Tuesday, December 27

Meet Aebleskivers

They're traditional Danish pancake that are a solid ball of light and fluffy cooked batter. To make the, you need a aebleskiver pan and a lot of courage to tend them! I feel like they're not that popular due to being pretty tricky to make. But since my Danish Grandmother passed away in 2005, my family has made it a tradition to make these fun little guys over the Christmas Holiday.

To get them round, you have to rotate them gradually.

Aren't they cute?! I like to enjoy them with maple syrup and butter, just like pancakes. You can see it's a bit difficult getting them into perfect little circles, but I'm getting there! If you're interested in getting an aebleskiver pan, you get one at Williams and Sonoma, along with batter mixes and turning tools.

Sunday, December 25

Gingerbread Cutouts

Sugar cookies are out and gingerbread is in! These cookies are delicious, festive and so fun to make with different cookie cutters. This time they didn't even get to be decorated- just devoured!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 Tbl vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour

Using a mixer, beat butter using paddle attachment. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Beat until combined, scrapping sides occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar. Beat in as much flour as you can putting in half cup at a time. Stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 375'F. Grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper or a silpat. On a lightly floured surface roll half the dough at a time, a 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough and bake for 5-6 minutes. Cool on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, decorate with royal icing or just dig in!

Thursday, December 22

Fudgin Around

I'm an ingredient freak. I hate using gelatin, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils or any other lab experiments. Finding a fudge recipe that didn't contain a bunch of my "do not use" ingredients was a hard task that lead to a compromise. I found a recipe that called for one tiny bit of corn syrup (which contains HFCS, bummer): one teaspoon. That's pretty darn good to me! 

Fudge is fun because it gives you some room to be creative. Any kinda nuts, spices, candy, chips or sprinkles will make it a more enjoyable edible. I ended up making two batches. The first, candy cane fudge and the second, cinnamon walnut fudge. This recipe requires a candy thermometer but don't be scared! It's actually quite relaxing to make. You get a lot of free time so you can wrap a few presents while you wait!

Make about 1 1/4 pound, a 7x7 baking pan makes great portioned pieces

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
2 Tbl unsalted butter
1 tsp vanille
1/2 cup add in's
1 tsp spices

Line baking dish with foil and butter it. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan combine sugar, half-and-half, chocolate, corn syrup, and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Reduce heat to medium-low, continue boiling at moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionaly, until thermometer reaches 236' F, softball stage (15-20 minutes). 

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and vanilla but do not stir! Cool without stirring until it reaches 110'F (20-35 minutes). Remove thermometer then beat mixture together until its thickens (2 minutes). If desired add add in's and stir for 3 minutes or until it slightly starts to loose it's gloss. 

Immediately spread it in the baking dish. Cut while hot and let cool for about 1-2 hours. Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, December 21

Christmas Madness: Lemon Bars

Today is the day I officially started baking all my Christmas treats! I eased my way in with a classic Lemon Bar, a quick and easy bake. Also a  great palate cleanser that contains some fruit!... Yep, I may be rationalizing to make myself feel better about all the sugar in these bad boys. Change of subject. 

Have you ever noticed if you have lemon trees by your house, on your way to work/school, or behind a reachable fence? Well, my Dad does and of course a bit of hoarding comes with it. They're like prized gems that need to be taken right now or you may never be able to find them again! For a few days, decent piles of lemons keep appearing on the counter until one evening he said "What are we gonna do with all these lemons? We probably have enough for lemon bars." Yeah Dad, we have more than enough. So Voila, Lemons Bars it is! I know everyone has a certain recipe they use, but it's okay, I'll share mine anyway. It sure is reliable!

You might be wondering, "what is going on with those lemon bars? They look funky!" Well, lately I've been baking some things that are supposed to be dusted (heavily of course) with powdered sugar. And every time I share with my boyfriend, he inhales the sugar and it makes for a very awkward moment when he clears his throat and gives me the look. So today, he gave a wonderful suggestion of blow torching/caramelizing the powdered sugar! It totally works, tastes good and insures no accidents. If ya got one, try it... but beware, it can burn easily.
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbl cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbl all-purpose flour
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup milk or half-and-half
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350' F. Butter a 13x9 inch baking pan. In a medium size bowl combine 2 cups flour, the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cut in until course crumbs. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden.

Meanwhile, for the filling, in a medium size bowl combine eggs, lemon juice and zest, sugar, 3 Tbl flour and milk/half-and-half. Pour filling over hot crust. Bake 15-20 minutes or until center is set.  Cool completely in pan. Dust with powdered sugar and caramelize with a blow torch. Cut into bars and serve!

good bye autumn