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Friday, November 12, 2010

Chocolate and Caramel Oatmeal Bars

E2 and I made these this week.  In preparation for Christmas, of course.  We had to leave a few out to sample, just to ensure a quality product for the upcoming holiday season.

Here is the link to the original recipe.  It's a Betty Crocker.  It's hard to go wrong with Betty

Betty Crocker Chocolate and Caramel Oatmeal Bars

These weren't bad, but I think I'd change things up a bit. They start out with a yellow cake mix and quick rolled oats.  You add butter, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and some thickened caramel topping.  Predictable and consistent, to be sure.  But maybe lacking a little something. 

If I were to make them again, I'd probably add something else to the cake mix mixture.  Cinnamon, perhaps?  A little less butter or more oatmeal may have made for a more crumbly mixture.  Mine turned out very wet.  A more of a streusel topping would have made my heart sing a little louder.

All in all, a dependable, quick to whip together concoction.  It'll be in my recipe file, but maybe not for super special events where I'd like to wow someone. 1. 2.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cookie Press Shortbread

I am not sure if these actually qualify as 'true' shortbread, in the Scottish sense of the word.  But this is what we grew up calling them and this is what I and my children shall call them to the third and fourth generation, amen.

The recipe is about as simple as it gets, as shortbread usually is.  The trick lies in the technique.  No overmixing.  Make sure the ingredients are at the right temperature.  Butter must be soft but not oily.

These are the cookies from one batch of dough.  I just split it and added the colour in two separate lots.  The end cookies always end up having a rainbow effect.  My sister and I used to look for these ones especially.

It's important to add just enough dough.  For any of the cookie presses I've used, 2 'shots' were needed to get enough dough onto the cookie tray.  One squeeze of the trigger ended up with separate, tiny bits of dough.  Three squeezes ended up with an indecipherable blob.

The cooking time is approximate, although pretty close.  Don't attempt to adjust the temperature to shorten the time.  It won't work.  These cookies do not have the same affect or taste when browned.  And given the amount of butter in them, that happens easily.  Nor have I found that using parchment to be very effective.  These cookies need to stick directly to an ungreased cookie sheet.

Cookie Press Shortbread
2 1/2 c    pastry flour
1/4 t        salt
1/2 c       icing sugar
1 c          softened butter

Mix all ingredients together, using a stand mixer works best.  Add food colouring if desired.

Bake at 275 for 45 minutes.  Do not allow to brown
These can be decorated with coloured sugar before baking.
Do not refrigerate dough 1. 2.
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Friday, November 5, 2010


Here are my cuties, all set to go trick or treating. 

Not to be fooled.  E3 did have a costume.  Only he outgrew it.  Outgrew it so fast, in fact, we don't have any photos of him wearing it. It was that painful for him.

 Everybody carved a pumpkin.
 By 6 pm, the fearsome twosome was ready to take to the streets.  Who could deny these adorable faces?

Clearly, no one could.  This is the haul from our street alone.  Please keep in mind that all the houses are not here yet.

Here is a slightly more A-type rendition of their candy stash.  And this week, we won't be baking much... 1. 2.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apple Dumplings!

My grandmother used to make these for me, individually freeze them in foil, and bring them to me at university.  I always loved them when she made them fresh at her house, and tasting them while I was away was an incredibly sweet reminder of home.  And again, it was a great way to use up left over pastry

After coring and peeling the apple, you essentially wrap or mould pastry around it.  Very simple.  These little French onion soup bowls work perfect for baking them.  If you want to get creative, roll the apple in cinnamon and brown sugar before wrapping them in pastry.  Stuff the middle with little gobs of butter (no margarine, please), brown sugar, and cinnamon, until full.  At this point, they can be wrapped in foil and frozen  When you are ready to bake them, mix together 2/3 corn syrup to 1/3 water and liberally pour over each one.  Bake at 350 until cooked.  Cooked varies with the size of apple.  When the pastry is nice and golden brown, it is ready.  My grandmother allowed them to cool before serving - I prefer still warm.  Add some nice heavy cream over top, just before serving.

 No, it should be pointed out that, while this is THE superior methodology, my mother-in-law likes to make a caramel sauce (or store bought) sauce after baking, and skips the corn syrup step.  To each their own.  However, I won't be messing with grandma's recipe, and certainly won't be the one to tell her that someone else has either. 1. 2.
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