12 Holiday Food Comas: Butter Crunch Toffee

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My Aunt makes the best damn toffee in the world. True story.

Last year I thought to myself, “This can’t be that hard! I’ll just find a recipe and make some that will be just as good as hers.” Which I did. And do you know what that toffee did? Do you?

It ripped a crown right off one of my mom’s teeth. Poor woman put all this trust in her daughter to not feed her harmful substances and what did it get her? A giant dental bill right at Christmas.

And it didn’t even taste that great.

So this year, I took no chances. My dear Aunt sent along the recipe of non-dangerous, uber-tasty toffee and sha-zam. No harm to anyone’s chompers!

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Butter Crunch Toffee

from Auntie Ba

2 sticks salted butter (MUST be salted)
1 c white sugar
1 T water
1/2 package chocolate chips (semi sweet, milk, dark, whatever your preference)
1 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 c EXTRA finely chopped walnuts or pecansLine a 13 x 9″ pan with parchment paper. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Turn to high and add the sugar and water, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes, or until toffee colored. It may smoke a bit and smell like it’s burning, but it won’t be. Just don’t let it get TOO dark brown! Remove from heat and add 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts. Stir thoroughly and pour into the prepared pan and spread the mixture with a spatula. Sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips and let sit for a minute. Once they get a bit melty, spread with a knife until smooth and even. Sprinkle with the extra finely chopped nuts and press down gently. Refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes. Crack into pieces with a knife or your hands, then eat!

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Classic Sugar Cookies

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Is there anything more holiday-like than a cookie decorating party? I think not.

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These are dangerous. Highly addictive. Delicious. I loath myself for making them because a pile is sitting on my counter…taunting me every time I walk by.

“Eat me!”

You’re a jerk, cookie! You have no power over me! I am a warrior against your siren’s call of doom!

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But, despite my most courageous efforts, they are mostly gone. After 24 hours. I hang my head in shame.

For these treats I turn to none other than the queen of the old school, can’t-fail, most fool proof recipe book I’ve come across: Fanny Farmer. That lady knows how to make a mean sugar cookie, a delicious apple bread, and a billion kagillion other treats that will have you saying “Martha who?”

These are not the thin and crispy cookies and they don’t have stupid bits of lemon zest in them (love me some lemon zest, but there is NO PLACE for it in a sugar cookie. Get out, dirty citrus).

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Classic Sugar Cookies

Fanny Farmer Baking Book

2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla

Buttercream frosting:

1 stick butter, softened
3-4 c powdered sugar
1-2 T milk
1 T vanilla
pinch of salt

Cream the butter in a standing mixer for about 30 seconds. Gradually at the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, return to medium speed and add the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl, return to medium speed, and beat for about 3 seconds or until mostly smooth. Stop and scrape down the sides, then add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix on low until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Turn the dough onto a piece of saran wrap, flatten into a disc, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours, or until firm. Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets (I had about 4 batches total, so I used 2 sheets) with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll to about 1/4″-1/2″ thickness. Using floured cookie cutters, cut out shapes and lay them about 1-2″ apart on the baking sheets. Press the dough scraps together, roll out again, and cut more shapes. Bake about 10 minutes, or until you can lift up a corner of a cookie and it doesn’t break apart. Continue until all dough has been used up or eaten (it’s very tasty raw). Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and, when at room temperature, frost with buttercream and sprinkles!

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Rosemary Squash Casserole

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I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I just pour heavy cream on things. Just…all over it. Strawberries, peaches, waffles, my hand, etc. Usually those moments are influenced by the emotional eating part of my brain that says things like “If you’re sad, food will make you happy!” and other illogical things.

In this instance, however, the cream is not so random and impulsive. It melds wonderfully with the herbs and squash, creating a wonderful cold-weather dish that pairs beautifully with almost anything (…like more cream?). Be fairly generous with the salt and pepper and don’t try and go “lean” with skim milk— it will separate in the oven and not thicken properly while the dish cools.

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Rosemary Squash Casserole
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 t chopped fresh sage
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 c grated parmigiano
1 small butternut squash, peeled
2 small russet potatoes
1 small sweet potato, peeled
2 t salt
pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. In a small saucepan over low heat combine the herbs and cream, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, thinly slice the squash and potatoes. Layer them in the pan with the salt, pepper, and parmigiano (sprinkle them every time you make a new layer). When the cream is hot, fish the thyme sprigs out and pour the cream over the potatoes and squash in the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest for about an hour or two, to give the cream time to thicken. Warm gently when ready to serve and sprinkle with additional parmigiano. Nomnom!

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