Category Archives: Cookies

Remarkable Fudge

1971 edition

There are 2 theories about fudge making (that I know about). One is what I think of as the old-fashioned kind: a little grainy and thin, the kind my mother made.

The other is the marshmallow cream kind, which is what my husband prefers and has made every Christmas season for over 30 years.

Both are wonderful. My mother’s recipe is the one that I make. It’s not the instant kind (with powdered sugar), but it’s a lot faster to make than Joe’s. He allows 2-3 hours from start to finish.

It’s called Remarkable Fudge and it is indeed. We had the last pieces from this year’s batch with coffee yesterday morning and I miss it already.

Because of the the time and attention required, it probably takes a serious cook or at least one who is serious about fudge to undertake the endeavor, but it really is wonderful. Candy shop fudge has never been as good to me since we discovered this recipe.

The size of the flame.

Last year we realized our candy thermometer was broken and I forgot to replace it.  So he used the old standard soft-ball test and it worked just fine.  Joe ices down the water for the test.

This is what it looks like after cooling down.

For something this time consuming, it pays to use real butter and vanilla.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

This post is linked to Food on Friday at annkroeker.

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Filed under Books, Christmas, Cookbooks, Cookies, Family

Gingerbread Men

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968 edition

My friend Merrily gave me this cookbook when I was 16. She was one of the best cooks I knew, and certainly the best cookie maker. The recipe for my sour cream pound cake came from her.

We have literally worn the cover off of this book over the last 39 years. Joe’s luscious fudge is in this book, and this is the only gingerbread man recipe I’ve ever used.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968

Notes:

* If rolled thick, this recipe makes a soft cookie, which is what my family prefers. However, with the last bit of dough, I roll them thinner for a crunchy cookie which goes well with morning coffee.
* Plan ahead and chill the dough. It does make a difference. I’ve tried doing it in a rush and it just doesn’t work. The dough is sticky and then I add too much flour.
*I’ve never used shortening, I’ve always used vegetable oil (canola, etc.).
* Make sure the cookie cutters are well floured before each cutting, or you’ll start losing arms, heads, etc. that don’t want to separate from the cutter.
* Keep a pastry brush handy. Flour is needed to dust both the rolling pin and the rolling surface, but you don’t want that floury taste on the bottom of the cookies. It’s a hassle, but dust them off before placing them on the baking sheet.
* Parchment paper gives the best result. For years I Pammed the sheet, but the pp results in a better cookie.
* Press raisins into the cookie after they’re on the sheet. Frozen raisins work better. Soft, room-temperature ones don’t want to press in and will likely fall off.
* Sprinkle sugar over the tops before baking.
* Bake one sheet at a time, although it isn’t as important with this recipe as it is with chocolate chip type cookies.
* Turn sheet around half way through baking.
*After baking, let set for about 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

I store the finished cookies in a clear jar on my counter-top. If left out on a plate in humid weather for a long time they stay soft, but not as nice. Besides, it’s way too easy to pick up one from a plate everytime I pass by.

My grandsons love these. In fact, they asked me to make paper gingerbread men for them to play with last summer. I used my larger sized cutter for a pattern and we had the plain, regular gingerbread man, plus Gingerbread Batman, Gingerbread Robin, Gingerbread Joker, Gingerbread Superman. Construction paper was cut out to make their clothes and their faces were done with Crayolas.

This post linked to Food on Fridays @ annkroeker.

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Filed under 1960's, Baking, Books, Christmas, Cookbooks, Cookies, Cooking

Snickerdoodles (and sort of a cookie tutorial)

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This recipe for cinnamon cookies came from a Bryan Chapel (Oklahoma) cookbook which my husband’s grandmother gave me in 1974. It is probably the most inexpensive cookie I make.

A little attention to detail and you can make cookies every bit as good as your favorite bakery. Probably better.

Snickerdoodles
(Makes about 3 dozen.)
~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
~Mix together very thoroughly (it will look creamy).

2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar (if you don’t have cream of tartar, see * below)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
~Sift together and add to creamed mixture, just until blended. Do not overmix.

2 T. white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
~Stir together in a small bowl and set aside.

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~Form dough into 1″ balls, then roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.

~Place on middle rack in oven (only 1 tray at a time). Set timer for 10 minutes.

~After timer goes off, turn tray around and set timer for an additional 5 minutes. (see * below)

~When done, slide paper off onto table and allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

*****Notes*******
If you’re an experienced baker, then you may know everything I’ve written in this section. Most of it I’ve learned from making thousands of cookies. Please don’t be put off by how detailed this is. Baking good homemade cookies is not difficult but it does take focus. I’ve had some real disasters by trying to do something else while I bake, thereby being distracted enough not to set the timer, or thinking that a couple of extra minutes won’t hurt anything (when I haven’t even checked on them). Believe me, it matters. A good recipe is merely where you begin – it’s no guarantee of a good cookie.

*Most recipes call for an oven temperature of 350, but I’ve found that 300-325 (only you know your own oven) with a longer baking time (and turning the tray) gets better results.
*Shortening was listed in the original recipe, but I rarely use it and find that vegetable oil works great. It’s perfectly fine if you prefer it, but the texture and taste will change some.
*If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 t. baking powder and eliminate the baking soda. This will change the flavor a little.
*I learned from America’s Test Kitchen to NOT overmix cookie dough after adding the flour. It will result in a cake-like texture, rather than a cookie one. Before learning this, I knew that sometimes I got that fluffy texture, but I didn’t know why. Just mix thoroughly, then stop.
*The original recipe calls for equal parts of cinnamon and sugar to roll the balls in, and sometimes I do but it will make them very cinnamony and darker.
*You don’t have to use parchment paper. You can lightly grease or Pam the baking sheet, but it will change slightly the way the cookie browns. I’m not much on buying speciality stuff for the kitchen, but I really like the result I get when using parchment paper. Before placing the paper down, I flick a few drops of water onto the baking sheet. This helps to prevent the paper from sliding around and landing the cookies onto the floor. This has happened to me.
*Placing them 2″ apart will allow them to expand without melding into each other.
*Another important lesson I learned by myself (and it was confirmed by America’s Test Kitchen) is to never bake more than 1 tray at a time. I don’t know why this is true, I just know that it is. For years, I’d bake 2 sheets at a time (or more if they were smaller) thinking that it would save both time and energy. Then each tray would turn out differently and some were just awful. As I’ve said before, science is not my forte and this sounds like a physics question. I’ll ask my husband.
*They’ll be puffy when you remove them from the oven, then deflate slightly.
*This part is just observation, not science: I can’t tell you exactly how long to bake them. This morning when I checked them after the second timer, they were still doughy in the middle and I put them back in for another 4 minutes, then they were just right. I had to break one in half to check it. To me, the best texture for Snickerdoodles is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy (not underdone) in the middle. There again, bake them to your own preferences.
*Sliding the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet prevents them from continuing to bake a little after removing from the oven. Placing them on a drying rack helps them to cool without drawing moisture to the bottoms and becoming soggy or heavy.

Now, let’s get the coffee started.
(This post linked to Food on Fridays http://annkroeker.wordpress.com/)

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Cooking