…and now we bring you back to our (regularly scheduled) blogging.

Okay, so I hope you like the changes I’ve made so far. If you are new here, take a look around. I just started filing away the recipes I’ve used and featured on this site in a neat page I like to call the “recipes” page. It can be found at the top of this one. I have just slightly changed the look or “theme” of the pages to be more readable. I am also going to have shorter posts, and the recipes will be after the “jump” (just click on the little ” read more” link.) As previously mentioned, you’ll also be able to find the recipes on the new page.

So here is today’s post: peanut butter-peanut brittle and chocolate pudding


I wanted to try out (or really, use) the Silpat (a silicone non-stick mat used on cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans or any other flat surface to create a non-stick surface that is reusable and easy to clean) and the ramekins I/my mother bought me for my birthday. What better way to try these new kitchen items than to make brittle and chocolate pudding? I couldn’t think of anything either. (Yet.)

Both recipes were actually quite similar in method, and both things are easy to make. Quite simply, add things to a heavy-bottomed pot, wait a bit, add some more things, stir them around, and pour them out. Almost sounds like the hokey-pokey. (Just put your right hand in, etc. You don’t hear the similarities? Hmm…maybe that’s just my inner child poking it’s way out. Get it? POKING? Hokey-POKEy? Huh?) Anyway, if you are still interested in finding out about how to make brittle and/or chocolate pudding, just click away, and I’ll see you after the jump. (Just put your whole-self in…)

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sugar cookies

Yesterday, I made sugar cookies for the last day of Hanukkah party I helped Benjie host. I made two different recipes, one was (I think) the recipe from the back of the Domino’s sugar bag, and is a regular sugar cookie recipe, which used only white granulated sugar. The other one I have saved from Gourmet magazine, and it is a brown sugar cookie recipe. The first one can be rolled and shaped and cut out and decorated. The other can be scooped, and is more like a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe without the chocolate chips. I decorated with sprinkles and blue icing. Many people like to use royal icing for decorating cookies, but with everything else going on for the party (we made latkes, too) I didn’t want to make royal icing. However, I will include the recipe just in case you want it for your sugar cookies. The royal icing is from A Field Guide To Cookies, which is written by another food blogger; her site is called Dessert First.

So, here are the recipes, in order they were mentioned:

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar or 1- 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

Heat oven to 375ยบ. Sift together the dry ingredients; set aside. Cream together butter and vanilla. Add either 3/4 cup sugar or 1-1/2 cups for chewy cookies. Beat in the egg. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Roll out and cut to desired shapes. You can add sprinkles right into the dough, and/or you can add sprinkles to the top of the cookies. The colder the dough, the easier it is to handle. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 1-1/2 dozen large cookies.

(Almond) Brown sugar cookies (from Gourmet magazine)

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

(1/2 cup whole blanched almonds = 2-1/2 oz)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. (Stir in almonds) Roll into logs and chill or freeze dough or scoop onto baking sheets. If you rolled the dough into logs, you will slice the dough less than 1/8 inch thick. If you scooped them, use the back of a wet spoon or wet the palm of your hand, and press down. Bake cookies 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 100 to 120 sliced cookies. I think I made about 12-18 3 inch scooped cookies.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 cups powdered sugar

food coloring

Whisk all ingredients except for the coloring in a clean bowl on high speed. They should be shiny and an opaque white. It should be a glue-like consistency. Divide into bowls and mix in the coloring as desired. Keep covered with a damp towel so it does not dry out.

So, those are the recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing for decorating. I really liked the brown sugar cookies, and I think that was everyone’s favorite as well.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! (though I am sure I’ll bake something else before New Year’s.)

apples and honey

So, to celebrate the Jewish New Year, it is tradition to eat apples and honey together. Since I am not such a fan of fruit, but more of a fan of everything sweet, I decided to make apple and honey lollipops. They turned out pretty well, and even look good enough to give away to the various homes I will be entering to celebrate the holiday (or Holy Day, as some people might call it.) this weekend. Making candy is pretty easy to do. It just takes some time (doesn’t everything?!) to wait for the sugar to boil to become about 300 degrees. (professional candy makers call this the hard crack stage, but last night we called it “waiting for the crack”.) Since it is so easy, this will probably be my shortest post yet. (But perhaps my sweetest?!)
Lollipops (makes about 20-30 depending on how big you make them and how fast you are with the hot sugar)
1. Spray either a marble slab or counter space (if you are lucky enough to have one…) or a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with some non-stick spray.
2. Measure your ingredients. I did this in a liquid (glass) measuring cup, because if you pour the corn syrup on top of the sugar, it is easier to get out. It is really easy to remember: 1/2 cup of each: sugar, corn syrup, and water. For the apple flavored candy, I used apple juice concentrate, about 2 tablespoons. Do not add the flavor to the sugar mixture yet. You will do this after the sugar reaches the right temperature.
3. Pour the sugar, syrup, and water into a pot and let boil. If you have a candy thermometer (which I do, but did not remember it last night) you can use it to take the temperature of the boiling sugar mixture, and you want to wait till it reaches 293-300 degrees. (I looked at many sites and the temperature for hard crack stage varies from site to site. The Baking and Pastry book from the CIA says 293 degrees.) If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can test the sugar the old fashioned way, by putting some syrup into cold water. If you can form a ball and it is hard to crack, you are all set. Also, 300 degrees is right before sugar starts to caramelize (it starts at around 310 degrees) so, if you notice your sugar starting to turn yellowish/goldish then that is also a good way to know when the sugar is at the right temperature.
4.  Add flavoring (and coloring, but it has to be oil based to work). Mix quickly.
5. Pour the sugar onto the pan, and quickly insert a lollipop stick, and rotate the stick so that you can be sure that it is completely covered in candy. You have to work quickly because the sugar will get thick and start to set up.
6. After the lollipops have cooled some, you can transfer them to wax paper and let them finish cooling before wrapping them.
If you are like me, and want to create two-flavored lollies, you can just pour the second flavor on top of the first.
That’s it. Pretty easy, huh? If you have any questions, of course you can post them as comments, and I will try to help, but I also found this website helpful, too.
Pictures! I like the top one, the pop looks kinda like an apple, I think. :o)