Thursday, January 2, 2014

snickerdoodles, cakes, and a creche cloth

My husband is the Business Director of a church in The Woodlands, and he asked me if I would make a tablecloth for the nativity figures that grace the narthex during Advent. After measuring the table, I went to JoAnn Fabric and chose a creamy gold brocade with tiny crosses.

I mis-calculated the width of the fabric and had to put in some tucks to make it fit the table, but several commented they liked the added interest. I did purchase additional fabric and intend to make the cloth a true round tablecloth for next Advent season.

The engagement of my daughter and her fiance was celebrated at the home of my son and his wife in December. I made them a cake of entwined hearts with the logos of their respective universities. For Jenni's Oklahoma University cake I baked this 1-2-3-4 cake, and for Chris's Texas Tech cake I made Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake. I'm really not bragging, but both cakes were delicious. The 1-2-3-4 cake was sturdy but tender and flavorful - everything you would want in a yellow cake. The chocolate cake was moist and chocolatey and addictive. Both were frosted with buttercream made with butter, a bit of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cream.

Snickerdoodles and Nestle Tollhouse Cookies

Yesterday we went to my son's house for a New Year's Day feast of sliders, homemade guacamole, caramelized red bell peppers and onions, and jalapeno slices that my son sautes in coconut oil until they are crispy. They purchased To-Go salsa, queso, and chips from Chili's. Everything was so, so good! I made cookies - chocolate chip and snickerdoodles. On a whim I followed the old tried and true standard Nestle's Tollhouse Cookies recipe on the back of the chocolate chips package, and after all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I've tried the last few years, my family declared these the best! I always cut back on the salt, because I use salted butter, and I use Mexican vanilla which imparts a delicate whisper of cinnamon. I really don't know why I ever tried any other recipe.

The snickerdoodles were a hit, and the recipe is adapted from the recipe on Joy of Baking website.

Makes 4-6 dozen

2-3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sugar mixture:
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In large bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. Combine sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

In another bowl using electric or hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and mix on low until dough is smooth. Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls, about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch round balls, roll in sugar mixture, and place on sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Use bottom of glass, gently flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake cookies 8 - 10 minutes, or until light golden brown around edges. Let cookies sit on pan for 5 minutes, then place on wire rack to cool.

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