Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

Almond Shortbread December 21, 2011

Filed under: Baking — Cheryl Angst @ 8:55 pm
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The third batch of baking this year is a genuine family tradition. My girls are the fourth generation (all on the maternal side) to help with the baking and sugaring of the cookies. Almond shortbread is such a key element of my family’s Christmas baking that I swear Christmas wouldn’t arrive without them.

I warn you, the crescents are to die for. I will also warn you, they are a lot of work. This recipe is not for the faint of heart.

Ingredients:

1 lb butter

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups flour

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups ground almonds

Directions:

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Add the flour in small batches.

When all the flour is blended, add the ground almonds. I find this recipe works best if you take whole blanched almonds and toast them slightly before grinding.

Roll out the dough to roughly 1/8 inch thickness and cut into crescents.

Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes (depending on your cookie sheet and oven). Shortbread shouldn’t be brown, so as soon as the tips of the crescents start to darken it’s time to pull the cookies from the oven.

Let the cookies firm up on the sheet for approximately 4 minutes then carefully lift them into a container suitable for sugaring.

Once the cookies have been sugared, allow them to cool fully on a wire rack.

We’ve learned from experience not to put one cookie tray into the oven immediately following the removal of the first. It takes time to sugar the cookies without breaking them, and if you put the next tray in it’ll be coming out before you have the first tray sugared.

Oh, by the way, this recipe makes about 8 dozen cookies…

Nom nom nom.

C.

 

Butter Tarts (Ooey Gooey) December 20, 2011

Filed under: Baking — Cheryl Angst @ 9:57 pm
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Now that the urge to experiment has largely passed, it is time to return to more traditional baking. Yesterday’s fare was a family Christmas staple: the butter tart.

Now before you get all excited about them, I need to confess something. I didn’t make the pastry from scratch this year. I cheated and bought frozen tart shells. If you cheat too you’ll find these treats ridiculously easy to make. (Especially if you have little hands who can count out raisins to put in each shell…)

If you’re the type who likes to bake pastry from scratch I’m sure you already have a dandy recipe and certainly aren’t lurking around my blog to learn how to do it. If you aren’t one of those people, then you likely plan on cheating like I did and don’t need a pastry recipe either. ;-)

Let’s get to the point now, shall we?

The filling… ooooo, the ooey gooey filling!

(The quantities below make enough filling for 12 regular tarts or roughly 24 small ones.)

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 mL salt

3/4 cup raisins

Combine all the ingredients except for the raisins.

Place the raisins in the bottom of the tart shells (I find 10-12 is good for regular tarts, and 6 is great for the small ones).

Fill each shell 2/3 full with the syrup mixture. Don’t over fill or it will bubble up and ooze all over your baking sheet or oven!

Bake at 425 (on the bottom rack) for 12-15 minutes or until just set.

Don’t over bake (under baking makes them runnier).

Trust me, you want them to ooze.

Enjoy!

C.

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Sugar Cookies December 19, 2011

Filed under: Baking — Cheryl Angst @ 12:37 pm
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I am officially on winter vacation, which means it’s time to ramp up the Christmas baking. We have a few family traditions when it comes to baked goods, but every year I like to try one or two new things… just because.

 

I saw a tweet about Nutella-filled sugar cookies and, being a sucker for hazelnuts and chocolate, decided to follow the link. Needless to say, the recipe sounded too good to pass up so my girls and I raced to the kitchen to whip up a batch.

 

 

I think the recipe was fine (but the website didn’t have actual quantities of anything so I had to improvise, using a different sugar cookie recipe), but the instructions for the amount of dough to use for each cookie were way off. Let’s just say the first samples were about the size and shape of a hairbrush head – and about as appetizing.

See? Not yummy at all.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a little stubborn. Rather than give up and toss everything in the trash, I did some Googling and formulated a new plan of attack. I’m pleased to say my attempt to rescue the cookies (well, not the baked monsters, those met an untimely demise under the kitchen sink) was a success!

Here’s what I did…

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and set the rack to the centre.

Filling:

1 tsp Nutella (as many of these as cookies – the recipe makes about 36) spooned on wax paper then frozen (about 15 min) so they look like little nuggets

Cookie Dough:

(I think this is a pretty standard sugar cookie recipe, but in the interest of being detailed I’ll list the one I followed from my recipe box.)

1 cup butter (softened)

1 1/2 cups sugar (white, not brown or icing)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract (I used the super awesome stuff my BFF brought me back from Mexico)

Blend all of these ingredients together, then add the mixture to the dry ingredients below. Make sure you mix the dry stuff together BEFORE you add the wet though!

3 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose, not pastry, bread, or other)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Once the dough is all, well, doughy, scoop out 1 tbsp and roll it into a ball in your palms. It’s kind of like playing with Play-Doh because once you have a ball, you get to smush it until it’s flat (like 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch).

Once it’s flat, take a frozen Nutella nugget from the freezer and place it in the centre of your flattened dough. Wrap the Nutella in the dough, making sure to pinch the sides together to prevent the Nutella from running out all over the baking tray.

(Maybe it’s just me, or maybe my kitchen was too warm, or whatever, but I could only do about three cookies before the Nutella started to melt. I devised a system where I balled and flattened six bits of dough, filled three with Nutella, and then pinched and rolled those three while the Nutella re-froze for the other three.)

Speaking of baking trays, I lined mine with parchment paper because it does a great job of preventing your cookies from burning.

Coating:

I put 2/3 cup of sugar in a bowl for rolling the cookies in before baking.

Roll your cookies in the sugar before placing on the cookie sheet.

I baked my cookies for 10 minutes, let them sit on the tray for 5 minutes, then transferred them to a cooling rack.

From all reports, these were a success!

(If you try this recipe, please come back and leave me a comment as I’d love to hear about your adventures!)

Happy Holidays,

C.

 

 
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