Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peanut Brittle From New York Magazine

My father has to be the most difficult person to give a gift to.

He has admitted, on his own accord, to having no hobbies - he works too much to really have a hobby. He loves to go with my Mom and perhaps a few friends to Tunkwa Lake for a few days of fishing, he also enjoys a bit of golf, and a beer or two on his days off - but any gifts I could purchase that have to do with those activities seem so...unpersonable.

That's when I remembered (and I hope I remembered correctly!) that he likes peanut brittle.

Peanut Brittle For My Dad

vegetable oil spray

2 cups sugar

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tbsp salt

12 ounces dry roasted, salted peanuts (do not chop)

Spray a baking sheet lightly with vegetable oil. Add the sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all of the sugar is wet.
Cook over high heat until the mixture turns a medium golden.

Immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble).

Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the peanuts. Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden (it may not cover the whole pan).

Once the brittle is completely cool, break it into bite sized pieces with a blunt object.

Makes 24 chunks.


Monday, December 15, 2008

My Grandmother's Half Moon Cookies

My Grandmother is spectacular in the kitchen - she bakes, she cooks...and she makes it look easy. I should adjust my tenses however, as she doesn't do the things she used to since being in a car accident some years ago - it changed her and the energy just isn't there any longer.

Rather than letting some of her best creations languish in memory alone, I decided to take on a few of her recipes that were always a Christmas feature. One being these Half Moon Spice Cookies.

Filled with jam and having a very tender bite, these clove-y, cinnamon-y cookies are one of my favorites from my Grandmother's Christmas plate.

These cookie require quite a bit of time and effort as you must hand fold the dough around the jam and seal them so they keep all the sticky goodness inside. The recipe makes enough for a very large family gathering - I saved half of the dough in the freezer and still had plenty of cookies!

Grandma's Half Moon Cookies

1 cup sour cream
1 cup honey
1 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
8 tsp baking powder
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
5-6 cups flour

Dissolve baking soda into sour cream. Combine remaining ingredients with it. Roll out and cut circles with a water glass or cookie cutter. Dab jam of choice in center, fold over and seal using a bit of milk. Bake approximately 10 minutes at 325. Ice with icing sugar and milk mixture.

I was nervous as I took the first tray out of the oven. Would they be the same as Grandma's?

They were - and Papa Bear was able to remember his own Grandmother through these cookies too.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Applesauce Pie

I needed to make a bit of room in my freezer for all of the holiday baking I have planned, and discovered a recipe for an applesauce pie in my recipe binder.

Although quite sweet, thin slices served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream made this a lovely dessert.

Applesauce Pie

2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup applesauce
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 9 inch pie shell

Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.