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Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Little Snowballs

Hey again Baking Friends!

One of my favorite series of books to read is the Hannah Swensen Mystery series by Joanne Fluke. I like that it’s murder mystery style books, with a lot of the every day monotony thrown in that most books leave out, and then the best part is the recipes! I have tried lots of Joanne’s recipes, and have yet to find one that I don’t like. One of these days I will try her coffee trick, I swear, but I need a huge batch of coffee drinkers to do it.

Anyways, a few years ago my work did a Cookies for Civil Servants thing around Christmas where everyone brought in bags of scratch-made cookies, and volunteers distributed them to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, Fire and Medic stations across the county. I had made some extras for my co-workers, small samples of the 4 cookies that I made, and one of my friends LOVED the Little Snowballs that I made. Think similar to a Wedding Cake Cookie.

Little Snowballs!

Since her birthday is at the end of June, I decided to make her a batch of cookies for a snack. Hee. Birthday cookies will get you every time! Muahahaha.

So anyways, here is the recipe, and hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted (3 sticks)
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus 1/4 cup for coating
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (walnut chips and sliced almonds are my go-to choices for these cookies!)

How To Make Them:
1.
Preheat over to 350 F. Melt the butter in microwave for 2 minutes.
2. Add in 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt, and mix well. Add the flour and mix throughly. Stir in the nuts until evenly distributed.
3. Form the dough into one-inch balls (just pat them into shape with your fingers), and place them on an UNGREASED baking sheet.
4. Bake them for 10 minutes, until they are set but not brown. Remove from oven.
5. Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes, then roll them in powdered sugar. (You must do this while they’re still warm.) Place them on a wire rack and let them cool completely.
6. When the cookies are completely cooled, roll them in powdered sugar again. Let them rest for several minutes on the rack, and then store them in a cookie jar or a covered bowl, or a large freezer ziploc bag! Enjoy them with friends!

Yield: 90-100 cookies (Nutrition Information: 47 calories per cookie, 2.9g fat, 4.2g carb, 0.6g protein, 8mg sodium, 7mg cholesterol)

So there they are, try it out, enjoy, and please let me know what you think! YUM!

I will say, I do intend to try a few variations on this cookie throughout this summer: substituting butter for Butter Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil, adding lemon juice + lemon rind to make Lemon Snowballs, substituting butter for applesauce + canola oil, substituting nuts for dried fruit, substituting macadamia nuts + coconut for the nuts, and finally doing the original recipe around a jumbo chocolate chip. I will, of course, keep you all posted on how these all turn out!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking is Science for Hungry People: Honey Almond Berry Crostatas

Hello Baking Buddies!

I had a request at work to make a specific recipe for my coworkers. They volunteered themselves as guinea pigs this time! Okay, fine, I should be honest. Three of them volunteered everyone up as guinea pigs. But that still counts!!! Right?!? Please?!? Yessssssss, success!

Honey-Almond-Berry Crostatas!

The Recipe: Betty Crocker Mini Honey Almond Cranberry Crostatas
The Task: Bake for us please.
The Date: I missed a good friend’s birthday (I thought it was 2 days later, dangit) so decided to bring this in for his birthday treat on the day I thought his birthday occurred.
The Challenge: Follow the recipe exactly.

WHOA! WHAT?! Follow the recipe exactly?!? What madness is this, you ask? I was challenged by a friend to actually follow a recipe without straying from it by even a smidgen. He didn’t think I could do it. Honestly, I didn’t think I could, either!

Ingredients Compiled!

So here are the ingredients: 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup honey, 1.25 cup fresh or frozen berries, 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (thawed), 3 tablespoons almond paste (3.5 oz tube), 1.5 teaspoons sliced almonds, 8 teaspoons honey.

I decided that I wanted to make a double recipe of fruit, so I actually had 1.25 cup frozen cranberries AND 1.25 cup fresh blackberries (hey, a Harris Teeter sale for $1 per pint, heck yes I bought some!). I started off with the cranberry. Partly to prove that I CAN follow a recipe, and partly to make sure it worked right before wasting blackberries. 😉 See, I plot and plan when I bake!

So first step, preheat the oven to 425. Second step, place a sheet of wax paper down on the counter. Third step, put aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.

1) Heat 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup honey (okay, I probably had closer to 1/3 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon, but that is from not wanting to dirty more stuff than necessary) over medium heat until boiling. You will only need to stir a few times, promise. This should take about 4-5 minutes, tops. Once boiling, add in your berries, reducing heat to medium-low setting (halfway between the two is where I put it). Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until berries are tender (blackberrie) or popping (cranberries). Once this happens, remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes.

Cranberries Cooking!

2) While the berries are popping, unroll one of the crusts onto your wax paper. I used a lid for my Magic Bullet, but a normal drinking glass should work also. Take your ‘cutter’ and cut rounds out of the pie crust dough. Take scraps, re-roll out and cut again until all used up. Move them from the wax paper onto the aluminum foil on the cookie sheet. The recipe says make 4-inch rounds, however I think mine were more like 2.5/3-inch rounds, so I scaled the portions up accordingly. I love almond paste, so I was a bit generous here. Take a pinch of almond paste and center it in your pastry rounds. Make sure this is like a small dot in the center, though, and not taking up too much space!

Cranberries Cooking!

3) Once the berries have cooled, and the liquid is thicker, take a spoon and top the almond paste with 1 teaspoon of berries. For the cranberries it was about 4 berries per round, and for the blackberries it was about 3 berries per round. Once these are topped (and be sure you’re not putting in the juice here!), pinch the crusts together so they form balls. Don’t roll them into balls, and don’t worry if a few areas are thin, or a little holed on top. Just make sure the bottoms are solid! Top with some slivered almonds. Since mine were going to be smaller, I actually pounded the slivered almonds a bit so they were more like crushed pieces, and just sprinkled those on top.

Completed Crostatas!

4) Bake 14 minutes until golden brown, and remove from oven. Let cool 2 minutes then remove from pan. I actually moved mine into cupcake foils (cute ones) since I was taking them into work and that makes it easier to transport AND grab. Once they are moved, though, drizle the top of each crostata with a dollop of honey. Let cool the rest of the way.

Honey-Almond-Cranberry Crostatas

5) Repeat steps above with the other berry, using everything the same. The recipe says it will make 8 crostatas with 1 pack pillsbury pie crust (which is 2 8-inch crusts), however I was able to make 12 crostatas with EACH crust, only using 1 package for both berry varieties. So I made 24 crostatas using 2/3 cup water, 1 cup honey (total), 2.5 cups berries, 3.5 oz almond paste, 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, and 1 package Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust! WOOHOO! GO ME!

Honey-Almond-Blackberry Crostatas

My coworkers really enjoyed these, and a few people tried both. The consensus was that the Cranberry tasted better than the Blackberry for these, probably because the flavor profiles match up better for the overall effect. However if I were to do these again, without having to TRY (and fail) to prove that I can follow a recipe, I would probably add some vanilla extract with the Blackberries as they are cooking, and maybe use a walnut or pecan instead to sprinkle on top (while still using the almond paste inside). New idea for next time, woohoo!

Okay that is it for today, so I will catch you all next time, and hope you enjoyed this blog entry! Definitely think these are a GREAT baking idea if you are pressed for time, not wanting anything too complicated, and are needing a cheap item. I think I spent $15 for the actual items that were used (I bought extra paste, pie crust and fruit), counting having honey & water already… 🙂

Craft You Later,
Beth

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