Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gramma Estel's Holly Cookies

This is the most personal recipe I've posted so far.  Probably the ONLY personal one I've posted.  But, I can't hold this in any longer. I'm not even sure when Gramma started making these cookies.  I know she sent me some when I was in college and that was ages ago.  And typically, when we're lucky enough to be at her house for the Holidays, she has a stash for me.

This year, my son is the one that mentioned them.  I have been baking a lot more lately (my oven is so confused) so I thought I'd give them a try. So I facebooked my gramma (yup grandmother is on facebook!!!) and asked her for the recipe.  She sent me her original copy :) :).  That deserves two smiley face emoticons.

Can you believe, they're actually called Holly Cookies?  I just assume she named them after me.  LOL..

It's a pretty easy recipe, butter cookies, powdered sugar glaze and raspberry jam.  But I think, the love that goes into decorating them is what makes them taste so delicious.

2/3 cup unsalted softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

raspberry jam (no seeds)

extra flour for rolling

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Red Hots or other cinnamon candies
Green food coloring
paintbrush :)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
Cream butter and sugar until light, add egg and continue to beat until well incorporated.  Then add vanilla.
In separated bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
Once butter mixture is well combined start adding dry ingredients slowly until completely incorporated.

Liberally flour your work surface as this is an extremely sticky dough. You can refrigerate it for a bit but since it's mostly butter, it will get too hard and you'll have to let it soften to roll out.
Roll your dough until its about 1/8 in. thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  Pull together scraps and repeat.
Bake for 6-8 min.  Cookies should not brown.

Sandwich the cookies together with raspberry jam. 

When making icing, slowly drizzle milk into sugar until you achieve a thick glaze.

Glaze cookies, while icing is still wet, press red hots into top.  Once icing has completely hardened, you can paint your Holly leaves on.

Store in airtight container until it's time to leave them out for Santa.  They will keep for 5-7 days and still taste delicious.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy Cane Marshmallows

SPOILER ALERT:  I made these delicate little treats for gifts this year.  And for those few people that are lucky enough to receive a festive bow wrapped gladware filled with these sweet minty beauties, I just want you all to know that I love you so much, I worked and slaved in the kitchen for 3 days to make these. ENJOY..

Ok, back to our conversation.  Marshmallows are so easy to make (hey friends...keep your eyes up there ^^^).  The beauty of it is, they're versatile as well.  You can add different extracts or cocoa powder.  Then what you do with them when they're done, umm i don't know, like dip in melted chocolate?, It's totally up to you :)

Do me a favor and try just once to make them. They're so pretty and the chemistry of it all, the way it changes right before your eyes, is thrilling.  Yeah, that's right, I called marshmallows thrilling. So what.

One thing though, please please please, don't dip your fingers in molten sugar.  I'm a notorious finger dipper and had to catch myself more than once.  When working with hot sugar, always keep a bowl of ice water your fingertips.

This is a customized Martha Stewart recipe.  Yeah, we collaborated.  She just didn't know it.

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups water 
red food coloring
Powdered sugar for dusting, about a cup.

Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with oil or non stick spray. Line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Brush parchment with oil; set aside. I actually just spread a large sheet of parchment paper out on a large cookie sheet.  It allowed me to spread them a bit thinner and make more.  Trust me, they were plenty big enough.

Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in peppermint extract.

Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Immediately start squeezing red food coloring directly onto the marshmallow.  Using a toothpick, swirl the food coloring around.  Add more as desired.

Let this dry on the counter for a few hours, depending on humidity.  To cut, spray a long knife with non stick spray and cut into strips, then cubes.  Reapplying spray as needed.  Dredge each cube in sifted powdered sugar making sure no sticky sides remain. Pat off excess sugar.  Store in airtight container until you're ready to
make your cocoa, or S'mores, or rice krispie treats, orrrr you just want one straight up :)