Baking for the Holiday Gifts Packages

It’s getting to be that time to start thinking about what baked goods I’m going to make to add the the Christmas Gift Packages this year…my jams and soap are all made, now I have to figure out which cookies and candy to make.

I think I’ve decided on Peppermint Bark, Gingersnaps, Peanut Brittle, and Pecan Snowballs (or Russian Tea Cookies).

So….what is your favorite cookies/candy to make to give out during the Holidays?

DARK CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT BARK

This is a real easy recipe…I make them in small batches on jelly roll cookie tins lined with parchment paper.

Ingredients: one bag of your favorite Dark Chocolate Chips, one bag of White Chocolate Chips or White Chocolate Bar, a box of small Candy Canes…smashed.

In a double boiler (or you can use a large 6 cup glass measuring cup in a pan of water) melt your dark chocolate and then spread over the parchment paper. Melt the white chocolate and pour over the dark chocolate layer. Sprinkle on the crushed candy canes and lightly press into the chocolate. Place in the freezer…when cold, pick it up and give it a whack like you would making Peanut Brittle.

GRANDMA McDONALD’S PEANUT BRITTLE
Mix together in a large pot the following and bring the mixture to 240F (this is high altitude degrees)…250F for lowlanders.
3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Cup White Syrup

Add 1-1/2 pounds of Raw Peanuts and STIR CONSTANTLY to 290F (high altitude degrees)…300F for lowlanders, then take off heat.

➡ NOTE!!!! ❗ You’ll have to have your lipped cookie tin buttered and ready to go NEXT to you for this next step…OK? Are you LISTENING?! Get your tin READY! And get two ready, just in case. 😀

Stir in:
1/4 tsp of salt
1 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp Baking Soda
(the reason to have that tin all buttered up and right next to you! Bah-WOOSH goes the mixture!)

Spread mixture onto the greased cookie tin and let cool. Break when cooled.

GINGERSNAP COOKIES

2/3 C Canola Oil
1 C sugar
1 egg
4 TBSP Molasses
2 C flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ginger
sugar for dipping

Mix oil with sugar, add egg and beat well. Stir in molasses. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg/molasses mixture. Form balls ~ drop and roll in sugar. Bake in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes (depends on if you want them soft or crunchy…I like them sorta hard on the outside and chewy on the inside so I take them out around 10 minutes).

These freeze very well.

PECAN SNOWBALLS ~ or Russian Tea Cookies

1 Cup softened Butter (no substitutes!)
1/2 Cup powdered Sugar
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1-3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cups finely chopped Pecans

In a large mixing bowl, mix butter and sugar until well blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt. Stir in flour on low speed until combined, add in nuts. You can place in refrig for an hour for dough to set/blend flavors.

Heat oven to 325F and then roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper). Bake for 10-12 minutes, firm to the touch but not brown. Do not over bake. While still warm, roll cookies into extra powdered sugar and cool.

These freeze very well.

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Some Favorite Recipes ~ All Desserts

I think today I’m just going to share a couple of my favorite dessert recipes ~ some family ones and others are ones I’ve found and adapted to my own tastes.


Picture taken off of the Reno Gazette Journal a couple of years ago…this is looking at Slide Mountain/Mt. Rose from Pleasant Valley.

After Blaze talked about eating Elephant Ears at the fair it got me thinking about my Grandma Stickles recipe for Knee Patches (same thing as Elephant Ears). My dad said the recipe came from a neighbor when he was little, a Mrs. Raurseyer (I think that is how it was spelled). Not sure if it’s from Minnesota or when they moved to Southern California. Anyhoo…here is the recipe:

KNOE BLATZA (Knee Patches)

4 eggs well beaten (about 5 minutes)
6 TBSP sour cream
1 lb flour (4 C. sifted)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Mix all together like bread dough. Keep in refrig for 2 or 3 hours. Roll Thin!, then stretch.*** Fry in deep shortening (crisco or other vegetable shortening).

***I use a dish towel over my knee and stretch as thin as possible. Paper thin! Then instead of making big ole elephant ear sizes, I cut into 5″-6″ pieces with a knife then throw them into the oil. Then I sprinkle with either sugar, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar.

These are best eaten within a day or two. So I’d keep the dough in the frig until you’re ready to eat them or give them away.

Caramelitas are a big favorite of mine…how can you go wrong with caramel, chocolate, pecans and oatmeal??!!!??? I first had these in college…I was in an archaeology class that met on weekends to go out and learn field methods. We took turns bringing breakfast and lunch…and beer. 🙂 I can’t remember her name…can still picture her though, petite blondish hair cut short with a braided rat-tail…she brought a pan full of these deliciously sinful bars.

CARAMELITAS

2-1/4 C. flour, divided
2 C. quick-cooking oats
1-1/2 C. brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 C. cold butter
1 pkg of semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 C chopped pecans (I add a wee bit more)
1 jar of caramel ice cream topping

In a bowl combine 2 C flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. (I actually stick my butter in the microwave to soften it a bit) Set 1/2 aside for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13x9x2 baking pan. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Sprinkle on top the chocolate chips and pecans. Mix together the caramel topping with the remaining flour and then drizzle over the pecans. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture over the caramel. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for a couple of hours before cutting…or just take a spoon and dig in! 🙂

Here at work we always have a Halloween/Nevada Day/Fall Potluck ~ it’s usually me and one of the grad students from a different department that heads it up. I try to make something with pumpkin…pumpkin chili, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cobbler. The following is the Pumpkin Cobbler recipe:

PUMPKIN COBBLER

3 eggs, beaten
15-oz can pumpkin
12-oz can evaporated milk
1 C. sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1-1/4 C butter, melted
1 C chopped pecans (you can use whatever nuts you like)

Mix the first 8 ingredients together; pour into an ungreased 13x9x2 baking pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top; drizzle with butter. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Top with nuts and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

We make these Ginger Cookies every Christmas…but I start making them in the fall. I just love ginger and cinnamon. These are really cool to wrap up with a tea cup/mug and tea for a present.

GINGER COOKIES

2/3 C Canola Oil
1 C sugar
1 egg
4 TBSP Molasses
2 C flour
2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ginger
sugar for dipping

Mix oil with sugar, add egg and beat well. Stir in molasses. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg/molasses mixture. Form balls ~ drop and roll in sugar. Bake in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes (depends on if you want them soft or crunchy…I like them sorta hard on the outside and chewy on the inside so I take them out around 10 minutes).