Category Archives: Holiday

Cherry Almond Biscotti

I know it is January and you are probably still avoiding sugar after the dessert filled holiday season, but I had to post this recipe.  One of my friends needed a cookie for a bridal tea she is helping host and I knew this would be the perfect thing!

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The second baking is really important because it hardens the biscotti. Note however this biscotti does not get as hard as a lot of the other recipes I have tried. I believe its crumbly texture is what makes it so good!

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Dried Cherry Almond Biscotti

modified from Anne Burrell

1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. amaretto
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 lemon, zested
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
3/4 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 squares white almond bark or white chocolate for dipping

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and amaretto.

Gently mix in the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, fold in the almonds and dried cherries.

Divide the dough in half and roll the dough into 2 logs. If the dough is sticky, dust with flour. I needed to do this.
Roll the logs to the length of a sheet pan. Beat the egg white with a splash of water. Brush the logs with the egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Transfer to a sheet pan and place at least 3 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven let cool for 10 minutes. Remove logs to a cutting board and slice on the bias about 3/4 inch thick. Lay the biscotti back on the sheet pan and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. This will harden the biscotti. Cool completely on a rack.

Melt almond bark or white chocolate in a double broiler over medium low heat.  Dip or drizzle onto almond bark and let harden on parchment paper. Enjoy!

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Southern Pralines

My grandmother always made these buttermilk pralines, especially at Christmas.  I continue to make them every year because it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without Mamaw’s Candy.

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Southern Pralines

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans
1 1/2 tablespoon butter

First, set up a long sheet of parchment or wax paper on a counter or table to place the candies on to cool and harden. You may also want to put a potholder down to set the hot pot on, if you do not want to place it directly on your counter top. The pralines come together quickly at the end and you will need to work fast so I find setting up your station first is crucial.

Select a large saucepan, these candies boil up significantly!

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Combine the sugar, buttermilk, baking soda and corn syrup in the pot. Stir and place over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to soft ball stage or about 240° on a candy thermometer stirring constantly. The mixture will brown and bubble.
Once if reaches soft ball stage add the pecans, vanilla, and butter.

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Remove from heat and stir vigorously until glossy and it starts to become thick. Quickly spoon onto wax or parchment paper. Let harden completely before removing from paper.

Note: if it hardens before you can spoon it out return it to heat for a few minutes until spoon-able.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!! and happy candy making!

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Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Holiday baking is definitely in full swing at my house and it is starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

One of the important lessons I have learned in holiday baking is when you are using peppermint extract use the good stuff. The “pure” rather than imitation mint makes a big difference in the flavor.

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I got the recipe for these cookies out of the December 2012 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.  The link will take you to the recipe on their website. These cookies are a little but time consuming but turn out adorable and are worth the time if you like mint!  One piece of advice is the thickness of the cookie will effect the baking time so I would keep an eye on it starting at about 9 minutes.

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I dipped one edge of mine into the chocolate glaze and then dipped the edge immediately into crushed peppermints or sprinkles!  If you would prefer a less chocolate-y cookie you can leave the sandwiches as is.  Really the possibilities are endless!

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Almond Roca

My favorite part of the holidays is definitely baking and candy making! Maybe that is why I always gain 1o pounds…

This almond roca is delicious and if you are new to making candy, this is a good place to start.

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Almond Roca

1 lb butter (4sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons water
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips (11 1/2oz.)

Sprinkle half of your almonds onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.

Over Medium heat, melt butter in a large pot.

Add corn syrup, water and sugar to pot and cook until temp reaches 290 degrees OR until the mixture becomes the color of a brown paper bag. This takes about 15-20 minutes. stirring constantly with a wooden spoon the mixture with bubble and rise and towards the end will come together a bit

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Remove from heat and Stir in 1/2 of the Almonds.

Turn mixture onto a greased cookie sheet. Make sure the sheet has edges to contain the toffee.

Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the butter. As the melt spread the chocolate to cover the toffee.
If you want particular shapes you can score the toffee, otherwise you can just break it apart once it is cool.

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Once it had hardened enough to handle I refrigerated mine for a couple of hours to help it cool completely. This isn’t necessary but if you do this just remove it a few hours before serving. Enjoy!

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Potato Latkes

If you haven’t had your latkes yet heat up some oil and get grating!!!

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Latkes are so simple to make and a Hanukkah staple.  Serve them with sour cream and apple sauce.  I used this recipe from Epicurious and added 1 Tbsp. of matzo meal.

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Potato Latkes

makes 10-12 latkes

1 pound potatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. matzo meal

serve with sour cream and applesauce

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.

Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed.

Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.

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