Sunday, December 28, 2014

Peanut Brittle



1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Spray a wooden spoon (or other heat-proof stirring implement) with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
2) Mix together the sugar and corn syrup in a large microwave-safe bowl and stir until well combined; the mixture will be stiff and hard to stir. Be sure to use a large enough bowl; the sugar/corn syrup should fill it no more than 1/4 to 1/3 full.
3) Microwave the sugar mixture uncovered on high power for 5 minutes; it will bubble vigorously.
4) Add the peanuts and butter, and stir well to combine. Speed is key! The cooler the mixture becomes the harder it will be to stir.
5) Replace the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture turns a nice medium-brown caramel color. Start watching carefully around the 2-minute mark, and remove when the caramel color is achieved.
6) Add the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will bubble furiously upon the addition of these ingredients — this is what gives the candy its hallmark airy texture. (This is also why you need to use a large bowl.) Stir quickly to combine. The finished mixture will look creamy and caramelized.
7) Working quickly, pour the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it as evenly as possible. If you end up with an uneven spread, don't worry — the candy should still set up nicely, even in the thicker areas.
8) Once the brittle has set and cooled (30 to 60 minutes), break it into pieces.
Yield: about 3 dozen pieces.

  • There are lots of pictures of every step over here at King Arthur Flour.
  • Highly recommended!  This reminded me of the peanut brittle Grandpa used to make every Christmas but so much easier in the microwave.
  • Mine took about 10 minutes longer in my ancient microwave, but I just kept stirring and checking every minute or two until it was the right color.
  • It's worth noting that even though I used a clear glass bowl I had to take it out and look inside the bowl at the color.  It was definitely a different color in the middle of the bowl than on the edges.  Weird eh?  Even so, it would have overcooked had I waited until the outside color were dark enough.
  • They aren't kidding when they say it goes fast - be prepared.  I poured this on my room temperature baking sheet and barely got it spread before it set.  Note to self: next time, try warming up the pan a bit.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hanson's Ginger Cookies

1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light molasses
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
51/2 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2tsp. salt

For frosting:
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2tsp. vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp. milk

To make cookies: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, granulated sugar, molasses and vinegar and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and whisk in eggs.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture until dough is smooth and satiny. Divide dough (it will be extremely soft) into 2 portions. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to several days.

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let dough stand at room temperature for a few minutes until it is pliable enough to roll. Roll dough out on a board (flour is not needed) and cut using favorite cookie cutters. Bake on lightly greased baking sheets for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes then remove cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make frosting: In bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk, adding more milk until frosting is consistency required. Frost completely cool cookies and serve.

  • These roll well and make really good gingerbread men.
  • My original recipe is a newspaper cut out from the Star Trib and calls for a cup of margarine rather than the butter called for in this version.  The butter would obviously taste better, but I've been making these for years with margarine.
  • They make great tree ornaments and the cookies store really well.
  • I have a note that a double batch makes 30 big gingerbread men. (I gave them as gifts one year.)
  • Source

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam in a squeezable container

1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Combine softened butter, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly). Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Combine all glaze ingredients in bowl with whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.


  • Really outstanding cookie
  • The squeezable jam isn't essential, but really does make everything easier.
  • Source

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Easiest appetizer ever!

1 pound bacon (each slice cut into fourths)
14 ounce pkg of beef cocktail wieners (or more)
3/4 c brown sugar

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Wrap wieners with quarter slices of bacon.
  • Secure with toothpicks
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment (foil/silicone baking mat)
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over each
  • Bake for 40 minutes util the bacon is cooked and sugar is bubbly.
  • Serve immediately or place wieners in a slow cooker and keep on the low setting.
Delicious and very easy.
The original recipe said to cut the bacon in thirds, but it was very easy to stretch a quarter slice around.