So I’ve been really busy, and then I got sick, and then R got sick. And now I’m sitting here headache-y and not at 12th Night (harrumph). So Christmas baking came to an abrupt halt when I got the flu, but I did manage a few things this year.

 

The Red Velvet cupcakes were a big hit (see Dec. 13th entry for recipe), as was the Chocolate Shortbread. It is every year though.

Except this year I made the mistake of baking it while I was still ill. It doesn’t make a lot and I don’t double the recipe as it doesn’t buff out right in my opinion. So there I was, the second tray in the oven and I lay down for the 20 minutes of baking time…and promptly fell asleep. 35 or so minutes later I woke up to a slightly wrong smell emanating from the kitchen.

 

As it turns out I salvaged the second tray for another use. I stuck them into the freezer to be used at a later date for a chocolate crumb crust.

 

Rich Chocolate Shortbread

Canadian Living, December 2002 p. 185

 

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar (approx.)

1 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

 

In heatproof bowl set over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. (I microwave it slowly)

 

In bowl, beat butter until fluffy; beat in chocolate until smooth. Beat in 2 tbsp of the sugar, the vanilla, and the salt. Stir in flour, one-third at a time; stir in cornstarch to make firm, smooth dough.

 

On waxed paper, press dough into 10- x 9-inch (25 x 23 cm) rectangle; trim edges. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. (I use a small cookie sheet with sides, no trimming and wastage here)

 

Using floured knife, cut into 2- x 1-inch (5 x 2.5 cm) bars. Using spatula, place cookies, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment paper-lined rimless baking sheets. Prick each cookie with fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (I make these much smaller, they’re not sweet but they are rich)

 

Bake in center of 325F oven until firm, about 20 minutes. Let cool on pans on rack for 2 minutes.

 

Spread remaining sugar in pie plate; gently roll cookies in sugar to coat all sides, adding more sugar if necessary. Transfer to racks; let cool completely. (I sprinkle the sugar on the tops only)

 

Makes about 45 cookies. Per cookie: about 84 cals, 1 g protein, 5g total fat

One thing I will never make again is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Snowballs as they are really really messy. They were good, in small quantities, but way too labour intensive. I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream and even less of one of edible oil products. Having never used Cool Whip before, I’m wondering if you can just change it out to whipped cream? I think I’ll just stick to real truffles.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Snowballs

What’s Cooking Magazine

 

8 semi-sweet chocolate baking squares

1/2 cup peanut butter 

2 cups Cool Whip 

1/4 cup icing sugar 

 

Microwave chocolate in a large microwavable bowl on medium 2 mins or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

 

Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Gently stir in the Cool Whip.

 

Chill for 1 hour.

 

Scoop peanut butter mixture with melon baller or teaspoon, then shape into 1in balls. Roll balls in icing sugar.

 

Keep stored in refrigerator.

 

*Variation: Prepare as directed, but roll in finely chopped pecans, coconut, grated chocolate, etc.

Actually thinking about it, I may try them again as I got some really spiffy new food scoops for Christmas. Basically they are just a scaled down ice cream scoop. One of those trendy kitchen gadgets that’s actually useful! I’ve been using my ice cream scoop for years when needed.

I did 2 types of gingerbread this time as my niece Ashley loves it and was giving her most of it. This one was, hands down, the winner. I found this at RecipeZaar….

There’s Gingersnaps….then There’s Gingersnaps!

 24 cookies

 

2/3 cup crystallized ginger

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Granulated sugar, for dipping

 

Use your food processor to process the crystallized ginger to small pea-size pieces, or chop with knife.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

 

In a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. While mixing on medium speed (speed 4 on a KitchenAid), add egg and combine until incorporated. Add molasses and mix to incorporate. Scrape bowl.

 

Combine baking soda, salt and other spice in a small bowl and add to butter mixture. Beat until thoroughly incorporated. Dump flour into bowl and decrease speed to slow. Mix until just incorporated.

 

Carefully scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix briefly to incorporate all ingredients.

 

Add crystallized ginger and mix to distribute evenly.

 

Use an ice cream scoop or a large spoon to measure balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

 

With the heel of your hand, slightly flatten dough balls and dip into granulated sugar. Bake at 350F degrees for 12-16 minutes. (I sprinkled the sugar on)

I also do a French version of Shortbread that is less crumbly and more buttery than its Scottish relatives. These are not sweet and just melt in your mouth.

Shortbread
350º for 6-8 minutes

2 cups Butter (not margarine)
1 cup Icing Sugar
4 cups Flour

Cream butter well. Mix flour and icing sugar in separate bowl and add to butter. Using a pastry blender or two knives mix ingredients well. Using hands, knead and divide into four.

Make cylinders by rolling with hands and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Working fast, cut cookies ¼- ½” thick with a sharp knife. Place 1” apart on cookie sheet and bake on the middle rack until golden. Watch these carefully. There is a fine line between golden and burnt!

Note: You can decorate these with dragées, sprinkles, candied cherries, toasted almonds or whatever you want. Or not.


More later.

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