Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Baking, Non-Baking, and Candy Making

Dan & I have been doing some holiday baking and candy making (and I guess, non-baking, in the case of rum balls). The first three started with recipes found online or in cookbooks, but we adapted them a bit (adding the passionfruit topping, candied ginger frosting, and turning homemade marshmallows into s'mores candies, respectively). The rum balls recipe is something Dan found after we wondered out loud whether you could use gingersnaps to make rum balls (you can!), the pineapple bars were something Dan made while I was at work, to surprise me, and the last recipe was given to me by my mother, passed down from my grandfather (her father), who made his special peanut brittle every year for the holidays.

And to Anna & Jason - what a crazy coincidence that we both made homemade marshmallows this holiday season! S'mores were clearly on the collective conscious' brain. We're saving the beautiful ones you gave us (along with the homemade graham crackers you made - WOW!) to make proper s'mores with our newly working fireplace. Thank you so much for the wonderful surprise!

Passionfruit Cheesecake Bar Cookies
9 squares of graham crackers
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tbspn lemon juice
1 cup passionfruit juice
1 Tbspn cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place crackers, flour, walnuts and 1/4 cup sugar in food processor and pulse until crackers and nuts are finely ground. Move to a bowl and add melted butter, mixing until crumbly and well combined. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x9x2 baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Blend cream cheese and sugar. Add egg and lemon juice. Mix well. Pour over baked layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes more. Cool completely. Combine passionfruit juice and cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk well to combine. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often. When the mixture thickens and becomes transluscent, remove from heat and allow to cool partially. Pour over the top of the cooled cheesecake and place in refridgerator. Cut into squares. Store in fridge.

Homemade S'mores Candies
1 cup cold water
3 Tbspn unflavored gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tspn salt
2 Tbspn vanilla
Confectioner's sugar
12 oz chocolate chips (semi- or bittersweet)
1 Tbspn butter
1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of your mixer. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the water and allow to sit for 45-60 minutes. In a large saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 up cold water, sugar, syrup and salt. Heat over high heat and allow mixture to come to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees F. Do not allow to go past 244. Remove from heat and slowly beat into the dissolved gelatin at low speed. Once the hot mixture is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and white but still warm - about 15 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Generously dust a 9x13 inch baking pan with cornstarch. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Dust with confectioner's sugar liberally. Let the marshmallow's stand, uncovered at room temperature, for 8-12 hours to firm up. Turn the marshmallows from the pan onto a piece of parchment paper dusted iwth confectioner's sugar. Cut into squares. In a double boiler, heat butter and chocolate and stir until smooth. Dip marshmallows to coat half-way with chocolate, allowing excess to drip off, then roll in graham cracker crumbs. Return to parchment paper to cool.

Ginger-Molasses Cupcakes w/ Candied Ginger Frosting
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 tspn ground ginger
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 Tbspn lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups or so of confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup candied ginger, divided
One thumb sized piece of fresh ginger root, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat molasses, sugar, shortening, ginger, and cinnamon to boiling, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Sift soda and flour together in large bowl. Combine milk and lemon juice, then eggs, in a small bowl. Add flour and egg mixtures, alternately, to molasses mixture. Bake in 16 paper cupcake liners in cupcake tins for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place 1/4 cup candied ginger and confectioners sugar in food processor and pulse until ginger is broken down and incorporated into sugar. Beat butter in a mixer on high speed until it lightens in color, then reduce speed to low and begin adding sugar/ginger until consistency is just a bit thicker than frosting. Squeeze juice from grated ginger into frosting as you continue beating, increasing the speed. Frost cupcakes.

Gingerbread Walnut Rum Balls
30 gingersnaps, ground in a food processor (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 Tbspn unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
4-6 Tbspn honey
4-6 Tbspn rum

Combine gingersnaps, cocoa, sugar and walnuts in a large bowl. Add all but 1 Tbspn each of honey and rum, stirring until the mixture is evenly moistened and still slightly sticky, but holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hand. (If mixture is too dry, add remaining honey and/or rum). With slightly damp hands, shape mixture into walnut sized balls, then roll in confectioner's sugar. Store in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper for up to 3 weeks. The longer they store, the better the flavor.

Pineapple Squares
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn baking soda
1/3 tspn salt
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple, drained
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar in an electric mixter for two minutes on high speed. Mix in eggs. Add dry ingredients, except confectioner's sugar, and mix. Drain pineapple by pressing the top of the open can agains the pineapple while draining the juice. Add pineapple to the batter and stire with a spoon until blended. Pour batter into a greasd, 9x13 inch baking dish, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool. Cut into 24 bars. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Grandpa John's Peanut Brittle
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanuts
1 Tbpsn butter
1/2 tspn baking soda
Pinch of salt

Boil the sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan until they reach 245-250 degrees F (hard ball). Add peanuts and continue heating to 300 degrees F, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, baking soda and salt and stir well. Pour onto a well greased or silicon-mat lined baking sheet, spreading as thin as possible. When cooled, cut or break into pieces.

No comments: