Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sharing Recipes #7 – Chocolate Crinkles

When I was a younger and still living at home, my maternal grandmother used to come from Winnipeg to visit at Christmas, every other year. She’d come a couple weeks before Christmas and leave before New Year’s, and in the time leading up to the holiday, she’d fill the house with baking. Everything from butter tarts to shortbread to pies. I can remember sitting in the kitchen with her on many occasions, desperate to try a warm cookie or tart, fresh from the oven, only to have my knuckles rapped for the attempt. The treats were for Christmas, I was told.

It’s difficult to recall those days, not just because they were so long ago, but because she’s so different now. She suffered a stroke about ten years back and her health and energy have been deteriorating steadily since then. She can’t travel as easily, and chooses not to, for the most part, and I’m certain she doesn’t bake at all anymore. Considering that so many of my memories of her involve the warmth of the kitchen, I have trouble with that most of all. Maybe that seems trivial but to me, it isn’t.

One recipe that comes to mind every time I think of my Grandma baking at Christmastime are these cookies. They’re nothing special and they’re probably one of the easiest cookie recipes I’ve ever done. They’re a bit messy but kids would probably have a wonderful time ‘helping.’ I hope you let them and that one day, their memories of Christmas and baking are as wrapped up in you as mine are with my family.

Enjoy.

 

Chocolate Crinkles

1/4 cup – butter or margarine

2 cups – white/granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp – vanilla

4 x 1oz (4 x 28g) – UNsweetened chocolate squares, melted

(Tip: when melting chocolate, if you can, use a double boiler pan/pot. You can use a regular saucepan too, but either way, ALWAYS melt over low heat and stir occasionally. Otherwise, you risk burning the chocolate and wasting the lot.)

2-1/2 cups – all-purpose flour

2 tsp – baking powder

1/2 tsp – salt

Approx. 1 cup – Icing/confectioner’s sugar

(The icing sugar is for garnishing the cookies. Put some into a wide bowl or on a plate and set aside until dough is mixed.)

 

Cream butter and white sugar together.

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Beat in eggs, one at a time.

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Add vanilla and chocolate. Mix well.

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Mix flour, powder and salt together. Add to chocolate mixture and mix well.

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Shape dough into 1″ balls. (If you make the balls a little larger, that’s fine, you’ll just have to bake for a couple extra minutes. If you keep them to around 1″ though, you should end up with around 6 dozen cookies.) Roll cookie balls in icing sugar until coated.

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Place on greased cookie sheets. (I cover the cookie sheets with parchment paper. Saves having to spray or grease the pans and there’s minimal clean-up! :D)

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Bake at 350F (175C) for 8-12 minutes. Cookies should be soft when cooled. If you leave them in the oven too long, they harden and become roughly the texture of small rocks.

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And here we are, at the end – almost – of another month of baking. I’m all baked out. 😉 Well, maybe not. I might do another cookie recipe that requires cream cheese since my mother thawed out a couple extra packages and we have to find some use for them. Any suggestions?

I hope that you’re all having a wonderful weekend and that no one in your house is too stressed or overworked to enjoy the holidays. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Take care and happy reading/eating.

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Sharing Recipes #6 – One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Today’s recipe is a breeze. It’s perfect for any time of year – come on! It’s a chocolate cake recipe! – and super easy to do when you’re pressed for time so close to the holidays. Everyone’s so concerned with making sure they have the turkey, goose or ham ready, and making sure there’s enough veggies, rolls and potatoes on the side. But you forget or overlook just one dish that’s meant as a nice ending to the huge meal. Or you might be like me, having just had a late night at my work Christmas party. Let me tell you, baking anything complicated and elaborate is not in the cards today. 🙂

It’s not a heavy cake, it’s very chocolatey and as I said, so easy to do. The thing I love about this recipe is that just about anyone’s pantry or kitchen will have these ingredients. That’s what makes it so easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. The other thing that’s wonderful is that you just chuck all the ingredients into a bowl, mix together until smooth, and pour into a cake pan. Et voila! You have chocolate cake. And if you choose, the icing is a good topping too. If I’m in a hurry or even more pressed for time than usual, I don’t have a problem picking up a container of ready-made icing at the grocery store. 😉 Those can be tasty too.

I hope at this time of year, you’re not quite so out of sorts that you have to fall back on this recipe but if you do, I know it’s one you’ll love. Once it’s baked and enjoyed by all, pour yourself a glass of wine or whatever you drink, and relax for the rest of the night. You deserve it, I’m sure. 😀

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

1-1/2 cups – all purpose flour

1-1/4 cups – sugar

1/2 cup – cocoa, sifted if lumpy

1 tsp – baking powder

1 tsp – baking soda

1/2 tsp – salt

1/2 cup – butter or margarine, softened

2 large eggs

1 tsp – vanilla

1 cup – hot water (not boiling water, just run the tap in your sink until it’s hot to the touch.)

Measure all ten ingredients, in the order listed, into large bowl.

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Beat on low to medium speed until everything is mixed. The final batter will be somewhat runny, and should have no lumps in it.

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For a single cake, pour into a greased 9″ x 9″ square cake pan, or 9″ round pan. For cupcakes, like I did – because I just love cupcakes – fill the greased cups (or paper cups) to roughly 2/3 full. If you overfill, as I did on a few, they’ll spill over the tops. They taste just as well, and won’t burn necessarily, but if you didn’t grease the entire pan, you end up with shredded cupcakes later when you try to remove them.

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For the cake, bake at 350F (175C) for about 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake at the same temperature for 15-20 minutes. The exact time depends on how big the cupcakes are so just keep an eye on them and test with a toothpick until they’re done.

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When the cake or cupcakes are finished, let them cool completely before putting any icing on. The cake should be fairly light and fluffy and if it’s still warm when you apply the icing, you’ll rip the cake apart.

Cream Cheese Icing

4 oz./125g cream cheese softened

3 cups icing or confectioner’s sugar

3 tbsp butter or margarine, softened

1 tsp vanilla

Measure all ingredients into a small or medium sized bowl. Mix on medium to high speed until smooth and slightly firm – by firm, I mean it isn’t runny, and the peaks from a spatula stay… peaky. 🙂

Color as desired. I tried to make red and green icing but it came out rather neon pink and lime green. Still, I think you can see what I was trying to do. In any case, the icing is tasty, the cake is awesome and I hope you had some fun making them.

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Take care and happy reading/eating!

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Sharing Recipes #5 – Chocolate Orange Drops

This week’s recipe is another favorite of mine. It seems I’m sharing only my favorites with you! You wouldn’t have it any other way, would you? Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of chocolate and oranges and when you add those two together, I get very excited. 🙂 This recipe is one I tried the first time only a few years ago but I enjoyed it so much that I repeat it again every once in a while, not only at Christmas time. It’s a little on the sweet side, particularly the icing but it’s a delicious soft square that any fans of orange-chocolate combinations will love.

Chocolate Orange Drops

1/2 cup – butter or margarine

4 ozs./125 g. – cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup – icing or confectioner’s sugar

1 large egg

1 tbsp – grated orange rind

1 tsp – vanilla

1 cup – all purpose flour

1/2 tsp – salt

1 cup – chocolate chips

 

Beat butter and cream cheese together until light.

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Add icing sugar and egg. Beat until smooth.

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Add rind and vanilla. Stir.

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Mix in flour, salt and chocolate chips.

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Spoon into greased 9″x9″ square baking pan. Bake in 350F (175C) for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before spreading icing.

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Icing:

4 ozs./125g. – cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp – frozen concentrated orange juice

1-1/2 cups – icing or confectioner’s sugar

(Note: this recipe actually calls for 3 tbsp of the frozen juice. I did that and ended up having to add about 3 cups of icing sugar to even out the consistency well enough to spread without having it drip all over the place. If you prefer a dessert on the sweet side, then add more sugar and juice. If you’d rather have less sweetness, reduce the juice even further, to 1 tbsp, and you’ll need less icing sugar.)

Beat cream cheese with orange juice. Add icing sugar and beat. Add more icing sugar or juice depending on your desired consistency or sweetness.

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Spread over cooled bars. Refrigerate. Let soften before cutting into squares to serve.

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Take care and happy reading/eating!

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Sharing Recipes #4 – Cinnamon Loaf

It’s that time of year again and I thought I’d repeat what I did last December. I’ll be sharing recipes over the next couple of weeks. I didn’t really intend to share recipes again but there’s just something about this time of year. It has something to do with the weather getting colder, and me wanting to fill the air with warm chocolate scents, or cinnamon and sugar. I like to see my family lingering over the racks of cooling cookies or squares and asking how long until they can do an ‘official’ taste-test. The holiday season is also a time for wanting to share and bring families closer together. What better way to do that then bake something for everyone to enjoy?

Today, I’ll share one of my absolute favorite recipes, for any time of year. I like to make this in big loaf pans or small, I’ll freeze it in chunks and take out some when I’m craving it, or I’ll gorge myself on a whole loaf over just a few days. It’s a great treat or addition to a lunch box and the wonderful smell of baking cinnamon is a comfort shared by many, I’m sure.

I hope you enjoy!

Cinnamon Loaf

As I mentioned above, you can do one loaf in a regular sized loaf pan. That’s what this recipe calls for. However, if you decide to bake it in the mini-loaf pan (one that has 8 small loaves) or the medium-sized pans that I ended up using today, you will adjust your bake times. One large loaf takes about an hour to bake but the medium ones, maybe 2/3 that time, and the mini ones, even less. You just have to watch the time closely and do the toothpick check periodically so you don’t overcook them.

Ingredients:

Cinnamon ripple:

1-1/2 tsp – cinnamon

1/4 cup – brown sugar

Mix together in a small bowl or dish and set aside.

Cinnamon loaf

2 cups – all purpose flour

1 tsp – baking powder

1/2 tsp – baking soda

1/2 tsp – salt

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Set aside.

1/4 cup – butter or margarine

1 cup – brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp –  vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix until smooth.

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1 cup – sour milk

(Note: to make sour milk, pour 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice into 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk until 1 cup is filled. Let sit for 1 minute to allow vinegar or lemon juice to ‘sour’ the milk)

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Add dry mix to butter/sugar mixture in small portions, mixing well. Add sour milk in between small portions of dry mix until everything is blended and smooth.

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Pour half of batter into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture over batter in pan. Spoon remaining batter over top. Smooth carefully over cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon/brown sugar mixture over the top. Swirl knife through the batter in the pan to create marbling effect.

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Bake in oven preheated to 350F (175C) for 55-60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, cut and serve.

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As you can see from my pictures, I had a mishap with the medium-sized dishes. Apparently I was too generous with the batter and had some spillage. Rest assured, they tasted just as good!

Finished Loaf 5

Take care and happy reading/eating!

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