Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TWD Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

As I started this cheesecake I told my husband that I was hoping for something that was a "to die for" a "I have to make this again!" My other two recipes for TWD have been fine, but nothing we loved. My wish came true, we LOVED this cheesecake! We've enjoyed so many sweets this Christmas holiday that I worried this cheesecake would get little love and attention, but I was wrong. It's a hit!
As I read through the 'Playing Around' I was tempted to make many cheesecakes, the options are endless! I finally decided on a nice fresh orange cheesecake and it was perfect. The orange zest and extract were exactly what the cheesecake needed, without being too overpowering. I stuck with the graham cracker crust, but think a gingersnap crust would have been delicious. The recipe gave an option of using heavy cream or sour cream, and I went with the sour cream because my food budget for the month had already been tapped.

I love having a helper in the kitchen. Andrew is always willing to stir something up, taste test, and of course, make a mess!
As a note for my fellow impatient bakers, I followed the recipe pretty well, but tried to serve it before it had chilled for four hours and that was a mistake. It definitely needs all required chill time (don't we all).

This tall and creamy cheesecake is definitely a keeper! To check out the full recipe at Anne Strawberry's blog.
Lastly, I know some of you write brilliantly about your creations and some pictures are truly artistic. Someday I'll do that, but for now I'm feeling great to bake and post what I can. I love TWD and reading what everyone has done with their baking. My husband asked me today why I signed up for one more deadline when I've got three children under three demanding all of me. I reminded him of my love to bake, my love to create, and my love to eat! So, here's to making time for some action in the kitchen and some much-needed baking!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies

I was so excited to make sugar cookies with my little ones! Of course when you let them do the decorating it may not turn out as the classic beautiful sugar cookie! In this recipe Dorrie has you roll them into disks and refrigerate the dough. I love seeing these perfectly shaped dough disks on the shelf in the fridge.

Once they've been in there for at least 2 hours pull them out and roll them. This is the most frustrating thing about making sugar cookies is the rolling. But smarty-pants Dorrie tells us to put the dough between two sheets of wax paper while you roll.

Then you get to cut the shapes. I've never done the wax paper thing before and I found just how helpful it is when I was trying to peel the second batch off the paper. They stuck a little so I did as Dorrie suggested I put it back in the refrigerator to stiffen up and popped right off!

After baking came the real fun! The DECORATING! The kids loved doing it - as usual. Since I let the kiddos do the decorating they don't have the artistic flair Dorie's recipes deserve but it sure was fun.

If you'd like to try Dorie's recipe yourself you can go to kuchenlatein

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TWD: Snickery Squares

I got pudding on our rotation -again.  Last month's pudding wasn't a big hit.  The pudding for this month was a butterscotch pudding that boasts about its alcohol content.  Not really my kind of sweet.  Its ok to choose one that's already been done and I've been dying to try the Snickery Squares, so here they are!!!

Let me just say:  YUMMY!!!!!  These had 27 simple steps that took me nearly 2 days (I'm slower than most and I was making several other goodies in between), but we loved them.  My husband couldn't top eating them.   I couldn't stop eating them.  I think I'll need to stop baking for a while after Christmas.  I'm pretty sure Nate (18 months) only ate cookies today.

I started with the shortbread crust.  Zip through the food processor, press into the pan and bake.

I should have taken more pictures, but my kitchen was a very busy place today.  The next step is to caramelize the peanuts, which was actually pretty quick and simple.  

Then spread dulce de leche strait from the can onto the shortbread.  Wow!!!  

Sprinkle 1/2 the peanuts.

Make the chocolate mixture.  Spread on top. 

Sprinkle with other 1/2 of the peanuts, which are now chopped.

And voila!!  Snickery Squares!!

If you're dying to try some, come on over.  I doubled it, so I have plenty left.  If you want to make some yourself, you can go here for the complete recipe.  I also did some other Christmas baking so we could take the kids out caroling.  I made  Grandma's sugar cookies, Rugelach, Candy cane cookies, peanut butter chocolate rice crispy treats, and chocolate chip cookies in addition to the Snickery Squares.  It was a fun and yummy night!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

Three words...buttery...jam...cookies. How in the world could this not be good!?! This weeks TWD recipe is for Buttery Jam Cookies. The recipe, as it is published, calls for apricot jam. I found a lovely local jam of Cherry Boysenberry Preserves and figured I would give that a try in one version of the cookies sticking with the called for ground ginger. I was in a particularly "baking happy" mood and decided to also try an orange marmalade version with cloves instead of ginger in the dough. 

Both doughs turned out thick the way Dorie says they should look and baked up just the way other TWD bakers said, coming out of the oven shaped like they went into the oven. Although they aren't  a very "pretty" cookie I still found them to be quiet tasty. They are soft and less biscuit-like than expected which is a good thing. 

With the orange marmalade version I drizzled some melted chocolate on top and that kicked them up a notch. The cherry boysenberry cookies got a sprinkle of powdered sugar as well, mostly cosmetic to mask the grey-purple color. 

These were good cookies. Not to-die-for cookies that I will make over and over again but I would try them again with other versions of jam. If you are interested in trying them out head on over to Randomosity and the Girl for the full recipe. 

Until next week, Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Treats

We spent the weekend baking away and delivered Christmas treats to our neighbors and friends. I love Christmas. We drove around with the Christmas music on looking at the lights and went to our friends houses. The girls took turns going into each house and they loved it.

The spread this year was Lizzie's killer toffee as we call it, peppermint bark, orange butter cookies (Rach's lemon butter cookies, but with orange), and as previously posted Whit's foothill sweet dreams. Yummo!!! So as you can see most of the treats come from the Hasler clan. Thank you thank you. I wanted to make the peppermint chocolate sandwhich cookies, but I haven't been able to find peppermint extract in New Jersey yet so I substituted peppermint bark. If any of you Hasler girls find peppermint extract and want to mail it to me with the kids Christmas cards that would make me very happy.

Orange Butter Cookies (Lemon)

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour

Mix and drop by teaspoonfulls on cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 15 min. Frost


2 1/2 - 3 frosting
zest from one orange
2 Tb of fresh orange juice (add more for preferred consistancy)
1/4 c. melted butter

mix and frost cookies. I use a squeeze bottle (like ketchup bottles)squeeze it on the is a little more efficient and it looks cute too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD....Linzer Sables

My first TWD post... yeah!!! I was assigned Linzer Sables. These cookies taste like what you think Christmas should taste like. The flavor was amazing! I actually loved the dough more than the finished product. I loved that the recipe called for ground nuts that mix in with the flour (no chunks of nuts for the non nut lovers). It gave the cookies wonderful flavor. I used walnuts because it is a softer nut that I thought would ground easier. It also called for cloves which I am not a huge fan of because that spice seems to be the dominate flavor when used. I lessened it a bit but not much and it blended well with the flavor of the nuts and cinnamon. I am glad I used it. I also thought since it is christmas time that instead of using the scalloped cut out I would do stars to make it festive. I thought they turned out cute.

I did some with star cutouts in the center and some with circle. I liked the circle ones better. I also used Nutella in the center of some as well as raspberry jam and then some with both. I didn't make the ganache since my little Marcus was sad this afternoon. Poor guy!

You roll out the dough between plastic wrap or wax paper and refridgerate for two hours on a cutting board. I found the dough a little hard to work with so the second batch I rolled I made a little thicker and that helped quite a bit.

Glenn hasn't come home from work yet so he has yet to review them. Rebekah loved the dough, but hasn't had the cookies yet. We will see what she thinks. Overall, I would say they were fun to make and have a festive taste, but they may be a little too much work for me to make regularly.

If you are interested on trying the recipe yourself, click on over to Living the Life.