25 November 2009

Fresh-Ginger Cookies

My mother-in-law and I actually made these last year after Thanksgiving (during the first day of hunting season while our men were out in the wilds). We started with a gingersnap recipe from Cooking Light that a friend had sent me, changing it to suit our needs and ingredients we had on hand. I recently made them again with my nieces (see picture below), stashing a small bag of them in the freezer to take along with a meal for a new mother and family. I forgot about them, but my husband found them a few days later and took them to work for my brother's birthday. Are you still with me? Another one of his co-workers liked them so much that he asked for the recipe which I sent along with David to work this morning. All that to say that if they're good enough for someone to be asking for the recipe, then I should post it here!

Fresh-Ginger Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup King Syrup (or other corn syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 TBSP freshly grated ginger root (or less, depending on your taste for ginger)
2 cups flour
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions: Beat sugars and butter together in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add egg, syrup, vanilla, and fresh ginger, and beat until smooth. Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir until incorporated. At this point, if your dough is sticky, refrigerate it. Mine never has been, so I move right on to the next stage. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in sugar or cinnamon-sugar mixture as desired. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. I prefer mine a little chewy, but some people like a firm, dry gingersnap. Eat away!

13 November 2009

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

I made a pan of pumpkin fudge this morning, and this is all I have left by bedtime . . .

So it must've been good. I did have lots of people to share it with and, well, I did eat some too . . .

I tweaked the recipe from this one at allrecipes.com.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

2 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each of ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1 package mini-marshmallows (or 7 oz. marshmallow cream)
2 TBSP butter
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Instructions: Grease a 9 x 13 pan with butter or other solid shortening and set aside. Stir together sugar and evaporated milk in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add pumpkin and spices, and bring to a boil again. Stir in marshmallows and butter, bring to a hard boil, and cook--stirring occasionally--for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate chips and vanilla until all the chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan and let cool.

Cook's Word: Fabulous pumpkin pie flavor! This might have to become a fall favorite. If only I could get my taste-tester to like fudge! Well, enough other people asked for the recipe, so I think I'll call it a success.

11 November 2009

Doughnut French Toast

It was somewhere between asleep and awake--a weird mix of dreams, the breaking dawn, and NPR's Morning Edition program. I was asleep one moment and the next I was catching a snippet of conversation between Steve Inskeep and Nigella Lawson concerning Lawson's "Doughnut French Toast". (I think this must have caught my one awake ear because a few months back one of my sisters had posted about this particular french toast, and I had watched a video clip of Nigella making it.) And in the next moment, I was dreaming about being a chef in a nice country hotel . . .

Later on, I wondered if I had really heard a Morning Edition clip, or whether I had just dreamed it all. I went to NPR's website and found proof that I hadn't been totally in la-la land. And did I have stale-ish bread on hand at that particular moment? Why, yes! And was I having a morning at home with time to make french toast? Absolutely!

Mmmmm . . . this french toast was really good. I think it had a bit much vanilla, and not enough (none at all, in fact) salt. But I loved the egginess and the instructions to soak it as long as it said. My bread could have used even more of the wet stuff, but I had used whole grain bread when the recipe called for white. I also noticed later that there are two recipes (at the NPR site and here)for this toast online in which one calls for double the amount of milk. Now that would make a difference!

Cook's Word: A good, solid french toast. I think I would add a dash of salt to the egg mixture as well as a little sugar. I didn't care for all the sweetness being on the outside. I think I'd also cut the vanilla a bit if I make it again.

03 November 2009

Carroty Cake

In a minute you'll understand why my kitchen counter looked like this last Saturday morning . . . (And, yes, this is a close-up, so there were lots more)

I must say the joy of baking far outweighs the "joy" of doing the dishes afterward. And when I get into it, I really get into it. And the dishes pile up. Up. Up.

I really didn't bake all that much, it was just that I had to use so many bowls per recipe. First off: carrot cake. For Dad's birthday cake, it couldn't be any other. I had found the perfect recipe that didn't call for any pineapple (and then freaked out a little bit when he said he likes the kind with pineapple). I wasn't about to go back on it, though. I had already tested the recipe with some friends and got good reviews. With the applesauce I added to the recipe, I thought the cake had enough moisture to warrant forgetting the pineapple. I actually had the foresight to also take my carrots to work with me and quickly, easily grate all four cups in the food processor there. =)

While the carrot cake layers cooled, I did a batch of pumpkin cupcakes. I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen pretty much spot on, so I won't copy it here. Delish! Especially with cream cheese frosting on top!

Once the carrot cake layers cooled, I put on a crumb coat (a thin layer to keep crumbs from peeking through the final layer), swathed it in plastic wrap, and stashed it in the fridge 'til evening. The cake and cupcakes were transported to Mom and Dad's house later in the afternoon for the final party frosting. I couldn't think of any other crowning decoration, so we cheesily slapped some candy corns on top. Not my best gourmet moment.

After a splendid dinner, the pinata, and apple-bobbing, it was time for the grand moment of truth. Was this birthday cake good enough for a 60th-year celebration.? After we'd all eaten, I coolly asked my dad, "So, how was the cake?"

Taste-tester's response: "Perfect!"

It can only go downhill from here, folks. Cook's word. (Oh, and: P.S. I thought the cake was good, but I got a little happy with all that frosting. See it literally dripping down in the middle? Yikes! I mean, cream cheese is yummy, but . . . )

And since it was that good:

"Perfect" Carrot Cake
(tweaked from here)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce (I used Ginger-Granny, of course!)
4 cups grated carrots

Instructions: Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar together. Add vanilla, oil, and applesauce, and blend well. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in carrots. Bake at 350F in a greased, floured 9x13 or two 9-inch round pans for about 40 minutes. Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

p.s. Thanks for the pans, Rachel!