Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kirsty's Chocolate Fruit Tart

This was Sarah's birthday "cake" Kirsty made this year....the fruit and everything were so good! You can use whatever fresh fruit you have for it. It's a good time to get creative. Essentially, you have a shortbread-type crust, milk chocolate layer, then pastry cream and the fruit. Some people put the fruit glaze on it, but Kirsty didn't this don't need it!

This crust benefits from lots of handling. Yolks only give a more golden crust.

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c (12 Tbsp) butter cut in chunks
2 egg yolks (or 1 whole egg)
1/2 bag (approx) of semi sweet chocolate chips

300 degree F
Stir flour and sugar. Add butter. With fingers, work butter into flour.
With a fork, stir in egg until dough holds together(or use food processor
mix first 3 ingredients until you have fine crumbs, then add egg until dough holds together).
Press dough firmly into a smooth ball. If made ahead, you can keep in fridge wrapped
in plastic at least an hour and up to a week. Makes 2 c of dough.
Use 1 c dough for 11 inch pan, 2 c for 12 inch pan.
Press pastry into pan, pushing firmly into bottom and sides.
Bake 30-40 minutes- until lightly browned.
Remove from oven, spread a layer of chocolate chips over crust, and put
back in oven that's turned off for about 7 minutes. Spread melted chocolate
evenly over bottom of crust.

Pastry Cream
3 oz cream cheese (softened) beat until smooth
1 cup whipping cream (continue beating and add to cream cheese)
do not over beat but will end up like stiff whipped cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon peel grated

Beat cream cheese to smooth. Continue beating while adding whipping cream.
Do not overbeat, but should end up like stiff whipped cream. Stir in powdered
sugar, vanilla, and lemon peel.

Smear a layer of pastry cream on chocolate filled crust (after it cools).
Cut up fruit and arrange in the cream. You can glaze the fruit or dip in lemon
to keep fruit from getting brown. Glaze with apricot or currant or strawberry jelly, melted over low heat and cooled slightly. You can also dust with powdered sugar
instead of glaze.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aunt Effa's Cheese Ball

This is a classic Mooney family holiday cheese ball. We haven't made it in years, but Kathy made it today. Okay, Kathy made another one for my birthday yesterday. It's so surprisingly delicious!

2 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 pound blue cheese (crumbled)
8 oz Kaukuman sharp cheddar cheese spread (in the tub)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp minced onions (approx - can't find the recipe card)
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Mix it up in a bowl. Stir it with your fork.
Roll it into a ball. You can use plastic wrap to help roll it.
Roll it in chopped walnuts. Just wondering out loud, but I bet
this would be even better if you toasted the chopped walnuts too.
Place on a Christmas platter. For full effect, serve with Triscuits, or Wheat Thins, or Any of the old fashion crackers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sour Cherry and Chocolate Chunk cookies

These are another top drawer cookie, and I haven't made these yet this year, because I need the chocolate chunk first. Sarah Clausen provided this recipe. I think it's a Martha Stewart too. Picture to follow, when I make them.

makes 3 dozen
use parchment paper on cookie sheets
bake at 350 deg F 9-11 minutes, do not overbake.

1 3/4 c flour
1 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, 1 1/4 cup)
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c unsalted butter (i know- it's 2 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar (i am sure light brown is just fine)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
12 oz bittersweet chocolate (bash with hammer into cookie size chunks)
1 1/2 c dried sour cherries firmly packed (again, Trader's had these)

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, and salt.

In another bowl, cream butter and both brown and white sugar till fluffy, then add eggs, and vanilla till well combined.

Add flour mixture, beat on low, just till combined (do not overbeat)
With a wooden spoon, lightly fold in chocolate chunks and cherries.
Shape into 2 tsp balls and squish.

Bake 9-11 minutes at 350 deg F. Don't overdo.


We used bittersweet from Trader's. The trade off was milk chocolate plain,
or bittersweet with almond chunks. We went for the bittersweet with almonds.
I think it was the right thing to do.

We made 2 teaspoon cookies, and rolled them into balls, then smashed them.
The smashing was required or they came out too puffy. Take that back. After
cooling a bit, they go back to flat, the preferred density. About 2 1/2 to 3 inch
bake 9-11 minutes at 350 deg F. Don't overdo the cooking, or you won't have that
super chewy gooey deliciousness you are looking for.

It looks like we will get like 5 dozen from these. We started with small,
2 teaspoon cookies, and then went to larger. smaller is best. these
are not eat-by-the-handful cookies. One does it. Okay, Mo, you can
set the bar... one is never enough, i am sure. :-)

Russian tea cakes

These are really tasty and a family tradition. You can see the picture down there with the Bourbon Balls and Thumbprints. They look deceptively like the all-too-famous bourbon balls. They are both finished by rolling them in powdered sugar, and they are both one inch there you have it!

This recipe is in my mom's hand, on the back/inside of an envelope. It looks a lot like we are missing part of it. I may have to add to this for clarity, but for now....

Double it, it's a small batch. I think mine came in at around 30 cookies.

Set oven to 350 deg F bake 8-12 minutes. do not brown.

1 c butter - room temp
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c sifted flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c chopped walnuts (or pecans or other nuts)

The notes say, hands, stiffs? 1 inch un-greased.

I am pretty sure that means:
Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla just to mix.
Slowly add flour, salt, then walnuts. Make into 1 inch balls. bake at 350 deg F for about 8-12 minutes. They won't be brown. Let cool a little, but before completely cool, roll in powdered sugar. Roll them again after they completely cool.

Kirsty's Gingerbread Cookies

This is an interesting picture for a number of reasons. First, that is a lot of gingerbread cookies. Yes, hundreds (well, almost). And yes, we still have more dough to go. Okay, also, see the poppy-seed bread Kathy gave us for Christmas? Mmm, so delicious. Behind there, more snicker-doodles, and so on.

This is a very large recipe. Think twice before doubling.
Bake at 350 deg F 8 minutes.

1 c light molasses
1 c brown sugar (packed)
1 c butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
4 1/2 c flour (yes, 4.5 c)

Bring molasses and sugar to boil, pour over butter in bowl. Stir until melted, cool.
Add eggs once it's cooled.
Mix in dry ingredients and chill overnight.
Roll dough out thin on floured board or counter.
Cut with cookie cutters.
Bake on greased cookie sheet. (I wonder if parchment paper would do it?)

egg white
powdered sugar
few drops of vinegar
you can add butter if you want

Cream it all together. Add food coloring if you want.

These are great to decorate with frosting of various colors, and all the sprinkle stuff...we will do this at our party on Wednesday.

holiday party

Okay, the gingerbread cookies are for the party this Wednesday. Kirsty had the great idea that we should have some people over to celebrate the holidays..., so, we decided on an open-house sort of thing. A couple little fun things Kirsty is cooking up....Hmm, am I spoiling the surprise if I say, cookie decorating and ornament decorating? Anyways, neighbors, local family, kids' friends and family...should be fun.

Cranberry Noels

Okay, now we are breaking out the good stuff. Here's a recipe from my dearest sister-in-law, Sarah... She is the queen of Christmas cookies. She makes Christmas cookies to de-stress, and a couple Christmases ago, when she arrived in Denver at mom's, we started baking almost immediately. I have never seen the magnitude of cooking, as she displayed, tripling recipes, while making several different recipes at once...I was in awe. Anyways, these are one of the best ever, called Cranberry Noels. Not sure where the recipe comes from, Martha Stewart or someone like that...Okay, after doing my research, yes, they are on Martha Stewart, and a couple other places. I guess the noel thing is, most of the time, you make them into a "log" and cut cookies off, like the cookie dough you buy in the grocery store...well, as irony would have it, martha had a picture of hers, cut with Christmas cookie cutters. That's how we do it too. On to the recipe, with Sarah's notes: makes 3 dozen, might need to double....;-) Dough can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

2 sticks butter (unsalted, room temp)
3/4 c sugar
2 Tbsp milk (i used skim, so anything works)
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c dried cranberries
3/4 c shaved coconut (i used sweetened, but i don't think it matters)
1/2 c chopped pecans

In bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk, vanilla until just combined.
Put mixer on low and add everything else. Flour, salt, cranberries, pecans, coconut.

Split dough into 2 balls. Dust counter with flour. Roll out a ball at a time. Go for thin cookies.
Cut with cookie cutters. Preheat 375 deg F. Use parchment paper. DO NOT BROWN cookies.
You really have to keep an eye on them, as I didn't- and had several batches browned more than I like. Okay, fine, they are still good, but ideal is just barely starting to brown on the edges. Supposedly 14-16 minutes, although 12 minutes was too long for me. I am saying try 8 minutes, and check every minute after that. Bottom line, keep an eye on them. I will post a picture later. These are the best I have made so far this year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bourbon balls

These are an all-time family favorite, going back 100's of years. Okay, a few decades anyways. The earliest recipe I found from the family came from Nana, from her Woman's City Club. These things rock, and look so elegant, and yet, require no baking!! The Bourbon balls are in the red and white box. Included in the picture is a beautiful platter from Aunt Kallie, Russian tea cakes, and Thumbprints with blueberry jam.

1 box vanilla wafers (crushed- Cuisinart or blender or rolling pin does the job)
(amounts to like 2 1/4 c crushed)
1 c Confectioners sugar
2-3 tbsp Cocoa powder
1 c Nuts, finely chopped (walnuts or pecans do well)
3 tbsp Karo light syrup (or honey)
6 tbsp bourbon - add more if needed to moisten (or rum or whiskey)
1 c extra powdered sugar

Roll or food process wafers until they are fine.
Add and mix sugar, cocoa and chopped nuts.
Add Karo and Bourbon.
Form into 1 inch balls. (It's gonna be sticky!)
Roll in powdered sugar. (DONE! do not bake!)
The sugar gets absorbed over time, so re-roll them
to freshen them up. Dang, these are good, and really nice looking.

Store with wax paper on the bottom. These keep in the fridge for
at least a month. They just keep getting better with age.


I am not sure these are Christmas cookies, and not my favorite, but definitely, pretty good cookies. We made these because Kirsty got them as a gift from one of her students. I have to adjust the recipe a bit, I learned along the way.

375 deg F
8 minutes bake time (light brown)

8 Tbsp butter (room temp)
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, salt and mix.
Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, then slowly add to butter mixture.
Make into 1 inch balls.

Cinnamon topping
Combine 1/4 C of sugar with 2 tsp of cinnamon in a bowl.
Roll 1 inch balls in the cinnamon sugar.

Bake, 375 deg F, about 8 minutes. I tried keeping them round balls
and flattening them before baking. The round ones are a little puffier.

Christmas Thumbprint Cookies


These turned out pretty darn good. I used raspberry jam from Trader Joe's on top. You make the dough, then roll the one inch balls in egg white, then chopped nuts, then put your thumbprint in them, and fill that with the jam.

I doubled the recipe, and even then, it's not that many cookies.

10 TBSP unsalted butter - room temp (ok, i used salted and cut back on the salt)
1/3 C sugar
2 egg yolks (keep the whites)
1/2 tsp salt (or less)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour

nuts and jam on top
2 egg whites
1 C chopped fine walnuts (or your favorite)
1/3 C jam - i used raspberry

Oven 350 deg F
parchment paper on cookie sheets

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt.
Slowly add flour and continue mixing. Make into 1 inch balls. Roll in egg whites (lightly
beaten). Roll in chopped nuts. Put on cookie sheet, and push your thumb in. Add 1/2 tsp jam
before (or after) cooking. I add before.

Cook 16-18 mins.