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Category Archives: Christmas/Holiday Snacks

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

(Chef Karen is going it alone this week)

Ginger cookies have never been a favourite of mine.  Not sure if they’re too strong or what but I’m not a big fan…. until I found this recipe.  My husband likes them so I thought I’d be nice and make some for him; turns out, I like them now, too.  I used Ina Garten’s Ultimate Cookie Recipe from the Food Network website. They have a nice ginger-y taste to them and they’re not too strong.  When I made them I wasn’t thrilled with the dough. I found it to be VERY crumbly; to the point that I thought I was going to throw it out.  But, I continued on and made it work.  I think I added the flour too quickly so keep that in mind.  It’s certainly not too late to bake for the Christmas holidays so get going and whip up a batch of these….. I’m pretty sure you’ll be a fan, too.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies!

Ultimate Ginger Cookies!

Chef Jonathan and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thank-you for supporting our blog by reading our posts.  We hope to keep going in 2014 with fun and interesting recipes to pass onto you!

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Biscotti……

Chef Karen:  To start off the baking season with Biscotti was an easy decision. I hate that dry junk you buy at the local coffee shop.  It’s so hard you either break your teeth eating it or you have to soak it so long in your hot chocolate that it gets soggy and leaves behind crumbs.  The recipe we used this week is great.  It has butter in it so first off it’s amazing!  The original calls for cranberries and almonds but I did 2 different kinds; I used pistachios and cranberries for one and hazelnuts with a teaspoon of anise seeds for the other one….. Both VERY yummy!  I believe Chef Jonathan will explain the recipe so I won’t waste time; I’ll just say to make sure you toast any nut that you decide to use.  It brings out the flavour and makes it easier to eat in the cookie.  This recipe is easy and it doesn’t take very long to make.  I highly recommend starting off YOUR baking season with this Biscotti.

photo (14)

Chef Jonathan: Biscotti is just one of those pastries that needs to be made as soon as winter hits, and this blog couldn’t have been more timely (especially for those in the snow belt). This is my original recipe I stole from Culinary School, and it has never let me down…….The ingredients are just real, simple, and concrete, no messing around with strange flavours or additions. I decided to make cranberry-pistachio biscotti which totally reminds me of the holidays. This is a very simple recipe to make, it just takes the time for the double bake. The key with biscotti is to not let it dry out too much, and I believe this recipe totally nails it! This biscotti goes perfectly with a steaming cup or cocoa or coffee, your preference. Enjoy!

biscotti

Recipe:

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

Convection Oven: 325° F for 18-22 mins / 225° F 5-10 mins

Convention Oven: 350° F for 25-30 mins / 250° F 5-10 mins

Ingredients:

1/2 C butter

3/4 C castor sugar

2 eggs

1/2 t vanilla

2 C + 2 T flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 C almonds, slivered

1/2 C cranberries, chopped

Method:

Attach paddle to mixer bowl, and cream butter till smooth. Add sugar, mixing on medium speed till combined. Whisk eggs thoroughly, and add vanilla. Add egg/vanilla mixture to creamed butter/ sugar, until fully incorporated. Sift flour and baking together in a separate bowl, add to mixture, folding in till combined. Add cranberries and almonds to mixture, folding in till combined.

Separate dough into two disks. Dust bench with flour and roll out dough into logs, and place on baking sheet lined with parchment. Wrap with saran and place in fridge for 20 minutes. Take out and place in oven at desired temperature for 25-30 mins. Take logs out, and slice with a serrated knife on a diagonal.  Change temperature of oven and put logs back in for 5-10 mins. Let biscotti cool on a cooling rack before serving.

 

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Week #15 – Biscotti with Pistachios and Cranberries

We were lucky this week to create our recipe in one kitchen! It was nice baking with my son, again. So, this week we’re “One Recipe, One Kitchen”.
Chef Jonathan: I love this recipe, it was very easy and fun to do with someone! Making the batter though, it seemed quite dry, but once it’s brought together and shaped into a log, it seems to be more workable. I love the dipped white chocolate ends, and sprinkled with pistachios!

Karen: These are absolutely yummy! If you’re not a biscotti lover, try these and you will be. It’s a glorified coffee or hot chocolate “dipper” that is twice baked, hence the name “biscotti”. It’s an Italian cookie 🙂 They are easy to make and take awhile because of the baking process but that gives you time to do something else while they’re baking. Just pop them in the oven and go fold some laundry or check Facebook!

We got the recipe from The Food Network and Giada De Laurentis. I haven’t perfected the “log”, yet. I think I’ll make it, again, and try to make it smoother. I think they would be easier to cut. We dipped some in white chocolate and pistachios and some we left plain. You can go to: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/holiday-biscotti-recipe4/index.html or here’s the recipe:

Holiday Biscotti
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentis

.Prep Time:15 minInactive Prep Time:30 minCook Time:55 minLevel:
— Serves:
Makes about 2 dozen.Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
Red and green sugar crystals, for garnish
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

As you dip the biscotti into the melted chocolate, you can also dip them into crushed pistachios if you like.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in re-sealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

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Week # 14 – Crunch Bars

Chef Jonathan’s Part:

I really like this recipe. It’s so easy. It literally took me about 15 minutes. The important part is to really watch your caramel sauce, it can turn from amber to black within a matter of seconds. I also recommend pouring over your crackers immediately after you take it off the burner. I would also reduce the baking time by maybe a minute or so, my caramel was a little too dark on the bottom. All in all, a great recipe for a nice light snack or an app for a party!

Karen’s Part:

I’ve had this recipe for years but never made them.  I’m not sure why because they’re very easy to make and quite yummy.  The recipe was is easy to follow but I changed a couple of things.  I didn’t use the semi-sweet chocolate, I used chocolate chips.  Why crush squares when you can buy them already crushed? I also didn’t toast the walnuts; I forgot.  Careful when melting the butter. Mine was on the edge of burning.  They say don’t stir it and I’m not sure why, I would next time. When they need to be cut,they tended to be a bit hard so keep that in mind.  Also, I think because I used chocolate chips, the chocolate tends to be a bit soft so I store them in the fridge.  Probably the melted squares would keep a bit harder.

These were a hit at a Christmas party I took them to the other night.  Try them when you need something easy to make and good to eat.  Enjoy!

Here’s the recipe:

“Simply Stunning Crunch “Bars”” Dessert Recipes. Web. 18 Dec. 2011. <http://www.dessertcentre.ca&gt;.
 

Week #13: Christmas Cookies with Yuletide Frosting

Chef Jonathan’s Part:

I was very excited for this week, because these are my favourite Christmas cookies of all time! The icing is so sweet, combined with the nice subtle butter cookie underneath, the perfect combination! My Mom and I would make these all time, and I would usually just decorate them, while she did everything else…..Not until this year, did I realize how much work it is. Not to throw you off from making these, but it’s quite the process. But it just makes you appreciate the cookie all the more! These are always a huge hit wherever you take them, I took them to Church on Sunday, and they were gobbled up so quickly! I totally recommend this recipe, but make sure you dedicate a whole day to making them.

Karen’s Part:

The cookie recipe today is a recipe that’s stood the test of time for our family baking and making Christmas cookies.  I used to make these with my mom and sisters and I then made them with my kids.  It’s not a revolutionary recipe but it’s a good one.

I tend to be lazy when it comes to decorating these cookies.  That’s why I have mine decorated with white frosting and colored sugars, etc.  It’s also more fun done as a family event and not by yourself in the kitchen.  But the taste is still the same and each time I bite into one, it takes me back to my childhood and trying to sneak one so my mom wouldn’t say, “How many of those have you had?”  🙂

 

Here’s the recipe:

Christmas Cookies                  oven: 350 degrees

1 C soft butter             2 eggs

2/3 C sugar                 3 C flour

2 T vanilla                   ½ t salt

 Cream the butter.  Add sugar, vanilla and eggs and mix well.  Add the flour and salt.  Roll into a log, cover with wax paper and chill for 2 hours.  Roll out ¼ of the dough at a time.  Cut into shapes with Christmassy cookie cutters.  Place cookies on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Bake about 10 minutes.  Place on wire racks to cool. 

 Yuletide Frosting (to cover the cookies)

½ C butter (Room temp).                  2 t vanilla

½ C milk                                         confectioner’s sugar (as much as needed to make a stiff frosting.)

 Cream the butter.  Add the milk and sugar alternately creaming them until thick enough to spread.  Stir in vanilla.  Add colours as desired.  Decorate and put in the fridge to keep the frosting stiff.

 

 

 

Week # 11 – Salted Caramel Nut Brittle

Chef Jonathan’s Part:

I’m going to re-title my recipe for this week: Salted Caramel Not-So-Brittle. My one flaw this week was not having a proper candy thermometer to test the doneness of the caramel sauce. I was going purely on sight and this was not enough. Nevertheless, it still tasted amazing! I also used walnuts instead of macadamia nuts, and I sprinkled fleur de sel on top! Yum, this is the most delicious salt in the world. If you ever find it in a specialty store, buy it!

Karen’s part:

*Warning!* once this stuff has cooled, you will stand at the counter and eat the whole pan if you don’t have any self-control!

Macadamia nuts are my most favourite nut in the world.  That’s why I couldn’t pass up this recipe that I found in a grocery store holiday magazine/cookbook.  This brittle is easy to make and exceptional to eat.  My one recommendation is that you have a candy thermometer to use. And, that you wait the alloted time to take if off of the stove.  I made this candy twice.  The first time I was too anxious and it was a bit sticky the next day.  This time I waited the exact time and it’s perfect!

One other note:  I added more salt than 1 tsp.  Salted caramel and salted chocolate are my favourite snacks right now; the more the better in my book!  Other than that, I followed the recipe as written and I’m pretty sure it won’t last long and I’d better take some to work to give to my co-workers.

Enjoy!

The recipe:

“Salted Caramel Nut Brittle.” Inspired/Sobey’s Grocery Stores Fall 2011: 32. Inspired.ca. Web.