Sunday, October 7, 2012

When the weather gets cold, I like to BAKE

So autumn is here, and in a big way. Yesterday was in the 80's, but today is in the 40's and rainy. (For my metric friends, that's a change from the upper 20's down to single digits Celsius.) When the weather gets cold, do you know what I like to do? I knit! (Yes, how did you guess?) And I like to wear things that I've knit! (They're warm and cozy.) But you know what else I like to do? I like to BAKE.

Last week, I learned why so many people like Snickerdoodles. They're relatively quick and easy, and do they ever taste good! Since they're rolled by hand into balls, the heat of the oven flattens them out into gorgeous, professional-looking circles of deliciousness. I was leery when I saw that the recipe said to use an ungreased cookie sheet, but due to a combination of the shortening in the cookies and the even coating of cinnamon-sugar, they don't stick at all. Once they come out of the oven, the cookies cool on a wire rack. We have some leftover closet shelving which I use for this purpose. It's long and thin and fits well on the kitchen table. The cookies were a little crispier than I expected - next time, they won't need to stay in the oven as long. They're great dipped in coffee or tea.

The recipe yielded about 5 dozen Snickerdoodles, and we ate them all in less than a week.

With all the Snickerdoodles gone, we were completely surrounded by no cookies. This was unacceptable to baker-me, so the other day when I came across a recipe for the intriguingly-named "Mud Hen Bars," I had to give it a try. (Click here for the recipe at the Cookies and Cups blog.) The resultant dessert is rich and messy, but tastes good. The Mud Hen Bars have a layer of cake on the bottom, a chocolate-marshmallow layer in the middle, and a crispy coating of meringue on top. I learned two things. First, if you're out of mini-marshmallows, the full-size ones can be chopped up very easily and without sticking if you spray your chopping knife with cooking spray. (Blade only, obviously!) Second, I really need to work on my meringue-making skills. The two egg whites should have yielded enough to cover the top, but they didn't quite. Either they weren't beaten enough, or the brown sugar should have been folded in more gently. Whatever; they tasted fine! The marshmallow makes them a little messy, so they're better eaten with a fork than with fingers.

In case you also like to cook when the weather gets cold, here are a couple websites you might enjoy:

Laylita's Recipes, where you'll find lots of yummy Ecuadorian recipes
Cookies and Cups, home of the recipe for Mud Hen Bars
Betty Crocker, while it's not the one I used, they do have a recipe for snickerdoodles that you can try if you're so inclined.

Happy baking!

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