Holiday Baking

I enjoy baking.  And, since most of my boys no longer live at home, I will sometimes try a new recipe and bake for my staff. For tomorrow, I decided to try making Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts.  This recipe called for four egg yolks.  Not wanting to waste the egg whites, I  also made Chocolate Cloud Cookies.  These cookies are gluten free since there is no flour.

I hope the staff enjoy these treats in the morning.

Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts IMG_2560
Pastry Dough
1 cup flour
5 Tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 Tbs shortening
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs ice water

Tart
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Blend together flour, butter, shortening and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal (I used a mini food processor to do this).  Drizzle water over the mixture and pulse until incorporated.  Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.  Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each section to 1/8″ thick and press into well of mini tart pan.  Trim edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the tart pan on a large baking sheet and bake the shells for 15 minutes. The mini tart pan I used had 12 wells with removable bottoms (to make removing the tarts easier).

Near the end of the baking time, whisk together cream, sugar, zest, juice, yolks and whole egg until combined.  With the oven rack extended, carefully pour the filling into the tart shells, then carefully slide the rack into the oven.  I had extra tart filling that I poured into individual custard dishes. Bake the tarts for 20 minutes, or until the custard is set.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the tarts from the pan.  Sprinkle the top of each tart with sugar.    Using a baking blowtorch, move the flame back and forth over the top of the tart, avoiding the crust, until the sugar is caramelized.  Let stand 5 minutes, top with a fresh raspberry and serve.

Source: this recipe is a modification of a Epicurious recipe.

Chocolate Cloud CookiesIMG_2555
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Triple Cocoa Blend
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add egg whites and vanilla.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes.  Store in airtight container.

Source: I have had this recipe for several years and unfortunately do not remember the original source for it.  There are several different cloud cookie recipes available on-line.  Most of these use cream of tartar, but not this one.

Holiday Candy 2017

Now that some snow has fallen, it’s time to start making Christmas Treats.  Three types of candy, including two new recipes, was the goal for today – Fudge, Truffles and Caramels.

Chocolate Truffles IMG_2549
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
5 Tbs butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs shortening
1  cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In an 8 cup microwave bowl, microwave semisweet chips uncovered on medium in 1 minute increments for 3 to 4 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring well after each minute.  Stir in butter until melted. Stir in heavy cream until well blended.  Refrigerate until thickened enough to hold a shape.  The original recipe suggested that this step would take 10 to 15 minutes.  It actually took me about 90 minute before I could shape the mix. Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto the parchment paper.  Shape into balls. Freeze 30 minutes.

Heat shortening and dark chocolate chips in microwave until melted. Stir until smooth.  Dip each ball, one at a time, into the chocolate.  Place on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Heat the white chocolate until melting.  Drizzle over the truffles.  Refrigerate until set.  Serve at room temperature.

This was my first time making truffles.  I always thought that they would be a bit tricky to make.  However, this recipe is actually very easy.

Source: this recipe is a modification of a Betty Crocker recipe.

Apple Cider CaramelsIMG_2551
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
6 Tbs butter
1/2  cup Boiled Cider
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.  Combine the cream, syrup, sugar, butter and cider in a deep saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer, approximately 45 minutes. This will give soft caramels.  If you want firm candies, then heat longer until the mixture reaches 248 degrees.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and spices.  Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan.  Let stand until slightly set before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces.  Wrap in waxed paper.

The apple flavor and spices make these caramels very tasty!

Source: King Arthur Flour.

Fused Glass Wall Art – Birds, Butterflies, etc

Changes to the cabinets at one of my offices left spots with voids. What to do with these spots? Paint the wall and leave the space empty? Hang some pictures? Buy some art for these spots?

Make some art – now that sounds more fun!

After looking at the space and existing decor, I came up with some ideas.  And, with a week off for Thanksgiving, I was able to completed these projects:

Three different birds:

IMG_1176IMG_1175IMG_1174

A couple dragonflies:

And, butterflies:

The walls at the office still need to be painted.  So, these may not get hung until January.  But, they were fun to make!

If you are in Minnesota and come by our Burnsville sometime in January, you should be able to see them in person.