Peppermint Marshmallows

21 12 2009

Ever since I found out that you could make your own marshmallows, I wanted to make them. The problem? I had a cheap hand mixer before our KA mixer. Now that we had the KA mixer, I had nothing holding me back from making these.

These are delicious, light and have a subtle peppermint flavor. I’m definitely putting the leftover ones from the gift tins in some hot chocolate ASAP.

Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
  2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
  4. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
  5. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. To get red striping, add drops of red food coloring to the mixture in the pan and quickly swirl the coloring in. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.




Baking Gifts Part 1

18 12 2009

Coworkers are typically difficult to buy for. In college, I would really only buy for fellow female student coworkers. It was easy…Starbucks gift cards, bath stuff, etc. When I graduated and got thrown into the real world, I was introduced to working in a primarily male field. I can’t shop for males, at all. I have enough trouble shopping for  my husband, father and brother! So, I started making edible gifts.

Last year, I bought cute Christmas chinese take-out boxes and put decorated sugar cookies, oreo truffles and chocolate covered pretzels in them. This year, I branched out from those ideas just a little bit.

I had my first adventures of making homemade peppermint marshmallows. The KA definitely was put to use here! I couldn’t have even fathomed making these last year with a $10 hand mixer.

Another recipe from Cookie Craft that I’ve been wanting to try is her rolled gingerbread cookies. These did not disappoint.

Of course, the oreo truffles made an appearance, and this time, instead of putting a bunch in one bag, I bought cutesy Christmas foils to wrap them in!

Adorable right? I love you Hobby Lobby.

Of course, here is a small picture of the packaging in action. I will say my kitchen was a big ol’ mess after this, but it was worth it! My coworkers seemed to love the goodies, and of course, the easiest recipe, oreo truffles, became the hit of the gifts!

In case you are curious as to the “part 1″ in the title, well, we have to bake for family too next week and those will be a bit different, since they have favorites!

Stay tuned for the recipes, my first experience with painting on cookies and heck, more pictures!





Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 12 2009


I remember how excited I was to finally have a springform pan. I could make cheesecakes galore! However, with being on a diet lately, I had no excuse to make one, until now. Work had a Thanksgiving potluck, and I thought, perfect excuse to make a PUMPKIN cheesecake. I have had my eye on this pumpkin cheesecake recipe that I found on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and it did not disappoint. I was still getting compliments on the cheesecake a couple of days later!

I topped it with the caramel I made earlier that was a little too soft to be candy, and it ended up being a little too hard to be a topping too. It made a bit of a mess for people trying to slice up cheesecake, but oh well! :)

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Source:  The Way the Cookie Crumbles, where (crust from Cooks Illustrated, filling adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious)

Ingredients:

(Crust)

  • 5 ounces graham crackers (9 whole crackers), broken into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

(Filling)

  • 1½ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup (3.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
  • ½ cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350F. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray. Pulse crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed ramekin or drinking glass, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
  2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Add granulated sugar mixture to cream cheese and beat for another 2 minutes. In a medium bowl (or the same one), whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) until combined. Beat at medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set and measures 140 to 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 50 to 60 minutes.
  4. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours. Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove sides of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.




Pumpkin Spice Vanilla Bean Caramels

22 11 2009

I’ve never played with caramelized sugar before, but I’ve been curious about it for a while now. I finally just got the guts, and told myself I needed to try. Worst thing that can happen is burnt caramel, but I’m usually careful to avoid burning.

I was actually a little too careful. I took it out a little early and that resulting in a very soft caramel. Nothing jaw breaking about it at all, which is something that can happen if you leave it simmering for too long. So, I learned a little lesson about candy making, and let me tell you, if these were left a little longer, this would be an amazing candy to give as gifts!! Don’t let my mistake deter you away from this buttery goodness…I promise this caramel is just lovely. I plan on using the soft stuff in another recipe that will be pumpkin-licious!

So, you ask why pumpkin spice? Well, I’m a weird Starbucks customer. I get my Pumpkin Spice drinks with caramel drizzle, and believe me when I tell you that the combination is divine! Oh, and vanilla makes everything taste so much better, so do not skip out on the vanilla bean in this recipe!

I received these complimentary vanilla beans from Marx Foods for a vanilla bean photography contest. While my photography isn’t the best out there, I found this to be a fun challenge, and of course, I’m still hopeful for a win!

Pumpkin Spice Vanilla Bean Caramels
Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. Tahitian vanilla
  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, then lightly butter the pan.
  • Place cream, butter, vanilla, vanilla bean, spices and fleur de sel in a small saucepan, bring to a boil,  then remove from heat and set aside.
  • Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

This is just about the color you want to attain.

  • Remove vanilla bean and carefully stir cream mixture into the caramel (The mixture will bubble up here.) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers about 250°F on thermometer.
  • Pour into baking pan and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Then, sprinkle another pinch or two of fleur de sel over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let it cool until it’s no longer warm to the touch. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I used a pizza cutter with butter.), and then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.




Cupcake Pops

21 04 2009

I made cupcake pops for my shower hostesses this past weekend. They came out awesome! Check out how I did it here!





Foodie Christmas Presents!!

12 01 2009

This Christmas, I decided to give a bunch of homemade presents. For some family members, I gave spice baskets with homemade vanilla  extract and sugar. I found very reasonably priced bottles (that you didn’t have to buy in bulk or pay a buttload for shipping, since they were glass) at American Spice Company. I used mason jars for the vanilla sugar. I bought label sheets at Office Depot and designed the labels for them myself. Check them out!

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I also made some homemade peppermint bark to put in the baskets.

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Then, I bought Penzey’s Northwood seasonings and BBQ 3000 to put in the baskets as well. They were very well received!! :)

As for the coworkers, I baked sugar cookies using the recipe from Cookie Craft. I’d LOVE to post the recipe, but due to recent copyright issues I’m reading about in blogs, I’d rather not risk it. I would say this is a definite read for anyone who is interested in learning to decorate cookies! I adapted it to add almond extract, in addition to the vanilla extract and lemon rind called for in the recipe. It gave the cookies more of a sugar cookie flavor and less of a butter cookie flavor. This was the first homemade sugar cookie recipe that my fiance loved too! I FINALLY ended the search for the perfect recipe! :)

This recipe barely spread, allowing the cookies to keep their great crisp shape. It also rolled VERY easily. I never had a sticking problem, which is something I experienced with some previous recipes.

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Left is not cooked, right is cooked for comparison of them holding shape.

I also made candy bark coated pretzels with Christmas M&Ms on top. These were a SUPER easy recipe. Just melt candy melts or bark, spoon into the middle of the store bought pretzels and top with 3 M&M’s.
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Last, but not least, I made the infamous Oreo Truffles. To make more, I used 1/2 tsp. as a measuring tool for how big the truffles should be. These made a more decent sized truffle, and I made about 80 with the recipe this time.

Then, I put each treat in holiday cellophane bags, as pictured.

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These went in cute little holiday take-out boxes that I found at Michael’s. I absolutely love how these all came out! I’m definitely doing this again for them next year. Probably with different treats, though.
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Christmas Oreo Truffles

11 12 2008

I made these again for the holidays. This time, I had MUCH more patience! I also used a food processor for a finer truffle and it worked out really well. :)

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