Monday, February 23, 2009
Yummy presidential & valentine treats
2/4/09 Cook’s Corner Betty Kaiser I loved the month of February when I was growing up. In elementary school we kids called it the holiday month. Special days were nicely spaced out to help dispel winter’s gloom. Near the beginning of the month we celebrated President Lincoln’s birthday. It was closely followed by Valentine’s Day while George Washington’s birthday closed out the short festive month. Each holiday meant that our class would enjoy a special dessert made by the room mothers. Of course, that was back in the day when moms could serve homemade goodies and no one worried about us being sickened by salmonella, E. coli or other stuff. We were young and carefree but we always knew whose mom could be depended on to bring special treats. My grandmother baked and decorated great cookies. Carol’s mom excelled at cupcakes with yummy frosting and the Harvey boys’ mother always made brownies. Desserts were always the food of choice on these occasions! So “Lincoln Log” brownies were a popular treat on Lincoln’s birthday. Decorated heart shaped sugar cookies were the choice for Valentine’s Day and cherry-flavored cupcakes with boiled frosting were a coveted favorite for George Washington’s birthday. I’ve never been quite sure about the origins of Lincoln Log brownies. It must have had something to do with Lincoln’s humble beginnings and life in a log cabin. Folklore tells us that he was an expert log splitter who loved to read. Sometimes he would be found reading next to a pile of logs that he should have been splitting. Maybe he was eating brownies at the same time! And it really isn’t known whether George Washington chopped down that fabled cherry tree but it sure makes for good story telling and a reason to eat cherry pie. So we’ll start out today’s recipe roundup with a cherry dessert in honor of George. Enjoy!
Cherry Cream Pie Taste of HomeCrust: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup finely chopped walnuts 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup packed brown sugar Filling: 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped 1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling Directions: In a small bowl, combine the flour, walnuts, butter and brown sugar. Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, stirring once. Set aside 1 cup of crumbs. While warm, press the remaining crumbs into a greased 9-in. pie plate, firmly pressing onto the bottom and up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and almond extract until smooth. Spread over bottom of crust. Gently fold whipped cream into the pie filling; spread over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings. Note: To lighten up the sugar and fat content, substitute light cherry pie filling for regular and light Cool Whip for the whipped cream.
Basic Sugar Cookies1 cup sugar 1 cup butter or shortening, softened 2 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 2-1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 teaspoon salt In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and combine until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill dough for one hour or more. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 400° F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/8-1/4-inch (thinner cookies will be crisper). Cut into shapes with floured heart shaped cookie cutter. Place cookies 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar if not planning on frosting. Bake until a delicate golden color, 6-8 minutes. Cool slightly before moving to racks. Decorate as desired. Makes about 3-1/2 dozen.
Cookie Glaze1 cup powdered sugar, sifted 4 teaspoons milk 1 teaspoon vanilla (may substitute other flavors) 1 tablespoon corn syrup Food coloring (gel or regular) Add milk to powdered sugar in bowl and mix evenly. Add vanilla and stir. Finally, add the corn syrup and mix well. Mixture can be divided into separate bowls if using different colors. ‘Paint’ the cooled cookies using a pastry brush. Allow to dry completely before stacking (overnight is best). NOTE: The mixture must be thin enough to spread easily but not so thin that it runs off. Start with the recipe amounts and if too thick, add more milk if necessary. Do not add extra corn syrup.
Brownie Lincoln Logs2 cups sugar 2 cups flour 1/3 cup cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine 1 cup water ½ cup buttermilk 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well. Heat margarine and water in saucepan until boiling. Pour over dry ingredients and mix. Beat in buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour thin batter in greased and floured 15X10-inch pan. Cool in pan and frost with the following.
Chocolate Butter Frosting1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted 1/3 cup cocoa powder 1 teaspoon vanilla 3-6 tablespoons milk Combine all ingredients except milk in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often and gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. To make logs Cut chocolate-frosted brownies into bars about 3-inches long and ¾ inch wide. Draw prongs of fork through icing to resemble a log. Decorate with a tiny paper flag. Makes enough for a crowd. Two logs per serving. Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.