Life on Regal-Hill: Dec. 16, 2009

We continue to get ready for Christmas here at Regal-Hill. Some Christmas breads and cookies have been made and hopefully more of both will be made before Christmas. It just came to me that I hadn’t made plans to make pineapple-filled cookies that I have made every year in the past, and everyone here loves.
Allegra made Christmas cookies Saturday, the kind you cut out, decorate and then bake. I like this recipe because the dough doesn’t need to be chilled before rolling it out into all kinds of Christmas shapes. She picked gingerbread, fancy round and snowman shapes this time. That was enough, especially when it came to clean up, which is usually my job.
Allegra sprinkled green and red sprinkles on the cut-out cookies before baking them to make them look festive. It is easier and saves time. We like them better since they aren’t so rich so they have fewer calories and less of a sugar fix.
Today I mixed up the dough and filling for the pineapple-filled cookies and then will roll them out and bake them tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get Allegra to help me.
Other cookies and breads I plan to make include Parcel Post Bars (which are bar cookies that I put date in) and pumpkin bread. The bars are made every year.
There are more recipes for cookies for the holidays that I have collected that I hope to try. I am not sure whether it will get done this year or not. One is Lemon Dimples and I need a real lemon to make them, so I will have to wait until I get to town. I think I have all the ingredients I need for the other goodies I plan to make. Only time will tell what I actually get made before Christmas.

Homemade Marshmallows
2 teaspoons butter
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Optional toppings: melted chocolate, hot fudge and/or caramel ice cream topping
Optional garnishes: baking cocoa, confectioners’ sugar, crushed candies, chopped nuts, colored sugar and/or sprinkles.
Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and grease the foil with butter, set aside.
In a large metal bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees (soft-ball stage).
Remove from the heat and gradually add to the gelatin. Beat on high speed until mixture is thick and the volume is doubled, about 15 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Spread into prepared pan. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.
Using foil, lift marshmallows out of pan. With a knife or pizza cutter coated with cooking spray, cut into 1-inch squares. Dip or drizzle marshmallows with toppings if desired; coat with garnishes as desired. Roll other marshmallows in the garnishes of your choice. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
Yield: about 9-1/2 dozen
Taste of Home December/January 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken up
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mint extract
4 ounces white chocolate, broken up
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
12 starlight candies, crushed, or 1/3 cup crushed candy canes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two large baking sheets.
Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Beat in cooled chocolate. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in flour, salt and cocoa powder until a soft dough forms. Beat in mint extract.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 18 minutes or until dry on top. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
While cookies cool, combine white chocolate and oil in glass bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, stir; then microwave another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Spoon about 1 teaspoon white chocolate onto each cookie, then top each with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed candies. Let stand to harden for 30 minutes. Store airtight up to two weeks.
Makes: 2-1/2 dozen cookies
Family Circle Nov. 29 2009