Monday, October 29, 2012

Candy corn sugar cookies

Candy corn sugar cookies

I'm sitting here at home, hunkered down, waiting for the "Frankenstorm" to arrive, bringing rain and high winds and probably power outages. I'm sitting here, waiting, and waiting, at home, not wanting to go out and get anything done, 'cause the storm might hit any time. And so, I'm baking today. At least if the power goes out, I'll have treats.

I was thinking last night, "gee, I was doing to bring cookies to work for Halloween... but if the power goes out before then, I won't be able to bake." And so, last night, with the canned goods and bottled water put away and the electronic devices charged, I made cookie dough. Better that the cookies be a day early, I thought, than that there be no cookies at all.

These came out both very cute and very tasty. The only issue I had is that I'd never worked with dried lemon peel before, but I didn't have any whole lemons in the house, so I used the dried, and guess I probably should have either tried to rehydrate it or just left it out; it made odd little spots in the cookies, not bad or offensive, just not pretty.

Cutting the dough Ready for the oven

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Kathie Cooks

2 sticks butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
3 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Yellow and orange gel colors (or just use red and yellow food coloring if it's all you have)
Maybe 1/4 c or so of extra sugar in a shallow dish or on a plate

1. Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, lemon juice and zest and salt. Then, beat in the flour and baking soda.
2. Divide the dough into thirds. Remove one third to a separate bowl.
3. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, then press another third of the dough into the bottom of the pan.
4. Beat some yellow gel color into the dough left into the bowl until it's a nice yellow color. Press into the pan.
5. Return the last of the dough to the mixing bowl and beat in orange gel color (or a mix of red and yellow food coloring) until nicely orange. Press into the pan, fold the plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and unwrap. Slice width-wise into quarter-inch slices, then cut the slices into triangles.
7. Dip one side of each cookie into the extra sugar, then place sugar side up on a cookie sheet.
8. Bake at 375 for about 8 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Remove to a rack to cool.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Salted caramels

Salted caramels

I got my wedding photos back the other day, and it got me thinking about the wedding again, about how wonderful and perfect that weekend was. And one of the many awesome things was that the favors went over so well -- I made homemade salted caramels, tons of them, in one grueling day of boiling-cooling-cutting-wrapping-boiling, etc., etc., seven pans of candy and a whole day of work for me and my mom (she was my wrapping helper). They were a lot of work, but I wanted to put something I made into the wedding, something handmade by me.

And I totally pulled it off. Not only that, but I got raves about them from everyone, talking about how awesome they were and how much they wanted to steal other people's when they weren't looking -- now that's a complement. :) I got raves at work, too, when I took a test batch in to share. People were actually asking me when I got back from getting married, hey, was I going to make those awesome caramels again? Now that's a winning recipe.

So here it is, the caramel recipe that was such a hit at my wedding and earned raves from so many people. Enjoy. :)

Bubbling sugar Setting candy

Salted Caramels
From The Kitchn

1 c heavy cream
5 tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 c water
Flaky sea salt (I used Maldon, pricey but pretty and high-quality, and it goes far)

1. Line an 8-by-8 pan with parchment, then spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Put the cream, butter and sea salt into a bowl and microwave until melted and hot.
3. Meanwhile, put the sugar, corn syrup and water into a saucepan, turn the heat to medium-high and stir just until dissolved. Then, put the spoon down, put in a candy thermometer and boil until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.
4. Pour in the cream mixture, pick up the spoon again and start stirring. Simmer this mixture slowly, stirring constantly, until it reaches 248 degrees again.
5. Immediately pull the pan from the heat and pour the contents into the pan.
6. Sprinkle a liberal amount of flaky sea salt over the top. (Some of it will melt, but if you wait until the candy cools at all, the salt won't stick.)
7. Let set for 2 hours. Then, cut into pieces and wrap in candy-wrapping papers or parchment. I found that doing eight cuts one way and 12 the other left nicely sized pieces.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Baked pumpkin doughnuts

Baked pumpkin doughnuts

I'm back! Yay!

It's been way, WAY too long since I've had a chance to update here, or even since I've had a chance to bake anything. But I have a really good excuse: I got married. :)

So now that the wedding's over (awww), it's time to break in some of the awesome gifts we got, both the wedding ones and the ones from my bridal shower that I hadn't allowed myself to use until after the wedding (bad luck if you do, isn't it?).

The one I was most excited about using, of course, was the world's most awesome mixer:

Aw yeah, KitchenAid!

I have a KitchenAid! And it's so awesome! It's really, really pretty, too. But even more impressive was how well it mixed -- turn it on, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, all done! Wait, what? Already? Whoa! This thing's amazing. I can't wait to make more stuff with it. :)

The pan at the bottom there, filled with doughnut batter, that's new, too. It was a gift from a very kind coworker, completely unexpected and really nice of her. So I figured, what better way to thank her for the pan than to use it to make her something?

Of course, it's fall, prime baking season... and prime pumpkin-eating season. Already, I've been eating pumpkin pancakes like they're going out of style, and I had my first pumpkin latte in a long time the other day (and it was awesome, though the key, I've learned, is just to get the full-fat ones, 'cause the flavor is lacking when you try to slim them down). So when I came across this recipe while looking for baked doughnut possibilities, it sounded like a winner.

And a winner it was. And by that, I mean that I ate one, just to see if they were good (which I always do before giving away something I've never made before). And then I ate another, just to double-check, y'know, 'cause the first batch didn't have enough sugar on them, so maybe they tasted different now. And then... well, I don't have any good reason for the third one. That was just gluttony. After that, I had to pack up the rest, so I wouldn't keep eating them. Shame on me. But at least I can say for sure that they're good now. :)

Ready for the oven Mmmm, doughnuts

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
From King Arthur Flour

1/2 c oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Heaping 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 c plus 2 tbsp flour

1/2 c sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Heaping 1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

1. In the bowl of your mixer or a good-sized mixing bowl, dump in the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and baking power. Beat until combined. Then, add the flour and beat until just combined.
2. Spoon the batter into the greased sections of a doughnut pan, making them nearly but not quite full.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. While they're baking, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large zip-top bag.
4. Let the doughnuts sit in the pan for a minute or two, then dump them out of the pan and shake them, one at a time, in the sugar mixture. Remove to a cooling rack and let set until completely cool.