Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Few Kitchen Successes

Not everything was a flop this season. The red velvet cupcakes with the white chocolate peppermint cream cheese frosting were tasty. I even managed to locate four candy bows that weren't hideous or embarrassing and put them atop four of the cupcakes, which I gave to friends.

The Tuscan shortbread is always a winner, and so is the saltine toffee. I've had requests for recipes for the latter two, so here they are.

Saltine Toffee
Everyone who tastes these thinks they are divine. I have to agree.
At least one sleeve saltines
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups (1 12-oz bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 chopped nuts (optional -- I never use them)
more butter for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter well a jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and then line with the saltines in a single layer, breaking pieces to fit if needed. Set aside.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes, stirring constantly.

Immediately pour over saltines and and spread to cover as best you can. there may be a few at the edges that remain uncovered. Bake for five minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let sit for five minutes.

Spread melted chocolate over all the crackers and then sprinkle with nuts, if using. Cool completely. I often pop them in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.

Break into pieces. A pizza cutter helps immensely. Whatever you do, remember to hide some of this stuff in your pantry. After one bite, you're going to crave it.

Tuscan Shortbread
Not your run-of-the-mill shortbread, these scrumptious bars are fantastic with a cup of tea. Frankly, they're fabulous any way you eat them.
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T chopped fresh rosemary or 2 t dried (I've used both successfully, but prefer fresh)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven til they are a bit darker and fragrant, about five minutes. Take care not to burn them! Remove from oven and pour onto a plate.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. remove from heat and stir in confectioners' sugar, rosemary, and pine nuts. Then stir in flour to make a stiff dough.
Pat into an ungreased 8-inch square pan, making sure the dough is even. Bake until golden and firm at edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut with a sharp knife into 16 squares. Let cool in pan at least 10 minutes before removing with a small spatula.
The bars can be stored tightly covered for five days, but I highly doubt they'll last that long. You can also freeze them for future use.

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing! I have this Sam's club sized box of saltines. And now I know exactly what to do with them!


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