Christmas Baking: Shortbread!

Okay, Christmas is over but well, seeing as today is Boxing Day, I figured its not totally inappropriate to still use this title ūüėČ The final baked goods I made for Christmas was shortbread.

I am horrible at shortbread but every single time I do this, I change how I approach it a little and how that it’ll turn out better. This time, the taste was pretty spot on. ¬†The cookies did not turn out how I wanted them to look though. ¬†Hmm…I need to figure that part out. Here they are!

Shortbread

Shortbread!

The recipe is from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook.

SHORTBREAD

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon.  Stir in flour and almond extract.  (If dough is crumbly, mix in additional 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened.)

2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. ¬†Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with knife or cut with 1 1/2 inch cookie cutters. ¬†On ungreased cookie sheet, place squares or shapes about 1 inch apart.

3. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until set.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely about 30 minutes.

IMG_4613

Lets start with modifications. ¬†I used vanilla extract instead of almond extract. ¬†Which comes to the point that I could have done brown sugar shortbread by replacing the sugar with brown sugar but I didn’t read that far until after I poured the sugar in. ¬†What could I say? Next time, right?

Regardless, I pulled out my new bite size cookie cutters that my mom bought for me in Hong Kong on her last trip, thats why its not completely Christmas theme but there was teddy bears and stars. ¬†I do have to say, this is the most impressive batch I’ve made which makes this pretty sad.

The taste was very delicious: a nice balance between buttery and sweetness. ¬†It was crumbly and melted in my mouth. ¬†I loved it! Like I said, I’m quite proud of the taste. ¬†Only thing I need to work on is the appearance. ūüôā

I still have some potluck baking in a few days so I have more baking and cooking going up. ¬†It’ll be a fun final run to bring in 2014. So come back for more, k?

Hope all of you had a great Christmas celebrations and enjoy the boxing day sales! ūüôā

Deluxe Christmas Fudge Bites

Anyone lovers of fudge? I know a few people that would jump up with joy if they saw this. ¬†However, its the first time that I’ve ever taken up the challenge of making fudge. ¬†This year, I wanted to make a little change so I did this one: Deluxe Christmas Fudge. ¬†I halved the recipe but poured it into a 9×9 inch baking pan so it turned out to be more fudge bites. ¬†Still, everyone who tasted it loved it.

P1200196

 

DELUXE CHRISTMAS FUDGE BITES (inspired from Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1/2 can (7 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup pistachio nuts

1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries

1. Line 9×9 inch square pan with foil, leaving 1 inch of foil overhanging at two opposite sides of pan. ¬†Grease foil with butter.

2. In 4 cup microwaveable measuring cup, place chocolate chips, marshmallows and milk.  Microwave uncovered on High 3 to 5 minutes, stirring every minute, until marshmallows and chips are melted and can be stirred smooth.

3. Stir in vanilla, nuts and cherries.  Immediately pour into pan.  Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.  Remove fudge from pan, using foil edges to lift.  Cut into little bite size pieces or into diamond shapes.

P1200034

These are absolutely beautiful. ¬†It was supposed to be with an 8 cup microwaveable measuring cup which I don’t own so I halved the recipe. ¬†The recipe on top is adapted to what I used and how I did it. ¬†However, all you have to do is double everything and you will have the actual Deluxe Christmas Fudge a la Betty Crocker style.

As a side note, you could also decorate it with melted vanilla baking chips.  All you have to do is melt and drizzle on top of the fudge before popping it into the fridge.

Fudges are new to me however, I think a lot of people are quite familiar with it.  Do you like cherries and pistachios in fudge? What other ingredients work well with fudge? Other varieties?

Christmas Baking: Gingerbread Cookies

I have mentioned it before on multiple occasions that I am crazy about baking with GINGER.  So of course, gingerbread cookies was a no brainer for me.  Its almost an annual tradition that I explore different recipes until I find the perfect one.   This year, I am proud to announce, I am 90% sure that I have found it!

On top of that, when I went to Plattsburgh last weekend, I managed to find some super cute Christmas cookie cutters.

These are the awesome Gingerbread cookies! Festive, right?

P1200009

GINGERBREAD COOKIES (from Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook)

makes about 2 1/2 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies (mine varied because they all were different sizes)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups full-flavor molasses

2/3 cup cold water

7 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and water with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in remaining cookie ingredients.  Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours until firm.

2. Heat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.  roll one fourth of dough at a time 1/4 inch thick on floured surface.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until no identation remains when touched.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

P1190985

I apologize to the crippled Gingerbread Girl..very unfortunate that she is not only bitten but I crushed her leg by mistake.

I actually did quite a few things different for this one. ¬†First of all, I ran out of brown sugar so we improvised with half brown and half granulated. ¬†Also, I used 6 cups of flour instead of 7. It was already getting really hard to mix it in, so we stopped at 6 cups instead. ¬†This year, I really tried to find allspice and cloves but they didn’t have it. ¬†Someone actually knows where to find them? Are they under another name? So as usual I replaced it with 1 tsp nutmeg.

This recipe came with decorator’s icing but I didn’t do it. ¬†However if anyone is interested in getting that part, just comment below or send me an email and I’ll forward it to you.

Are gingerbread cookies a tradition for you during Christmas? Like the cookie cutters?  Anyone else making gingerbread cookies?

Christmas Baking: Peppermint Swirls

I’ve been a bit silent with this Christmas baking but the next 2 ¬†days, I’ll get your mouth watering from desserts. ¬†I promise you that.

I made myself start my Christmas baking on Saturday night with fun cute cookies called Peppermint Swirls. ¬†Although you will see that when it comes to these cookies that need artistic touch, it doesn’t always turn out the way I want it to. ¬†Next time I do it, it’ll be better. Still, I’d like to share them with you because despite them looking more like Peppermint Smushes, they tasted AMAZING!

P1190974

I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook.

PEPPERMINT SWIRLS

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

1/4 tsp red food colour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

P1190968

1. Heat oven to 350F.  In large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed.  Stir in flour.  Divide dough in half.  Stir peppermint extract and food colour in 1 half.  Divide each colour of dough in half

2. Shape each piece of dough on generously floured surface into rope, 12 inches long.  Place 2 ropes, 1 red and 1 white, side by side, Twist ropes.  Repeat with remaining 2 pieces of dough.

3. Cut twisted ropes into 1/2 inch pieces: shape each into a ball.  On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 1 inch apart.  Flatten to about 1/4 inch thickness with greased bottom of glass dipped in granulated sugar.

4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set.  Remove with cookie sheet to wire rack.

P1190976

For this one, I chose to use butter.  Somehow my body is alright with that despite being lactose sensitive. Its also my first time using food colouring and peppermint extract.  The extract is the same as always but the red food colouring was the problem.  I had a hard time mixing with the dough so thats why we see a slight swirl of dough and red dough on the supposed to be red side.

Also, something to note is that if you do try this out, the dough will be a bit more crumb-ish. I had to knead the dough for maybe 5-10 minutes before they would become more like a complete piece of dough and still the side that wasn’t red was not as stuck together because it was drier. ¬†Because of that, I had a hard time putting the ropes together and therefore, the results were more smushes than swirls.

This may not look too appealing, although after looking at it a few times, the “red” is a nice touch so it makes it look acceptable, the cookie itself is very good. ¬†However, I covered the twisted red and normal dough piece in sugar on both sides before putting it in the oven and if you cover it with enough sugar, the taste combination is perfect. ¬†You can smell a nice minty refreshing smell and taste mixed with sugar that melts in your mouth when you take the first bite.

This one is a bit more time consuming and if you are more skilled in the artistic decorative way in terms of baking, this one is a very good choice to make.

What do you think? Maybe someone else has done this with another recipe, what would make the dough a bit more like a dough to start off? Any ideas or suggestions?

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I promise you a lot more Christmas baking recipes coming up. ¬†For now, I’ll leave you with this and head off to make my next batch.

Happy Christmas Eve’s Eve!

SNICKERDOODLES

I’m back with more Christmas baking! Anyone down for some snickerdoodles?

Just the name itself is PURE AWESOMENESS, right? I ended up with exactly as they predicted, about 4 dozen.

P1190785

Almost all Christmas cookbooks include a Snickerdoodle recipe.  The one I used was from Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

P1190800

DIRECTIONS:

1) Heat oven to 400F .  In large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon.  Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

2) Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls.  In small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls 2 inches apart.

3) Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set, immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

P1190792

As usual, I change it a bit to my own needs. ¬†First of all, I don’t eat cream of tartar so I omitted that. ¬†I use margarine instead of butter and also I learned that an electric mixer usually leads to a better mixture especially when shortening and butter/margarine is in the picture. ¬†Its a personal preference. ¬†Also, I did a guesstimate on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but more on the sugar portion because I had already put the measuring cup to wash in the sink.

They turned out amazing. ¬†Seriously, look at them. ¬†I did almost equal size cookies and they came out to 3.5 dozen cookies. ¬†In the book, they expect about 4 dozens, so I’d say I’m spot on. ¬†The taste and texture is really good. ¬†If you don’t like too much sweets, then ton down the cinnamon-sugar mix so that the coating will lessen on the sweet taste. ¬†I ¬†had to do this in two batches and my second batch was less sweet because I had done that but it still tasted pretty awesome.

These are perfect for the holiday season! |They take about 10 minutes in the oven and prep work is quick.  Plus, the taste is delicious.

Have you ever made/tried snickerdoodles? Do you like them? Will you be making any this year?