Saturday, January 10, 2009

What I did during December.

I had a very busy December. I spent the first part of the month trying cookie recipes and the last half making candy and the Xmas necessities. Here is a list of my successes and failures.

I tried two cookies from the Gourmet's magazines favorite cookie list. The same two everyone appears to have done.

The first one was their Brown Butter cookies. I love brown butter cookies, taste wise, I am not however thrilled about the sandy texture they all seem to have. I am at the point now where I am going to try making my own recipe. these were easy and nice tasting but way to crumbly.

The Sugar Shuttles where a bit of a disappointment. I was promised a soft sugar cookie and what I got was a dense lump. The sugar coating was brilliant though and I will definitely keep it in mind for other projects.

Also on the fail side of the list was Twisted Yeast Cookies from one of my favorite bloggers Vera of Baking Obsession. There is nothing wrong with her recipe, it just wasn't what I expected, a little more breadsticky then 'caramelized puff pastry palmier' for my taste. They were very pretty thought and Indra especially liked the breast cancer ribbon looking ones. It was a cool idea and one I may play with to make something more to my taste.

I also tried a new sugar cookie recipe. I know I should have stuck with my old favorite, but this one was from Pillsbury. Classic Sugar Cookies (pictured above), Unfortunately while good weren't what I really wanted Land O'Lake's BEST EVER BUTTER COOKIES. Or my great aunts' recipe that I haven't managed to weedle out of them yet. they were just a little to soft and not buttery enough. Santa seemed to like them just fine though.

Now for the successes, Mandelbrodt, Jewish Biscotti, definitely the good stuff. it was easy and oh so good. Definitely better then the biscotti I made earlier, but that may just be because I am partial to cinnamon and sugar. I thought about dipping them in chocolate but decided they were perfect as is. When it comes to baking those Jewish people know what they are doing. This one is on my make again and again list. And as a bonus it was easy.

I also made the GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS from the November's Daring Bakers Challenge (recipe follows). This reaffirmed my hatred of working with hot sugar. The end results were so Luscious that Indra immediately vetoed my plan to share with friends and told me to go make some more. I think I will be making more of these in the future, next time she gets to wrap them though.
- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened


Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

I also made truffles, White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie and German Chocolate balls. The pumpkin pie ones where made with a pumkin pie dip mix and rolled in gram crackers. The German Chocolate ones where inspired by the cake of the same name. I made a batch of the frosting (coconut, pecans and goey sugary goodness) that I had over cooked and after it had cooled rolled in German chocolate for a shell. they were very very nice (also on the make those again list for Indra).

What I didn't do, that I wanted to, make fudge, make date pinwheel cookies, make shortbread cookies, make chocolate truffles. still I think I managed to do pretty good. Next yr I am starting earlier though.

1 comment:

Lori said...

It was a lot of wrapping! But they were soooooooo good those caramels.

Your decorated cookies look fabulous. Too bad about the dissapointments. : (