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w THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997 3FH Holiday cookies get bakers buzzin', are food for fund-raisers ) Love tortes Peel foil from cookies. r Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in bowl set over hot watef, stir until smooth. Spread chocolate on flat side of 1 cookie, top with another cookie, flat-side down. , Makes 3Vi dozen cookies. Note: These cookies could be made and dipped individually into chocolate to form half-and-half Florentines; the recipe would then make approximately 7 dozen cookr ies. Some cookie baking dos and don'ts Here are tips from top bakers on cookie baking: DON'T MAKE substitutions to a recipe unless you've made it before, or you are an experienced baker. Don't double a recipe unless you're sure of the outcome. TAKE special care when substituting fats many of the light margarines and whipped products will throw off a recipe because of their high water or air content, MAKE SURE baking powder, baking soda and yeast are fresh an open package will lose potency after only two months in humid South Florida kitchens. PREHEAT the oven as indicated, then make one test cookie and note baking time it saves you from ruining a whole batch. TO PREVENT burnt cookies, use air-insulated baking sheets. Pricey, but well worth the "dough" you save. ALWAYS cool cookie sheets between batches. DROP cookies should be taken off cookie sheet immediately after baking and set on a cooling rack. Cool bar cookies thoroughly before slicing for crumbless cuts. TOAST nuts before baking for best flavor; soften raisins or currants in boiling water for 3 minutes; drain. WRAP each cookie individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap for longest and safest storage. (Sources: Malda Header's Cookies, 1997, Cader Books; The Christmas Cookie Book by Judy Knlpe and Barbara Marks, 1990, Time-Life Books.) Pecan crescents 2 eggs IV2 cups all-purpose flour Vs cup unsweetened cocoa powder V2 teaspoon salt V teaspoon baking soda 2 cups miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips For the topping: 11 ounces cream cheese (1 8- ounce and 1 3-ounce package), softened 2 eggs cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla Strawberries, cut in half, for garnish Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Place cooling rack on countertop. For brownies, place brown sugar, shortening, water and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add shortening mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and spread dough evenly onto bottom of pan. For topping, place cream cheese, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Spread evenly over top of brownie mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Note: Do not overbake. Place on cooling rack and run spatula around edge of pan to loosen. Cool completely on rack before slicing. Cut into 2-by-lVi-inch bars. Add a strawberry half to each top to decorate. Makes approximately 2 dozen bars. Florentines 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips cup butter 2 cups quick oatmeal, uncooked 1 cup sugar cup flour Va cup light corn syrup Va cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Va teaspoon salt Preheat oven to 375. Melt butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, vanilla, milk and salt. Mix well. Form dough, 1 teaspoon at a time, into balls; place each ball on a cookie sheet lined with well greased foil. Flatten balls very thin. Bake at 375 for 5 to 7 minutes. COOKIES From 1FN so good because they're right out of the oven." Her favorites, almond butter cookies, are from a recipe that came with the cookie stamp to make them. "They're not as good as my mom's, but I was so happy to find that recipe." I At the Tropical Sands Christian Church in Palm Beach Gardens, cookie bakers are heating their ovens for the third annual Cookie Walk, set for Saturday. , "It's a fund-raiser for the church," said Lisa Barron, last year's Walk organizer. "The women of the congregation bake the 'cookies and bring in their cookies, and we set them all out on tables. Then, people pay $5 for a cookie tin and go through the line, filling the tin with whatever cookies they want." Joyce Borgmeyer and Polly Weisse of Palm Beach Gardens are the top bakers in the walk. 'Long-time friends, they produce beautiful cookies that participants look forward to yearly, Barron !said. Susan McBrayer is hosting her first cookie exchange this year. Her best cookies are kid-friendly -ones. "My white-chocolate covered Ritz-Bits with sprinkles are so simple my 5-year-old can do them." One year, there were Rice Krispie Treats at the exchange, f- At her group in Wellington, 'participants will be asked to bring between three and five dozen of 'one kind of cookie, and the recipe for it. Each person then takes home the same number of cookies -she brought, all of different varieties. "A lot of times, you get a story about how their grandmother ' made this cookie, or a family history. It's nice," McBrayer said. Of course, sometimes the .whole process can be a bit too ; labor-intensive, and people try to cut corners. I', Penelope Morgan of Penelo-" pe's Breads and Threads Bakery " in Delray Beach tells the story of a ; group that finally caved in. ; I "I guess some of the women in S-the exchange just got too busy to "ibake the cookies," she said. Instead of making the cookies to ;.; exchange, they ordered them from -the bakery. i I "I guess when they all showed ,Jup- with their cookies, they all knew what happened, and the group finally quit having an ex-S-cfiange. It was funny." 3; I; Here are recipes from some '.'eookie bakers for your holiday ' tables. 1 Vi cup all-purpose flour IV cup rolled oats 1 cup brown sugar V2 teaspoon baking soda Dash of salt 1 stick margarine or butter 10 ounces pitted dates cup water cup white sugar Sift together first 5 ingredients. Work 1 stick margarine into sifted ingredients; mixture should be coarse. (Baker's tip: Use your hands for this process.) In a heavy pan over medium heat, slowly cook to a thick jamlike texture the dates, water and sugar. Press half of the oat mixture into a 9-by-13-inch greased baking dish. Spread with date mixture, using the back of a spoon dipped in warm water. Put remaining half of oat mixture on top and press down to form a crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350. Cool completely before cutting into bars of desired size. (Use a greased knife for best results.) Makes about 2 dozen. (Recipe from Virginia Ryan, Lake Worth.) Raspberry swirl pinwheels Vz cup butter or margarine, softened 1 cup sugar legg 1 tablespoon vanilla 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Va teaspoon salt For filling: V4 cup raspberry Jam Vz cup shredded coconut V cup finely chopped nuts Cream butter; add sugar, ing well. Add egg and vanilla, beat well. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, beating well. Shape mixture into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Combine filling ingredients. When dough is firm, roll out on floured wax paper to 12-by-9-inch rectangle. Spread filling to within 'z-inch of edges. Carefully roll up dough, jelly-roll style, starting at long end. Pinch the seam to seal. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate. Chill 1 hour or until firm. When ready to bake, slice cookies '-inch thick and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on Raspberry balm wine 4 cups dry white wine Va cup sugar Vi cup brandy 1 pint raspberries Va cup lemon balm leaves see note Note: Make this two days ahead. Combine wine and sugar in a non-aluminum pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately stir to dissolve sugar and cool to tepid. Put the raspberries and lemon balm in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour the brandy and wine mixture over them. Steep in a cool, dark place for 2 days and filter before using. If desired, add a fresh sprig of lemon balm to the bottle as a decorative touch before serving. The wine will keep 3 months in the refrigerator. Makes 1 quart. Note: Lemon balm is an herb that grows readily in South Florida and is available wherever herb plants are sold. (Recipe from The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead, 1992, Clarkson Potter.) Southern wassail punch V gallon apple cider, or apple juice Va cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 3-ounce can frozen lemonade, thawed and undiluted 1 3-ounce can frozen orange juice, thawed and undiluted Vi tablespoon whole cloves Va tablespoon whole allspice 12 1-Inch cinnamon sticks Orange or lemon slices, studded with cloves, for garnish Mix cider, sugar, lemonade White-chocolate covered, Ritz-Bits 1 box Ritz-Bits (peanut butter " mini-crackers) 1 12-ounce bar Nestle white y chocolate, melted, slightly i cooled . c Colored sugar, candy sprinkles or other decoration Use a fork to dip crackers into melted white chocolate. Before chocolate sets, sprinkle each cracker with decoration, or drizzle melted dark chocolate in decorative pattern over each. I Note: If the chocolate is cool to the touch, kids can easily help make these cookies. Stamped almond sugar cookies 1 i 3- to 4-inch cookie stamp see note V2 cup butter, softened ; ' 2 ounces almond paste V2 cup sugar legg V2 teaspoon almond extract ' Va teaspoon salt . 1 cup flour Cream almond paste into butter by hand or with mixer. Cream in sugar. Stir in egg and almond extract. Mix salt into flour and stir into almond mixture. Knead dough lightly for short time; it will be fairly stiff. - j, Roll unchilled dough into 2-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Stamp firmly with lightly floured cookie stamp to form clear impression; lift stamp directiy upward. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes; cookies should be just turning brown around edges. Makes 16-18 cookies. Note: This method makes thin cookies; make thicker cookies as desired; adjust baking time accordingly. Cookie stamps are available at Penelope's Breads and Threads in Delray Beach, and in some kitchen giftware shops. ; A: A generally acceptable substitute for each whole egg is two egg whites. Almost all the fat, , including saturated fat, as well as cholesterol are contained in the yolk of the egg, so this switching should eliminate most of the undesirable aspect of eggs for diet-, ers and heart patients. The reduction in fat may make the cake drier, however. Adding about V2 cup of apple sauce or prune puree should improve the, results. Another option may be to add back some fat in a more ac-'t ceptable form such as canola oil', which has no cholesterol. It is . very low in the "bad" saturated ' fat and very high in the "good" monounsaturated fat. , BEST Credit card interest ; rates? You'll find them every Monday1 in Business Day One in ' The Palm Beach Post. , , includes SOUP, SALAD BAR & POTATO faster in convection oven In the spirit of the season, try jthese delicious holiday treats racks. Note: For ease in cutting, the dough can be frozen. Makes about 2Vi dozen cook- ies. Polly's almond cookies 6 cups flour IV2 cups shortening IV2 cups butter 3 teaspoons salt 2V4 cups sugar 3 teaspoons almond extract 1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water . Slivered blanched almonds for decoration Put flour in large bowl. Cut in butter and shortening. Work in salt, sugar and almond extract, using hands to mix. Shape dough into long rolls, about 2Vi-inch.es in diameter, and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze or refrigerate until very firm. (Wrap again in foil if freezing.) To bake, slice dough in Vi-inch thick slices. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush tops with yolk-water mixture and top with slivered almond. Bake at 375 for 7 to 10 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 dozen cookies, depending on size of rolls. and orange juice together in a large pot. Place the cloves and allspice in a cheesecloth bag; tie end and add to cider mixture. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bag. Ladle the hot punch into cups garnished with cinnamon stick. Makes 12 servings. Note: To add spirits, applejack brandy or rum would work in this recipe; add after cooking. (Recipe from Ideas for Entertaining from the African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis, 1997, Dutton Books.) Cooked eggnog 10 large eggs 2Va cups granulated sugar 2 cups half-and-half 2 cups heavy cream V teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg plus some for garnish 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract V cup bourbcn Va brandy 1 cup heavy cream for whipping In large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, beat together eggs and sugar. Stir in half-and-half. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film. Temperature should reach 160. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups cream, nutmeg, vanilla, bourbon and brandy. Cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form; fold the unsweetened whipped cream into the nog. Serve cold in punch cups; sprinkle surface with nutmeg. Makes about Vi gallon. (Recipe adapted from Emeril's Creole Christmas, 1997, Emeril Lagasse, Morrow.) 2Vi cups butter 1 Va cups unsifted confectioner's sugar 1V4 teaspoon vanilla 3 tablespoons almond extract 6V4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 3 to 4 cups pecans, broken Confectioner's sugar for rolling Cream butter; add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat well. Add flour and stir in nuts. Form into small logs that are then reformed into crescent shapes on the greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until just lightly browned. Immediately after removing from oven, sift confectioner's sugar over them or roll gently in pan of confectioner's sugar. Makes 6 dozen. Chocolate cheesecake bars For the brownie bottom: IVz cups firmly packed light brown sugar cups vegetable shortening or butter 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon vanilla Food cooks Q: Could you give me some information on convection ovens? And another question, how much cream do you get out of a gallon of milk? Peggy, Jupiter A: Convection ovens have the same kind of heating element as regular ovens. But there is a difference: In the convection oven, a built-in fan cir culates the . heated air throughout the oven cavity, unlike the conventional oven where the compartment radiates heat throughout. This difference in heat transfer gives Gholam Rahman Kitchen Counselor convection ovens some advantages. Foods, especially meat and poultry, cook about 25 percent faster and also more evenly. And since fan-forced heat circulation eliminates any hot spots, you don't need to change the position of pans during cooking. 1301 Tenth Street Lake Park. FL 33403 842-0616 'Except Holidays .s" -at- 1 "S nr ir 1 To convert regular-oven recipes, here is a rough guideline: Lower temperature 25 and cut baking time 25 percent for roasting poultry, meat, fish, etc. For cakes, cookies and other baked goods, reduce heat 50 but keep time the same. For best results, however, consult the guide book that came with your particular oven. As for your second question, you can't get cream at home out of today's homogenized milk. It just won't clot up on top as it did with fresh, unhomogenized milk. Q: What is the difference between pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce? D.B., West Palm Beach A: Basically they are both the same and can be used interchangeably. The common flavor in both is based on oregano, parsley and basil. The only difference I can think of is that pizza sauce is a bit thicker so it stays on and doesn't make the crust soggy. Q: I would like to cut down on eggs. Is there a substitute when a cake recipe calls for whole eggs? Anonymous I ByJanNonis Palm Beach Post Food Editor Punch things up this holiday season with a homemade eggnog J or festive fruit concoction. With or without spirits, you can keep the I nartv flnwina withnnt havincr a i' j "o . . .......... . . .. -r wealth of bottles in the kitchen. Offer two HOLIDAY ? types of punches for variety or one punch and one mulled ci- der, wine or eggnog. Freeze part of your punch ingredients, along with fresh fruit chunks, in one big ice mold or a bunch of little molds. Or for a festive color scheme, freeze whole cranberries and mint leaves in a holly-berry arrangement in a ring mold. Don't forget little nibbles on swizzles to dress up each cup a fruit chunk or cinnamon stick. This milky hot tea is popular in Middle Eastern countries and some parts of Europe. Tea's popularity in the United States is growing, and many teahouses feature this drink. Chai, or tea latte 1 quart whole milk 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Va teaspoon ground cardamom 1 teaspoon ground almonds Vi cup honey 1 quart water 8 teaspoons loose orange pekoe or other black tea In a large saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon, cardamom and almonds. Simmer for Vi hour, stirring occasionally. Add the honey and then immediately remove from heat. In a separate saucepan, boil 1 quart of water. Pour boiling water into a teapot with the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Add the hot milk mixture to the tea in a ratio of 1 to 1. Pour back and forth between 2 containers to mix. Return the mixture to the teapot and strain before serving. ' Makes 6 to X servings. I I SOMEPLACE Open for Lunch 11:30 AM? Days m SHALL ADS GET READ, TOO Call (561) 820-4300 to advertise. The Palm Beach Post - - - 1 miii--inn mi 1 J wv nil frtwUrHIlnCTHmrlliall-IS-!