Spiral Marble Cookies

These were supposed to be spiral sugar cookies: neat little swirls of
chocolate and vanilla sugar cookie:

But I’m starting to think that I could start a website called “Does
it roll?” and just post a series of pictures of my cookie doughs with
the word “No” overlaid. Maybe I can have some pictures of balls and
wheels with “Yes” in there for variety, but there won’t be any “Yes”
cookies, since I can’t seem to get a rolled cookie right to save my
life.

This one is another older recipe, from the Betty Crocker Cookie Book.
I followed all the directions, although I doubled the recipe so I
could make one big batch. I worked 4 oz of melted, unsweetened
Callebaut chocolate into half, and refrigerated the two halves
separately, wrapped in plastic.
The plain rolled like a dream—a little sticky, since I didn’t flour
the rolling pin at all, and a little crumbly until I got started, but
after that it was perfect.
The chocolate was a complete crumbly disaster. It broke into big
chunks, and would not roll into anything.
I tried smooshing it on top of the vanilla, but even when I had patted
it down into a reasonable, if thick, sheet, there was no rolling.
Now what?

“Make Do”

I wasn’t very well going to let a double batch of tasty cookie dough
go to waste, especially given that it ran off with 4 oz of my
chocolate! So I layered the dough chunks on top of each other and made
another attempt at flattening:

Then I broke pieces off and rolled them into little marbles:

That actually worked! They look cool, if not at all what I intended,
and they taste good. I wasn’t sure about baking time (the spirals were
supposed to get 8-10 minutes) so I tried 12 for the first set, which
was too much. 8 minutes seems to have been about right—a few of the
second set actually burned on the bottom a tiny bit!

Leftover Rice Pudding

As the author of this recipe

notes, everyone always orders too much rice with their Chinese food. If you’re like me, you think, as you put away the entirely untouched container after game night, “It’s okay, I’ll have eggs and rice for breakfast”. And maybe you do, but that actually only used up the *other* 1/3 full container of rice left over from game night. And then, that night, you have pasta instead of rice for dinner. And the next night, you forget that you have rice in the fridge and make fresh rice. And suddenly a week has passed, and you realize you have a dry rice brick that would be really good if only it weren’t so dried out.

What’s a girl to do?

Make pudding, of course!

I followed the recipe exactly, other than not measuring the vanilla or raisins. And, as I’m sure you’ve seen by now, my vanilla is actually Jack Daniels that has had vanilla soaking in it for three years. (best vanilla ever!) So I have whiskey-flavored rice pudding, which caramelized very slightly when I got distracted by a toddler insisting that I come change her doll’s diaper and the milk started to boil—but apparently that was a good thing!
Thanks, diaper-needing baby doll!
This was really awesome warm, and may be breakfast tomorrow…

Toffee

First Batch, in a bowl

I apparently have a thing for candies. I am a *huge* toffee fan, but I’ve never made it before last week. What happened last week, you ask? My boss had a request for a chocolate bar with toffee. Neither of us is a fan of High Fructose Corn Syrup (a little for health reasons, but mostly for flavor reasons), so she always makes her own caramel or toffee, but usually using Golden Syrup as a replacement. She didn’t have any of that, either, so I found a recipe online that used superfine sugar, instead. We decided to forge ahead with regular granulated sugar, and got a fine pan full of crunchy toffee to go in Picadilly and Heathrow bars.

But I’d love to give big pieces of toffee as Christmas presents, because it’s fun to explain to the TSA why I’m bringing four pounds of confections in my carryon.

Toffee Ingredients

I started with Chef Eddy’s recipe, since it worked so well last time, but pulled out my brand-new silicone macaron pan so I could make individual toffee coins that I can later dip in chocolate.

Things Did Not Go As Planned.

First Batch of Toffee

I knew, from previous experience, that her stove doesn’t get as hot as mine (they’re both gas, but hers has really high standoffs). But I wasn’t really thinking about that until I went from frozen butter and granulated sugar to a bubbly-hot pot of 295F bubbles in something under 10 minutes. Apparently this wasn’t actually a good thing, since the toffee separated as I poured it into the mould and onto my silicone baking sheet. Based on this, I give you:

Rules for Candy Making

  • (1) Do not make tea.
  • (2) Slow down. More heat is not better.
  • (3) Don’t get distracted. Stay at the stove and stir the damned toffee

    I bet you’re wondering where that third rule came from! While I was googling “separated toffee”, I found one of my favorite food bloggers had *also* published a HFCS-free toffee recipe, and with a slightly smaller quantity. Since I wanted to fit one batch of toffee into one macaron pan, I washed everything and started with this recipe instead

    Everything was going *swimmingly*, and since I was working during naptime, I was able to manage Rule #3… right up until the toffee reached 250F and the toddler woke up from her nap. I stirred the toffee and ran up to get her. So the next 10 minutes or so looked like:

    • Grab the toddler, run downstairs
    • Stir the toffee
    • Put her in the high chair
    • Stir the toffee
    • Get out the leftovers for her lunch
    • Stir the toffee
    • Get a bowl
    • Stir the toffee
    • Get a spoon
    • Stir the toffee
    • Use the spoon to put mac&cheese in a bowl
    • Stir the toffee
    • Put the bowl in the microwave
    • Stir the toffee
    • Take the food out of the microwave
    • Stir the toffee
    • Break up the macaroni to cool
    • Stir the toffee
      • You get the idea. It was a little crazy.

      But it was worth it! This one never turned dark, and was almost perfect for the macaron pan. The little bit that went onto the silicone baking sheet did separate, but it had cooled quite a bit in the pan, and wasn’t much loss

      Second Batch: not separated!

Mint M&M Chocolate Cookies

I bought some mint M&Ms, because it’s *Christmas*, and you need bad chocolate at Christmas. Also mint. But they’re not that great for just eating, so I decided to make cookies from them. I found this recipe

, which looked *perfect*. Also, you can’t go that wrong with any recipe that contains an ENTIRE POUND of butter.

I experimented a bit with rolling them out. Some I just scooped as rough tablespoons, and some I rolled out into a ball:

The rough ones actually came out tasting, and looking, rather better:

The M&Ms are better shown off in the rough cookies, and the extra surface area helped the cookie crisp a bit more, which is a good thing here, since these are otherwise quite soft. Apparently the secret to “soft bake” cookies is Yet More Butter.

Cranberry Sauce

Some crazy person in Whole Paycheck decided that nobody wants cranberries the week after Thanksgiving, so they were on sale for $2.99! I bought two quarts, because cranberry might be my favorite fruit. Also, I had like 8 oranges whose membranes are too thick for me to give to Emi without peeling them off or picking up pre-chewed orange skins off the floor later. (Yuck) I juiced the oranges, which gave me 4 cups of orange juice.

Most cranberry sauce recipes require 1c of liquid and 1c of sugar per 12 oz of cranberries. I tend to skimp on the sugar, because I like tart things. Also, I’ve run into a couple recipes in Cooks Illustrated lately that reduce fruit juice or fruit pulp to achieve really good flavor. So I strained out most of the pulp and seeds, and then boiled the juice with a cinnamon stick and three cloves to reduce it by half:

Then I added the cranberries, and boiled for a while. Here’s the recipe!

Recipe

 

 

  • 4c orange juice
  • .5 or brown sugar
  • 2 quarts (24 oz?) fresh cranberries
  • cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves (optional)
  •  

    Boil the orange juice with the cinnamon stick and cloves until it is reduced to 2 cups. Meanwhile, wash the cranberries. Put them in by handfulls, discarding any that are squishy or deflated. Boil until the cranberries pop and it reaches your desired consistency (it will get more jelly-like as it boils)

    I got two quart-sized bowls of cranberry sauce out of this, so you could easily halve the recipe if you onlyhad one quart of cranberries.

Idea: printer sharing

tag: idea

I was thinking today about how to print out a recipe at a friend’s
house. If I have the website on my phone, I could send her a link and
she could print it to her printer, from her own computer—but what if
it’s just on my thumbdrive or smartphone or camera?
I could give her my widget, let her connect it to her computer, and
transfer the media—but that leaves us both open to exchanging
viruses, accidental dropping of my toy, incompatible software issues,
etc. Less than ideal.

If I’ve set it up, I can print directly from my phone to a print
server, but I haven’t set up her printer on my phone, and the setup is
complicated. What if there were an easier way? What if her printer
could advertise itself directly to my phone?

But what, you say, if I then print something stupidly large? I need
an incentive not to do that. Money is a good incentive. If her
printer charged my phone (say, my iTunes account, or Amazon payments,
or BitCoin, or whatever e-currency you prefer) $0.10 per page, that’s
plenty of incentive to avoid printing huge documents. People could set
their own prices, based on how much they want random people using
their printer. Businesses could offer this as a service to customers
and neighbors, using hardware they already had.

There are some security concerns, but I think they can be worked around.