Monday, December 25, 2006

Seven Layer Cookies

Seven Layer Cookies
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
This recipe comes from These amazing little gems are quite a bit of work, but I would like to say they are completely worth the effort.

I made a few changes to the recipe - the layers seemed to need to bake at least 15 minutes or they were gooey, and for them to stand up in the cookie, they need to be somewhat firm. The recipe warns against overbaking, but underbaking seems an equal crime here (my pinkish red layer was underbaked and when biting into the cookie, the pink layer squishes out slightly).

I would also recommend blending the chocolate with a little bit of cream to soften that layer, making it easier to cut.

In between the layers (making the seven) is apricot jam, although several reviewers said they use other flavors like raspberry. I loved the flavor combination of the almond, apricot, and chocolate. This was such a contrast to the other baked goods I make during the holidays (more recipes to come, now on a weekly basis).

This recipe gets my Best Recipe of the Year Award because of its appearance, taste, and unique appeal.

Categories: Almond, Apricot, Chocolate, Cookies

Monday, December 18, 2006

Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter Balls
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
Of the many treats I make during the holidays, this is a recent favorite. I first made these in 2000, and at this point, it is NOT December without my peanut butter balls. They are so simple but the flavor is incredible.

I adapted the recipe from Gale Gand. Her recipe can be found here. I don't think it's necessary to make peanut butter from scratch, I prefer semisweet chocolate, and I've played with the amount of sugar slightly - she uses 16 oz, but I prefer them a litle less sweet. I would start with 12 and see what you think.

Peanut Butter Balls

18 oz. peanut butter
12-16 oz powdered (confectioners' sugar)
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
12 oz. (or 1 package) semisweet chocolate chips, melted

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter. Mash together until combined. Form the mixture into balls. Chill until hardened, about 30 minutes. Dip into melted chocolate. Let set.

Yield: 32 balls.

We usually store ours in the fridge.

Categories: Candy, Chocolate, Peanut Butter

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gingerbread people

Gingerbread people
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
I made these cookies for my devoted student workers for finals week (and their friends). The recipe comes from A Baker's Field Guide to Cookies which has a wonderful selection of recipes. I haven't made one yet that has been disappointing.

In the past I have made gingerbread snowflakes and trees, but really the best use of gingerbread cookie dough is to make people. If I had more time I would have tried making each one unique, but it was late as it was!

I bought one of the pre-made frosting tubes but neglected to buy the tips, which explains the somewhat messy frosting job. I need to build up my cake decorating supplies, or get my originals from my parents' home in Oregon!

Categories: Cookies

Winter Bliss Cookies

Winter Bliss Cookies
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
There will be a lot of posts this month involving Christmas cookies and candy!

This is a recipe I developed based on several I found. The combination of the butter and margarine makes for a soft, chewy cookie, but don't overbake! They will get crunchier and crunchier the longer you bake them.

Winter Bliss Cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup margarine, room temp
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
6 oz white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Cream butter, margarine, and brown sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
3. Blend dry ingredients and mix in.
4. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate chips.
5. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake 8-12 minutes.

Categories: Cookies

Monday, December 04, 2006

Swedish Christmas Cookies

Swedish Christmas Cookies
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
This recipe can be found here. I really liked the sound of these cookies - sugar cookies with cardamom and lemon, and made in a roll, which is much faster than cut out cookies.

I made the dough ahead of time and based on some of the reviews on the site, put it in the freezer. I rolled it in the sprinkles right before slicing it to bake. If I made these again, I would try more than one color of sprinkles since just red makes the cookies look a little like the barbecued pork at Chinese restaurants.

I was surprised by how the cookies baked - they never flattened out at all, and the edges stayed vertical. I'm not sure if this is a result of the dough or because I froze them, but it would definitely add a shape variety to your holiday cookie tray.

Another thing I would want to try if I made these again is something I saw on Martha Stewart once where she actually wrapped tubes of cookie dough in wrapping paper rolls, and turned them in the fridge periodically while they set up. This might have made them a little more perfectly round (but this may not have mattered once you start slicing off rounds).

Categories: Cookies

Battle of the Pumpkin Pies - Food Network's Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
This recipe can be found here. I did everything except make their crust recipe, since I had so many leftover from my Grandma's recipe.

I think the par-baking technique with the crust made a nice contrast with the pumpkin but almost managed to overshadow the pumpkin. I would like to try this in a deep dish version so the pumpkin had more of a chance to shine. But this baked easily, the recipe worked great, and I might make it again.

Categories: Pie, Pumpkin

The battle of the pumpkin pies - Pumpkin Praline

Pumpkin Praline Pie
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
I got this recipe from an online buddy, and I'll share it with you also!

Praline Pumpkin Pie

1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
unbaked pie shell

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 cups cooked pumpkin
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine pecans, brown sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of the pie shell. Prick the sides of the shell with a fork. Bake 10 minutes, cool. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, sugars, flour, salt, and spice; blend in the pumpkin. Gradually add the milk and mix well. Pour the filling over the pecan mixture in the baked shell. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream.

My thoughts - this was an okay pie. A little too sweet for my liking. Also, much better the first day because after that the sugar in the praline part turns quite grainy.

Categories: Pie, Pumpkin