Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Cooky Book: Pumpkin Cookies

The Recipe: Pumpkin Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book.

The Verdict: Surprisingly delicious! After my applesauce cookies got all gross and moldy, I was not excited about the prospect of putting large quantities of moist fruit into a cookie recipe. But, with Halloween and Thanksgiving and all that business, I felt compelled to whip up some pumpkin cookies. I have a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins that are delicious, so I threw in half a bag of chocolate chips in lieu of nuts. The result was pretty damn good.

The did turn out a little spongy and moist (sorry, I know that word irks some people), but these pumpkin lovelies were a hit. They really are like the cookie equivalent of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I know some people really go cuckoo crazy for. And the kids loved them, which means I got them eating squash. Hooray all around!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Cooky Book: Pecan Spice Cookies

The Recipe: Pecan Spice Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book.

The Verdict: The Cooky Book has been hitting 'em out of the park lately. These are super good -- very spicy, but not so overpowering that kids won't eat them (or at least my kids, though they may have eccentric tastes). With nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves there's a lot of taste packed into these little dynamos.

My kids are also weirdly obsessed with any cookie with a nut stuck on top. I'm not sure why, but I'll go with these. These have chopped pecans inside and also a pecan half on top, so they're not school-friendly, but are a great non-school snack for nut fans.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Cooky Book: Peanut Butter Cookies

The Recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Verdict: Do I even have to tell you how these turned out. Classic PB cookies with the criss-cross on the top, you can't go wrong. The Cooky Book boasts that these are "So rich, good with anything: a favourite with men and children." A favourite with men and children? Well, I am neither a man nor a child and I thought they were pretty fab.

This is the most basic, flawless peanut butter cookie recipe ever and I can't really fathom how anyone could improve on it. There are a couple of variations in here, one with honey added in and another with jelly thumbprints. I was tempted to do another batch of the jellies, but with Christmas coming up and PB being taboo in school lunches I elected to move on. Maybe when I get through the book I can go back. Catch up with me in a decade or so.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Crinkles

The Recipe: Chocolate Crinkles from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

The Verdict: These are good, but off. It's a fairly standard crinkle recipe, with the chocolate, the icing sugar, all that jazz. They look fudgey and delicious, but they're lacking... something.

Full disclosure: Martha Stewart has a recipe for almost identical chocolate crinkles. Martha's crinkles, however, are mind-blowing. I realize I could look up the recipe and compare the ingredients, but I'm willing to bet that Martha's contain a whole heck of a lot more chocolate. On first bite, Betty Crocker's crinkles are tasty and brownie-like, but the more you eat, the more hollow they taste. Since chocolate cookies are a rare occasion on the land of the Cooky Book, this makes this recipe tragic. I ended up crumbling the last few over homemade vanilla pudding instead of eating them whole. That's how sad it was.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cooky Book: Snickerdoodles

The Recipe: Snickerdoodles from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Verdict: Thank the fates for Mrs. Ronald Anfinson of Benson, Minnesota, the creator of this, the original recipe for snickerdoodles. This is the true snickerdoodle recipe and there have obviously been many variations and riffs on it since Mrs. Anfinson was on the scene. I googled Mrs. Anifson and couldn't even find so much as her first name. All that comes up is this recipe, attributed to her genius.

I'm not sure what makes snickerdoodles so awesome, but awesome they are. They aren't a fancy cookie, just a crackly little morsel with a cinnamon coating, but they are quite magical. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, they are a classic. Classic.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Cooky Book: Viennese Shortbread

The Recipe: Viennese Shortbread from Betty Crocker's The Cooky book

The Verdict: A Cooky success! These are really yummy little cookies. It's a pretty basic shortbread, pressed flat like rippled chips and sandwiched together with some coffee buttercream. Yum. Think of them as a slightly more elegant version of a Coffee Crisp. Did I say yum?

The Cooky Book: Lemon Cheese Pressed Cookies

The Recipe: Lemon Cheese Pressed Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Verdict: Lemon cheese. There's something about those two words together that just sounds super gross to me. Lemon cheese. Of course, the cheese in question in this recipe is cream cheese, not some inappropriate-for-dessert variety, but still, the very words make me think of lemony gouda or something equally unappealing.

So, much to my surprise, these little cookies are quite delicious, despite the fact that I generally do try to avoid cream cheese at all costs (I realize this contradicts my above assertion that cream cheese is an acceptable cookie ingredient. It just isn't usually acceptable to me as an incredibly picky individual). The lemon flavor is pretty intense and the cheese gives a little bit of heft and creamy-ness without turning them into mini cheese cakes. The cookie press was, as usual, a complete pain in the ass -- so much in fact that I actually injured myself using it, almost losing a finger nail. By the end of the batch I took to just molding the cookies into little balls.

Despite the fact that these are pretty tasty and very lemony, no one in my family would eat them. My son wouldn't even try one. He's only three and the very mention of lemons and cheese made him gag. Also, the cheese made them a little bit unstable, which made them go a little rank after a while. Which wouldn't have been a problem if my children had agreed to eat them, but you know how it is.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Spritz

The Recipe: Chocolate Spritz cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutes: Butter for shortening. I also opted for the chocolate variety so my family would eat them.

The Verdict: Pretty yummy, but I don't really see what makes spritz so special. These are a pretty basic cookie, pressed through a cookie press. So, they look pretty (or, uh, should look pretty) and taste okay, if not particularly unique.

A word about the cookie press: what a pain. I didn't invest in a particularly expensive press, which may be part of the problem, but it was really difficult to get them looking right. Sure it's fancy -- and I do like me some fancy -- but not truly worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cooky Book: Chinese Almond Cookies

The Recipe: Chinese Almond Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening.

The Verdict: If you're trying to watch your figure, these guys should be avoided at all costs. There is A LOT of butter in this recipe (or shortening if you're going with the recipe as written). A lot. And I'm usually not one to balk at excessive amounts of butter, but in the case of these bland little cookies, the impending heart attack just isn't worth it. I had high hopes for these guys because of the relatively large amount of almond extract added in, but they just aren't almond-y enough. In fact, you can barely taste the extract at all.

So you're left with a boring, greasy cookie with a tease of almond taste. Naturally, my kids love them, but I'm handing them out stingily, because even a kid doesn't need that much butter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Cooky Book: Moravian Ginger Cookies

The Recipe: Moravian Ginger Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening

The Verdict: I wasn't expecting much from these guys. They required almost no butter, which in my mind does not make for a good cookie. They also are supposed to be "paper thin." This meant that they were a bit of a nightmare to roll. The un-buttery dough was hard to work with and required a lot of pressure to get to that paper thin consistency. In other words, they were a complete pain in the ass to make.

But it was worth it! The ones that I managed to get ultra-thin were crispy and cracker-like, the ones that were a bit thicker were more like gingerbread. Either way, they were really tasty. We even had some friends over who are true ginger cookie enthusiasts and they loved them. So much in fact, that my cookie jar was empty within a couple of days.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Cooky Book: Filled Cookies

The Recipe: Filled Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening

The Verdict: These were pleasant, but troublesome. To keep things simple, I chose to make the turnover style, rather than cut out individual shapes and make cookie sandwiches. What I ended up with were some empanada style cookies, that were made out of straight-up buttery cookie dough rather than pastry.

I rolled these guys a little thicker than I should have, seeing as I ended up with almost half the number of cookies that the recipe was supposed to yield. This wasn't a problem in itself in that they baked up just fine, but the finished cookies got pretty moist and soggy after sitting in my cookie jar for a couple of days. I don't know if this is because of the thickness or because of the filling, but either way, they got a bit swampy over time.

Still, they're pretty delicious. I made the pineapple filling, which is basically a pineapple apple sauce with some nutmeg thrown in. Very tasty, even if they don't keep for long.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Cooky Book: Mary's Sugar Cookies

The Recipe: Mary's Sugar Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: To prevent boredom, I threw in a package of Skor bits.

The Verdict: And the battle of the sugar cookies in ON! Okay, not really, but since the Betty Crocker peeps felt the need to put in two back to back sugar cookie recipes, I can't help but compare. This recipe, provided by a lady named Mary Herman (who, a Google search reveals, worked in the Betty Crocker offices, answering fan mail as Betty Crocker herself!), uses icing sugar instead of regular sugar and also has some almond extract in it (though the Skor bits pretty much canceled it out). Now that I've tasted Mary's Sugar Cookies and Ethel's Sugar Cookies, I have to proclaim Ethel the winner.

Not that Mary's cookies aren't tasty. They're less substantial though (Ethel's are more like a shortbread), and kind of greasy, though that might be a result of the Skor bits. Though, that doesn't mean I can stop eating them though. Because I, know, like cookies.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Cooky Book: Ethel's Sugar Cookies

The Recipe: Ethel's Sugar Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening. I used vanilla instead of lemon flavouring and added a bag of mini chocolate chips so that my family wouldn't abandon me.

The Verdict: Hooray, I've moved onto the "Rolled Cookies" section of the Cooky Primer chapter. I've kind of been dreading this point. First off, I am not a good roller. This is why I refuse to make pie crusts. But, the Cooky show must go on, so I'm committed to rolling for the time being. Secondly, the Betty Crocker people have included TWO sugar cookie recipes IN A ROW! In a row! I am not a fan of sugar cookies at all, and now I have to make two batches in a row? Oh right, you're not necessarily supposed to be baking through the entire book in order...

Anyway, Ethel's sugar cookies are nothing like the kind of sugar cookies I remember as a kid. They're basically made of the same drop cookie dough that most of the cookies in this book are made out of, only rolled out. This makes them a great candidate for the addition of chocolate chips. I really loaded them up, and as a result these are totally delicious cookies.

Would these have worked without the chocolate? Probably, but I'm not willing to ever find out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms

Recipe: Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms from the March 2011 issue of Chatelaine. Recipe online here.

The Substitutions: None

The Verdict: Super Yum! Truth be told, I've only ever had Salisbury steak as part of a TV dinner. I had no idea how delicious they could be homemade. This recipe is really easy (it's essentially a hamburger patty simmered in some beef stock), but the taste really packs some punch.

This recipe contains a load of dried sage and I think I'd go easier on it next time because the taste is pretty overpowering. But all in all this recipe is a total keeper.

The Cooky Book: Refrigerator Filled Cookies

The Recipe: Refrigerator Filled Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book.

The Substitutions: butter instead of shortening.

The Verdict: These are essentially vanilla refrigerator cookies filled with some fruit and nuts. Betty Crocker tells us that they have an "island shape," which is true, but they look a little less seamless than the ones pictured in the book. Still, these guys were pretty tasty and actually disappeared quite quickly.

I chose to make the fruit filling with dried apricots. I figured that would decrease the gross-out potential substantially, since the other options were mincemeat (ick!), dates, figs or raisins (all also icky). The apricot filling was actually pretty delicious, but I was a little afraid of overfilling the cookies and having some kind of sticky oven disaster, so I held back. This was my mistake. I think they could have taken more filling, which would have contributed to their deliciousness greatly.

The cookies themselves are a little on the boring side, which wouldn't have mattered if I had filled them properly. Either way, this is a pretty good recipe, providing you avoid the mincemeat.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Cooky Book: Peanut Butter Honey Cookies

The Recipe: Peanut Butter Honey Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening. I also ran out of honey, so there was about 1/3 cup of honey topped up with maple syrup.

The Verdict: So painfully boring. I thought these guys would be tasty, what with the peanut butter and the honey. But no, they're just really really boring. Absolutely no one in my family has been eating these and I can't even send them to school because of the high peanut butter content. They're so simple and should be so great, but they're just a snooze. Boo, Betty Crocker. Boo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Cooky Book: Shamrock Cookies

The Recipe: Shamrock Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: butter for shortening

The Verdict: I was truly expecting these little nuggets of Irish-ness to be the Shamrock Shake of cookies. Then I remembered that Shamrock Shakes are too sweet and never quite minty enough. With that said, these little green mounds are indeed the Shamrock Shake of cookies.

I made these a week early for St. Patrick's Day so that the Irish-y anticipation could build. They were so boring in taste thought that I ended up sticking all five dozen of them in the freezer so that they could just be taken to work on the day itself (all cookies are appreciated in offices, even boring, barely minty ones). I put in the maximum required amount of peppermint extract and the mint factor barely registers. Also, it should be noted that they're made with icing sugar rather than regular granulated sugar, which makes the texture really soft and flaky. My final complaint is that they're just a pain to make, with each cooking having to be individually molded. Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Not even close.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Cooky Book: Oatmeal Coconut Crispies

The Recipe: Oatmeal Coconut Crispies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening

The Verdict: Surprisingly awesome. I was afraid that these were going to be another exercise in dullness, but they're really really good. The texture and consistency (and for the most part, the taste) is reminiscent of Dad's brand oatmeal cookies, or at least that's what my tastebud memory is telling me (obviously, I don't buy a lot of store-bought cookies). Which means that they're crunchy and hard, rather than soft and tender. And this is just fine with me, because that extra crunch translates into coconutty deliciousness.

Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder

The Recipe: Corn and Butternut Squash chowder from Martha

The Substitutions: I used a splash of milk rather than heavy cream.

The Verdict: Undeniable success! With it being so cold we've instituted a weekly soup night in our house and this was a great addition. It's your regular butternut squash soup (with the butternut being chopped and cooked in the pot rather than roasted) with some corn thrown in. The corn makes the soup really sweet and delicious. There's no curry or strong flavoring in this soup, so if you have kids who are willing to eat soup this one is a foolproof winner. I just put in a splash of milk to give a taste of creaminess, avoiding the extra calories of full cream. Either way, it's substantial enough to work on it's own (with the addition of buttery bread) as a dinner meal.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Recipe: Spinach Emanadillas from Felicity Forster's Soups. Recipe online here.

The Substitutions: None

The Verdict: Delish! These were pretty easy to make (and I usually avoid anything pastry-related because they're too fussy) and really yummy. The filling features spinach, raisins, pine nuts, and anchovies and it's a really nice combo. You could go totally veg if you omitted the anchovies, but they really add a lot of flavor, so only skip them if you absolutely must.

These are listed as an appetizer, but I served them alongside soup and it made for an amazing meal. Plus it was a tricky way to get my kids to eat spinach. Win!

Southern Sausage Stew

The Recipe: Southern Sausage Stew from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's America

The Substitutions: I skipped the chiles because my kids don't do hot.

The Verdict: Meh. Maybe this would have been better if I had added the heat, but I don't really understand what makes this "southern" or "Cajun." It's basically just sausages cooked in chicken broth with tomatoes and peppers. The flavor? Okay, but bland. This is an easy and okay dinner, but there is nothing at all special about this dish.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Cooky Book: Cinnamon Slices

The Recipe: Cinnamon Slices from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening, per usual. I also opted to add cinnamon, turning regular Vanilla Refrigerator Cookies into Cinnamon Slices.

The Verdict: Booooooooring! Wow, these cookies are a total snoozefest. While the first two refrigerator cookies I did were taste sensations, these are beyond boring. And that's with the addition of cinnamon -- I can't even imagine how lame these would be without it. As a result, no one is reaching for these. It might be a while until I get to my next Cooky Book entry, because the taste of these things does not justify the butter content.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes

The Recipe: Devil's Food Cupcakes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. Recipe online here.

The Substitutions: I used my family's secret recipe icing rather than the suggested chocolate ganache frosting. It was delicious.

The Verdict: It pains me to say, but meh. "Meh," "Martha" and "chocolate" are three words that shouldn't go together. But these were not moist enough, not chocolatey enough, and just not good enough. Part of my problem was that they got a little overbaked, which is weird because my oven notoriously underbakes everything. But these guys were dry, dry, dry. They were still tasty, but I was expecting a rich and amazing explosion of deliciousness.

The other problem, is that Martha always adds salt to her baked goods, which I generally like. These were way too salty. I could deal with them, but my husband, who is usually our resident cookie monster, was not into it. Like he won't eat another one. Which means I have to chalk these up as a fail.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Cooky Book: Ginger Almond Cookies

The Recipe: Ginger Almond Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutes: Butter for shortening

The Verdict: Another success from the Refrigerator Cookies section of the book! These are basically really delicious ginger snaps with some almonds thrown in for good measure. They're buttery and have just the right amount of spice in them. I will warn you, this recipe makes a lot of cookies (I ended up with almost eight dozen), but that just means that you'll have plenty to share. Highly, highly recommended. I will agree with the little note that appears in the recipe: "A taste delight for everyone!"

Sticky Saucepan Carrots

The Recipe: Sticky Saucepan Carrots from Jamie Oliver's Cook with Jamie.

The Substitutions: Not a one.

The Verdict: I haven't picked up Jamie Oliver's Cook for a while because while most of the stuff in here is really yummy, it tends to be pretty time consuming. But, I had some time to kill while cooking the other night, so I decided to go for a veg recipe that I've been wanting to try but have never had the hour of spare cook time to attempt. These carrots are super easy to make, but they do have to sit on the stove for almost an hour. As a result though, you get the softest, juiciest carrots that you ever will taste. Very yummy, if not terribly convenient.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Cooky Book: Coconut Apricot Strips

The Recipe: Coconut Apricot Strips from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening, plus I used peach/passionfruit jam in place of pineapple jam, which is seemingly impossible to find.

The Verdict: Hmm. The recipe, which advertises these guys as being "fancy and oh-so-rich!" advises you to serve them the same day you make them. Which is completely essential, seeing as they barely survived from me making them in the afternoon to being served in the evening. My guests described them as being tasty, but "unstable."

The cookie is essentially a layer of crust, a layer of jam, and a layer of coconut meringue. The crust gets pretty soggy and the meringue, which I got nice and fluffy, falls pretty flat once you add in the coconut. As a result, you get a bar that needs to be eaten with a fork (or spoon) and is really really intense in taste. These are definitely not a keeper and I'm officially glad to be officially finished with the bar cookie section of this book.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken Mole

The Recipe: Chicken with Mole Sauce from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's America

The Substitutions: I went light on the chilies. Because I'm a wimp.

The Verdict: Heaven. Heaven, heaven, heaven. I love mole sauce, though individual mole sauce tends to really vary from recipe to recipe. I don't know if this recipe from an Englishman is the most authentic mole around, but it was pretty easy to make and tastes amazing. I boiled a whole chicken to go with it and that worked out just fine too. I also made the flatbreads that appear in this book and... well, they were a huge failure. Huge. I am just not good at that kind of thing. But it didn't really matter because the mole was so good.

Next time (oh, and there will be a next time), I think I'd put some extra cinnamon in it, and I was happy with the decreased heat (it was still spicy, just not uncomfortable). One word of caution: this recipe is huge. It makes way more mole sauce than one chicken can handle. I froze it and reused it one night with a deli chicken and it proved to be way more than a second chicken could handle. So go ahead and make it, but freeze it in individual portions to stretch it out. You won't be sorry.

Beer-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage

The Recipe: Beer-Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage from the February 2011 Canadian Living.

The Substitutions: None

The Verdict: Well, I thought it was delicious. They're hardly reinventing the wheel with this recipe -- it's your basic slow-cooker corned beef brisket with winter vegetables. You throw the stuff in the slow cooker (after browning the veg), put the lid on it and go about your day. I felt my Irish heritage coming through as I ate it. My husband, who has apparently never had corned beef before thought it was weird. This makes me sad, because if it was up to me I'd be making this once a week all winter long.

Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie

The Recipe: Chocolate Black-Bottom Pie from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food. Recipe online here.

The Substitutions: I used filberts instead of macadamias. I also used bourbon instead of rum, because that's the way I roll.

The Verdict: Delish. I was a little worried about this one because it's not a chocolate cream pie -- it's a chocolate ganache pie. Meaning you essentially melt chocolate with cream and pour it into a pie crust. Sounds a bit rich, no? And it was, but since this was part of our week of Christmas celebrations, I figured it would be okay.

While I did find it a bit overwhelming, this went over like gangbusters at our dinner party. I think it would be better with macadamias, but the filberts did just fine. One word of warning, though: if you make this, make sure that you have a lot of people coming over. This is not a family dinner kind of pie and it is so rich that you probably won't want to have to deal with the leftovers the next day. But for special occasions, this is super easy to make and you can't go wrong with pure chocolate and booze.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies

The Recipe: Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening, skipped out on the melted chocolate frosting.

The Verdict: Delicious! This article was submitted to Betty Crocker by Mrs. George Dow from Owatonna, MN. I love it when they include these details and I also think that sometimes these civilian bakers have better taste than the actual Betty Crocker test kitchen bakers. Anyway, these cookies are near perfect. There is a boatload of butter in these cookies, so they're essentially chocolate shortbreads. Which mean they get no complaints from me. None at all.

I skipped the frosting (which is just melted chocolate) because these guys are rich enough on their own and there's quite a bit of cocoa in them so they're plenty chocolatey. Extra chocolate on top elevates them from the "snack" category into the "dessert" category too, and I didn't want to restrict their usage. This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies, but they're pretty small, so it's not out of control. And quite honestly, even if it yielded 10 dozen, they're so good that our family would probably finish them off before they went stale.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beef Bourguignon

The Recipe: Beef Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

The Substitutions: I used regular bacon instead of the kind with the rind.

The Verdict: Is there anything that one can say about Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon recipe? Really? No, there's not, especially on this medium where it hss so extensively been covered. But I got a new enamel casserole for Christmas, so I had to give it a shot. And since this meal took me ALL DAY to make, I feel the need to document it here.

Is this recipe as amazing as its reputation would suggest? Yes. It really is. Beef cooked for hours in a full bottle of wine and a load of beef stock -- how could you go wrong? The recipe itself wasn't really that hard to make -- there's not too much you can do to screw it up, save for falling asleep and letting it burn in the oven, but it is very time-consuming. But good things come to those who wait, right?

On the side I made Julia Child's Garlic Mashed Potatoes, which are more time-intensive than modern versions of garlic mash in that you have to simmer the garlic in butter and then basically make a garlic bechamel sauce that is stirred into the potatoes (rather than just roasting garlic and mashing it in). I also whipped up some of her buttered frozen peas, which is possibly the easiest recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

The Cooky Book: Chocolate Fruit Bars

The Recipe: Chocolate Fruit Bars from Betty Crocker's The Cooky Book

The Substitutions: Butter for shortening.

The Verdict: I looked at this recipe and thought "Oh no, more old people food!" I mean, canned cherries AND raisins? Ick. But guess what? These things are a real treat.

I will say that these are not an everyday cookie -- they are super rich and really more of a dessert than a snack. But lordy, are they ever good. I'm quite partial to the cherry/almond/dark chocolate bar that Hershey makes and these taste almost exactly the same. The fact that there is almond extract in the batter is really what pushed these bars over the top. Way over the top. Make sure you have people to share this one with, because even though you'll want to eat the whole pan, you're not going to be able to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Recipe: Chocolate Stout Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting from Swerve magazine.

The Substitutions: Not a one, though I did sprinkle some crushed candy cane over the top for extra festive-ness.

The Verdict: Yum. My mom saw this recipe in the paper and asked me to make it for Christmas Eve dinner. Since the recipe was by Julie Van Rosendaal, a local blogger/food celeb who I really admire, I thought it was a pretty good idea. And it really did make for a yummy cake.

I am generally not a fan of cream cheese icing -- I think anything involving cream cheese is vile. But since this icing doesn't cover the entire cake, I could get behind it. And there's beer in the icing, which kind of makes up for the cream cheese, I guess. The cake itself was moist and dense. There's so many flavours in there -- stout, chocolate, and gingerbread -- but not a single one of them overpowers the rest. It's just a harmonious intermingling of deliciousness. This one will likely go into my regular Christmas repertoire and I don't think I'm going to get any complaints.