2. Cookies & Candies

Christmas time means lots of butter cookies in this Kelso kitchen!  This photo shows cookies right out of the oven and ready to ice and add sprinkles.  We also bake butter cookies for other holidays, too.   We always use my mother's recipe, which I've included for you to enjoy!

There's a variety of cookies and candies shown here that were made for friends and family for Christmas 2009. The baking began on December 19th and continued, until approximately 450 cookies and lots of candies were made as Christmas gifts for family and friends. One box (weighing more than 8 pounds) was shipped to my cousins, in Weslaco, Texas on December 26th so they could have special treats to ring in the new year!
Cheryl’s Mom’s Butter Cookies     

1 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sifted flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar gradually.  Stir in vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in sifted flour plus salt.  Chill 2 hours or overnight.  Roll out one-fourth of the chilled dough to 1/4” thickness.  Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from the cookie sheet and cool on a rack.  Frost and decorate as desired. (Ruth Nations)

Erin's Starbucks Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
9 ½ tablespoons Butter Flavor Crisco
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup regular unsulphured molasses
2 ½ tablespoons milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar (for coating cookie dough before baking)

Heat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the center. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Cream the shortening and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, no less than 3 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, beat in the egg and molasses, then increase the speed to high and beat about 1 minute longer. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula several times while mixing.

Pour the milk over the flour mixture, stirring gently until the milk absorbs some of the flour. Then, mix in the flour mixture on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl several times.

Roll the dough into ball, then roll in the sugar and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or until cold and firm.

Place on parchment, well separated, and the bottom of a glass to flatten to ½” thick.  Sprinkle more sugar on top of flattened balls.

Bake about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  When done, the outside is just a shade darker than the inner part of the cookie, and the surface should be cracked.  Don’t over bake!  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to rack to cool.  These cookies must be stored in an airtight container.

Dr. Erin Fluegge Woolf, my daughter, got this great recipe from a friend, while living in Gainesville, Florida and attending the University of Florida.

My cousin, Bob Nations, and my long-time friend Ken (KJ) Jenkins love these cookies!

Shortbread

I've finally found the perfect shortbread recipe!  I read rave reviews about the Tartine cookbook, and ordered it right away.   I love Barnes & Nobles "used and out of print" section where you can find great deals on great books...and lots of cookbooks!  Looking through the recipes, I saw the shortbread recipe and just had to try it.   I drizzled the shortbread with Ghiradelli chocalate and enjoyed with my homemade latte.  Perfect for a cold winter day in America's Heartland!

Espresso Shortbread

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
2 cups flour
4 ounces bittersweet Callebaut chocolate, chopped
Ghiradelli chocolate for drizzling

Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso; then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares.  Note: I used a rectangle cutter that was dipped in flour and this worked well, as long as the dough was well chilled

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

Melt the Ghiradelli chocolate in the microwave, being careful not to scorch.  It will be easier to drizzle the chocolate if you add a little Crisco shortening (not butter) to the chocolate.  To one cup of chocolate chips, about ¾ teaspoon of shortening is used.  Adding the shortening also adds a glossy sheen to the chocolate!

Note:  Please see smittenkitten.com for the original recipe.  It’s become a favorite site of mine!  It was a great tip to use a zip-loc bag, so the dough won’t have too much flour!  Also, the photo includes the Tartine shortbread I made with the espresso shortbread, so you can see the difference. 

Glenda's Choco Caramel Delights

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Caramel Filling (see below)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/2 teaspoon shortening

 In a small mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla until creamy.  Stir together flour, cocoa, and salt; blend into butter mixture.  Chill dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.  Heat oven to 350°.  Beat egg white slightly.  Shape dough into 1” balls.  Dip each ball into egg white; roll in pecans to coat.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet.  Press thumb gently in the center of each ball.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set.  Press gently in center of each cookie to keep indentation.  Immediately spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel filling into the center of each cookie.  Gently remove from cookie sheet; cool on wire rack.

Place semi-sweet chocolate chunks and shortening in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Cook on high for 1 minute or until softened; stir.  Allow to stand several minutes to finish melting; stir until smooth.  Place waxed paper under wire rack with cookies.  Drizzle chocolate mixture over top of cookies.  Makes about 2 dozen.

Caramel Filling:  Combine 14 unwrapped light caramels and 3 tablespoons of whipping cream.  Cook over low heat, stirring often, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.

Oatmeal Shortbread Cookies

These are my brother, Tom's, favorite!  I think they are best when made with Bob's Red Mill oats. 
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Dissolve baking soda in water. Combine oats, flour, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in baking soda mixture and form dough into a ball. Roll out to 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutters, or press dough into the bottom of 9"x13" pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. 

 Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
3/4 cup Callebaut semi-sweet chips or chunks
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
White Ghiradelli chocolate for drizzling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks and cherries. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Chill the dough until it is easy to shape into balls. 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Place dough balls on the cookie sheet, and slightly flatten with a glass.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked. These cookies should be tender, so do not over bake.

When cooled, drizzle with melted white Ghiradelli chocolate.  If using chocolate chips, rather than Ghirdelli dipping chocolate, just add a small amount of shortening to the chips.  This will help the chocolate drizzle more easily, and add a glossy sheen to the chocolate.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 weeks. Do not uncover before defrosting.

Note: The original recipe is from eatmedelicious.com --- it’s a great site, with lots of recipes and photos!

Peanut Brittle
                  

3 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cups water 
3 cups raw peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons butter, softened

In a heavy 3 Qt. saucepan stir together the sugar, syrup, and water. Insert candy thermometer on side of pan and position it about 1” from the bottom of the pan. Cook stirring constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Continue cooking without stirring until temperature reaches 280 degrees. Stir in peanuts (and salt) gradually so mixture continues to boil.  Cook, stirring constantly until temperature reaches 305 degrees.

Remove from heat, add butter, stir quickly about 4-6 times as the butter melts, then quickly add baking soda and vanilla, stirring another 4-6 times real quick until it foams.  Pour at once onto three large greased (PAM works great) cookie sheets, then use spoon (or spatula) to spread out mixture until it is about one peanut thick.  Let cool until it can be removed from cookie sheets.

Note: The brittle becomes firm very quickly when poured onto the cookie sheet.  The brittle will be easier to spread if you heat the cookie sheet briefly in a 170 degree oven for just a few minutes to warm it.  Be sure to have your cookie sheet greased and ready before you start making the brittle.  I also find that a medium heat works better --- it may take a bit longer, but a lower temperature can reduce the chance of scorching.

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.

Note: The original recipe for the delicious brittle came from Larry K. in 2009.

 Espresso Toffee

1 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 ½  teaspoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½  teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
1 ½  cup Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or another nut of your choice

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In medium heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, melt butter, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, salt and espresso powder together over together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the temperature approaches 250¯F, at which point you should stir constantly until it reaches 300¯F.

Hint #1: To help the toffee spread more easily, place your pan in a low (170 degree) oven for just few minutes, and have the parchment paper ready to place on the pan when you remove the pan from the oven.  I’ve used this when making peanut brittle and it really helps!

Hint #2: If you want to save lots of money on hazelnuts, it’s simple to toast your own!  Hazelnuts are often found, during the holidays, near the produce section at the grocery store.  A large bag is usually around $3.00 in our area.  After cracking and removing the shells, put the hazelnuts in a flour sack towel, or other thin kitchen towel.  Twist the top of the towel, to keep the hazelnuts inside the towel.  Place this in the microwave, and cook on high power for about 3 minutes to start.  Keep the hazelnuts inside the towel and rub the towel against the hazelnuts.  Open the towel up to see if the skins are starting to come off.  Repeat this process until most of the skins are off.   Remove the nuts, and shake the towel off to remove the skins.  Then, chop the nuts, and toast for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven.  You can also use these hazelnuts in cream cheese, and save lots of money when you are buying bagels and must have that hazelnut cream cheese with them!  I store the hazelnuts in the freezer, then shell, and remove the skins as needed.

Pour immediately into the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let them sit for a minute until soft, then spread the chocolate evenly over the candy base. Sprinkle the chocolate with chopped hazelnuts.  When cooled, break into pieces and store in an airtight container..

Note: This is a variation of the recipe from a web site I love --- smittenkitchen.com.   The espresso powder and Madagascar vanilla can be found on the King Arthur web site.

Peanut Butter Fudge   

This is a soft, incredible fudge.  Be sure to keep it covered and store in a cool spot.

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup peanut butter
1- 7 oz  jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a full  boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring until melted.. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla; beat until well blended.

Spread in a buttered 9 x 13 x 2 - inch pan.  Cut into squares when firm.  Enjoy!

Black Walnut Fudge

4 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Dash salt
14 ½ oz. evaporated milk
12 oz. Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate pieces
12 oz. Callebaut dark chocolate pieces
1 pint marshmallow crème
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla
2 cups black walnuts

Grease a 9” x 13” pan.  In a large pan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, and evaporated milk.  Bring to boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in remaining ingredients and spread into prepared pan.  Cool completely before cutting.   Store in airtight container .  Note: For Christmas 2009, this became my boss’s favorite fudge I make!

Chocolate Raspberry Fudge

For a delicious raspberry fudge, use the recipe above, omitting the black walnuts.  After mixing ingredients together, add Watkins raspberry flavoring to taste.  Everyone will wonder how you made this perfect, comforting fudge!

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