Holiday Fudge

December 21, 2011

This past weekend, I made 4 different varieties of fudge to give as gifts this year. I like this gift idea because it’s holiday-ish, plus fudge is good and easy, AND JoAnn’s always has a 50% off sale on lots of cute tins for cookies, candy, etc.

I kept the varieties pretty simple since I am giving this away and I don’t know what people might like (except my grandparents – I know they like chocolate with nuts).

Here are the embarrassingly simple recipes I used. I made a half a batch of each kind and altogether it filled 2 8×8 dishes (about 4lbs).

Chocolate Fudge (with and without walnuts mixed in)

Layered Mint Chocolate Fudge

White Chocolate Fudge (without cherries)

Homemade Samoas

February 15, 2011

Last month I saw a post from Christine’s Cuisine come up in my Reader for homemade Samoas. I immediately thought of my husband since Samoas are his favorite Girl Scout cookie. I am personally not a huge fan of them due to the coconut, but they also have shortbread, chocolate and caramel and I really can’t argue with any of those! Anyway, I decided that these would be a good Valentine’s Day gift for my husband.

So I made these up on Sunday – with my husband in the next room. He knew I was baking something for him, but I’m not sure if he figured out what they were or not. I found these very time consuming to make. They basically had to be done in 4 steps, and following each step there was a cooling period, either on the counter or in the fridge/freezer.

The recipe can be found here on Christine’s site. But here is a basic run-down of the process.

First up is mixing up a simple shortbread cookie dough. No problem in the mixer, but the recipe said the dough would be crumbly like wet sand and mine was very, very sticky and not crumbly at all. Maybe I over mixed the dough, but the cookie still tasted great, so it was fine.

No problems with the coconut or caramel, though those little caramels were frustratingly difficult to get out of their little wrappers!

After the cookies are cut into bars, you were supposed to dip them in melted chocolate. I tried this and found it was kind of a mess since the bottom of the cookie was a little crumbly. I ended up “frosting” the bottom of the cookie with a knife.

After a few minutes in the freezer I drizzled the chocolate on top and they actually came out looking really cute. And aside from the square shape, they really do look like Samoas!

Christmas Cookies 2010

December 15, 2010

First of all, I’m going to admit that I stole this picture straight from my sister-in-law’s blog. But I’m not sorry and here’s why. First of all, we made the above pictured cookies together and knew we’d both blog about them and both use the same pictures. And more importantly, I actually took this picture, so I see no problem with posting it here 🙂

Every year for the past, hmm, 4 years my mother-in-law has invited me and my sister-in-law over to bake Christmas cookies in early December. Our husbands (her sons) are invited too (and this goes back to when they were just boyfriends). The manly men are tasked with hauling the Christmas tree up from the basement, fighting with strings of lights, and putting on all the ornaments while we women-folk don aprons and bake a ton of cookies. Okay so maybe I forgot my apron this year, but still. It’s a very 1950’s-ish division of labor (is putting up ornaments manly though?) but it works!

We have always made the traditional “cookie cutter cookies”. Growing up, I made them as sugar cookies, but these are shortbread. I think I prefer the taste of the shortbread, and I think they bake better, but the sugar cookie dough seemed to hold up better and allow for a greater variety of cookie cutters to be used on it. We had a bit of trouble with the dough for these, but they came out well and were very tasty! I get teased a little because I like to make my cookies “fancy” and arrange the sprinkles in a certain way. Not on every cookie, but for a couple, I make them special 🙂

Peanut blossoms are also always a staple. I never made this cookie growing up, and I’m sorry I missed out!! My husband, father- and brother-in-law would riot if these weren’t in the line up so we do a double batch every year and they vanish just like that!

The third cookie this year was oatmeal chocolate chip craisin cookies. I kept saying that while they are delicious, they aren’t really Christmas-y. And while that’s true (in my opinion) why are any of the cookies we make Christmas-y?? I mean sure, the cookie cutter ones are in Christmas shapes and colors, so they count. But peanut blossoms? What makes them Christmas-y other than tradition? Nothing. So fine – oatmeal chocolate chip craisin cookies have been made 2 out of 4 years, so I guess they are Christmas-y now 🙂

This is a really long blog post, but I have one more comment regarding cookies that were skipped. My mom always makes caterpillar cookies (Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes – pick a nationality, they’re all basically the same cookie). Those are Christmas-y in my mind (again, probably only because of tradition) so I’m thinking of making a batch on my own maybe this weekend. And last year we also made raspberry thumbprint cookies, which for some reason seem holiday-ish, but I’m not sure why. They are delicious though, so maybe a batch of those is in order too.

Labor Day Weekend

September 6, 2010

September 2010

We are having a gorgeous Labor Day weekend this year! We’ve had the doors and windows open, the A/C off, and it’s been great. Yesterday, we invited both sets of our parents and Bill’s brother and his wife over for dinner. We were able to kill a variety of birds with this stone: 1) having guests over forced me to clean the house, which I admit I do far too infrequently; 2) we haven’t invited parents over to our house in years so it was long overdue; 3) and I keep saying I want to entertain so this was my chance!

We had a casual dinner and I tried out 3 new recipes. Unfortunately, I only have pictures of 2 of them.

First up is a pork BBQ recipe from my Friend, Dani. I knew I wanted to do BBQ sandwiches but my dear husband is a little on the picky side when it comes to this. He doesn’t like BBQ to be too “ketchup-y” so since Dani’s recipe had only 1 cup, I thought it would work – and it was great!! I put everything in the slow cooker on Saturday night and woke up Sunday morning to the delicious smell of BBQ! I shredded it easily with a fork and kept it on warm until dinner time. I am definitely saving this recipe!

And what goes great with BBQ sandwiches? Well macaroni and cheese of course! I went on the hunt for a good recipe and I ended up with Pioneer Woman’s. Her pictures just looked so good, I was sure it would turn out well. I made it up the day before and reheated it before serving it. It was definitely good, but I think it would have been even better if it was served immediately after it was made.

The 3rd thing I made was another Pioneer Woman recipe – a peach crisp/cobbler. It was fantastic! I didn’t make the maple cream to go with it though. We served it with vanilla ice cream. As with the macaroni and cheese, I also made this ahead of time and reheated it. Although in this case, I don’t think it had any effect on how delicious it was. I can’t wait to make it again!

Chocolate Melting Cake

August 22, 2010

August 2010

Today is my husband’s birthday – woohoo! Happy Birthday Bill!! Now normally I would make a birthday cake for him, but he requested a slightly different kind of dessert – Chocolate Melting Cake (CMC). This is a dessert that we had last Fall on our Carnival Cruise. It was so good that I’m pretty sure Bill had it every night on the cruise!

For Christmas last year, our friend Valerie (who was on the cruise with us) tracked down the recipe for CMC and gave me a basket full of ramekins, flour, sugar, chocolate – basically everything I would need to recreate this! It took me almost 9 months to get around to it, but I gave it a try.

My concern with this was baking it for the exact right amount of time – the recipe said 15-20 mins. As with crème brûlée and chocolate lava cake (both of which I’ve made multiple times before) the timing is essential. Overcooking it sort of ruins the effect.

The first batch I made, I overcooked. I was remembering the consistency incorrectly and when I checked it at 15 mins, I didn’t think it was done (even though it was really overdone at this point). I left them in for 20 mins and got this.

Weird looking! And overdone. They still tasted fine – moist, dense, fudgy cake. But not what I was going for. Luckily I had extra batter, so I made two more and this time baked them for 10 minutes, checked them, and put them in for another 3 minutes for a total of 13 minutes. These were much better, but still not quite right according to Bill’s expert knowledge of CMC!

So next time I will go for only 10 minutes. I was nervous about under cooking them given that they are full of eggs, but I guess I just need to relax. It’s a recipe that requires “perfecting” so hopefully next time they’ll be perfect 🙂

Crème brûlée

Marbled Peanut Butter Brownies

June 20, 2010

June 2010

I was asked to bring a dessert for Father’s Day dinner with my in-laws and I thought I would deviate from cake for a change. I asked my husband what kind of dessert his dad would like and he said “peanut butter”. I thought brownies and ice cream sounded good so I did a Google image search for peanut butter brownies and picked the one that looked the most delicious to me. I used this recipe from Cookie Madness and though it took awhile because there are multiple steps, they were DELICIOUS!

The main part of it is basically peanut butter brownie/cake/cookie marbled with melted chocolate and butter. My marbling skills leave a lot to be desired. The top looked nice, but the marbling didn’t go all the way through. And then the topping is peanut butter, butter, and vanilla with chocolate drizzled on top. They weren’t really what I would think of as brownie consistency…they were more like a cross between a really dense cake or a really chewy bar cookie. And I actually think it would have been good without the topping also. Or maybe with a chocolate ganache topping. Either way, I definitely loved this 🙂

PW's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

May 11, 2010

May 2010

I know this isn’t cake, but it’s still dessert so I wanted to include it here. As I was perusing Pioneer Woman’s blog the other day, these yummy little lemon bars caught my eye. Since we were headed to my parents’ house for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d give this recipe a try. It was pretty simple, and they turned out great! They were a little tricky to get out of the pan in neat little pieces, but that was the only trouble. They have earned the nickname “yummy evil” 🙂