Catching up on cookies

Hello friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (or other winter holiday) and are kicking off 2013 right. It was pretty busy around here, hence why I haven’t posted since Christmas Eve.

There were still several cookies I didn’t post before Christmas, so here they are:

Lemon raspberry thumbprints. An unexpected hit.

Lemon raspberry thumbprints. An unexpected hit.

I made these last year and remembered that they were kind of a black sheep among all the chocolate goodies and my requisite sugar cookies. But this year, they were pretty popular and almost didn’t make it to Christmas Eve. Recipe is here.

Holiday pretzel treats. A pretzel, a Hershey's Kiss, and an M&M.

Holiday pretzel treats. A pretzel, a Hershey’s Kiss, and an M&M.

These little things look a little bit like reindeer if you look at them from above. They’re really easy; try them out with other kinds of pretzels and colored candies here. If you could find M&M’s in your team’s colors (like, maybe green and gold? I think purple and yellow would be a really ugly combination, actually), I bet you could even make these for NFL gamewatches. Or with red, white, and pink for Valentine’s Day. The possibilities are endless!

Oh, don’t take them out of the oven too early to press the M&M in, or they’ll get that funky lip thing you can see on mine. It happens.

German cinnamon stars. A funky, spicy little standout.

German cinnamon stars. A funky, spicy little standout.

These are actually flourless. The base of these cookies is a meringue mixed with ground almonds and powdered sugar. I believe they are supposed to be pretty crunchy, but since I used all the meringue (instead of saving some for the topping) and didn’t have as much almonds as the recipe said, mine were sticky and chewy. But still delicious! I found the recipe in my Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking cookbook, by Caroline Bretherton.

Sugar cookies, take 2!

Sugar cookies, take 2!

I made sugar cookies twice over this break, once the week before Christmas, and then frantically on Christmas Eve day. But I love these cookies. I use the recipe in our old Betty Crocker cookbook. You can find whatever recipe you’d like.

Oh. And I made Chilean alfajores. All from scratch. Yes, I attempted manjar from scratch. It was less than successful.

The beginnings of manjar.

The beginnings of manjar.

The far and away preferred method of making manjar is to boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for about an hour. I, however, was terrified of the can exploding, having heard horror stories of where people’s ceilings get dented and you have to scrape manjar off of light fixtures. That’s not happening here. So, I found a recipe online that told me to cook whole milk with sugar, vanilla, and baking soda for a while until it all cooks down to a nice, caramel-y texture.

An hour later.

An hour later.

The whole thing was supposed to take around an hour and a half. So when I wasn’t even close to getting the results I wanted, I looked at the recipe reviews. Kids: ALWAYS look at online recipe reviews before you use the recipe! The reviews were, in general, horrible. That the time was off, that it never turns out, that the texture is wrong, you need more sugar, etc. And on top of that, everyone said that it’s just better to go the boiling-can route.

The final product.

The final product.

I basically let it boil the whole time rather than simmer, and eventually it cooked down. The photo above is what I ended up with. Anyone who has had experience with dulce de leche or manjar knows that that is NOT what it is supposed to look like. It should be smoother and darker. This tasted about right, but it was difficult to work with and was just not appealing.

I went ahead and made alfajores anyway.

They're trying so hard to be alfajores...but they're just not.

They’re trying so hard to be alfajores…but they’re just not.

Argh. This was frustrating. These just aren’t what Chilean alfajores are supposed to look like, or even taste like. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted great- the cookie was buttery and sweet, and the manjar tasted good (although the texture was so off). But in my experience, the cookie should be drier, and the manjar smoother but still sticky.

Meh. I can’t get everything right. It happens.

Coming up real soon: New Year’s resolutions and Instagram!

With love,

Gaby

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