Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Holiday Baking: Sweets for the Sweet (and my family!)

January 31, 2012

Okay, so I am way behind on my blogging.  Since I last posted, I’ve tried 5 new recipes, not to mention all the batches of old favorites I’ve cranked out (Sour Cream Cookies and Margarita Cookies were back by popular demand).  I found two of my experiments (Brown Sugar Drops from the Betty Crocker book & Buttery Fork Cookies from the 1001 book) disappointing, so I won’t waste time posting them.  However, three of my holiday dessert projects are well worth the making, so here we go!

The first recipe I want to share is one I made with my dear friend in The Kelly Kitchen just before Christmas, in between giving bottles to her darling twin boys!  She’d clipped this recipe from a magazine and bought all the ingredients, but hadn’t had the time to make it what with becoming a mom a bit quicker than expected, so when I came to visit the new arrivals, we carved out a bit of time for baking while Daddy minded the boys.  I’m not sure which periodical published this one, but it was submitted by Carol Stuber, and it was yummy:  a perfect fall treat!

Caramel Apple Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled baking apples (see my previous post for tips on good baking apples)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 package (14 ounces) caramels
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda; mix well.  Stir in pecans if desired.  Set aside 2 cups.  Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.  For filling, toss apples with flour; spoon over the crust.  In a saucepan, melt the caramels and butter over low heat; drizzle over apples.  Top with the reserved oat mixture.  Bake at 400° for 25/30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool before cutting into bars.  We were impatient and didn’t follow that last bit of instruction, and they fell apart into a crumbly mess.  They were still delicious though.

Caramel Apple Bars

This next recipe is one I had done previously, but never posted.  We buy fresh oranges from H & S Citrus every winter.  It is by far the best citrus I’ve ever eaten, and with such good fruit on hand, I decided to try the recipe for Orange Drop Cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book when my sister gave it to me last Christmas.  They were delicious, so I made them again this year.  It may become a Christmas tradition, but only if I get faster at it.  Once I promised cookies to my niece and nephew, I couldn’t disappoint, but apparently it was an excruciatingly long wait, if the number of times I was asked “Are they done yet?” is any indication.

The cookies have a cake-like texture, and the refreshing orange flavor really comes through.  I recommend using fresh orange juice for both the cookie and icing.  I know it’s a bit more work, but it’s worth it, and you need real oranges to get the rind anyway, so just do it.  🙂

Orange Drop Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. grated orange rind
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Orange Butter Icing (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 400°.  Mix shortening, sugar and egg thoroughly.  Stir in orange juice and rind.  Stir dry ingredients together; blend in.  Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until delicately browned on edges.  Mine always seem to brown quicker.  Watch them closely.  Frost with Orange Butter Icing.

Orange Butter Icing

2 1/2 tbsp. soft butter
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange rind

Blend butter and sugar together.  Stir in juice and rind until smooth.

Orange Drop Cookies

The last recipe I want to recommend is one I came across on Facebook.  It has already been blogged far more thoroughly than I could do it, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just link to it with this recommendation:  make these!  They are the perfect treat for those of you who eat so much cookie dough that you wind up baking very few cookies.  My darling nephew declared them “one of the best chocolate things I ever ate.”

And on that note, I’ll leave you to your kitchens.  I acquired three new dessert cookbooks recently (Chocolate, The New York Times Dessert Cookbook and Miette), so be on the lookout for new experiments to come!  Next on the docket is Chocolate Hazelnut Drops, from the 1001 book.  Wish me luck!


Apple Crunch

November 12, 2011

Whether you call it a crunch, crumble or crisp, it’s the perfect autumn dessert.  This particular recipe is the one Mom has always used, and now it’s the one I use as well.  If it’s put together right and bakes up well, the ingredient ratios yield just the right balance of apple and topping.  It’s delicious home-style comfort food.  I’ve eaten many variations on apple crisp in restaurants, but they’re never as good as homemade, and as easy as it is to make, there’s no reason not to do it yourself.

The original recipe comes from the cookbook What’s Cooking in Kentucky by Irene Hayes, and the recipe was contributed by Elva Holcomb of Ulvah, Kentucky.  Salem ladies can also find this recipe on page 99 of the church cookbook.  The original instructions are pretty sparse, but mom and I have learned a few things about making this turn out well over the years, so I’ll include our notes after the original.

Apple Crunch

Peel and slice 3 large apples.  Place in a well-greased pan.


3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup quick oats

Sprinkle over apples.  Bake 35 minutes in a 350° oven.

For starters, I would prepare the topping before you peel and slice the apples so they won’t turn brown.  An 8×8 baking dish is a good size for this recipe. 

When you combine the ingredients for the topping, it is important not to overmix them.  You just want to combine them until the butter is in small pieces and the mixture is crumbly.  A fork is good for this, or a pastry blender if you have one.  If it is overmixed, it all just sticks together in wads like dough, and it does not bake up right, as I know from past experience.  I find it easiest to combine the sugar, flour and oats first, then cut the butter into it. 

Regarding the apples, I usually use four or five, partly because they are usually fairly small, and partly because I’m not adept at peeling and coring, and I tend to pare off a decent amount of fruit.  Slice them thinly so they’ll cook up well.  Tart varieties of apple are best for baking.  Granny Smiths are good, but they are not as juicy as some varieties, so you might consider mixing them with another type.  Braeburns are good, and most supermarkets carry that variety.  When I baked this particular crisp, I used two Granny Smiths and two of a softer, juicier variety called Empire that I picked up at Doud’s Orchard.  They complemented each other nicely.  The Granny Smiths were more firm and kept a bit of bite to them when cooked, and the Empires cooked down a bit more and kept it moist.

Be sure to spread the topping evenly over the apples so the butter will distribute throughout as it melts, and cover the apples thoroughly so they won’t stick up and dry out or burn.  Bake as directed above, and enjoy!  Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream go nicely on top!

Apple Crunch