Tag Archives: baking

photo by King Arthur Flour Company

So... I'm not really into Halloween.  First of all, I grew up out in the boon-docks where the only trick-or-treaters we saw was my little cousin Jill who lived a mile down the road.  We never even bought Halloween candy, because God forbid we would ever consume any processed sugar.  But my mom, always the hostess, made sure to make a small batch of cookies for Jill when she showed up in her costume.  Not that I ever got to eat any of them.  I'm not bitter.

Secondly, I find it all a bit too much.  I don't watch scary movies and I don't really enjoy looking at "ugly stuff" (witches, zombies, bloody hands, etc.), so a whole day of celebrating it is just too much for me. And since we didn't celebrate Halloween at home (for religious reasons) there's not even a nostalgic significance for me.  So generally, I pass.

And then there's Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead.  My brain tends to put that in a different category than Halloween because at least it is about celebrating the lives of the ancestors.  The irony is not lost on me, don't worry.

Admittedly, I find some of the artwork fascinating and while I didn't grow up celebrating Dia De Los Muertos either, it is a Mexican tradition and so for illogical reasons, I am more tolerant of it.

So what does all this have to do with our Friday Recipe?  I will tell you...

Thanks to the internet being flooded with Halloween recipes right now, I ran across this recipe from King Arthur Flour that at first caught my attention because of the shape of the cookies:  bones.  Not something you see every day.  Then I scrolled down and saw that they were made with almond flour and almond extract and I was sold.  I just adore almond extract, it makes me happy.  In fact, I have been using Amaretto flavored coffee creamer in my coffee all this week.

This recipe is really easy: basically mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, roll out the dough into "snakes", crimp the ends to look like bones, let them sit overnight and bake.  So easy! Of course, you could make them into any shapes you wanted, or no special shapes at all and they will be just as yummy.

Coincidentally, they link to another recipe for Almond Cloud Cookies that are even more appealing to me because it requires almond paste, which makes me go weak in the knees. They describe them as "Chewy-crisp and intensely almond-y."  Ummm, yes please!

So there you have it, 2 cookie recipes for your weekend.  Whip up a batch, brew a little coffee, and relax.  Or dress up like Lady Gaga and go door-to-door begging your neighbors for candy.  Your choice.

Ossi di Morto (Bone of the Dead) Cookies via King Arthur Flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2012/10/26/bones-of-the-dead/

Almond Cloud Cookies via King Arthur Flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/almond-cloud-cookies-recipe

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As mentioned recently by my Sister-Amy at her delicious blog  Amy's Kitchen, Nielsen Massey Vanilla is, well...in a word... divine.  Sent from heaven above to infuse our world with perfumed loveliness and goodness.  If you have ever watched Barefoot Contessa (the brilliant Ina Garten), no doubt you have heard her refer to the importance of using "good vanilla."  THIS is the "good vanilla" you may have noticed her using.

Why is this important?  Like most things in life, it comes down to quality.  I came across a fascinating article from Joy of Baking that explains it better than I could:

"When buying vanilla extract make sure it is labeled "pure".  The imitation vanilla extracts are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter after taste.  Products labeled Vanilla Flavoring are a combination of pure vanilla extract and imitation vanilla extract."

Many times when preparing baked goods and even sometimes savory foods, the recipe will call for the use of a whole vanilla bean.  It's like adding the ultimate  vanilla experience to whatever you are making and although they are pricey, it is worth it.

This can present a couple problems, however.  1) Whole vanilla beans do have an "expiration" in that, they will eventually dry out.  If it has become hard & severely shrivelled, it has past it's prime.  2) Although they are commonly found nowadays, it is possible that your neighborhood grocery doesn't carry them.  Now, if for whatever reason you cannot get your hands on whole vanilla bean pods, you can use good vanilla extract as a substitute and your dish will still taste yummy.  But......

Yesterday I became aware, thanks to this post by The Pioneer Woman, of another product by Nielsen Massey Vanilla :  Vanilla Bean Paste!

One tablespoon of this product equals one whole vanilla bean!  I'll be honest, the job of splitting the bean in half and then scraping out the teeny beans makes me nervous so this jar of vanilla luciousness is going to become a staple in the "magic cupboard."

Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/Vanilla.html#ixzz162Utup1Z