Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ring in the New Year with Bourdon French Toast

Okay I realize that this is yet another recipe with bourbon, but I just can't help it! Baking and bourbon are a match made in heaven. I find myself adding a dash (or more) in all kinds of things. So of course when I was making french toast, I just had to try adding a bit of bourbon to the soaking mixture. I loved the flavor it added to this already decadent breakfast dish. Perfect for the holiday's. What better way to welcome the New Year than with a great breakfast?

8 large slices hearty white sandwich bread
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half and half, warmed
3 large eggs (for a richer french toast use just the yolks)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh fruit for topping (optional) I used blueberries but almost any fruit would work.
Maple syrup


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees. Alternately, place bread on a sheet pan and leave in cold oven overnight too allow bread to dry slightly.

2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, bourbon, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking pan.

3. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.

4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly.) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding 1/2 tablespoon of butter for each batch.. Top with fresh fruit Serve warm, passing maple syrup separately.

Here's a picture of what Hubs calls my secret stash!

If you liked this recipe check out these recipes:
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese
Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apples

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snickerdoodles and giveaway winners!

Snickerdoodles have always been one of my all-time favorite cookies. My mom made these all the time when I was growing up. I remember being thrilled when I opened my lunch box and in it was two snickerdoodles, wrapped in waxed paper. At that point I didn't care what else I had for lunch!
There are two different methods for making snickerdoodles. One that uses cream of tartar and one that uses baking powder. I've tried both ways and I know that baking powder has cream of tartar in it, but the cookies just don't taste quite the same. The cream of tartar lends a bit of tang to the cookies and also helps with the texture of the cookie. I also prefer the all butter recipe over the part shortening part butter recipes.
In my opinion snickerdoodles way better than your average sugar cookie. The top of a snickerdoodle is crackled and crisp but the inside is soft. Perfect cookie texture! For some reason though I haven't made them in a long time. They are an old fashioned cookie and I guess because I love trying new recipes, I just neglected to make snickerdoodles for a while. I recently renewed my love affair with this cookie and will be make anther batch before Christmas. I thought this would be the perfect cookie to submit to the Eat Christmas Cookies Season 2 round-up hosted by Susan of Food Blogga

From Joy of Cooking

Makes about 36 3" cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Whisk until well blended
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat in a large bowl
1 cup (2 sticks)unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar

Add and beat until well combined
2 large eggs

Stir in the flour mixture.

In another bowl combine
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, roll in the cinnamon sugar, and arrange about 2 3/4 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

And now for the winner's of the Silver Bells book giveaway!! I drew numbers and the winners are...Pam of For the Love of Cooking and Cathy of Noble Pig. Congrats!! Just email me your mailing address to paulahennig(at)msn(dot)com and I'll get your book in the mail. Thanks to everyone for all your great comments!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Silver Bells Teacakes and a Giveaway

About a week ago I was contacted by the publishing company representing author Mary Burton. Mary Burton is a passionate baker as well as author. She developed this recipe for Silver Bells Teacakes in honor of the publication of Silver Bells. Mary Burton joins legendary author Fern Michaels and Joann Ross along with Judy Duarte in creating this holiday collection. Mary's novella is titled Christmas Past.

Mary confesses to a borderline addiction to sweets that is fed by a passion for baking that has become part of her writing routine. Struggling with a plot point, pondering motivation, and wondering if her dialogue is reading smoothly are all triggers for a break from the computer and a sojourn in the kitchen. “When the going gets tough, the tough get baking,” says Mary, who describes the time spent doing so as a chance to relax, focus on the task at hand, ruminate and go back to work refreshed and ready to tackle the relationships, homicides, and police investigations that power her plots.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Mary Burton is also an avid cook and even volunteered as a kitchen assistant at a local culinary school to hone her skills.
I agreed to try her new recipe and giveaway two of her books. These tea cakes are easy to make and very tasty.

SILVER BELLS Lemon Cherry Teacake Cookies

¾ cup softened butter

¼ cup softened cream cheese

½ cup of confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup of dried cherries

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

½ cup canned cream cheese icing (I used homemade cream cheese frosting I had leftover from making cupcakes. Go here for that recipe)

In a stand mixer, mix together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in lemon extract and confectioners’ sugar. Sift together flour and salt and mix into creamed butter/sugar mixture. Gently stir in dried cherries and chill for an hour. Form dough into (about 2 inch)balls, flatten with the bottom of a glass or mug, dredge in confectioner’s sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies won’t spread). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 12-15 minutes until set but not browned. Place the cookies on a cooling rack resting over a baking pan. Spoon canned icing into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir until smooth and then pour a thin coating over the cookies. Let stand on the rack until the icing hardens. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with dried cherries.

For fun, I decorate some of the cookies with red and green cream cheese frosting that I had on hand.

I'm giving away two copies of Silver Bells. All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of this post(one per person please!) by 11:59 CST on Saturday December 20. I'll randomly draw two winners from all the entries. Good Luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sugared Cranberries

I made these lovely little gems for the first time as a topping for my pumpkin cranberry cupcakes. I liked them so much I also decorated my All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake with them as well. At first I was really just looking for a festive decoration. After making these however,I found that not only are they a glittery and beautiful decoration for desserts but they're an excellent little snack as well. The cranberries are soaked overnight in simple syrup then rolled in superfine sugar. They are sweet and tart and pop in your mouth when you bite them. The cranberries hold quite well for several days in an airtight container. Put these gorgeous little gems into pretty containers and give them as gifts along with your other Christmas goodies.

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.
Use the reserved steeping liquid as a mixer in your holiday cocktails!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Someone's in the kitchen...cooking for me!

I don't know about you but, although I adore cooking, it's always nice to have someone cook for you. Especially when they make one of your favorite meals, just because you mentioned it.
Yesterday Hubs and I were talking about our favorite breakfast meal. I said that mine was eggs Benedict. I've always had a weakness for eggs Benedict. Although I usually can't resist ordering it when we go out for breakfast, I rarely make it at home. It's one of those things that just tasted better to me when someone else makes it. This morning when I came into the kitchen, Hubs had out the Joy of Cooking cookbook and was looking up hollandaise sauce. He said he was going to make eggs Benedict for me. "Really? Why? I asked" His answer: "Because you said it was your favorite breakfast." Awww isn't that cool!
So he made hollandaise sauce and I poached eggs. He put it all together with a little ham and it had to be one of the best breakfasts, ever! Thanks Hubs! Love you and not just for your mad cooking skills!

Eggs Benedict

2 to 4 servings

Prepare and drain well, and keep warm: 4 Poached Eggs
Place on warmed plates or a warmed serving platter: 2 English muffins, split, toasted, and buttered.
Cover with: 4 thick slices ham or Canadian bacon, warmed
Top with the well-drained eggs, then top the eggs with: 1⁄2 cup Hollandaise Sauce or more if desired.
Serve immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce

source: Joy of Cooking

Generous 1 cup

Melt over low heat:
10 tablespoons (1 1⁄4 sticks) butter
Skim the foam off the top and keep warm.
Place in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless steel bowl:
3 large egg yolks
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cold water
Off the heat, beat the yolks with a whisk until light and frothy. Place top of the double boiler or bowl over—not in—barely simmering water and continue to whisk until the eggs are thickened, 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot. Remove the pan or bowl and whisk to cool the mixture slightly. Whisking constantly, very slowly add the butter, leaving the white milk solids behind. Whisk in:
1⁄2 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
(Dash of hot pepper sauce) (Hubs used a very generous dash)
Salt and white pepper to taste
If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water. Serve immediately, or cover and keep the sauce warm for up to 30 minutes by placing the pan or bowl in warm (not hot) water.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Time to vote!!

The voting for this month's Iron Cupcake Earth: cranberry challenge is now open. Just click here and vote for my Ode to Fall Pumpkin Cranberry cupcakes!! Voting ends Friday Dec. 5th.

Also just a bit of news. My blog was added to Alltop! Woohoo! Alltop is an "online magazine rack" that aggregates RSS feeds about popular topics. Thanks for adding my little blog! Click here to check it out