Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!!

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever:
By Dulce Doll

2 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Line baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Combine sugar and butter until well-blended. Beat eggs, and add them and vanilla to butter mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, beating after each addition.

Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it can be easily handled. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.

Bake at 350 degrees until done, firm to the touch and just starting to become golden around edges. Time will vary depending on the size of your cookies.

Cool completely one wire racks and frost with you favorite icing and decorate as you see fit!

Mine are decorated with a very simple icing sugar/milk frosting (add milk to icing
sugar until you reach the desiredconsistency). I used different sprinkles and coconut
flakes to decorate (the coconut ones are very good!).

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peppermint Kisses

After I made the Marmalade Windows I had a bunch of egg whites left over so I made an omelette, and then I was full, but I still had more! I made a LOT of Marmalade Windows...

One of my favorite things that I don't eat enough of are meringues, so I decided to wing it and if it worked, great! And if it didn't, whatever.

Peppermint Kisses
By Dulce Doll

4 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a star piping tip (Ateco 828), set aside.

Melt egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir constantly until dissolved and warm to the touch. Remove from heat.

With the whisk attachment, beat egg mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add peppermint extract.

Fill prepared piping bag with meringue and pipe star-shapes onto parchment. Bake until crisp, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Oh yeah. Then I dipped them in chocolate. Just sayin'!

Marmalade Windows

My Dad NEVER asks for anything so when the Christmas baking started this year and he dug this recipe out of my Mom's Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2001 magazine, I decided to surprise him with them, after my mother promptly said "no" to his request. When it comes to the Christmas baking she totally has an agenda, and let's be honest, she's the boss!

These took a little time, but are well worth the little extra effort. They are crumbly and buttery and delish! I simplified them a little from what the original recipe directs, as far as shape. I used a couple of round cutters that I had to create the "window" effect, while in the magazine and on the website they did proper rectangles that included far too much precise rolling and rulers and measuring for the 23rd of December. Really, you could get the desired effect with any two shaped cutters the same but different in size.

The one thing that I didn't like about this recipe is that the dough is not very forgiving, so get as much mileage as you can from each roll, I could only roll it a couple times, maybe three if very lucky because it's super sticky dough so you really need to flour your work space and rolling pin, and then by adding all the extra flour, it dries it out so it's falling apart! Kind of irritating, but I'll know for next time.

I will attach the link to the website so you can check that out as well, but here's what I did:

Marmalade Windows

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. orange liqueur or cognac
2 1/2 cups AP flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tbsp. heavy cream

Have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 2 egg yolks, and beat until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and liqueur. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium, just until flour is incorporated.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flour your work surface. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick, dustin with flour to prevent sticking. Cut out "base" of cookie, and then enough corresponding "tops" to pair all your cookies. Spread about a teaspoon of marmalade on top of each "bottom" and then place a "top" on each.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk and cream. Carefully brush (or I used my finger!) tops with egg wash. Bake until golden, about 19 minutes, rotating once, halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

UGLY, But Delicious, and the BEST Darn Quiche EVER

I always thought that I would have officially reached adulthood when I owned a proper trifle bowl. That day happened two days ago, but I don't feel any different... Something I've always meant to purchase, but between "couldn't find one when I wanted to" and "not needing it when I saw one" I just never bought one until now.

I decided to host a small Christmas party for my friends and co-workers, a little wine and cheese gathering, to celebrate the holiday that is now bearing down on us. On the menu:

Baked Brie with Cranberry Compote (see horrific photo below)
Cheese and Bacon Quiche (recipe below)
Assorted Meats and Cheeses
Roasted Garlic
Fruit Platter
Banana Pudding (recipe below)

While keeping track of my favorite radio host, Mario Bosquez on Martha Stewart (of course) Radio Sirius 112, I discovered what is sure to become a staple in my household! Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding. Simple and elegant, and downright perfect, this dessert is well worth the extra steps in preparation.

I had trouble finding "instant" pudding mix at all three of the stores I went to, it was all marked "cooked", so I thought that possibly it was being called something different now. I brought the box home and followed the first "night before" steps of mixing the pudding mix with condensed milk and water. This of course did not look promising still after a few hours in the fridge. I was lucky enough to email and get a quick response back from Mario, who had just changed his facebook status to "Making Magnolia's EVIL Banana Pudding...", so perfect timing. He got back to me right away with the advice that he, too had challenges finding the instant pudding, but that it was pretty much necessary to get the proper consistency. I was gutted that I would potentially be dumping all my ingredients down the drain, so I took a chance and added the liquid to a medium-sized pot and cooked it. Worked perfectly! The pudding thickened almost immediately by following the original cooking instructions off the Jell-O box. I love it when a plan comes together...

Also, I used bananas that were not yet too ripe, and am I ever glad I did! There is quite a bit left over from last night, and I just had another serving and the bananas held up overnight in the fridge great. Not too soggy, just starting to get really sweet and ripe, and of course everything is better the next day - flavors merged. Yum!

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferable Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas

In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas, and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or up to 8 hours, but no longer before serving.

*Note: I did not cover with plastic wrap because it would have squished the top and it set just fine, no drying out, it was flawless.

See how pretty it is before serving??

I LOVE this quiche recipe. It's my old stand-by from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Cheese and Bacon Quiche

10 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 partially baked Tart Pastry, without sugar (recipe below)
4 eggs
2 cups light cream (half and half)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups grated Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle bacon over the bottom of the tart shell. Combine eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in a bowl and beat to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the cheese over the bacon and ladle the custard over all. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

Tart Pastry

You may sweeten this recipe if you wish, by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to the flour. This pastry will not get tough if you have to handle it a lot and you can mix it in a food processor.

1 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, in small pieces
1 egg yolk

Mix the flour and salt in the bowl of food processor until it resembles coarse meal or tiny peas. Whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water together in another bowl, add to flour mixture, and pulse until the pastry is smooth and will hold together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Roll out and place in whatever type of pan you wish, prick the bottom with a fork and pre-bake at 425 degrees, unfilled, for about 12 minutes.

And P.S., I'm eating my second helping of pudding today. Mario was right. EVIL.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shortbread Part Deux

I featured this shortbread recipe in an earlier post, but I made it again, so here it is again! This time it's green, and piped as trees. I have to say again, I cannot believe I didn't buy a cookie press until recently. It makes fast, impressive work of your favorite shortbread or butter cookie recipe.

Here's a link to the original post, but for your convenience, here's the recipe again. So easy, so buttery, so perfect for Christmas giving and enjoying.

This time, clearly, I tinted them green and sprinkled them with red sanding sugar prior to baking.


2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 cups flour


In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until blended. Add flour in batches.

When completely incorporated, bake at 350 degrees until done, about 11 minutes.

And The Christmas Baking Begins!

I kicked off my Christmas baking with my obligation to my work cookie exchange. I wanted to make something that would really wow the others participants!

Every year I make these cookies. I LOVE them. They are chewy and chocolatey, rich and moist. They are spicy and extravagant, with bold ingredients such as cloves, nutmeg, as well as powdered ginger paired with freshly grated ginger. Like always, use the very best quality chocolate you can find. They are a lot less work and less mess than you would expect for the sophisticated result.

This recipe comes straight from Martha's website. I originally found it in the magazine back in 1997, and it's been printed and reprinted in several publications and cookie books since.

If you like spice, like I do, go a little heavier on the grated ginger to experience a full flavor.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread

7 oz. best-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sit together flour, grounds ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.

Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, and bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.