Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whatever Wednesday

Hello blog world! Well, today I am starting Whatever Wednesday which is just what it sounds like...whatever. Wednesday is going to be my day to post whatever recipe, tip or thought about food/cooking that I want. Last night, my friend and I made english toffee together. I have to confess that I attempted the same recipe about a month ago and it COMPLETELY bombed! It is Paula Deen's recipe. It looked really simple and I totally thought I had a handle on it. Until...Chris and I were standing over my cookie sheet staring at a sheet of black mess. I totally burnt it. This time, we used a candy thermometer which I highly recommend...hehe. It turned out great! I was very excited. The only thing that went wrong is that I forgot to add the vanilla and the salt. You are supposed to add them after you remove the pan from heat and before pouring onto the cookie sheet. I was way to anxious to remember. Candy is the one thing that completely stresses me out in the kitchen. There is such a small window of time to either get it right or get it totally wrong. Also, I made the dough for some gingerbread cookies that are sandwiched together with orange frosting...yum! Here are the recipes for both:

Paula Deen's English Toffee
14 tablespoons butter (I used 2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 chopped pecans (I did not put pecans in mine)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 (6-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips or thin chocolate bars

Generously butter a cookie sheet (I lay down a piece of wax/parchment paper and then butter the paper so it is easier to remove from the pan).

Put butter, sugar, and water in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove spoon from pan, and cook to a very brittle stage (300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Or, make a cold water test: candy will separate into hard, brittle threads when dropped in cold water. Remove from heat and add nuts to mixture. Add vanilla and salt. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thickness. Cool slightly, top with chocolate chips or chocolate bars, and spread as it melts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Alex Guarnaschelli's Family Gingerbread Cookies
The foundation:
1 1/2 sticks lightly salted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar (I used 1 cup white sugar and 1/3 cup dark brown sugar)
1 orange, zested

The dry ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup additional for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

The wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 lemon, juiced
Easy Orange Frosting, recipe follows

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter, sugar and orange zest and beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses and lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the butter and sugar are integrated, lower the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Add the egg mixture and when blended, remove the bowl from the machine. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press the first half of the dough in between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second half. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.

Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut the shapes, making as few scraps as possible. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer them, cookie by cookie, (the cookies should be similar size) to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough and transfer them to another baking sheet. A note about crowding the tray(s): these particular cookies can spread a little. Leave room between the cookies. Better to use 3 baking sheets with fewer cookies than to crowd them on 2 trays. Bake until brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.
Got scraps? Form the scraps into a ball, press it flat and chill in the refrigerator. These cookies may be a little more "tough" because the dough will have been worked a little more than the others.

Easy Orange Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange liqueur (I used 1/2 tsp of orange extract since I didn't have the liqueur)
1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a medium
bowl add all of the ingredients and whisk together to combine. If too thick in consistency, add a touch more orange juice or water to thin out.

Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the frosting between 2 of the gingerbread cookies. Press the 2 cookies halves gently together.


carlyn said...

i totally made toffee yesterday too!!! that is so crazy. it was my first time. i think i got lucky but i had a pretty easy recipe.

Talia said...

i'm so excited about trying your recipe this week!

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