Christmas… yes it was almost four months ago. I do realize that I have taken more time than is usually allotted to actually finish this post. I don’t know where the time went for this past Christmas break. I thought I would have more time to write this post. Then school started and there seemed to be a lack of time all around! I did a variety of old, new, and variations on recipes. I do apologize for the inferior quality of my photos. They were taken on my old phone. I now have an I phone 4s which rocks in the every department including photos. Unless it is linked, the recipes were used from the new Betty Crocker big red book!
Christmas Treats 2013 list
Truffles and Caramels
Home Made Marshmellows
Ginger Bread Snaps
However, we will start with a Christmas bread from the Baker’s Apprentice!
I love the Baker’s Apprentice cook book. You can tell the author has a passion for baking, the culture, and history behind each bread recipe. This traditional Christmas bread was wonderful!
1/2 C whole milk
1/2 C AP flour
4 t instant yeast
1 C golden raisins, Plus additional for sprinkling on final dough
1/2 C brandy, run, or schnapps
1 T orange or lemon extract
2 1/4 C unbleached AP flour
1 T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 t grated orange zest (optional)
1 t grated lemon zest (optional)
1 t ground cinnamon
1 large egg
5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 C water
1/2 C slivered blanched almonds
Vegetable oil or butter for topping
powdered sugar for topping
1. Make the sponge by warming milk to about 100 degrees. Whisk in the flour and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge is very foamy and ready to collapse when tapped.
2. Meanwhile, combine 1 C each of the raisins and mixed fruit, the brandy, and the orange extract. Set aside.
3. To make the dough, in a 4 quart mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt, orange and lemon zests, and cinnamon. Then stir in the sponge, egg, butter, and enough water to form a soft, but not sticky ball (2 min.). When the dough comes together, cover the bowl and let dough rest for 10 minutes.
4. Add in the fruit and mix it with your hands (or on low speed) to incorporate.
5. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing witht the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should feel soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 6 min (4 min by machine). Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
6. Ferment at room temperature for 45 minutes. The dough will rise somewhat but will not double in size.
7. Sprinkle flour lightly on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. If you are making 2 loaves divide the dough in half. Proceed in one of the following ways. Method 1: roll out the dough into a 9X6 in rectangle (7X5 rectangle for 2 smaller loaves) and sprinkle with slivered almonds and additional fruit over the top. Roll the dough with the edge of your hand.
8. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Transfer the stollen tot eh pan and, as you set the dough down, curl it into a slight crescent. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for approximately 1 hour at room temperature, or until the dough is 1 1/2 times its original size.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
10. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190 degrees in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
11. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and brush the top with vegetable oil while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first. The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or, leave them out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style!
Painting with gel icing: See Arty Mcgoo on my blog roll
Royal icing: See Annie’s Eat’s for step by step tutorial
To add texture as was done with the trees add more powdered sugar and make it thicker and then use a spoon to make it look like there’s branches/texture. I had a lot of fun with these cookies, and I experimented. I feel I had more fun doing a variety rather than one design. It also allowed me to be more creative and forgive myself when I would make a mistake.
We have gotten so much snow this year it is ridiculous! I have had days where I can’t leave my house because I can’t see my garage! I am looking forward to summer and warmer weather.
Christmas Cards, nutcracker etc.
Truffles and Caramels
We added these recipes to our Christmas repertoire this year. I have to admit I have a lot more caramels than I know what to do with. Mwhahaha I have had a fabulous idea! I shall take these goodies to the Professor appreciation pot luck that my school puts on every year for our OT professors and supporting staff! I will then leave any left overs in the school fridge and leave a note saying EAT please 😉 . I am also making American Sandwich bread for the pot luck which I will post about later this week.
From Betty Crocker Cookbook the new edition the big red cookbook.
Basic Caramel recipe
2 cups sugar
1/2 cups butter, cut into pieces
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1. Check candy thermometer. Line 8-9 inch square pan with foil, leave 1 inch of foil hanging over on 2 opposite sides of pan; grease foil with butter.
2. In 3 quart saucepan, head all ingredients to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil uncovered about 35 minutes, stirring frequently, to 245 degrees on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a firm ball that holds its shape until pressed. Immediately spread to pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
3. Using foil, lift caramels out of pan; place on cutting board. Peel foil from caramels. Cut into 1 inch squares. Wrap individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap; store in airtight container at room temperature.
Luscious Chocolate Truffles
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet dark or milk chocolate chips
2 T butter, softened
1/4 C whipping cream
2 T liqueur (almond, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, Irish cream, orange, raspberry, or other flavor), if desired
1 T shortening
finely chopped nuts, if desired
1/4 C powdered sugar, if desired
1/2 t milk, if desired
1. In 2 quart saucepan, melt 1 C of the chocolate chips over low heat (I used a double boiler pot system) stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in butter. Stir in whipping cream and liqueur. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, just until thick enough to hold a shape.
2. Line cookie sheet with foil. On cookie sheet, drop chocolate mixture by teaspoonfuls; shape into balls. (Too sticky? refrigerate until firm) Freeze 30 minutes.
3. In 1 quart saucepan, heat shortening and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly,until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Using fork, dip truffles, one at a time, into chocolate. Return to foil covered cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle some of the truffles with nuts. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until coating is set.
4. In small bowl, stir powdered sugar and milk until smooth; drizzle over some of the truffles. Refrigerate just until set. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. Serve truffles at room temperature by removing from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
The truffles were a variation
Almond with milk chocolate or/ Almond with dark chocolate
Strawberry with milk chocolate or/ Strawberry with dark chocolate
Home Made Peppermint Marshmallows
1/3 C powdered sugar
2 1/2 T unflavored gelatin
1/2 C cold water
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 C corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1/2 C water
1 t peppermint exctract
8-10 drops red food color
1. Check accuracy of candy thermometer. Generously grease bottom / sides of 11X7 inch glass baking dish with butter; dust with 1 T of the powdered sugar. In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of cold water to soften; set aside.
2. In 2 quart saucepan, heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 C water over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Heat to boiling; cook uncovered about 30 minutes without stirring, to 240 degrees on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a soft ball that flattens between fingers; remove from heat.
3. Slowly pour syrup into softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Increase speed to high; beat 8-10 minutes or until mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume. Add peppermint extract; beat on high speed 1 minute. Pour into baking dish, patting lightly with wet hands. Drop food color randomly onto top of marshmallow mixture. Pull table knife through food color to create swirl pattern over top. Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours or overnight.
4. Dust cutting board with about 1 T powdered sugar. Place remaining powdered sugar in small bowl. To remove marshmallow mixture, loosen sides form dish and gently lift in one piece onto cutting board. Using sharp knife greased with butter, cut into 1 inch squares. Dust bottom and sides of each marshmallow by dipping into bowl of powdered sugar. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.
Ginger Bread Snaps
1 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C shortening
1/4 C molaswses
2 1/4 C AP flour
2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt
1. Heat over to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets with shortening or cooking spray or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or with spoon, ,until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar.
3. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops into granulated sugar. On cookie sheets, place balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart. *(hint take drinking glass and press balls on sugar side until they are the desired thickness)
4. Bake 10-12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.
I did a variation on this recipe. I did Andes Mint chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. It is heavenly!
Thank God! We are done! Here are some photos of everything packaged and ready to go!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas with family and friends. I know I am looking forward to this summer after this brutal Michigan winter.