Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pizzelles

Third post in a row that is about food... guess you can tell what has been filling my days!
These pizzelle cookies have been a tradition in our family since I received the recipe from an Italian neighbor in 1985 when I had a cookie swap.
They are a favorite!
Crisp, delicate and the wonderful flavor of anise.
Not too intense ~ just right.

Pizzelles
6 eggs
3  1/2 cups flour
1  1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter  (1/2 pound), melted and cooled
4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. vanilla
2 Tbs. anise seeds

*Do NOT use oil substitute.  Beat eggs, adding sugar gradually.  Beat until smooth.  Add cooled melted butter, vanilla and anise seeds.  Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture.  Dough will be sticky enough to be dropped by spoon.  Make with a Pizzelle maker.

Yields about 60 cookies

NOTES:  

1)  For the first time ever, since I did not have enough anise seeds, I added anise oil.  I think the cookies are so much better with the seeds.  I really like when I bite into a seed and get a taste of anise!

2)  I give the Pizzelle maker a light spray with PAM before baking and never have problems with sticking.  However, this time, using the oil, I needed to spray the Pizzelle maker several times while cooking.

3)  45 seconds on the Pizzelle maker is perfect for lightly golden brown cookies (using a level tablespoon of batter).  If you prefer them a little darker, add 5-10 seconds more.  Those mathematical folks realize you will be standing over the pizzelle maker for about an hour with your eyes glued to the timer  :)  Turn the Christmas music up loud and the time spent is pleasant!

4)  After removing from the Pizzelle maker (I use a fork), I allow the cookies to cook on a rack. They are soft and pliable when warn and become crisp when cooled.

5)  In MHO, cookies store best in tins.  Coffee cans are great because you can stack the Pizzelles carefully to prevent breakage.  Add some pretty paper around the can, a bow and your have a sweet-treat gift.  

6)  Much to the chagrin of my family, I quickly send food to the freezer.  I like really fresh, and to retain that fresh, just baked taste, I wrap well and in the freezer they go.  Thawing is quick and the butter maintains its fresh dairy flavor.  
Linking to:
Foodie Friends Friday Party @Walking on Sunshine

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Covered Apricots & Pineapple

Looking for a gift that is elegant looking, easy to do and inexpensive, I decided to dip dried fruit into melted chocolate and present in beautiful crystal stemware that  I found at Home Goods and The Christmas Tree Shop.
 A pair of flutes for a sweet couple.
A pretty wine glass with a simple bow.
 I began with a 4 oz. bar of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate
 a bag of dried apricots and pineapples and the chocolate bar broken into uniform pieces.
 After placing the broken chocolate bar into a bowl, I microwaved for 1 minute at half power, stirred and continued microwaving at 20 second intervals at 30%, stirring each time until melted.
 Simply dip each piece of fruit into melted chocolate coating halfway.
Place each piece onto parchment.  Allow to set for a few minutes in the refrigerator.  I then allowed the tray to sit on the counter for an additional 30 minutes to be sure the chocolate was firm.
A ribbon and a sprig of greenery with berries adds a festive touch.
Linking with Foodie Friday!
 Linking to Finding Fabulous!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Orange Spice Shortbread

Remember the shortbread pan I was so excited to find at a garage sale several months ago?  I used it to make these very pretty chocolate dipped orange spice cookies.
   I was concerned that I would have a problem getting the shortbread out of the pan so I sprayed it with PAM and rubbed it into the groves and then wiped out the extra with a napkin.  Maybe this was an unnecessary precaution but I didn't want to fight a stuck-to-the pan cookie.
After inverting onto a cutting board, the cookies came easily from the pan.
The recipe was from the little booklet that came with the pan (I added the chocolate).  There were seven recipes to choose from and I was between this one and a coconut one.  I love the flavor combination of orange and chocolate so this is the recipe I went with.
I used a pizza cutter to cut the shortbread into serving pieces while it was still warm.
  umm... buttery, tender and even with the chocolate coating the orange flavor came through nicely.
Perhaps the ginger and cinnamon enhanced the overall cookie but it was barely noticeable.
I wouldn't increase the quantities though as we liked them just as they are.
~*~
Orange Spice Shortbread

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar (unsifted)
2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup flour (unsifted)

Cream the butter until it is nice and light.  Cream in the powdered sugar, the grated orange peel and the spices.  Now work in the flour.  Knead the dough on an unfloured board until smooth.  Spray the shortbread pan very lightly with a non-stick vegetable oil spray.  Firmly press the dough into the shortbread pan.  Prick the entire surface with a fork, and bake the shortbread right in the pan at 325 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let the shortbread cool in its pan for about 10 minutes before you loosen the edges with a knife and flip the pan over into a wooden cutting board.  If the shortbread does not come right out, tap one edge of the pan.  Cut the shortbread into serving pieces while it is still warm.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Don't you just love the warm glow that lights our homes and our hearts at Christmas?
Remembering the tiny babe that left His throne to come to earth
Star of wonder, star of light
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
Joining Mary @Little Red House for Mosaic Monday!
Linking to The Reason for the Season Party at Happier Than A Pig In Mud.

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