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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Treats

Golden Caramels
recipe from Martha Stewart
makes 150
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 cups light corn syrup
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan (this is a half-sheet pan) with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
In a heavy 6- to 8-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250 degrees (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250 degrees. slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces, or other shapes. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper.
Cherry Cheese Pinwheels
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs. milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
In a mixing bowl beat the shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium hight speed about 30 seconds or till softened. Add about half of the flour to the shortening mixture. Then add the 3/4 cup sugar, egg, milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat till thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl. Then beat or stir in the remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill about 3 hours or till dough is easy to handle.
Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl stir together the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and almond extract. Stir in the chopped cherries.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of the dough into a 10-inch square. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut each square ito sixteen 2 1/2 inch squares. place 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Use a knife to cut 1 inch slits from each corner to center. Drop a level teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture in each center. Fold every other tio into the center to form a pinwheel. Sprinkle chopped nuts in the center and press firmly to seal.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or till edges are firm and cookies are slightly puffed. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove cookies and cool on wire racks. Makes about 32.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Humble Gingerbread House

Lowering my expectations when it comes to crafting with my kids has been a good lesson. And that is, it's the time spent that makes the difference in the end, not how grand the presentation!

Less is more and spectacular isn't always better.

Isn't our gingerbread house splendid?

Made by Thomas, Kate and Jack