SUGAR COOKIES COOKIES 11/2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup butter 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 /2 teaspoon almond extract 1 teaspoon grated citrus (optional) 21/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda1 tsp cream of tart
BUTTERCREAM ICING /3 cup butter, softened 11/2 cups sifted powdered sugar 1 /2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 /2 teaspoon almond extract 1 tablespoon cream (approximate) 1
1| Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For the cookies, mix sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the egg, extracts and citrus (if using); mix thoroughly. Set aside. 2| In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Combine all the ingredients and mix until just blended. Divide the dough in half, and then wrap and chill 20-30 minutes. Roll out dough on floured parchment paper or work surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutters, being mindful of size, and place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees until edges are golden (about 8 minutes); remove cookies from the oven and let them cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to ice and decorate. The cookies are great on their own, but are divine when with a simple buttercream icing. 3| To make the icing, mix together all ingredients, using as much cream as needed to reach desired consistency.
1 cup butter 1 cup granulated sugar 3 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup chocolate chips or pieces (white, dark or milk) 1 cup nuts (your choice) 1| Combine the butter, sugar, water and corn syrup and place in a heavybottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, continuously stirring until you reach the “hard crack” stage, or about 300 degrees. (You must work quickly once you reach about 280 degrees.) Stir in the vanilla, and pour into a prepared parchment paper-lined 9x13-inch pan.
CHOCOLATE FUDGE WITH WALNUTS
3 cups granulated sugar 2 /3 cup evaporated milk 3 /4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 4 ounces dark (72 percent) chocolate 11/2 cups marshmallow crème 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup chopped walnuts (or another nut of choice) 1| Combine the sugar, milk and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the boiling mixture constantly for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Pour into a parchment paper-lined 9x9-inch cake pan, and cool until set. To cut the fudge, turn the pan over and remove the paper.
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE FUDGE CHOCOLATE FUDGE LAYER 1| Make the above recipe, omitting the nuts and do not remove from the pan.
PEANUT BUTTER LAYER 3 cups granulated sugar 1 /3 cup evaporated milk 3 /4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter 1 tablespoon corn syrup 3 /4 cup smooth peanut butter 6-8 ounces good-quality white chocolate 11/2 cups marshmallow crème 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1| Combine the sugar, milk, butter and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the boiling mixture constantly for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add the peanut butter, white chocolate, marshmallow crème, and vanilla extract and mix well. Pour on top of the chocolate layer. Cool on a rack until set, and then turn pan over and remove paper for easy cutting.
HOLIDAY BAKING TIPS HELPFUL HINTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BAKING EXPERIENCE
STOCK UP ON PARCHMENT PAPER. When it comes to baking, you can’t have too much. Hit the restaurant supply store and pick some up. You can use it to roll out dough, line pans and separate cookies in a single container. STORE A VANILLA BEAN WITH YOUR SUGARS. Vanilla + sugar = vanilla sugar. (Yum.) For another flavor, store some sugar with a candied citrus peel, such as Buddha citrus (Buddha’s hand). KEEP STORAGE CONTAINERS CLOSE BY. Your newly baked cookies are going to need a home. Store each type/ flavor separately, be it in a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware container. That way, when it’s time to pack them into gift boxes, each cookie will hold steady its unique beauty and flavor. HAVE EXTRA INGREDIENTS AT THE READY. Nine pounds of butter might look like a lot when it’s in your refrigerator. But come cookie time, it goes fast. DON’T SETTLE. Use the best-quality ingredients you can find. Chances are, you’re giving your confections to the people you love. Shower them with mouthwatering treats, and they’ll beg for your recipes.
2| While the mixture is setting, add the chocolate pieces. (For the photo, we melted our chips and then drizzled chocolate over the hard toffee.) As they melt on the warm candy, spread them across the pan. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Once the toffee is set, break apart and store in an airtight container.