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Friday, December 28, 2012

Whipped Shortbread

I first experienced whipped shortbread at a snack table at a funeral.  I nearly asked everyone I saw whether or not they had tried this little piece of heaven... and then I remembered that I'm an adult and I need to restrain myself until a more appropriate time.

A time like Christmas.

Makes about 60 small bite-sized cookies (recipe is easy to halve, double, or increase by 50%):

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 lb butter (approx 450 grams or 1 cup - half a "pack" here in Canada)
Whip the butter in a stand mixer.  Trust me, you will want a stand mixer or your arm might fall off.

Add the rest.  Leave it whipping in the mixer for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, literally.  This needs to fill with air. The dough will look very fluffy and white, somewhat like frosting or like meringue peaks. 

It's as easy as scooping with a fork onto a pan and baking at 350 degrees for up to 20 minutes.  My oven cooks hot - check after 12 minutes or so and ensure the bottoms aren't browning. These need to cook through but over baking will dry them out.

Sometimes I even cook a half recipe (my husband doesn't like shortbread) and that makes 30 small cookies. 

Enjoy with milk!

Sugar Cookies with Icing

These Wilton cookies paired with this yummy icing are just to die for. My co-worker makes these cookies occasionally and she has them down to a science.  Once you start eating them you will seriously not be able to stop.
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (be careful and don't accidentally overpour like I did... or that batch will have a very strong almond flavour!)
Beat the above ingredients until fluffy. Mix the next few ingredients in a bowl and add them to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time.  Beat with a mixer and use a spatula when necessary to incorporate everything:
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Roll a portion of dough out on a floured surface (I found about 1/4 inch to be the right width) as the cookies will rise a little bit but not a ton. Use cookie cutters - flour them if you find your dough too sticky. 

Carefully lift them onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for only about 8 minutes. If the edges start looking brown that's more than enough time!  They should be a nice light yellow without brown spots and they will become a yummy chewy cookie.

Top with icing:
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
Mix above together, then add 2 tsp of light corn syrup and mix thoroughly.  Spread plain onto the cookies or use fancy icing skills that I don't have.  This part of the cookie-making is very time-consuming for me and my patience levels do not a beautiful cookie make.  Mine make it to my mouth before anyone sees them anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eggnog-Raspberry Muffins

These muffins are taken from and are a nice light, sweet muffin. I really like that the eggnog does not overpower the muffin. I didn't have cranberries so I picked the next most tart berry I had in my freezer - raspberries.  The original recipe is posted with beautiful pictures so please go there and admire Michael's skills.

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen if you're like me and that's all you have) berries

Mix wet ingredients briefly into the dry ones and spoon into a muffin tin (lined or greased). I prefer to make 10 larger muffins and they rise quite well.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (toothpick test).  I baked my larger ones for more like 26 minutes.

Optional crumb topping (that I'm usually too lazy to bother with - the muffins are good enough):

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces or grated

Ginger Snaps

These are chewy Christmas delights. 
  • 3/4 cups butter (I use margarine... my cookies end up a bit flatter but they still taste goooood)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
Beat above ingredients together. Mix the following dry ingredients together then add slowly to the wet ingredients:
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of ground cloves and pinch of nutmeg
Form into small balls and roll in white sugar. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes on an un-greased cookie sheet.  These need to be slightly underdone so that they will be chewy - they will be very soft when they come out of the oven and that is good. They will harden enough.