Cookie Dough Truffles

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which sounds like a nice, quiet place to be sometimes), you are keenly aware that Christmas is 5 days away. And good news for me, I have officially figured out my dessert dilemma.

And it didn’t take a 20 mile bike ride to sort it out, either….

The decisive moment occurred when J informed me that we would be having a few extra guests on Christmas Eve. These are people from his office that have recently moved to Austin and will be alone for the holiday. And since my parents started their Christmas Eve tradition built on that same premise, it makes me very happy indeed to know that we will be sharing the joy of the season, as well as the copious amounts of food we have planned.

Ok, ok, you got me – it also means I can make the extra desserts :)

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles ¬†- adapted from the Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbs. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips ( I used the regular size)
chocolate candy coating

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Mix in milk and vanilla. Add flour, and mix on low until combined, then stir in chocolate chips. Roll or scoop into 1-inch balls. Place rolled balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Melt candy coating following instructions on the package. Remove a couple of balls from the freezer at a time and insert a toothpick into the ball. Dip in candy coating and let any excess fall off back into the bowl.

Add small sprinkles on top and place on wax paper to set. If the chocolate pools at the bottom of the ball, dot the balls on the wax paper until most of it is pulled off the ball and then place it on a clean spot of the wax paper to set.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits

My inner being is in such a state of discord right now. I’m a bundle of emotions (all good ones, though!) and quite frankly, I’m having trouble focusing on the task at hand.

Which explains why I just found the potatoes that were supposed to go with dinner last night still in the oven. Fortunately the oven was turned off…..

Anyway, my current state of mind isn’t for the reason you might think. After all, my Christmas shopping is just about finished, the gifts that I do have are wrapped and ready to go under the tree, and the house looks merry, festive, and aglow with lights.

So what gives?

It’s simple. I’m having trouble narrowing down exactly what to make for dessert on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t laugh! This is serious! I have so many ideas, and there are so many things I want to try, but I think there might be a limit to how many sweets I can set out.

Or is there? Can you really ever have too many desserts?

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This is a subject I will seriously ponder today.

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding Parfaits - adapted from Baking Bites

3/4 cup light or golden brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
6 tbsp cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs. bourbon

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and mixture starts to bubble.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk with the cornstarch and egg yolks until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk. Pour into brown sugar mixture in the saucepan without turning down the heat. Cook, stirring regularly with a spatula or whisk, until mixture begins to thicken. As it gets thicker, stir constantly until pudding just starts to bubble. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat immediately and whisk in vanilla extract and bourbon.

Layer pudding into parfait classes alternating with pie crust crumbs and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours.

 

Pie Crust Crumbs

  • 1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbs. melted butter

In a medium size bowl, combine crumbs and melted butter. Pour mixture onto a greased baking pan, spreading them around evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until the crumbs are crisp, stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

My favorite Chocolate Biscotti

Christmas Eve is a week from today.

say what? Inhale….. and exhaaaaaale.¬†

However, I do believe that I am approximately 65% ready. Which, in my twisted math-skills world, means I am ahead of where I thought I would be at this time, but a bit behind of where I should be at this time.

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Does that make sense?

Chocolate Biscotti – adapted from a Dacor Oven recipe

These biscotti are definitely meant to be dunked – they are very crisp and unless you want to risk a broken tooth, I recommend dipping them into either a glass of milk, or (my favorite) a steaming cappuccino.

  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbs. instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, espresso powder, chocolate chips and pecans. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and knead until it comes together. Divide the dough between the two baking sheets, and form each half into a log about 2 ‚Äú wide. Bake until firm to the touch, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal into 3/4‚ÄĚ thick slices. Arrange the biscotti back onto the baking sheets and return to the oven. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until crisp on both sides. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Stuffed Escarole Pizza

Last week, I continued my reign as the Girl That Blows Up Appliances. It’s quite the regal title, don’t you think? Although I prefer to look at it this way…. if nothing else, I’m consistent.

Consistently.

Anyway, as I was making the dough for this pizza, the mixer motor was skipping, chugging, sputtering and kept slowing down.¬†A few minutes later, J walked into the kitchen and said, “Why do I smell a burning motor?”

Uh ohhhhhhhh.¬†I finished making the dough by hand and silently thanked my mother for giving me her stand mixer, so I didn’t have to go into crisis mode yet.

Yet.

The next day, I set out to prepare the fig filling for our favorite Cucidati Cookies, as they are a MUST during the holidays. If you’re not familiar with them, they are close to a Fig Newton, but far, far superior. Of course, copious amounts of rum in the filling¬†might have something to do with it.¬†But I digress. I set a little mood music on Pandora (Jazz Holiday Hits), and tossed the figs, orange peel, almonds and spices into the food processor. And then pushed the start button. Chopping, chopping, chopping, stop.

What? No stop, keep chopping! The food processor, however, had other ideas. Like not working. Dang it.

I scraped the filling into a container and left to pick up the posse. When we returned home, J was at the house waiting for me. Imagine my surprise when he handed this to me:

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He said, “I don’t think the other mixer is going to make to the holidays”.

I was so overcome by his thoughtfulness and generosity that¬†I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the food processor……

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Stuffed Escarole Pizza – adapted from Epicurious

  • 3 lb escarole (about 3 heads), tough outer ribs discarded and leaves thinly sliced (20 cups loosely packed)
  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves,¬†minced
  • 10 oz chilled Italian Fontina, coarsely grated (2 cups)

Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 500¬įF. Lightly oil 9″ springform¬†pan. Cook escarole in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then immerse colander in a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and press gently to remove excess water. Transfer escarole to a large kitchen towel, then gather corners and twist tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.

Cut off one third of dough (keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap) and pat into cake pan, covering bottom. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let crust stand in pan on a rack.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add escarole, black pepper, and crushed red pepper, and sauté, stirring, until escarole is coated with oil, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large shallow bowl to cool slightly, about 15 minutes, then stir in cheese.

Spread escarole filling over crust in pan, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge. Roll out remaining dough into a 10-inch round (on a lightly floured board if it sticks). Transfer to pan, covering filling and tucking edge under bottom crust to form a flat top and completely enclose filling (stretch dough if necessary). Press edges to seal. Brush top with remaining tablespoon oil and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Run a sharp thin knife around edge of pan. Invert a rack over pan and, wearing oven mitts and holding pan and rack firmly together, flip pizza onto rack. Turn pizza right side up and cool 15 minutes before serving. Slide pizza onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.

 

 

The Gingerbread House Diary, Day 4 – Complete!

Early Saturday morning, J and Alexander took off for a hunting class (more on that later…), so I had several glorious, uninterrupted hours to work on the gingerbread house.

And I’m so happy with the way it turned out!

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Side view:

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Victory in 2014!

The next project is a joint effort between J and I – we bought a packet of San Francisco Sourdough Bread Starter and are going to try our hand at homemade sourdough bread.

Now all I have to do is think of a name for the starter……