T-Rex Cookies.

I adore T-Rex – for reasons that make for too long of a story to tell here. But for Solstice this year, one of my sons bought me a T-Rex cookie cutter. I waited, patiently, for the holidays to be over so we would have room for snacks – and today I made a trial batch of cut-out, flood-iced cookies.

SO CUTE.

SO CUTE.

I’ll be honest – this is the one that turned out the best. It was a learning process to get the eye placed properly and the outline and flooding done reasonably. But I am ridiculously pleased with how they turned out – and sad that I didn’t make more of them (this recipe made 9 cookies).

Here’s the cookie recipe that I used:

1 Dozen Cut-Out Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (I used vanilla again)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer,  cream together the butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides frequently.
  3. Once everything is light and fluffy, add the egg yolk and extracts. Mix well.
  4. Sprinkle half the flour mixture into the bowl and continue to mix on a low speed until combined. Add the remainder of the flour mixture.
  5. Mix until no visible flour remains (don’t over-mix!)
  6. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish the dough into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin,  roll out the dough until it’s large enough to make approximately 8 medium-sized cut-outs.
  7. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Gather the dough scraps,  re-roll, and cut out the rest of the shapes. Put them on the cookie sheet too!
  9. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and start heating your oven to 350F.
  10. When the oven reaches temperature, remove the cookies from the freezer and put them into the oven.
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown.
  12. Let the cookies rest on the pan for a few minutes and then move them a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. Don’t frost the cookies until they’re fully cooled.

I used this method for doing the outline and flooding. It worked well, but I had to add quite a bit more powdered sugar to my recipe (possibly because I make my own sugar in the blender so it doesn’t contain corn starch?)

For my own records, this is what the recipe looked like for me in the end:

Icing for Border & Flooding

For the border icing:

1.5 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional

For the flood icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring extract
2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
Food coloring, optional

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients together for the border icing. It should be quite thick. Spoon it into a squeeze bottle and then make the outlines. Allow the icing to dry to the touch (about 10 minutes, at most).
  2. Mix the flood icing. it should be thick but not too much. Spoon it into a squeeze bottle and then use it like a magic marker to colour inside the border icing. FUN. Allow to dry overnight.
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Guest Post: Abby’s Christmas Crack.

This is a guest post from my delightful friend Abby. She made this recipe for our work holiday drop-in; I am pretty sure that all of it was gone into the bellies of our staff before anyone managed to drop in. It’s called “Christmas Crack” but I feel confident that we could rename it “Violet’s Birthday Crack” or “Monday Crack”. Whatever. Here we go. Let’s start with a photo that Abby stole from the internet..

Mmmm.. Crack!

Mmmm.. Crack!

Christmas Crack

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar (use light probably – dark was kinda weird)
about a half a bag of pretzels (mini ones or square ones are best but in a pinch just rough crush sticks or regular pretzels in your hands)
1 bag chocolate chips (mini work best)
coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. First and foremost – relax! this is kind of a no-brainer type of recipe so don’t freak out about it. don’t go all A-type or freak-out – just make the damn thing. Maybe have a drink to help with the relaxing (this part is optional but recommended).
  2. Start by lining a medium-size/regular cookie sheet with tinfoil. The thing needs to have sides. Don’t be all Martha Stewart-y and think parchment is better here – it will stick. $.50 dollarstore tin foil will do the job, just make sure it covers the cookie sheet (and up the sides) to make for easy clean-up.
  3. Dump the pretzels onto the cookie sheet and give’r a shake. Aim for about a single layer – roughly half of the bags I buy. But again, refer back to step 1.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F. Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the sugar in a pot. Again, go back to step one. This isn’t rocket science folks. Melt the butter however you want – hi, medium heat – doesn’t matter. Add in the sugar and stir until the butter is fully incorporated. This takes a few minutes but really, just take a breath (or a drink) and it will happen. Keep stirring til it comes to a pretty decent bubble, then turn down the heat to low. Watch the pretty bubbles and stir for about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the bubbly sugar/butter mixture over the pretzels. You guessed it – refer back to #1. Try to pour it over most of the pan but the stuff will spread out in the oven. Promise.
  6. Pop the pan into the oven for 5 minutes.
  7. Turn off the oven. Pull out the pan – that delicious goo spread out didn’t it? Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the whole bubbly thing. Pop back into the (now off but still hot) oven for a minute-ish to melt the chocolate. Remove from oven – use a spatula to spread out the chocolate. Some of the pretzels might not be fully covered, some might shift – this ain’t a beauty pageant kids. Relax. Sprinkle with coarse sea-salt – however much you want.
  8. Let sit for a few minutes while you clean up (one pot. nice.) and then pop in the freezer for about an hour. Remove from tinfoil and break into piece. Done!

Store in a container in the freezer. Best served if it’s sit out at room temp for a little bit but I’ve been known to grab a piece every time I pass by the freezer. Ain’t no shame.

Looks like a lot of steps but to review: Line a pan. Dump pretzels. Shake. Let butter and sugar make pretty bubbles. Pour. Oven. Chocolate. Oven. Salt. Freezer. BAM.

Sriracha Lollipops.

For the holidays, I bought my husband a package of sriracha-flavoured candy canes. He liked them. He likes sriracha on pretty much everything we eat, so it wasn’t much of a surprise – but he did comment that the flavour wasn’t very strong.  Then I saw this recipe.

I have never made candy before, but I’m trying very hard not to shy away from making new things – even if I have a pretty strong feeling that it won’t turn out or that it’ll be way harder than I expect.

As it happened, I needed my husband to help me make this recipe – specifically because I was freaking out a bit (unnecessarily) and because I felt like I didn’t have enough hands!

In the end, we learnt some valuable lessons – like “candy sets up pretty fast” and “don’t overfill the molds”. I wouldn’t package these up to give out to people as a gift because they’re a bit messy and wonky, but I would totally make them again and see if I could get them a bit more even next time. We did make a few that were just blobs of candy poured onto parchment paper with sticks added.

Also: sriracha candy is really, really good.  And nowhere near as challenging to make as I expected!

Blobs of candy + sticks!

Blobs of candy + sticks!

Clowns!

Clowns!

I followed this recipe – with only minimal changes. I’m printing the recipe below, with my slight changes (for my own records). If you want to make these, I recommend going to the original site and using those instructions instead.

Sriracha Lollipops!

Makes about 15-20

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, divided
1/2  tsp. orange-coloured gel food colouring

Directions:

  1. Grease a candy mold with cooking spray or cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Put a candy thermometer into the mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Heat without stirring until the bubbling mixture reaches 244°F.
  4. Drop one level tablespoon of sriracha sauce into the bubbling mixture– do not stir! When the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (302-310°F). Remove pan from heat.
  5. Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce and food coloring. Be extra careful because the mixture will bubble and sputter with these additions.
  6. When the mixture has stopped bubbling, pour it into molds and let harden.  Alternately, spoon onto the parchment-covered tray and place a stick in the middle of the blob. Add more candy on top if you want!
  7. Wrap the cooled lollipops in cellophane or wax paper and store in an airtight container.

Notes:

Candy sets up REALLY FAST. Work fast! After everything is done, soak the pot and utensils (and everything else in the kitchen) in really hot water. Scrub. Add more hot water. Scrub again. More hot water. Eventually it’ll all come clean.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Cooooookie.

Cooooookie.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Makes a thick, chewy, 10″ cookie.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups coffee/chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla, mixing and scraping down the sides of the mixer.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt – mix to combine.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until everything is neat and tidy together.
  5. Firmly press the dough into a 10″ cast iron skillet.
  6. Bake for  about 20 minutes (until golden and  set)
  7. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Notes:
I used coffee-flavoured chocolate chips – the local grocery store had them available just before Christmas, so I figured I’d try them. You can use whatever kind of chocolatey-chip-like thing you like best. Adapted from this recipe.

Swedish Pancakes.

Growing up, I often spent a weekend (or even a full week) sleeping over at my maternal grandmother’s house.  Her maiden name was Daisy Ida Marie Skoog. One of the highlights of staying over was waking up to find her heating up the pancake pan and using her hand mixer (it looked like this one, but with a black handle) to get the batter ready.

When Nana died, I inherited her pancake pan. I didn’t use it at all, however, because I wasn’t sure how to use it – so it went into a box with several other things that I treasure but don’t use/display.

This week I decided to dig it out, clean it up, reseason the cast iron, and make some good ol’ Swedish pancakes.

Here’s a photo of the cleaning up of the plett pan.

Plett, salt, and potato.

Plett pan, salt, and potato.

The basic idea is to sprinkle the cast iron with coarse salt and use a wedge of potato to scrub off rust, flaky bits, or anything stuck to it. I rinsed once, then repeated the process, and the pan came out beautifully. I then oiled it up with a fine coat of vegetable oil and put it in the oven for an hour at 300F to reseason the cast iron. Let it cool and TA DA! Reseasoned cast iron!

I have several children and making Swedish pancakes for a meal, for all of them, would have required me to start at 7 am and work all morning – so, instead, I made them as a snack.  I have my grandmother’s recipe but, recognizing that she didn’t bother to measure anything, I adjusted it slightly to bring it all closer to what I remember the texture, flavour, and appearance being when I was a kid.

Here’s a plate of Swedish pancakes with some homemade jam:

Little Pancakes!

Little Pancakes!

The first attempt was too dark, the second was too thick, and finally, finally, they turned out just right for the remaining 10-ish attempts. Lightly golden, slightly crisp at the edges, and sweet.  You could adapt these to be made in a regular pan (I realize that the plett pan is a bit of a random thing for most people). As a kid, I could eat an entire batch on my own.

Here’s the recipe:

Daisy Ida Marie Skoog’s Swedish Pancakes

Makes a lot of pancakes. No idea how many.

Ingredients:

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups of milk
1 1/4 cups of flour (see notes)
6 tablespoons of melted butter (see notes)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients together. Mix well.
  2. Heat pan to medium (see notes). Brush lightly with a bit of butter.
  3. Spoon a small amount of batter into each section.
  4. Cook until puffed up (small bubbles form), flip the pancakes, cook until golden.

Notes:

  1. The original recipe called for just 1 cup of flour. The batter was so runny and didn’t cook well in the pan. I increased by about a quarter cup.
  2. I think I could have used less melted butter in the batter and, next time, I’ll decrease to 4 and see what happens.
  3. “Medium” for the pan was around a ‘4’ on my gas range. I don’t normally cook on cast iron pans, so it took a bit of adjusting for me to get a temperature that wasn’t ridiculously hot or too low. It should take about 2 minutes to cook a pancake – one minute per side, give or take a bit.

Lemon Fudge.

You would think that I’d have taken a photo of this fudge, but I didn’t.

So, close your eyes and picture a small square of yellow fudge.

Honestly, this doesn’t look fancy AT ALL, but it’s pretty tasty.

“Keep Stirring For The Love of..” Lemon Fudge.

Makes an 8×8 tray. Cut ’em small!

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups white sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
9 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons lemon extract
zest of one lemon (zested!)
yellow food colouring (I used gel colouring)

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 square pan. Set it aside.
  2. In a large pot, over medium heat, combine the sugar with the evaporated milk. Stir it until it boils, turn the heat down a notch or two (keep it bubbling, just not as hot) and stir and stir and stir.
  3. Keep stirring for 6 minutes. Curse this entire process.
  4. After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and all the other ingredients – while stirring. I used my hand mixer for this part because I was really, really tired of stirring.
  5. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, and the colour is right, pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth the top if you’re fancy like that.
  6. Set aside until the pan is cooled – then put the pan into the freezer for at least 20 minutes. This will make the fudge much easier to slice and remove from the pan.
  7. Slice the fudge small – this stuff is wildly creamy and sweet!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

These are so easy to make. At least, they’re easy if you own more than one mini muffin pan – which I thought I did, until I started baking. My husband ran out to get more.

Around here, the mini peanut butter cups come in a resealable bag. I don’t understand why. Who’s going to seal that back up and walk away? Not me.

I could not, for the life of me, get the chocolate to ‘drizzle’, so my husband used a knife and flung the chocolate on top. Worked perfectly.  The cookies that I ‘drizzled’ just had blobs of chocolate on top – still tasty, not so pretty.

Drizzling chocolate is not as easy as you'd think.

Drizzling chocolate is not as easy as you’d think.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Makes about 36-ish.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
|1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar + extra for rolling
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
36 peanut butter cup minis (one bag)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set ’em aside.
  3. Cream together butter and peanut butter, then add 1 cup of sugar. Beat until it’s delightfully fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and the vanilla.  Mix a bit more.
  5. Add in flour mixture and.. yep, mix it up a bit more.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, then roll them in sugar. Put ’em in mini muffin pans and gently press a mini peanut butter cup into the centre of each ball.
  7. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  8. When fully cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate chips. (Microwave them for 30 seconds at a time, stirring to melt!)