Archive for the ‘candy’ Category

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Five cookies that are worth sliding down a chimney

December 20, 2006

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You’re Santa. You’ve been laboring for months as a supervisor in a toy factory. You’ve gotten your creaky butt up in the middle of the night, hauled it into a sled weighed down with packages, and are now diligently directing eight cantankerous reindeer (of all things) all over the world to deliver these packages.

You’re tired. You’re cranky. You have hardly a “ho, ho, ho” in you… Until you squirm down the chimney and see a beautiful plate of cookies in the offing. Yes, tucked next to the fireplace (or other magical entrance) is a nice tall glass of milk and some mighty fine Christmas cookies. Suddenly, you feel a spring in your steps. Your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly (or, more accurately, Christmas cookies) as you laugh with delight. You wolf them down and brush the crumbs from your beard, ready to face Christmas night again.

Those are some darn fine cookies.

Yes, Christmas cookies are magical — and not just because they get Santa through a harrowing night and contribute to his legendary waistline. Making cookies is a holiday rite of passage, and one that we couldn’t neglect. The trouble is, we’re not cookie-masters, and we don’t want to disappoint Old Saint Nick.

The solution? Call on the expertise of our baking fellow bloggers. Yes, we baked a variety of Christmas cookies and have others’ genius to credit. Each is tasty, delicious, and different from the next. And it just goes to show what amazing bloggers there are out there. No doubt Santa will reward them.

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Backgrounder…
Santa is a big man with big cookie issues, and this holiday season my wife had the same issues. This little project was completely her idea. She got it in her head that we needed to make cookies for her co-workers as gifts (Hence, the picture of the tissue paper forest on our dining table).

Now, I don’t mind making food for other people. Heck, I often send baked goods I’ve cooked on with her to the office. This minor obsession by my wife became a full on brilliant idea when she suggested we cook other people’s cookies. So she did all the research and found four others she liked plus our own Crème Fraîche Clouds. So in these final days of the holiday season, these recipes got the MHC seal of approval, plus the approval of many of my wife’s office mates. So if you are looking for ideas to bake, then go head and click the links while the oven preheats.

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1. Chocolate Shortbread Fingers from Bake or Bake or Break—These are great. I love shortbread with its beautifully buttery flavor. In this version, the chocolate with a sprinkling of sugar truly make a dramatic impact. One of the best cookies I’ve ever had.

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2. Korva Cookies from Dessert First—If you love chocolate, this is your cookie. It is rich, crisp and intoxicating. It’s pure chocolate perfection. It’s a bit harder to make then the other recipes here, but if you have the need for chocolate, make these. I just want to note quickly that we add the powdered sugar for a visual effect here. We also used a very dark cocoa powder. Dessert First’s cookies are prettier and perfect.

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3. Snickerdoodles from the Kitchen Wench—A classic cookie and well done. My wife loves snickerdoodles. When she thinks of cookies, I’m pretty sure she thinks of snickerdoodsles. These from the Kitchen Wench are beautifully spiced and have a touch of nutmeg which really adds depth to flavor while keeping that combination of soft and crispness that make snickerdoodles so great. If nothing else, who doesn’t like to say, “Snickerdoodle.”

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4. Toasted Pecan Toffee from Cookbook 101—Okay, you win. It’s not technically a cookie. It’s a candy. But, it’s the holiday season so we can all be generous. For the candy making novice, this is a great recipe to get your feet wet with. It’s delicious, impressive and not overly complex. Also, when you break your toffee for service-sized pieces, be sure to save the little pieces for ice cream or other cookies.

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5. Crème Fraîche Clouds from MHC—Yeah, we decorated them for the season. These delicious derivation from tradition sour cream cookie really are great. They are simple to make and I enjoy them, but the best part was spray painting them to look festive. Yes, I said spray paint. The local grocery didn’t have the colored sugar we usually use this time of year for cookies, but did have this colored spray.

Boy did we get a chuckle out it. I felt like I was tagging my food. I wanted to start my own gang of bakers and cooks after doing a couple dozen cookies. But alas, I didn’t get that far with my gang. I don’t think my wife even wanted to join. So alas, I’m back to cooking as a family project. Enjoy the baking. Enjoy the season.

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MHC Goes Molecular: Olive Oil Bonbons

November 6, 2006

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I don’t think it’s shocking to anyone that I’m a bit of an experimenter. And last week, while making brittle and talking about molecular gastronomy in relation to Top Chef, I decided to adventure out on my own and try to replicate a molecular gastronomy dish—the olive oil bonbon. This experiment was cause for great debate between my wife and I, but being the intrepid and confident one I proceeded. And her being the loving wife, she assisted and was vital in my mad lab.

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Get candy, get candy, get candy…

November 1, 2006

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I return home from work to find that my husband has distributed every last piece of the three pounds of candy we had bought. (Well, except for two measly Smarties’ rolls, which I immediately claimed and devoured.) He didn’t save even a single bite-sized chocolate bar for his candy-ravenous wife. Apparently, he’s a softie for 4-year-olds in head-to-toe Elmo outfits and gave out candy by the handful. Sucker.He did, however, prepare homemade candy…

… So I suppose I can forgive him.

His spicy pumpkin-seed brittle is beautiful to behold. In fact, it looks a little like the prehistoric amber you might see in a museum — minus the bugs, of course — or some snazzy amber jewelry. But edible. Actually, it’s more than edible — it was delicious. It was sweet, of course, but it also had a wonderful and unexpected kick — not unlike a Red Hot. And the pumpkin seeds make for an intriguing break in the sugar-britle texture, little bits of chewy goodness that mingle with the heat from the cinnamon.

Quite delicious, and I guess — I say begrudgingly — an adequate substitute to gorging on leftover KitKat bars.

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