Monday, February 10, 2014

Linzer Torte Bars

Original Recipe
1 cup  flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup coarsely ground walnuts
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 - 1 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all items except preserves until crumbly. Press 2/3 of mix into ungreased 9x9 pan. Spread with preserves - almost to edge. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over the preserves and gently press into preserves.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan and then cut into bars.

(You can substitute almonds for walnuts, apricot for raspberry)

Did it Work?
Yup. This is a simple, easily modified recipe that is great to take to parties. I use a metal 9x9 cake pan and these easily come out once cooled and loosened around the edges. 

Nuts and Preserves. As the original recipe states, you can swap out both the nuts and the preserves for other flavor options. My last batch was almonds with homemade mixed berry jam. The only thing to watch is the salt level of the nuts. I have gotten away with using the 50% Less Salt almonds from Trader Joe's but I would not recommend using fully salted nuts.

Butter. I go with room temperature butter, to make mixing easier. This is not a pastry crust, so I don't think you need to bother trying to use cold butter. I use my fingers to mix in the butter after I have combined the flour sugar and nuts, just to make sure everything is evenly mixed.


Final product

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ginger Cookies

Original Recipe
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp. molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
Sugar for rolling dough in

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large bowl cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and molasses until fully combined.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and mix until combined.
Roll the dough into small balls [I measured mine at about 2 teaspoons] and then roll in sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Did it Work?
This is a nice straight forward spice cookie with a lovely crunch thanks to the sugar coating. The molasses adds a bit of color, but the flavor of it does not overwhelm anything.
You get a lot of wiggle room on the spices, so feel free to experiment. For several batches I upped the ginger because I love ginger. Due to a lack of cinnamon for one batch I ended up replacing the cinnamon with star anise and some allspice. Chinese five-space powder would probably also be tasty, as would adding some chopped candied ginger.
The cookies do not come out too big, making them nice for a tea-time treat or a cookie tray. You could easily pre-potion these and freeze for baking off later.

Except for messing with the spices, this really did not need any changes. I did not change out the shortening for butter like I normally do because I did not want the flavor of the butter interfering with the spices.


Dough ready to bake.

The finished product

Monday, July 4, 2011

Carrot Cake (Linda's)

Original Recipe
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups coconut ( I used unsweetened)
1 1/3 cups cooked carrots (I mashed them up before measuring)
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained

350 degree oven - 45 minutes or more. 

Cream cheese frosting.

Did it Work?
Yes. This got good reviews at the party I took it to and was tasty, dense and full of stuff. The running joke in our house is that this is carrot cake that wants to be fruit cake when it grows up due to the variety of ingredients that go into the cake. If you have the carrots already cooked up this will come together pretty easily, otherwise it will require some work.

Mixing order. The best way for this seems to be what Alton Brown calls the "muffin method". Prepare your pan(s) by spraying with Pam or your preferred greasing mix and set aside. In a bowl sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together and set aside. In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla together.  Then mix in the nuts, coconut and the cooked carrots. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, being carful to not over mix. Poor into prepared pan and bake.

Pan size. I did this in a 13x9 and while nothing dire happened I did end up feeling like the pan was over-full and the  cake did not rise properly. The cake fell a bit more than I liked in the middle. Next time, I want to split the batter into two separate pans to try and fix this. 

Frosting. I couldn't find a single recipe for cream cheese frosting in the recipe box. So, it was back to that old reliable, The Joy of Cooking. Use whatever recipe makes you happy, or none at all. This cake does not need frosting to be tasty.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Raisin Sheet Cookies

Original Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water

Bring raisins to boil in 1 cup water. Add shortening and baking soda. [Warning - the baking soda will fizz up, this is expected.] 
Mix dry ingredients into raisin mixture.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Use cookie pan (9 1/2 X 14).
Frost with powdered sugar milk while still warm.

Did it Work?
They were rather tasty with a nice spice level, but they have a tendency to dry out rather quickly. See below for my fixes.

Milk for water. Replacing the water with 1 cup of milk (I used 1%) made a significant difference to the moisture level of the bars. The next morning they were still edible and soft, rather than dry and unappealing.

Sugar. Like so many things, I changed out white sugar for brown. Both ways are nice, but the brown sugar adds a flavor dimension and a lovely tan color to the batter.

Frosting. The recipe calls for "powdered sugar milk", basically a glaze made up of powdered sugar and milk. Basically, I start with a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and mix in a couple of tablespoons of milk to make a smooth glaze and then drizzle it on. The cookies are tasty with it, but also do just fine without it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Harvey Wallbanger Pie

Original Recipe
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
1/3 cup Galliano liqueur  
2 tbsp. vodka
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 9 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled
2 orange slices

In a saucepan combine unflavored gelatin, the 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Add orange juice, lemon juice and egg yolks, mix well. Cook and stir over medium heat until gelatin dissolves and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Stir in liqueur and vodka. Chill until partially set (consistency of unbeaten egg whites).

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form (tips curve over). Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating to stiff peaks (tips stand straight). Fold into partially set gelatin. 

Whip cream to soft peaks; fold into gelatin mixture. Chill mixture until it mounds when dropped from a spoon. Turn into cooled pastry shell. 

Chill until firm, 4 -5 hours. To garnish make cut in orange slice from center to peel - twist and interlock. Place atop pie.

Did it Work?
We have a winner! I originally tried this pie because the whole idea sounded intriguing (possibly disgusting) and I had a birthday party full of people to test it on. The pie turned out so much better than I thought it would, both alcoholic and tasty. The orange and lemon juice balance out the Galliano and insure the pie is neither too sweet nor too rich. With a stand mixer this is easy to put together and it lends itself well to being done in conjunction with other dishes.

For once, absolutely none. Just go make the pie. You can thank me later.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sour Cream Cookies

Yes, it has been a while. I have been busily trying out recipes from the box, but I just never seemed to find the time to sit down and write them up. We'll see if I can improve on this track record. To start back off, a simple, straightforward cookie.

Original Recipe
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shortening (or butter)
2 cups sugar
1 egg
6 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.

Roll, sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees.

Did it Work?
Pretty much. This is a very plain-looking cookie, which a few eaters described as a cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread. It makes a huge batch, so it is a great recipe for those times when you find yourself needing to back for large groups or multiple events. Since these are a cut-out cookie, they are ripe for decorating with whatever strikes your fancy and they could be easily spiced up with a myriad of additions (extracts, nuts, frosting, etc.).

Flour. I used less flour than called for, about 5 cups and still ended up putting in a couple of tablespoons of milk because the dough was quite dry. This feels like a recipe developed in a much more humid place. Like any other cookie, try not to overwork the dough. Use your eyes and if it does not want to come together, a little milk will help.

Rolling. As mentioned, this makes a huge amount of cookies. You will need to divide the dough and roll in batches. Rolling out to 1/4 inch gives you a thicker, softer cookie that really only browns around the edges. If you go thinner, you will get a crunchier cookie that takes a beautiful brown color and a different taste. The batch is so big, I say do both and please everyone.

Baking Time. My batches took about 10 minutes on average.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Swedish Corn Pudding

Original Recipe
1 can cream style corn
2 cups milk
3 eggs
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash salt
2 tbsp. butter

Melt butter in baking dish; add flour, beaten eggs and rest of ingredients. Bake in slow oven til set - about 30 minutes.

Did it Work?
The original recipe did not give me what I wanted. The canned corn lent a flavor I wasn't fond of and the cooking method gave me a leaky, broken pudding. Once I made the modifications discussed below, I was much more fond of the result. It was very easy to put together and was something a little different for an office potluck.

Pan Size: I used an 8x8 baking dish, since anything larger seemed too big for the job. A smaller pan would give you a thicker pudding.

Cooking Method: I bumped the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cooked the dish in a water bath for about 45 minutes. The end result was a much smoother texture and no broken pudding.

Fresh Corn: The kernels from three or four ears of corn, plus 1 tbsp. of cornstarch was an excellent replacement for the canned corn. Simply mix the kernels and the cornstarch together and add them to the egg mixture. This will yield a crunchy result in the final pudding.
If you want less crunch and a stronger corn flavor, cook the corn with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water until the corn is cooked through and most of the water has evaporated. Mix the corn with the cornstarch and proceed.
You could probably use frozen corn as well. I suggest getting cut kernels and pre-cooking them before adding them to the egg mixture.