? It's a little early though, isn't it?

So tell me lovely reader, have you ever messed up a recipe and were you able to save it or had to toss it?

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In the late 70’s my 10 year old brother (20 months my junior) gave me a cook book of cookies, candies and desserts for Christmas; he inscribed it with this sentiment: “This is really for me, in the long run!” And it was! The bad photography of that time didn’t stop me from making so many things from it, and one of the family favourites were Chewy Peanut Butter Bars. Being of European decent and first generation Canadians, peanut butter was not a standard staple in our household (you’d more than likely find Nutella in our pantry — a chocolate hazelnut spread). But we were somehow, now long forgotten introduced to the nutty, buttery spread. My brother loved it on toast, I just liked baking with it. We tried all the commercial varieties; Skippy was just too salty, and what up with that lonely peanut on top? Kraft had even less peanut taste, and too sweet! We ended up with a store brand of Just Peanuts without preservatives; now we grind our own in our local health food store. Just peanuts and nothing else. I’m a little skeptical of products that need not be refrigerated, like Kraft PB! How come it doesn’t go rancid, with all that fat in it?
Sadly, during our 2007 Reno I must have really purged because I can no longer find this beloved cook book (it might be at the cottage) so I’ve had to go by memory on the recipe and find a recipe that seems to be similar (my memory ain’t what it used to be). They were chewy, like brownies, but with PB and not chocolate, and they had a white chocolate and dark chocolate drizzle on top. Yum! I found this recipe at Cooks.com and it seems to fit the bill.

Chewy and peanut buttery goodness; you know you want one!

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

Makes 3 dozen (1 1/2 to 2 inch) bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips melted with about 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar with enough drops of cold water to make a liquidy icing (but one that will set well)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Heat peanut butter and butter together until melted.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  6. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  7. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack.
  9. When cool, spread the melted milk chocolate so that it coats the entire top. Working quickly, drizzle swirls of the white icing in a crazy pattern. Cut into 1-2″ square inch squares.

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As I mentioned before, I met Barb at KPMG in the early nineties; after a year or so, Barb decided to move to Vancouver. JT and I had just bought our home in the upper beach in Toronto and had a vacant basement apartment. We had never had a tenant before so we thought it might be nice to see if we liked it — so, to help Barb save money for her trip, we offered the apartment as a short term rental at a very low rent rate. Barb loved the idea and we became room-mates of sorts for a few months. During Barb’s last Christmas party at KPMG, one of the much loved partners (Evelyn) discovered that Barb lived in our basement, and she blurted out in her adorable Irish accent: “Bargain Basement Barb!” The entire table howled with laughter and to this day she is known as Bargain Basement Barb (I can hardly wait to mention this story to her children — but I want to do it when they are old enough to remember! No need to thank me Barbie!). In fact, this naming convention carried forward to our two other tenants (another friend and then a relative) there was Lower Level Leanne and Also Atilla (pronounce “ulshow” it means beneath in Hungarian!).

Barb has long since moved back to Toronto and is happily married with two young active girls. I am not sure if this recipe came about while Barb was living in our basement (there were many cookies left at the top of the stairs while she lived with us), but she did include them in our welcome package in our hotel room at her wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have remained a favourite throughout the years. There is no argument that the chunks of chocolate are an extravagent addition but I am often out of my slab chocolate (it seems to evaporate, not sure how!!! ;-)) so I substitute chips. Still yummy!

Holy Batman, that’s a lot of chocolate

Bargain Basement Barb’s Ultimate Chocolate Chunk (or Chip) Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 1 cup of dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries (option)

Directions:

  1. Prehaeat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  9. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut into balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (I prefer to use a 1″ dual handle ice cream scooper). Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking.
  10. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14 to 17 minutes for larger cookies, or until the tops are light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Can be stored in air-tight container for 1 week or freeze in a zip lock bag and defrost as required!

A yummy addition to our Christmas Cookie Baking Frenzy

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I made these cookies about 15 years ago, my mom copied down the recipe from a Martha Stewart show highlighting things about Australia. According to Wikipedia Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand,a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name. When war broke out in 1914, Australia and New Zealand had been dominions of the British Empire for thirteen and seven years respectively.

We were immediately drawn to the cookies simplicity (no beating, slapping, pinching etc, just mixing) and once they were shaped and baked, the taste and texture was what kept us making it over and over again. You can Christmas this up by adding candied green and red cherry bits, but I like them as is.

Although the recipe has a lot of sugar in it, the cookie doesn’t taste sickly sweet. It’s got a great chewy texture and with the addition of oatmeal, we can pretend it’s somewhat healthy. We have remained true to the recipe, with the exception that this year, I made only half the recipe and made the cookies much smaller (don’t worry, you can eat more of them this way!) Hope you enjoy them.

Anzac Biscuits

Chewy and not as sweet as you would think

Ingredients:

Makes about 3 dozen (I used the smallest ice cream scoop, about 1″ in diametre).

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons Lyles Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus a bit baking soda
  • 1/8 cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, and coconut and stir well with a wire whisk. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with syrup. (I do this in the microwave on 30% so the butter does boil over and make a mess)
  5. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the butter is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)\
  6. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to well combine. This will be a very crumbly mixture.
  7. Using a 1 inch ice-cream scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn’t crumble).
  8. Flatten cookies slightly with the heel of your hand. The cookies will spread a little so leave about 2 inches between each.
  9. Bake until bottom and sides golden brown and firm but not hard, about 11 minutes (larger cookies will take longer).
  10. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

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This is a recipe I picked up about 20 years ago on one of those little recipe cards the Dairy Farmers of Ontario put out. It’s a very attractive butterscotch Blondy with a caramel almond topping and chocolate drizzle, really pretty! Follow the directions verbatim for the nutty topping otherwise you may end up with a hard caramel toping that is impossible to eat without a tooth breaking. Thank you Leanne for the gorgeous plates!

A Delicious Caramel and Almond Topping

Butterscotchy Almond Bars

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder, set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a medium pan and blend in sugar.
  4. Remove from heat and beat in eggs (be careful so you don’t get scrambled eggs).
  5. Add vanilla and fold in flour mixture until entirely combined.
  6. Spread evenly in a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pan that has been well greased.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.

Nutty topping:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup (or maple syrup or Lyles Golden Syrup)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Melt butter, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan; add water and salt and boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the almonds and immediately spread over the cooked batter. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  3. Allow the slab to cool completely and cut off the edges (makes for great snacks or a crust or crumble) and drizzle the chocolate on top. Allow the chocolate to set completely before you cut into square or bars.

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Chocolate Crinkle Kisses

My friend Anna made these cookies one year as a hostess gift when she and her hubby André came for dinner. Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails introduced us to André about 20 years ago (André is a commercial photographer whom I employed a lot in my corporate days). I LOVED the candy cane flavour with the chocolate and I begged her for the recipe; she was happy to oblige and it’s been on my Christmas cookie list ever since. Hope you love it too! Check out Jessica’s blog kitchenbelleicious, she has a great candy cookie recipe with white chocolate and actual candy canes!

We can get these every year at Walmart

Anna’s Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

SEE UPDATE: Makes about 3 dozen or more cookies- depending on the size you like. My cookies start out about the size of a walnut.

Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

Update December 2015:

Make each ball 20 g and you will yield 44 cookies. The new bags of Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (88 g) contain 20 pieces so instead of buying 3 bags and having a bunch left over, I simple cut 4 in half top to bottom and lay them into the cookie.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag of Hershey candy cane kisses

Directions:

  1. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the cocoa powder and granulated sugar.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla Into the chocolate mixture.
  4. Slowly mix in all the Dry ingredients until combined. Stir in the chocolate Chips.
  5. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough into a small ball about the size of a walnut; roll balls in the icing sugar.
  7. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and insert 1 unwrapped Kiss on each cookie in the centre, pressing down firmly without the kiss touching the cookie sheet on the underside.
  8. Return to oven for 2 minutes more of baking.
  9. Let the cookies cool on the sheet; transfer to racks to cool completely before storing (the kisses take a few hours to reset, you don’t want to store them before they reset, otherwise they will not maintain their cute little shape.

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The oven is on, baking supplies are stock piled and I’m ready for my marathon baking for Christmas. I make little packages for all our friends and neighbours; each of two if you’re a couple, or four if you’re a team! I generally bake 10-15 things. This year I’m going to try to downsize, but it’s impossible to decide what to cut! Plus, what about all the goodies I’ve bookmarked from my blogging buddies recipes? …this can’t end well! I have a sweet feeling in my belly… 🙂
I’m starting the bake-off with the Mexican Chocolate Macaroons. These are coconut balls, flavoured with chocolate, Moroccan Cinnamon (I’m talking’ the real deal!) and a pinch of cayenne. They are baked until slightly crispy on the outside and chewy in the centre. Everything you dreamed a macaroon would be! And I can use up the egg whites I stock piled from the Crème Brûlée!

Mexican Chocolate Macaroons

Mexican Spiced Macaroons

Makes at least 44, but it depends on how big you make them! I use a very small guage ice cream scooper, it’s about 1 1/4″ in diametre. They do get a smidgen larger as they are baked.
Don’t be afraid of the cayenne in these macaroons, it adds just a little heat and it pairs perfectly with the chocolate. These cookies are moist, rich and chewy, with just a hint of warmth.

Ingredients

  • 14-ounce package sweetened coconut flakes
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour or almond flour if making gluten free
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, ½ cup of the sugar, the flour, salt, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon and the cayenne.
  3. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 15-second bursts, stirring between, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. Add the vanilla and egg whites to the coconut mixture. Use your hands to mix together until all the coconut mixture is moistened. Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
  6. Drop by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. A small cookie or ice cream scoop works well if you want very round balls. Alternatively, you can shape them with your fingers. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon-sugar blend.
  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges start to toast and the cookies feel somewhat firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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In honour of the upcoming festive holiday season, I thought I would present some past photos and share a couple of scary stories. Oh, did you think I was going to blog about Christmas? Hmm!
Halloween is such a fun time of year. JT and I usually have a pumpkin carving contest, we decorate the exterior of the house, even have a scary music loop on the night we hand out candy to the neighbourhood kiddies.

Some years it’s been so lovely and warm that we sit on our Muskoka Chairs on our front porch, sipping martinis as the little ghouls and goblins muster up the courage to step up to the porch and beg for candy; other years, like last, it’s been bitterly cold so we sipped martinis inside in front of the fire, being jolted up every few minutes with the doorbell and screams of “trick or treat!” I have a feeling that this year will be colder than ever, and possibly even snow. When it is cold I feel bad for the kiddies to have to wear their winter coats over their carefully designed costumes, yup I’ve been there!

Some of you will know that I am usually not a scary or ugly costume person at Halloween; even as a child, I was always ‘a pretty lady!’ Mom would make up my face, put fake nails and lashes on, and I would dress up with heels and hats! I’ve always left the scary, weird costumes to my younger brother (Flap Jack’s dad). A couple of years ago we were invited to a Halloween party at one of the photographers we know through my work, they really put on a wonderful first class bash in their studio. I just knew a ‘pretty lady’ wouldn’t cut it, plus JT and I wanted to go as a team. After incredible amount of research we finally landed on Bonnie and Clyde. We rented the old movie with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway and decided right away that we would model our Bonnie and Clyde after the characters in that movie. We scoured the thrift stores for our costumes which we made from scratch (no packaged costumes for us). We put together a very convincing couple, down to the (fake) cigarettes they chain smoked. It was about a week before the party and I’m talking to my friend (boss) Kim about the party and just had to tell her what we had planned. She suggested we go as ‘dead’ Bonnie and Clyde just to get into the Halloween spirit. Hmmmm, dead doesn’t look pretty! But JT loved the idea, so we did it. Bullet holes, makeup, drippy blood. Yup, we were ‘dead’! Soooo cool! I loved it! I can’t believe I missed out on the gore all these years. No one even needed to ask who we were, everyone knew!

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Do you have a scary story you would like to share?

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OK, now the scary story:
At Univerisity I befriended the school photographer, Ken who was a few years older than I. A group of us hung out. Around our third year, Ken’s parents bought a cottage. Shortly after Ken and his bud Pete went up to the cottage for the weekend. Ken was also an artistic photographer, so he was always taking the artsy shots. Ken brought a silver manican up that weekend to photograph in the light of the moon. It was one of those solid manicans that couldn’t move or turn its head etc. He and Pete were in the forest, while Pete was throwing a white cloth up in the air above the silver manican, Ken was catching the cloth and the subject in a shot! All of a sudden, they both saw the manican turn its head! But it couldn’t! What? Did you see that? It happened a couple of times, enough that these two grown men decided they’d had enough! They bedded down in one if the guest rooms with bunk beds, but they couldn’t sleep. The thought of the manican turning its head kept coming up. For some reason, Ken decided they need to name this silver manican.
These are two very suburban boys, both of English decent; after much debate, they decided to name the silver manican Ghertie! A nice German name.
It wasn’t until about a week later, they were told the previous owner of the cottage was named Ghertie and she actually died that very night they were photographing the manican in the forest!!! This story still gives me the creeps!
I spotted this recipe on Angie’s Recipes blog and I knew I had to make it for Kim (friend, boss) who is throwing a Halloween party on Sunday for her 10 year old daughter. I won’t repeat the recipe, so click here for the link. I’m not sure if my altitude is different than Angie’s but I would add a bit more flour and bake at a slightly higher temperature next time.

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Szamárfül was a popular cookie during the second world war in Hungary; my  mom always said it was because it had no eggs, although it does have butter (I don’t really understand the rationale, were eggs harder to come by than butter?). And I am not entirely sure of where the recipe originally came from, it was handed down to me by my mother, she had entered it into her first computer using DOS in the early 80’s and had several printouts which I inherited (I can find no other reference to it on line).

I posted this recipe quite a few years ago (December 2007), and I really don’t care for the photo anymore, so I decided to re-post with new photos! Tonight I am making the cookies for my nephew (Jack, 11) who adores them — we’re spending Canadian Thanksgiving with his family at their cottage this weekend. His Dad (my brother) is an amazing cook, but hasn’t mastered the art of baking, so every Thanksgiving, I bring about one hundred of these cookies (and believe it or not, they polish them off, lock, stock and barrel!).

The recipe is really no fail, you just need a little patience. The cookie is a simple yeast dough, with a little butter. It is rolled to about 2mm thick, cut into circles, and a small dollop of jam is placed in the centre. You then take this round cookie and fold it in half, then you pinch the edges tight. The challenge in making these delicious cookies is to pinch them down so the jam doesn’t escape and ‘burn’ while baking. Of course, as children, we always LOVED this melted jam because it caramelized to a wonderful candy coating. The cookie’s sweetness comes from the European Jam (which is generally thicker and with less pectin than the North American jam) and the confectioners sugar coating once they are baked. They are not an overly sweet treat.

My Kitchenaid set up with the pasta rolling attachment

A few years ago, I discovered that the thickest roller on my Kitchenaid Mixer Pasta Roller attachment is really the best and only way to go — it gives you the most consistent thickness of dough, and it avoids over working it. The dough renders a beautiful, flaky cookie pastry.

This year, JT offered to help, so I set up two stations on the island, and while I ‘rolled out’ the dough, he cut, filled and pinched. I did my share of cutting, filling and pinching too…but this dough is like the fishes and loaves, it is never ending…you keep taking the leftovers and re-rolling them…never ending! I am so lucky he helped tonight, otherwise it would have taken me a couple of hours to finish (we were done in 45 minutes). He even said he had fun doing this with me :-). His cookies stayed closed better than mine!

Two workstations set up made the job go much faster
You see how the jam has caramelized on the edges? That is the best part!

Donkey Ear Cookies:

(Szamárfül) makes about 100-130 cookies (we used a 5cm round cookie cutter this time and yielded 102)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp quick rising yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water + 1 tsp sugar
  • 600 g flour (3-4 cups)
  • 240 g unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • Thick European jam (we used cherry for this batch)
  • 1-2 cups confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar, proof for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer with the scraper hook, mix butter and flour until crumbly. Change to dough hook.
  3. Add yeast and enough sour cream and knead with the mixer until a shiny dough forms.
  4. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1/2 to 1 hr (you may also do this step in the fridge overnight if you won’t be making the cookies the same day. Allow the dough to get up to room temperature before you begin to work it).
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Roll out the dough into 1 mm thickness (or #1 of the Kitchenaid Pasta Machine) and cut with a 5-6 cm round cookie cutter.
  7. Fill each round in the centre with about 1/4 tsp of jam.
  8. Fold each circle in half and pinch edges really, really, really well (this dough has a tendency to pop open like a clam!).
  9. Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes (dough will be slightly golden), jam may have oozed out, it’s OK, really!
  10. Immediately put cookies into a large bowl with icing sugar and dust generously. Or dip each side into a small bowl filled with icing sugar.
  11. Remove to a wire rack and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • You may half the dough recipe, I’ve done it several times and you yield about 50 cookies!
  • Dipping your finger in lightly beaten egg whites and running along the outer edge of the rounds before pinching them closed will help keep them closed tight while baking.

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Savoury Chorizo, Cheddar Shortbread (adapted from a grocery store cheese pamphlet, long ago lost!)
Makes about 72 cookies

Tonight, we’ve been invited to our good friends Gordon and Angela’s in Oakville so I thought I would make something as a hostess gift. Here are the very tasty little morsels!

Savory Chorizo Cheddar Shortbread

  • 8 oz    Old Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp    Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp    Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp    Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups    Flour
  • 8 oz    Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup    Finely Chopped Smoked Chorizo Sausage (optional)
  1. Sift together paprika, cayenne, salt and flour; set aside.  Using cookie paddles of an electric mixer, cream together cheese, and butter until well blended.
  2. Gradually add dry ingredients: if dough becomes too thick, use a wooden spoon to stir.  Add choizo.  Divide dough in half and shape into logs approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter and 9 inches long.  Wrap well in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour or freeze for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a knife (sharp) cut logs into ¼ inch slices and place slices on baking sheet.
  4. Bake just until slightly colored, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from baking sheets, and cool on wire racks.  Store in air tight container.

Prep time:  35 minutes per batch
Total time:  1hr 15minutes

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Lime Squares

As another of the trio of desserts I am making tonight for Barb and Kevin’s dinner party, I decided to make Lime Squares. Not quite Indian, but it does fit the flavour profile I was looking for.

Lime Squares

I altered this recipe from my very old “Company’s Coming, 150 Delicious Squares” by Jean Paré. I also cut the recipe in half.

  • 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 packed brown sugar (I used Splenda Brown Sugar to help cut the calories)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar (again, I used Splenda Brown Sugar)
  • 1/4 cup Sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bottom layer:

  1. Mix flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, butter, egg yolks, lime zest, baking powder, and salt until crumbly and mealy.
  2. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 4″ x 8″ loaf pan. Set aside.

Top layer:

  1. Beat egg whites until frothy.
  2. Add the brown sugar and lime juice a bit at a time until stiff (should look like a meringue).
  3. Spread evenly on top of the bottom layer. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top evenly.
  4. Bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the meringue is set and lightly browned.
  5. Allow to cool completely. Take a sharp wet knife and run along the pan edge to loosen the meringue, cut into squares.
  6. Serve at room temperature.

      Almond Lime Squares on Foodista

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      Despite a minor set-back of catching a head cold, I am almost back on my feet. Having missed the last two days of work for the year (and feeling horrible for it), I spent the last two days holed up in bed, with our iTouch, the remote control and gallons of home-made chicken stock (thanks JT) and drugs, of course! I spent all of Tuesday hooked on a stupid show called Paranormal States which one main character goes from one forlorn to another searching paranormal occupations (be it in someone, or in someone’s house). After about 15 episodes, only one minor thing seemed like it was true, and even that could be dis-proven. So the moral of this story is TV is stupid. There I said it.

      Today, I am feeling much better. I finally packaged up my baking and set out  JT to begin deliveries. To recap, I have baked the following:

      • Mexican Macaroons
      • Anzac Biscuits
      • Bargain Basement Barb’s Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
      • Peanut Butter Cookies
      • Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Squares
      • Nanaimo Bars
      • Old Fashion Date Filled Aatmeal Cookies
      • Two Bite Brownies All the Goodies
      • Chocolate Krinkle Kisses

      All the Goodies

      Baking gIfts all bundled up

      Merry Christmas to all of our friends and colleagues and we wish you health and happiness for the coming year.

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      I was introduced to these cookies about 28 year’s ago when I visited my BFF at her parent’s home in Owen Sound. Her mom bought these cookies from a local bakery and I literally ate them all, could not believe how good they were (carbs were not my enemy in those days). I have made them from time to time, and they always bring back fond memories of those university days. I found this particular recipe in my second favorite cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, first published in 1896, my version in it’s 12th edition. I did not alter this recipe.

      March 5, 2012 update: This recipe has been altered because there were some inconsistencies that were brought to my attention by a reader so I have clarified.

      November 24, 2013 update: I clarified that oatmeal in the ingredient listing are rolled oats.

      Makes about 24 cookies.

      Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies

      Old Fashioned Date Filled Cookies

      Ingredients for the Date Paste:

      • 1 cup pitted dates
      • 1/2 cup sugar
      • 1/2 cup water

      Ingredients for the Dough:

      • 1/2 cup butter
      • 1/2 packed brown sugar
      • 1 1/2 cups flour
      • 1/4 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats (I usually have quick oats at home and they work just fine). If you don’t like the texture of the oats in the dough, pulse a few times in a food processor to make it finer).

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
      2. In a small saucepan, put the dates, sugar and water and gently cook until thick and smooth. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
      3. Cream the butter and add the brown sugar, mix well.
      4. Sift flour, baking soda and salt and add to the butter sugar mixture.
      5. Add the oatmeal, mixing thoroughly and adding 2-4 tbsp water to make a dough that can be rolled.
      6. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
      7. Roll to 1/8 inch thick (if the dough is difficult to handle, you may wish to roll between two pieces of parchment), and cut with a 2″ cookie cutter. Place a teaspoon of the date paste into the centre and fold the two half edges together to make a crescent. Repeat until all the dough is used.
      8. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

      A note about the pastry, updated January 2014: A-Boleyn, A long-time reader and dear friend made these cookies for Christmas 2013 and made adjustments to the pastry which made it look much easier to roll out (considering the issue I mentioned above), so please check out her recipe here.

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      Peanut Butter Cookies

      This recipe is adapted from one of my old faithful cookbooks,  Five Roses Guide to Good Cooking, page 117. Published in it’s 25th edition in 1983!

      Peanut Butter Cookies

      • 3cups all purpose flour (Five Roses, of course) (if using regular peanut butter, reduce to about 2 cups)
      • 2 tsp baking soda
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 2 ggs
      • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (I prefer Compliments Just Peanuts, crunchy – note that this pb is rather wet, so I’ve increased the flour for this recipe)
      1. Preheat oven to 375•F
      2. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.
      3. Cream butter; add sugars beating well with each addition.
      4. Add eggs and beat well. Add peanut butter and mix well.
      5. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
      6. Shape into walnut-sized balls, flatten with the palm of your hand slightly and using the tines of a fork, press down.
      7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow to cool.
      8. Enjoy!
      9. Makes about 50 cookies, 2-3″ diametre

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      I am starting my Christmas baking a bit late this year. Partly because I didn’t want sweets in the house and partly because I just couldn’t be bothered. That’s sad. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t share the sweets. JT just had one request, Nanaimo Bars, so it’s on the list again this year, but this time, I shall actually make them. I am also mixing it up a bit for variety.

      • Bargain Basement Barb’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
      • Peanut Butter Cookies
      • Mexican Macroons (chocolate spicey coconut macroons)
      • Chocolate Mint Hershey Kiss Cookies
      • Date filled Oatmeal Cookies
      • Namaimo Bars
      • Anzac Biscuits
      • Butterscotchy Almond Bars

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