Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Let The Holidays Begin

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Tonight was a baking night for Thanksgiving. This is the first Thanksgiving without Mom, so I am especially thankful to have been invited to join friends tomorrow. I’m bringing appetizers, desserts, and the makings for Tangerine Mimosas.

I’ll be putting together a cheese plate tomorrow, with the star being baked brie with fig jam.

Brie with fig jam in pastry, ready to bake.

Brie with fig jam in pastry, ready to bake.

It’s Thanksgiving, so it’s time for a classic dessert, right? However, pumpkin does not agree with me, so I made a Sweet Potato Pie, based on this recipe. If it tastes as good as it smells (and looks!), it will be divine.

sweet-potato-pie

Sweet Potato Pie

I’m missing Mom, so I also wanted to bake one of her specialties. Mom made these every year during the holiday season, so when I came upon this recipe card, I knew that was the one to try tonight.

russian-tea-cake

Russian Tea Cakes … so tender and delicate … a childhood favorite!

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be glorious, so I’m looking forward to a nice ride in the morning. Today I got about 57 miles in, a little rain shower, a lot of sunshine, a little breeze, and lots of smiling. Let’s just say that it was one of those days that I was glad I a little overdressed.

Rain?!

Rain?!

Here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

This slightly spicy, delightfully sweet, salty, and crunchy caramel popcorn will make a wonderful Christmas gift or snack. I shared a bit yesterday with some friends and colleagues. It was unanimously approved by friends and colleagues alike. It’s based on this recipe from Martha Stewart. I just used mixed nuts instead of peanuts and added just a touch more cayenne. Be sure to watch Martha’s video for the technique.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with mixed nuts

Spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy … what’s not to love?

Spicy Caramel Popcorn with Mixed Nuts

4 quarts popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon (slightly  heaping) cayenne pepper
1 cup salted mixed nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, … your favorite mix)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pop the popcorn – use your favorite method. Spread out evenly on two half-sheet pans lined with silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until well blended then add the corn syrup and stir to blend well. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture turns golden brown. Stir in the salt and cayenne pepper. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and use a heat proof plastic spatula that’s been sprayed with a bit of non-stick spray to gently toss the popcorn with the syrup mixture.

The caramel mixture will be very hot – please be careful!

Bake for about 30 minutes, carefully turning and mixing with the spatula about halfway through. You want a nice, even coating of caramel on the popcorn and nuts.

Allow to cool, then gently break apart into bite sized pieces.

This recipe has officially become part of my Christmas recipe repertoire. I’ll be making this again … probably at least once before Christmas because I know a few on my gift list will want some of this!

Playing with Biscotti

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Looking for something a little different this year? Try this Savory Biscotti, recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. These will be exquisite with an artisan cheese and meat platter, along with some fresh apples, pears, grapes, fresh or dried figs, nuts, and olives. They have a nice, crumbly texture, not too crunchy like some biscotti. They’re slightly sweet, but the herbs and fennel give the a surprising depth of flavor.

Savory Biscotti

Savory Biscotti … just a hint of lemon zest would be divine in these!

Going by the recipe, these make large biscotti. For an upcoming appetizer party, I think I’ll make these, but split the dough into two loaves and make the individual biscotti more bite-sized.

For a dessert biscotti, try this Peppermint Biscotti recipe. The peppermint flavor is quite subtle, so depending on your tastes, you might want to double the amount of extract.

Holiday Baking

The recipe calls for white chocolate, but I prefer dark chocolate.