Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Baking - Part 1

Started my almost annual holiday baking extravaganza today and decided it was time to do something about sharing the recipes with those who've asked (or might ask) how to make whatever they like best. SO... in no particular order... here are the three holiday items I made today with recipes as modified by me after years of making each. (Click the "Holiday Baking - Part 1" text to link to my web album with four photos and comments about steps in making the Cream Wafers and one on making the Cherry Coconut Bars. The most recent photo in the holiday baking series shows four of the completed "cookies.")

Mock Boursin (can be made for a lot less than the real thing and tastes the same; this is my adaptation of a recipe published YEARS ago in the Washington Post)
  • 16 oz of reduced fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 8 oz of whipped butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt, marjoram, basil and chives
  • 1/4 tsp each of freshly ground pepper and thyme
  • 1 tsp of dill weed (not dill seed)
Put garlic cloves in bowl of food processor fitted with blade and process briefly to mince garlic. Add all other ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl to ensure ingredients are mixed well and the cheese is free of lumps. If you want to give this to friends, line muffin tins with holiday themed cupcake liners and fill each cup with part of the soft cheese. Cover and refrigerate until firm and then wrap as desired for gift giving. Makes about 10 muffin size portions.

Cherry, Coconut Bars (this recipe has been part of the Porter family Christmas celebration since I was in junior high school; Mom found the recipe in a Gold Medal flour sack and I've been making these cookies ever since; my adaptation doubles the recipe and slightly alters the results from the original)
  • 2 C flour
  • 6 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • 1 C (two sticks) well chilled butter; cut into roughly 1 Tbsp size pieces and drop on top of dry ingredients
Process the above ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until mixture is uniformly granular (it will not clump). Pour into parchment lined 9" x 13" baking pan and spread evenly, tamping down to make crust firm. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (outside edges of crust will be slightly brown when crust is done) While crust is cooking, assemble filling. (why it is called filling is beyond me, it is a topping IMHO)

Filling: To 4 eggs, beaten (by hand with whisk is fine, no need to use mixer), add all of the following and mix well:
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 C chopped nuts
  • 1 C shredded (or flaked) coconut
  • 1 C Maraschino cherries, chopped briefly using food processor (original recipe called for quartered cherries which we did by hand in the days before food processors existed)
The above filling can be poured on top of the crust as soon as it is done. Cook for an additional 40 to 50 min at 350°. The outside edges of the topping will be a bit overcooked (well browned) when done. Cool completely before cutting for serving. Note that I cut these in ~ 1" square portions (bite size) because the cookies tend to fall apart while biting into them. Also, I put them into holiday themed candy cups for serving or giving to friends.

Cream Wafers (another recipe Mom found in the Gold Medal flour sack years ago; we made them for years before food processors came along and simplified the preparation)

  • 2 C sifted flour
  • 1 C (two sticks) well chilled butter; cut into roughly 1 Tbsp size pieces and drop on top of flour
  • 1/3 C heavy cream

Put flour and butter into bowl of food processor and process briefly to coarsely mix the butter and flour. Add cream while continuing to process until the ingredients form a ball. Have three pieces of saran wrap or waxed paper ready to use to wrap the dough for chilling. Form dough into a cylinder, then cut the cylinder into three portions and flatten into circular dough masses. Chill for at least two hours ( overnight is best) before rolling out dough and making the cookies.

Preheat oven to 375°. Use a floured rolling pin and a floured board to roll out the dough until it is roughly 1/8" thick. Use a fork to prick the dough before cutting with a 1-1/2" cutter into individual cookie wafers. As you cut the wafers, drop them into granulated sugar to coat both sides lightly with sugar. Place "forked" side up on ungreased cookie sheets. These wafers don't expand during baking so you can place them quite close together. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes (watch carefully to avoid burning them) and cool on wire racks when done. Once cooled completely, wafers need to be iced (recipe follows) to make sandwich cookies. You should have about 5 dozen cookies when done. They keep well for about three weeks if refrigerated but should not be frozen because freezing destroys the delicate texture of the cookies which will melt in your mouth!

Cream Wafer Icing (Combine the following ingredients and divide into two portions, tinting one portion pink and the other green.)
  • 1/4 C butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 C sifted powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Dan and Wendy said...

My family still makes the cherry coconut bars and cream wafers most years. Those cream wafers are quite a bit of work.

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christine said...

Did the cherry coconut bars tonight the "new-fangled" way using processor. Nice. I think the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan is genius! Lauren says, "I think the double batch idea is genius!" And that's the report from the wild west.