Saturday, November 27, 2010

Using the Force to make cookies

I have two aprons that each serve their own unique function in the kitchen. My orange one is used strictly for cooking, and for baking...I channel my inner Jedi with my nifty Star Wars apron. This is actually the kid's apron because initially they didn't offer the adult size. Williams Sonoma has a bunch of Star Wars items available, some of which are new additions just in time for the holiday gift-giving season. I have the pancake molds and cookie cutters that feature the faces of some famous SW characters already, but I'm hoping the present fairy brings me the new cookie cutters for the vehicles (I already know the present fairy is getting me the super cool Darth Vader spatula).

I've been meaning to get in the kitchen to try out some recipes and figured the long weekend would be the perfect time, especially since I wasn't going to be out shopping nonstop. First up are the Lemon Rosemary Thumbprint Cookies with Strawberry Preserves that I found at The Chic Life (a pretty cool blog I've been following for awhile now). At first these sound a little strange- rosemary in a cookie?- but with the lemon it's a nice  (and not overly sweet) background for the awesome strawberry preserves that I used. I used the Bonne Maman brand that Diana suggested, which just happened to be on sale this week at Whole Foods. Best. Jam. Ever.

Funny (in my mind) side story: while the dough was chilling, we went to go see the new Harry Potter movie. After purchasing our overpriced snacks, I followed the husband into the theater, which was already dark as expected, but the movie had started even though it was only two minutes past the start time. Where were the previews? Also peculiar was that lack of rustling/chewing that goes on at the start of movies as people are eating. Then it dawned on me- were we in the WRONG theater? I went out to check, and sure enough, WRONG theater! LOL. That's never happened before!

Anyhow, since the oven was already on (and butter was softened), I decided to see what else I could easily whip up. Flipping through my Martha Stewart Cookie book, I spotted a recipe for Rum Balls. Mom had just recently lamented not being able to locate rum balls at her nearby World Market, so I thought, why not give these a try? Plus it gave me the opportunity to use the two tiny bottles of rum we had left over from a friend's wedding gift bag.

 First you bake a batch of brownies. I used part semisweet chocolate chips and a 70% dark chocolate Green & Black's bar. I also used a lighter spice rum instead of the dark rum the recipe called for...hopefully that won't make too much of a difference. And since it was brownies, I added some Starbucks Via to the mix to bring out the chocolate. Might have been too much, but oh well!
After the brownies cool, you smoosh them up with the rum and roll them into balls. Then you roll the balls in some sanding sugar. I wish I'd had chocolate sprinkles to roll them in like the rum balls I'm used to. These ones are also twice the size of the ones I've had in the past. What a long process to hand roll each cookie, plus it's weird to serve people food that you've essentially manhandled. But hey, my hands were clean!

Oh, and any errant cat hairs I was able to find- removed! 

While the brownies cooled, I mixed up the batter for a recipe I collected sometime LAST year and never got around to making. I don't remember where I found it, but it did reference They're the homemade version of Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bars. So far all I have is a picture of the cooling cake; I'll try to remember to take a crappy photo of the finished product once it's frosted. I'm not going to mess with that until the morning. I was tired of cleaning the bowl for my stand mixer! 

I didn't realize how much ginger goes into the cake itself. Not only is there ground ginger, you also add in candied/crystallized ginger.

Can't wait to try the Bliss Bars and Rum Balls! I had hoped to make some no-knead bread this weekend, but I'm not sure if that will happen tomorrow. I also need to to make caramels again while my $9 locally made cream is still good. The last batch was too light and too soft for my liking and tasted a bit too buttery. This time I'll try the recipe in the latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook that I picked up from the library yesterday. Lots of great stuff in here, so I might actually cave and buy this one. I think I only own 8 cookbooks, which I know is WAY less than most people- prolly even less than people who don't cook!

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