Recreating Sand Tarts

I can remember getting Charles Chips delivered when I was a kid. While the taste of the potato chips  have faded from memory, I still think on the Sand Tarts we would also order from them sometimes. Those cookies weren’t entirely a sugar cookie and weren’t shortbread either. Light, crisp and with a hint of cinnamon, they were a delicious after school snack. Today, you can buy a 1lb tin for $19.99 but I’m not going to spend that much for cookies, so I needed to recreate this recipe for myself.

After searching the web and talking to my Mom, I decided to use a melange of several recipes. Using both shortening and butter makes the cookies crisp but not too fragile. Having both granulated sugar and brown sugar adds a depth to the flavor. You can also put in some finely chopped, toasted pecans if you want a good cookie that is (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike sand tarts.

Sand Tarts

1/2 cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  cup toasted pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar (Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon) to sprinkle on top of cookies

Cream shortening and butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix just until medium-soft dough is formed. Do not over-mix. Chill for several hours (or as long as overnight) in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out on floured surface as the sand tarts need to be thin to crisp up. Cut with cookie cutters into the shape of your choice. Brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on the pan for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning dreaming about stirring melted chocolate. It was very vivid and while that is better than waking up having the refrain from “Momma Tried” running through your head, it is still something that stays with you for a while after you get up.

I decided to go where my subconscious led me and made these chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. Basically, you melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. More chocolate is more better! They are crisp on the edges and chewy in the center – yummy!

My metal beastie stands guard over the cookies.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (two sticks), divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted, chopped nuts, optional
flake salt for sprinkling, optional

Melt 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 4 tablespoons of the butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat remaining butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts, if using.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour to give the flour proteins and starches a chance to rest. While Jacques Torres would have you rest the dough 24 to 72 hours, I’m not wired to be able resist that kind of temptation. An hour is my max and it is still an effort to not to sneak out all the cookie dough during that time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with flake salt, if desired.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly firm in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Limoncello Cheesecake For My Birthday

Michelle made me an awesome cheesecake for my birthday. With lemon juice and limoncello liquor, it was amazingly creamy and lemony and off the hook delicious.

This makes a lot of cheesecake – it almost overfilled a 10″ springform pan. You could use two store bought graham cracker pie shells, instead. If you’re making your own crust, it will take 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed with 5 tablespoons of melted butter to coat the bottom of the well buttered pan.

Because this is a low and slow method of cheesecake cookery, do not use a water bath in the oven.

 

Limoncello Cheesecake

4 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (we used Fage)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup limoncello liquor
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flour and yogurt. Slowly mix in the lemon juice and limoncello. Add in the vanilla extract and lemon peel.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours.

Remove from oven and crank the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the cheesecake back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top. Turn off the oven and crack the door and let the cheese cake cool down for 30 minutes. Then run a knife along the edge to release from the pan and cool on the counter for another 30 minutes before putting it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before releasing the sides of the pan.

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

My very good friend, Charlotte, had a birthday earlier this month and requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I picked up at a rummage sale a two part cake pan to make filled cakes (most of the pictures were fruit based fillings but I immediately thought chocolate).

To start with, I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that combines the technique of a chiffon cake to a butter cake in order to get a moist, tender and fluffy cake. Of course, that requires that you actually read the recipe and only put in 6 yolks and 3 whites. I put in 3 whole eggs, 3 yolks and 3 whites and the cake was a little dry – this was entirely mitigated by the pudding filling but, the fact remains that I messed things up a bit by not being careful with my reading of the recipe.

In any event, Charlotte was happy with her birthday cake and I was happy with the leftovers!

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pans, dust pans with flour and knock out excess. I used my Mrs. Fields Fill N Flip Cake pans but you can use two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto wire rack. Cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours before filling and frosting.

You don’t want your filling in a Fill and Flip cake to be too dense. You can lighten pudding to almost mousse like consistency with a little extra work. To make a mock mouse: add cream instead of milk to a small box of instant pudding and, using a hand mixer or a whisk and some elbow grease, whip until it is almost mousse like.

For the frosting, I used a chocolate buttercream that I typically use on Doberge cake:

Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 ounce square semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate with milk and whisk to combine. Cream sugar and butter, then add cocoa, then the melted chocolate milk and vanilla.

Easy Rocky Road Candy

I was licking the knife I had used to spread peanut butter on my sandwich when my gaze fell on an opened bag of marshmallows. It took me back to an easy recipe one of my Girl Scout troops once made. I don’t remember if any badges were involved but combining melted chocolate, marshmallows and peanut butter is a sure fire way to make the world a better place.*

Rocky Road Candy

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch Peanut Butter)
2 cups chocolate morsels (I prefer Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups small marshmallows

In a large double boiler, melt peanut butter, chocolate and butter. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the little marshmallows.

Pour into a buttered 8×8 pan and refrigerate for two hours (if you’re desperate, place it in freezer for 45 minutes). Cut into squares and serve.

* Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to 
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie for Pi Day

I suffer from innumeracy (and numerophobia and arithmophobia) but I appreciate the work that mathematicians and scientists do/have done/are doing. I am especially grateful for those who teach math and science, even in the face of attacks from legislators and religious extremists. Here in Louisiana, we just had BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) vote to add a provision to the standards laid out in a poorly named state law (the Louisiana Science Education Act) to encourage teachers to challenge evolution and climate change in their science classrooms.

Is it a surprise that Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results?

Anyhoo, I also celebrate March 14th because I like pie. This one is a recipe my mom took off the back of the cornstarch box many years ago.

Corn Starch Lemon Meringue Pie

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Grated peel of 1 lemon, chopped fine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 baked (9-inch) pie crust (I prefer graham cracker)
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 cup sugar and corn starch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water until smooth. Stir in egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and butter.

Spoon hot filling into pie crust.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Mix 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon corn starch and gradually beat into egg whites. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing to edge of crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes; refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

Oh, and before you make your own pie crust using a pie plate you inherited, make sure it is 9 inches. As you can see from the picture, mine is actually closer to 10 inches!

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix together graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into a pie plate, being sure to press down well on the bottom and sides. Bake for 8 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Allow to cool before using.

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

In my never ending quest to keep up with my sourdough starter, I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. They made a cake with a frosting and a drizzle. I made cupcakes and used my quick, fudge frosting to ice them.

lets-go-streaking-with-cupcakes

Wearing a “Let’s Go Streaking” cupcake t-shirt!

Sourdough Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 large eggs

Feed your starter and remove one cup. Combine the fed starter, milk and flour in a large mixing bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. It will expand a little bit.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cocoa and espresso powder.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently combine the chocolate mixture with the starter-flour-milk mixture and beat gently until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared liners.

Bake the cupcakes for 30 minutes, rotating pan midway through baking. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Once entirely cool, frost generously.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Fudge Frosting

1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and milk; bring to a boil. Add sugar and vanilla; beat well until smooth. Place in the refrigerator to cool before using. If frosting becomes too stiff, add 1 drop of milk at a time until it reaches the desired frosting consistency.