Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sugar High

This has been a sugar (and butter) filled month.  In addition to the cakes, this week included four dozen cupcakes, three batches of nut brittle, my first – and definitely not last – attempt at making toffee and six different kinds of cookies:  cranberry-walnut sugar cookies, plain sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies with currants and pecans, coffee sandwich cookies with caramel filling and Grandma’s butter cookies.  I have no idea how many dozen that is, but it’s definitely in the double digits and probably in the 20's.  And there will be more cupcakes before the week is over, plus figuring out something to send to work with The Hubs for his office get-together, which I will miss while delivering aforementioned cupcakes.  Not surprisingly, I’m nearly out of sugar.  I guess I should have gone with the 50 pound bag after all. 

The amazing toffee waiting for the chocolate to set.  Of all the things I made, this is by far my favorite.  For the recipe, check out Katie's post at Making Michael Pollan Proud.  There was absolutely no reason for me to adapt and reprint her recipe because it's perfect.  I can't wait to make more of this using different nuts and chocolates.  A macadamia nut/white chocolate version will be first on my list.  I also bought some cashews and am thinking sea salt roasted almonds with milk chocolate.  And although I personally wouldn't eat it because I don't like black walnuts, I think a version with black walnuts for my family back home.

The cranberry-walnut sugar cookies waiting to go into the oven.  This is a recipe I adapted from one I found for Amish Sugar Cookies that had been submitted to our local newspaper for a holiday recipe contest.  I added some finely ground walnuts and substituted vegetable oil with walnut oil.  At first I wasn't sure if I liked them, but I have to say I kind of developed a taste for them.

Currant-pecan oatmeal cookies cooling.  Ordinarily I use cranberries in my oatmeal cookies because I don't care for raisins.  But these weren't for me and I can handle currants since they're smaller.  As this recipe doesn't include any egg, I like to underbake these just slightly so they stay nice and chewy.  These have a little more "chew" than usual since I ran out of quick oats and had to use some old-fashioned oats.  I think they still turned out great.

My grandma's butter cookies are one of my favorite cookies.  Part of it is sentimental I'm sure.  I prefer them with a soft buttercream icing (like Grandma made), but that doesn't travel so well.  The snowflakes were decorated with royal icing and some very uncooperative little silver dragees and fondant and luster dust.  The stars were drizzled with melted vanilla confectionery coating.

The coffee cookies getting their coffee-caramel filling.  These almost ended up just being coffee wafers instead of sandwich cookies.  When I first started to fill them, I noticed that my caramel was more of a sauce than a filling.  Fortunately with a little more cooking it firmed up just the way I wanted.

Packaged, boxed and ready for delivery.  All of this was made for my friends, Rhonda and Jim, to put together cookies trays to give on behalf of Jim's business, Cache River Chevrolet & RV.  (Yes, a totally shameless plug for them, without their knowledge or compensation.)

So now that all of that is out of the way, I have another go around with the white chocolate cupcakes, as well as pumpkin cupcakes, for a birthday on December 15th and then I get to start baking for myself and start my Christmas shopping.  I think I may take January off.

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