Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Latte with Eggnog Icing

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…filled with gingerbread and eggnog! By popular request, I was asked to create something special for a Christmas party at church. This is what I dreamed up. Personally I am not a fan of gingerbread flavor, but when you add this tasty icing on top you have a delicious treat fit for anyone who likes a nice blend of holiday flavors.

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of white sugar
½ cup of unsulfured molasses
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup of hot milk
1 table spoon of instant coffee crystals
2 tablespoons of coffee flavored yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin. Cream together soften cutter and sugar. Add molasses and eggs. Sift together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Then add flour mixture to the creamed concoction until combined. Heat milk for one minute in the microwave. Dissolve baking soda in hot milk. Blend coffee and hot milk together. Mix into batter. Add yogurt to moisten batter. Bake for 20 minutes.

Eggnog Icing

½ pound of confectioners sugar
½ stick of butter at room temperature
2 to 3 tablespoons of eggnog

Cream butter and sugar together at medium speed. Add eggnog one tablespoon at a time until the icing is spreadable consistency.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Candy Making "Redemption" of 2008

For the last six years, Audrey and I get together in December to make candy for our family and friends. Last year, was the our candy making turned into a major disaster due to the fact that the candy did not get hot enough and therefore would not harden. We were determined that this year we would make the best candy every. And we did! Our two signature sweets are Hard Crack Cinnamon and Peppermint Bark.

Hard Crack Candy

3 3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of Karo white syrup
1 cup of water
2 flavored oils
food coloring
powder sugar

Boil sugar, syrup, and water until it reaches 300 degrees. While the mixture is boiling, put powder sugar on a large cookie sheet. When the candy reaches 300 degrees, remove from heat. Quickly add oil and food coloring. Spread candy very thinly and let cool. Next, use a spoon to break the candy into pieces. Finally, bad it up and share it with friends!

Peppermint Bark

1 pound of white chocolate*
1 bag of peppermint pieces*

Place the white chocolate in a double broiler on medium heat. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Mix in peppermint pieces. Pour on to a large cookie sheet or baking pan. Let cool. Then break into pieces.

* You can purchase these items at Sugar Drop in Brentwood. I am sure you could find a substitute product somewhere else, but it will not be nearly as good.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Traditions

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. I love walking down the street on a brisk night looking at all of the lights and watching families enjoy spending time celebrating what they have. No matter how difficult times have been, Christmas seems to bring people together with warm thought and holiday cheer. As most families do we have always had certain traditions that we carry out each year to remember the good old days as well as creating new memories. One of my most cherish memories in walking into my Grandma’s house, which always seemed to smell like sugar cookies, to see that her house decorated form one end to the other with candy dishes and tins of party mix. Grandma Boston would bake all sorts of goodies to share with her family, friends, and neighbors. My parents continued this tradition at our house making sweet bread or stew to pass out to our neighbors during the holidays. Now, many years later my mom and I continue the tradition by pulling out our special holiday cookbook with all sorts of best loved recipes that have been saved and passed down from one generation to the next. This weekend my mom and I shared this family tradition with the Krodel’s who over the years have become a dear part of our family. We truly enjoyed sharing some of our favorite holiday treats with them. In the spirit of Christmas, here is one of my very favorite recipes from Christmas pasts.

Oyster Crackers
In memory of Nancy Boston

1 box of Oyster crackers
¾ cup of Wesson Oil
1 package of Original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon dill
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven at 250 degrees. Mix oil, dressing mix, dill, and garlic together. Pour over crackers. Stir until well coated. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes stirring once. Eat and Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Betty Crocker Meets Martha Stewart

A few months ago, I started playing around with the idea of making S’more inspired cupcakes. As usual, I researched possible recipes as a jumping off point. There were so many great ideas it took me awhile to come up with the right mixture of flavor and texture. The main elements of the cupcake came from Betty and Martha. Where would any of us be without them? The end product turned out pretty good. The only change I would make is possibly using an Oreo cookie crust instead of graham crackers.

S’mores Cupcakes

1 box of Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons of butter
1 jar of marshmallow cream

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter. Mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs together until moist. Press a spoonful in the bottom of each cupcake tin. Then mix the cake batter. Fill each cupcake tin about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let completely cool. Next, cut a cone shape into the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with a heaping spoonful of marshmallow cream. The cream will settle after a few hours so be sure to put plenty in the cake. You will have to trim a little cake off before placing the top back on.

Marshmallow Icing

1 (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow cream
½ cup of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons of milk
1 Hershey’s chocolate bar
1 bag of butter cookies or graham crackers

Remove and discard lid and foil seal from jar of marshmallow cream. To soften marshmallow cream for easy removal from jar, microwave on High 15 to 20 seconds. In large bowl, beat marshmallow cream, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with half a cookie or a piece of graham cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered at room temperature.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tis' the Season

Everyone seems to have something that triggers that feeling that the holidays have really arrived. For example, my friend Jesse is struck with Christmas joy upon hearing "Love" by the Dave Matthews Band. It isn't something be looks for but rather waits for that first random occurrence to happen. For me, it's Starbucks' red holiday cups with cheerful Christmas Music blasting throughout the air and holiday decor hanging from the walls. I know it seems a little odd from a girl who prides herself in eating at local restaurants. But it's true. That is just my thing. It brings back fond memories of meeting up with old friends and sharing the ways God has blessed our lives. I can't even begin to count the number of incredible conversations I have had while sipping on a peppermint white mocha or a gingerbread latte. This year though I have found a new favorite that was so fabulous and unique that I had to put in on my food blog despite the fact it comes from a chain. Now let me give you a warning...don't knock it until you have tried it! I know some of your taste buds are quivering at the thought of what I could possibly be about to tell you try but trust me I would not lead you astray. So here it is...a few weeks ago Starbucks introduced there new Signature Hot Chocolates. To be honest my first thought in a very sarcastic tone was"Whoopee hot chocolate." It is not something I would normally pay someone to make because I have never truly had a fabulous cup other than my Grandma Lankford's old fashion cocoa. Upon reading the flavors, Salted Carmel and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, I further judged this new creation to be intriguing but a little too weird for my own taste buds. I mean really who pores salt in their hot chocolate? However, one of the long time bristas at our local Starbucks convinced me to try a cup on the house. As disgusting as I thought it sounded, I was not about to turn down a free cup of anything. So bottoms up! Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised at how the flavors blended together to create one yummy cup of goodness. I am now officially addicted to the Salted Carmel Hot Chocolate. The cocoa is a perfect blend of caramel and chocolate topped off with fresh whip cream drizzled in toffee syrup and sprinkled with sea salt. It is amazing! So this holiday season grab your nearest and dearest for a sweet unique treat at your local Starbucks.