Pill Bottle Cookies

A Very Merry Christmas to all my readers!  For two days I am planning on doing absolutely, 100% NADA!  It’s going to be amazing, and it’s going to go super fast too, which is too bad.  Good news about being at 12,000 feet is that it’s nice and cold and gives the atmosphere, at least, that it’s Christmas!

It felt good to sleep in as late as I did today (only 10 am), and now I’m sitting on the couch with my buddy Thomas as he plays with his NEW ARMY MEN!  Woooo!  He’s 4.  And he’s wearing a Spiderman Costume.  It’s perfect.

Yesterday, my day was spent under insurmountable stress.  Now, I wasn’t making the whole dinner, but I was making cookies, buns for dinner, and puff pastry (by scratch mind you) and also had to wrap presents and finish making the stockings!  I had the help of a faithful friend, Leon, who thank-goodness toughed out my Monica-like controlling behavior in the kitchen.  If you’ve watched Friends, you know what I mean.

One of my greatest Christmas gifts was that everything came out of the oven looking just as it should!  Nothing fell flat, nothing tasted odd, nothing was short of perfect!

These are my all-time favorite Christmas cookie.  They came to be known my my mouth by my sister’s sister-in-law.  Every year my sister hosts a Christmas Cookie Exchange and these were in said exchange.  So, when I got my hands on the name of these babies I was exstatic.  However, the recipe was not that easy to find online by the name.  I hope that people looking for these can find them easier via… here!

Pill Bottle Cookies

Shortbread
1 cup
butter, softened
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar (for decoration)

Filling
1/4 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 yolk

Instructions
Put the flour in a mixing bowl and cut in the butter.  It can be pretty coarsely cut, it doesn’t have to be extremely fine.  Then, mix in the heavy cream.  It’s so very little for the amount of dry ingredients that there is, or so it appears, but the butter will tie everything together, and you’ll be very surprised.

Put the dough in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F as you pull the dough out of the fridge from it’s hour chilling time.  Lightly flour your countertop and roll your dough out to 1/8″ thickness.  Cut into 1 1/2″ rounds or… whatever size you want really!  I used an honest-to-goodness old pill bottle to cut out the rounds.

Put the granulated sugar into bowl or on a plate and coat the rounds on each size so they are covered in sugar.  I had to use a little bit of water on my finger to wet each round on each side to make sure the sugar would stick.  Then, place on a cookie sheet.  You can put them relatively close together, because they won’t spread out.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until slightly puffed.  Let cool and then remove from the cookie sheet.  Once fully cool, make sandwiches with the filling.

Filling Instructions
Put the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together with the butter.  Then add the yolk and vanilla.  You can add food coloring if you like!

Update: Yes, this recipe calls for raw egg yolk. Yes, there is risk of salmonella consuming raw egg. Yes, I personally take the risk every time because this frosting is worth dying for. But, in all seriousness, if using raw egg makes you take pause, you have a few options. You can either buy eggs that specifically say they are pasteurized, you can pasteurize your own eggs, or you can sub out the yolk for 1-1.5 tbsp heavy cream.  

That’s it!  I know it’s a little late for you to make these for your annual Cookie Exchange but, maybe you can make them for New Years.  They are so delicious you will not regret it.  How are you passing your Christmas?  And what are you doing for New Years?

Moravian Sugar Cake… but it’s really bread

When I moved out into my own apartment, the very first opportunity I got, I went to the Humane Society and adopted a cat.  He was perfect.  He was black and white, the classic tuxedo kitty look.  I named him Chopin after my favorite piano genius.  And I loved him very much.

All you apartment renters out there know that pets+apartments don’t always mix.  There are extra fees and papers to sign and I’m thinking, I just want a friend!  So, I decided to hide him from my apartment manager.

At the Humane Society I had to fill out paper work… a ton of it.  I understand why, but at the same time I was looking around the small place and thinking, you have cats hanging off your ceiling fan is this really humane.  The paperwork asked for my apartment’s contact number and I faked it.  The lady behind the counter asked me if I had written permission from my apartment to have a cat.  “Yup,” I said, “The manager is really relaxed and told me he really didn’t care.”  Then, horror of horrors, she looked at my paperwork and saw the contact number and asked if she could call it.  I didn’t know who she was going to call or if she was going to get a hold of anybody!

My friend, Jordan, was there with me and when the lady turned her back she started freaking out.  She called the number and it rang and she left a message saying something like, “This is Sheryl from the K*** County Humane Society and I have Trevor here who wants to adopt a cat.  If you have any questions please call us back, bla bla bla.”  Then, she hung up and turned to me and said, “I’ll let you go with the cat, but if I find out anything funny about this, I’m coming for the cat.”

Out in the car Jordan and I busted up laughing thinking about the sap who would get to listen to that message!  Who’s Trevor and why do I care that he’s adopting a cat?!

*Sigh* I just love pets.  They are such great companions.  And I’m excited to say after much bloodshed and violent warfare the family has somewhat reluctantly agree to get a dog!  Have we gotten one yet?  Nope, but we’ve got our eyes peeled.

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This is a bread that my mom used to make when we were kids.  I asked her for the recipe about four months ago, but I never got a response.  Finally, with a death threat, I got her to respond concerning the bread to find out 1.) she doesn’t have the recipe for it anymore and 2.) it’s called a cake not a bread.  Fine, it’s a cake.  But, I still think of it as a bread.

I love this cake/bread because it’s made with potatoes.  Seriously.  It makes it a very moist cake/bread, which is ballin’.  It’s also moist because evaporated milk is poured over it before putting it in the oven.  M-mm.  This is a great dessert to eat with a cup of coffee.

Moravian Sugar Cake/Bread

The Dough
1 russet baking potatoe (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
1 packet or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

The Topping
6 tbsp unsalted butter (cut into bits)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
A bit of evaporated milk

Making the Dough

Peel and cut up the potato into small 1 inch cubes and boil in a small pot with enough water to cover about an inch over the potatoes.  Boil that for about 10-15 minutes or until very tender.  Drain and mash those babies stirring in the 2 teaspoons of water.

In a separate small bowl proof the yeast in the 1/2 cups of water.  Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy.  In a large bowl combine the yeast mixture with the potatoes and then the butter, sugar, egg, salt, and 2 1/2 cups flour until well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes adding the extra cup of flour to the dough as needed.  You will want the dough to come to a generally bread dough-ish texture, though it might still be sticky.  If you add too much flour you will have a dense cake/bread.

NOTE: I´ll tell you where I botched up, but the recipe still turned out fine!  The recipe I was reading from said 3/4 a stick of butter… which I (reading quickly) read as 3/4 cup!  I put in too much butter, but since I was at high elevation more liquid in a recipe is not a bad thing.  I had to add quite a bit more than just a 1/2 cup flour to get it to a bread dough-ish texture. So, I let it go and it was perfectly fine.  So, for your sake I changed that silliness and have plainly and easily to understand 6 tablespoons in the recipe.

Put the dough into a pre-greased bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  When doubled it´s size punch down and transfer it into a pre-greased 9/13 inch pan pressing it into all the corners with greased fingers so the dough doesn´t stick to you.  Once the dough is spread evenly cover and let rise another 30 minutes.

Then, use your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon (greased) to poke holes in the dough.  Push down to the bottom of the pan and wiggle your finger or spoon handle so the hole goes all the way through.  Place the butter bits all across the bread.  In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon an sprinkle evenly over the dough.  Then, pour the evaporated milk into each of the holes you poked in the dough until each hole is fuuuuuuuull.  That´s practically one of the most magical parts of this recipe.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until it is dark brown and cooked through.  When pressed the top crust will be very firm and crunchy, but the inside will give like a soft sponge.  Just check the bottom of the pan and if it is a medium brown it´s done.

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Caramel Apple Dumplings

Yea, I’m stuck in fall.  I’m not going to lie.  You can see it pretty much written all over this blog.  And I’ve also a sick obsession for the apple recipes as well.  It’s just that the apple, cinnamon, pie pastry texture and tastes all remind me of home.  Being here in this country that only has two seasons really leaves me reaching out to fill those I’ve missed in Ohio!

I love etymology.  That’s why I like language so much.  And it’s extremely interesting to me when I find a connection between two words that others are not as excited as I am!  I found that nostalgia has some interesting roots.  Nosto is greek for home and algos pain.  So, in a sense nostalgia just means homesickness!  Now, you can’t tell me that is cool.  If you can’t admit to it you just need to leave.

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Really… how could you blame me for being stuck on apple deliciousness?  Are you seeing this?  I’m about to swallow my own tongue!

Caramel Apple Dumplings

6 McIntosh Apples (as this serves six people)  Do we have McIntosh apples in Peru?  No… so we had to just find something softer that would cook nicely.  This is the beaut we found.

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Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk

Caramel Sauce
You can use store bought OR you can make this
Caramel Comfort Sauce… really, which sounds more fun?

First you can get your sauce ready.  Super simple.  Are you ready?  Throw the water and sugar in the pan and start to bring it to a boil.  Put in the cinnamon and nutmeg.  When the sugar-water comes to a boil put in the butter and let melt.  Mix it up and when it’s melted completely remove from the heat and set aside.

To cut and peel your apples, cut them in half and then cut out the core.  I’ll show you some pictures, because I’m not sure how to explain with words.  Then, peel those halfs.  Don’t cut them into quarters because then you’re going to have a great time trying to hold them together when you wrap them up in dough!  That’s sarcasm by-the-way.

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Make sure you keep your apple halves with their mates… otherwise you could end up with some silly-looking dumplings.

Once you’ve got your apples ready get on your dough.  In a bowl mix together your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and then start to cut in your shortening.  If you’re like the Handicapped Kitchen and you don’t have shortening you can use butter (which I perfer anyway).  Cut in the shortening until you have what looks like fine crumbs.  Then add your milk just until the dough comes together in a ball.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring about 18”X12”.  Then cut the dough into six squares.  So, that should be two horizontally and three across the length.  If you were a math major in college than you can figure out easily that that’s six equal squares!

Working one at a time, place an apple in the center of one of your perfect squares (that’s nearly impossible) of dough holding the halves together.  Pour a nice unhealthy amount of sugar into the center of the apple and shake a pretty portion of cinnamon and nutmeg over the apple and settle a pat of butter on top.  Fold up the four corners of the dough and pinch it closed.  You can also use water to help seal it better.

Place in a pre-greased baking dish.  When you’ve got all your dumplings set in the pan pour the sugar mixture we made earlier over the apples making sure to dump it over each dumpling.  Then, sprinkle with more sugar!  SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR!  Kind of reminds me of Rebecca Black’s FUN FUN FUN!  Oh dear… poor girl.  Anyway, bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes or until you can easily poke a fork through easily.

Let cool and drizzle with caramel sauce while still warm.

TIPS:
1.) Use smaller apples so your dough will easily cover those babies.
2.) Some of my apples fell apart in the oven, but with my quick smarts I pulled some toothpicks out of my drawer and secured the apples together sticking the toothpicks through the apples in a crossing-action.

So, are you going to make these things?  Are you going to eat them in the middle of the sweltering summer?  Does it matter what time of the year you eat Apple Dumplings????  I think not.

Cinnamon Bread Twists

I think I may have mentioned this in the past, but I love Mondays.  Now, I can already hear the grumbling coming from the Northern Hemisphere, but this is my day off.  And it’s such a beautiful day.  It’s the only day that I do not leave the house.  Seriously, I don’t step a foot out the house.  My hair stays a comfortable rat’s nest, my contacts have an extra day to sleep in their solution watery bed, and a blanket is carried around my shoulders wherever I go in the house.  Sigh.  It’s true bliss.

Another part of my Mondays that I love, that involves you, is that I write my new blog posts!  For this very reason your grumbles about Mondays should turn to giddy shrieks and playful dances.  Mondays are a blessed day. 

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These are the pretty, pretty, twisty, yummy cinnamon sticks you’ll make this week, right?  They are pretty simple to make also!  Yummmmm

Cinnamon Bread Twists

Bread Twists
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze
2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoon hot water

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NOTE: Warm buttermilk looks curdled… that’s normal.
NOTE: These go really well with coffee too.
NOTE: You’re going to love these and maybe eat them all by yourself.

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water and let sit 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.  (If you want to learn about yeast go to my last post).  Then add the buttermilk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and baking soda and mix well.  I used a fork to cut in the butter. 

Stir in the flour bit by bit until a soft dough is formed and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a bowl and let rise for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place. 

When the dough has risen double it’s original size punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Roll out each half into a 16”x9” rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the dough leaving about a half inch untouched along the side that measures 16”.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture overtop and press down with the palm of your hand lightly.  This is just to secure the sugar on the dough and make sure it’s sticking.  Fold the dough in half lengthwise.  Your dough will now be 16”x 4 1/2”.  Along the 16” side pinch the dough to seal the edge.  Then cut into 4 1/2×1” rectangles.  Each strip you cut, twist two or three times and set on a pre-greased cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  While cooling mix the glaze ingredients and then spoon over the warm twists.

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That’s right… so easy, so yummy.