Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Baking

Yesterday the house was filled with the evocative fragrance of sweet things a-baking, so we went to bed with visions of not sugar plums, but shortbread in our heads! Even later today I came home after running errands and it's still here so I thought I would blog about it.
Having a large bunch of bananas going by [no Matthew here this week, he is a banana boy!] I made little banana breads with dried cranberries and almonds, seven in all.
 My signature red and white biscotti, white choc. bits in the red dough and dried cranberries in the white dough, before baking below.
After baking, sliced for re-baking, that's why they are called bi-scotti, meaning twice baked to get that crisp crunchy texture that doesn't disintegrate when dipped in hot liquid. I remember reading somewhere that in Italy biscotti are also served with a glass of wine late afternoon as a pick me up for the evening. Sound like an idea? DH likes them with coffee for breakfast - breakfast of champions anyone?!
 Then two trays of the treats covered in melted white chocolate.
Yum yum, so good dipped in a cup of hot chocolate!

Here are some bagged ready for the gift sacks.

Next up a new recipe I "stumbled" across online that rang all of my gustatory bells, Salted Caramel Shortbreads with dark chocolate topping, oh my!
Starting with home made caramel this recipe called for condensed milk, sugar, unsalted butter. Perhaps I did not have the heat up high enough but it took simply ages to get to caramel stage, for this texture that is 234-244 degrees F. I did not want to risk over cooking and burning the mixture so it cooked  while I prepared and cooled the shortbread. However you must keep a close eye on the caramel, especially at first stirring pretty constantly so that it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan..
 Finally it reached the point of perfection and I poured it over the cooled shortbread, looking good already!
 Then a combination of semi sweet and bittersweet dark chocolate melted with more unsalted butter, what's not to like here?! To top it off a light sprinkle of coarse sea salt, holy cow, my taste buds are blissful! If you like the recipe I will place it at the end of the post
 It is very rich so I have cut it in bite sized pieces, when I gave DH a taste of course he wanted more!
Today was the final pick up for 35th. avenue BOM so I saw some of the gang there and see what Angela and Kathy gave me- Angela knows how I have struggled over hexies, finally deciding they are not for me so I am not sure if she took pity on me or is bugging me to try again! 

This book features Bonnie Hunter  in collaboration with Mickey Depre, Mickey's hexies and Bonnies' scrap piecing. A large group of us are signed up for a trunk show and lecture and two full day workshops with Bonnie in February, so this is even more appropo!
And look, it is  even autographed, when she bought her own book Angela asked for one for her longarmer, thank you so much what a wonderful gift!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate topping
8 oz chocolate, finely chopped (I used a combination of SS and  bittersweet) 
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
coarse sea salt to sprinkle over the top of chocolate layer

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Stir together with a fork flour, baking powder and salt .  Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, a couple of minutes.  Add dry ingredients and beat on low just until combined then press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake15-18 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir occasionally until the butter is melted then increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns a golden caramel if you have a candy thermometer I cooked mine to 234-244 degrees F. This may take quite a while, so be patient. Pour mixture over the cooled shortbread and spread evenly. I chill this until I am ready to add the chocolate.

Chocolate Topping
Place the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water-do not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel and spread into an even layer. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the top with the sea salt. Chill again before slicing and serving.

1 comment:

Cactusneedle said...

I remember you gifted the staff at church one year with biscotti. I still remember how good it was! I have been wanting more ever since. :)