Holiday Week Update and MB Recipe 18

This week I only have time for a quick post. It’s not because I’m busy, but more so because I’m not really doing any baking or cooking this weekend. As you may recall, last year I made a Yule Log. But this year, I do not have the luxury of the time it takes (and to be honest, the energy or desire) to make a Yule Log.

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Barefoot Contessa 53 – Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well look at this! A Barefoot Contessa recipe! The first since sometime in May…I think?

I was in the mood to bake, but didn’t really want to have to go out and purchase any additional ingredients. Which basically means that I had the necessary items to whip up chocolate chip cookies. Then came the decision to make this version from Ina.

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Baking with Grandma

Every year, my grandmother makes dozens and dozens of cookies for the holidays. Last year, she made roughly 144 dozen cookies. They’re not all for the family — don’t worry, we aren’t swimming in cookies from one Christmas Day to the other. She gives them away to friends, the places of work for her children and grandchildren, her old clients, etc. Everyone really loves them and look forward to receiving their package each year.

Her process is a long one that begins long before the week leading up to Christmas. Most of the ingredients are purchased by the end of September. The month of October begins with making doughs that can be frozen before the cookies are made. Around mid-October she takes a week off from the Christmas baking to make Halloween sugar cookies. These don’t number anywhere near the amount she makes for Christmas.

Once the Halloween cookies are made the real work begins. Each day, about 5 or six days a week, she bakes one or two different kinds of cookies. Once baked and embellished they get boxed by type and sit in a freezer until mid-December when she start to assemble the packages. Eventually, they are shipped off to the happy recipients.

Usually, she is able to and enjoys baking alone. However, this is one cookie that for the last few years, I’ve helped her bake. Her “filled cookies” are very labor intensive and require many steps. I have to help with the rolling and the filling. Once they are on the trays, the baking process is no different from any other type of cookie. Last week, I had a day off from work. So, Grandma and I planned to carve out a couple hours to tackle the “filled cookies.”

This year was a bit easier since the dough was already made so we just had to roll it out, cut into squares, fill with the jelly or nut mixture, roll up the dough into a small log, and bake them off. Since we’ve doing this for a few years, we have the system down to a science and I was only there a little over an hour.

I do have pictures below, but I forgot to take one of the cookies once they were baked. I’ve been helping my grandmother in the kitchen on and off for many years. When I was a child, we actually lived right across the street from her for a time. After school and weekends, I would go over there and help her with whatever she was doing in the kitchen. Whether it be baking something, making candy for the holidays, make lunch or dinner, etc. I guess I can credit my interest and love of baking to her.

The dough, cut into squares, with the filling. These were filled with a jelly and nut combo filling.
The rolled and “sealed” cookies waiting for the oven. We decided to sprinkle some sugar on top of these, since there was no egg wash it didn’t stick very well.

Magnolia Bakery 13 – Cracked Sugar Cookies

Last weekend was full of baking! It began with the Harvest Apple Cupcakes which were a big hit! However, the baking bug was not satiated, so I had the urge to make cookies. Plus, what else is there to do on a gloomy fall Sunday afternoon?

I knew cookies would be far less time consuming than something like cupcakes. Plus, leftovers are much easier to transport since they can be easily packaged and I wouldn’t have to worry about frosting getting messed up. So, thumbing through the MBC, I decided on the Cracked Sugar Cookies.

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Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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Magnolia Bakery Handbook #7 – Brown Sugar Cookies

Last week, I came home from work and was in the mood to bake. But, by the time I got home, ate dinner, and did some chores, I was not in the mood to go to the store. So, I had to pick a recipe that called for ingredients that I already had on-hand.

Enter Brown Sugar Cookies from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. I recalled that this recipe was in the book and they looked interesting, so I seized this opportunity to make them. The only downside was the recipe required that the dough chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Ms. Lloyd says that her cookie recipes should actually chill overnight before baking, but 30 minutes will do. In fact, I let this chill for a little over an hour before I started the baking process.

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 52

This recipe comes from Parties! page 236.

The second baking recipe I made over the weekend comes from the early days of Ina. Her second cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties! takes on a menu-based theme. Recipes are organized not by type, but by party theme.

The recipe I chose to make from this book is one of three variations on the same base recipe. Combined, all three would make wonderful treats for friends or family. But the star recipe of the bake on Sunday was the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies.

There were surprisingly so simple to make. At first I was hesitant because there isn’t a lot of peanut butter in the recipe and it makes a lot of cookies…like over three dozen! At least that’s how many I got out of it. However, upon biting into one, they tasted like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! I was in heaven!

In the recipe, Ina states that these cookies should bake for 17 minutes. I did that for the first tray of 8 cookies. But when I removed them from the oven, I found them to be too browned and overdone. When tasted, they were much drier and didn’t really have a lot of flavor. They were overdone.

So, I adjusted for the remainder of the batch. I baked them for only 16 minutes and they were perfect! What a difference 60 seconds could make, huh? Who would have thought so much could happen in such a short amount of time?

These cookies are super simple but packed with flavor. Everyone loved them. I think they belong on the Favorites list!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 51

This recipe can be found in Back to Basics, page 214.

This past weekend was filled with baking and cooking! After a long hiatus, I finally got the BC bug and dived head first back into the project. Over the course of three days I made a total of five Barefoot Contessa recipes. You can see the full list here, but the different review posts will be dropping over the next couple of weeks.

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Weekend Recipes 7/16/2021

After a much longer than anticipated hiatus from baking and cooking for the blog, I am excited that this weekend I am planning to make no less than 5 (yes, 5!!) recipes. All of which are Barefoot Contessa recipes.

Today I am going to make one of the two cookie recipes that I’ve been eyeing for sometime. I plan to use the duck eggs that I talked about in an earlier post. I’m really excited to work with them!

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Barefoot Contessa Recipe 47 Chocolate Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread

This recipe can be found in Modern Comfort Food.

In addition to the Herb-Marinated Pork that I made last week, I was in the mood to bake. But I wanted a simple recipe that wouldn’t have me spending hours in the kitchen measuring, mixing, baking, and cleaning. After a few minutes of flipping through the Barefoot Contessa Index, I stumbled upon the Chocolate Dipped Brown Sugar Shortbread recipe from Comfort Food.

This seemed to be a somewhat straight-forward shortbread recipe. But it was the first time I made short bread before. In the head notes to this recipe, Ina said that these cookies taste just like Milanos. I mean, anything that tastes or resembles a Milano cookie has to be good, right?

While this recipe is easy and doesn’t cause an over abundance of dishes (which seems to be common with many baking recipes), this recipe does require you to get a little messy. But as Gesine Prado says, “…you have to get messy to get delicious.” After combining the dough, you need to shape pieces of the dough into logs.

I got about halfway through the shaping process when I realized that my logs probably had too much dough and would puff up a bit more than they should have during baking. It also meant I would get less cookies, but I think that was actually better for my family since it would help with controlling the amount we eat.

After baking, my prediction came true. The cookies ended up being a bit fatter than the ones in the photo. But since it wouldn’t impact the taste, I didn’t mind so much. I used a cookie scoop to ensure even sized cookies. I just used the wrong one. I should have used the smaller one, not the medium one. Oh, well. Now I know for next time!

The cookies looked and smelled so good after removing them from the oven that I had to try one even before I was able to dip them in chocolate! But as you can see in the picture above, some of the cookies lost their shape as well. Again, I think this has to do with the amount of dough used or how tightly I shaped them. Some may have been shaped a little more loosely than others, causing them to spread out more.

Once the cookies were cooled, I melted the chocolate and mixed in the melted butter. The addition of melted butter seemed odd to be at first but I did it anyway! It caused the chocolate to become a little thicker and helped it not to spread out too much.

After dipping them all in the chocolate, as directed in the recipe: only the top of the front of the cookies, I let them sit for about 45 minutes before eating one. I opted not to add the chopped nuts as called for in the original BC recipe.

Far from perfect, but still fancy-looking and definitely yummy!

These cookies actually taste better cool! At least for me. Allowing the cookie to cool gives all the flavors time to marry together and taste better. There is a LOT of sugar in these cookies, so if you eat one while still warm you won’t get the right effect since the sugar is still hot from baking.

While the cookies I made came out looking far from perfect, everyone liked them. In fact, some people recommended that they be made around the holiday season. And I think with them dipped in white chocolate and then decorated with chopped up peppermint pieces, they would look festive and taste great!