Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Goodies

Molly says, "Merry Christmas!"  Or, "Bah, humbug!"  It's hard to tell sometimes. . . .

I was a busy girl yesterday.  After Safety Guy's IEP meeting (which went very well), I also made two different Christmas treats:  Almond Sandies, and my Mom's brownies.  Usually I make Pecan Sandies, but I didn't have pecans, so I improvised.  And I've never found a recipe to compare to my Mom's brownies.  When the Princess asked me to teach her how to make them earlier this week it was easy to agree.  She really did most of the work for this batch of chocolate-y awesomeness, and opted for using Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips instead of the walnuts.  The apple didn't fall far from the tree in the chocolate department, although my favorite way to have them is with extra walnuts.  Here are the recipes:

Almond Sandies

2 cups salted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
4 cups flour
2 cups sliced almonds
4-5 tbsp. cold water

powdered sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until light.  Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix again.  Add the flour and the sliced almonds, and enough of the cold water to get the dough to stick together.  The dough should be quite firm and not sticky to the touch.  Form the dough into a ball, then cover it and refrigerate it for several hours (or overnight).  You can directly bake the dough, but the cookies will spread a little more - no big deal if you're in a hurry, they just look prettier and stay nice and round if you have the time to chill the dough.

Roll the dough into 1" balls by hand.  The cookies spread very little when baked from chilled dough, so you can get a lot onto a cookie sheet at 1 1/4"-1 1/2" apart.  Bake the cookies at 350 for 12-13 minutes (until just barely beginning to turn brown on the bottom edges).  Remove the cookies to a towel or wire rack and let them cool completely, then roll them in powdered sugar.  Store tightly covered.  (They freeze well, too.)  

If you want to make Pecan Sandies, omit the almond extract, and substitute pecans for the almonds.

Yield:  approximately 6 dozen.

Mom's Brownies

1 cup shortening
4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate squares
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. corn syrup (optional - makes the brownies a little chewier)

2 cups chopped walnuts OR 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9" x 14" baking pan. 

Melt the shortening and the chocolate together over very low heat in a small saucepan (do not boil!).  Stir it once the chocolate is softened a bit, to help any lumps melt completely.  Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes or so.

Mix the eggs and sugar until light.  Add the vanilla and mix again.  Mix in the chocolate/shortening.  (DO NOT do this while the shortening is very hot - it will cook the eggs.  Lukewarm is okay.)  Add the flour, salt, and baking powder.  If you're using the corn syrup, add that as well.  Combine well.  Mix in any nuts or chocolate chips by hand, as the batter is quite stiff.

 Spread the brownie batter evenly in the prepared pan.  (You can toss on some sprinkles or non pareils at this point.)  Bake for 40-42 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

One of the most decadent desserts I've ever made was with Mom's brownies, each topped by a scoop of Ben & Jerry's White Russian ice cream and chocolate syrup.  Amazing!

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