Thursday, January 31, 2013

Almond Crescents

Lately, I've been exploring new things to bake to have with my afternoon tea.  When I saw this recipe, I didn't hesitate to try it out!

I started by measuring out sliced almonds and pouring them into a food processor.  I blended until it was very fine.

I combined the ground almonds with flour and sugar, then added vanilla.

Next, I mixed in 1 cup of melted butter (note that the recipe calls for room temperature butter, but I didn't have any, so I was forced to melt it.)  I mixed it in with my fingers until I had a ball of dough.  The dough has to chill in the fridge for an hour.

Even after an hour after chilling, the dough was still extremely fragile and crumbled at the slightest touch (perhaps because my butter was melted and not room temp?)  For this reason, I was unable to roll the dough into balls, then out into rolls, and then into crescent shapes.  Instead, I very carefully shaped the dough into crescent-ish shapes, which I think were probably thicker than the recipe intended.  This was tedious because the dough literally crumbled at the slightest touch.

I added sliced almonds to the top of only two, assuming the kids wouldn't want almonds on theirs.

I baked them on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 15 minutes

The effort was well worth it, because these are delicious!  I wasn't sure what to expect the consistency to be, but I would describe them as cookie-like.  My 6-year-old loves them.  And they were smashing with a spot of tea. :)

Almond Crescents
2 cups unblanched almonds
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweet butter, room temperature
Powdered sugar (optional)

-Grind 1 3/4 cups nuts very fine.  Chop the remaining 1/3 cup.
-Mix flour, sugar and ground nuts in a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  With your fingers, work in the butter until thoroughly blended.  Chill the dough for 1 hour.
-Roll the dough into balls, about 1 3/4 inches in diameter.  Form into rolls about 3 1/2 inches long, then into crescents.  Press the tops of the crescents into the remaining chopped nuts.
-Place them on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool on the pan for 7 minutes (exactly!), then remove to a rack.
-While the crescents are still warm, roll them in the powdered sugar.

Variations: Use hazelnuts instead of almonds, or a combination of the two.  You can use 1 tsp of cinnamon instead of vanilla.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Graham Crackers

I've always wanted to try making homemade graham crackers, and I finally did.

First, I assigned a very cute toddler to Spatula Licking Duty.  I never like to bake anything without having this special task assigned to a small, cute person.

Next, I measured out 2/3 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of butter.

I beat the sugar and butter until well mixed, then added the remaining ingredients: flour, water, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Once thoroughly mixed and a ball of dough formed, I placed the dough in a bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes.

After allowing the dough to rest, I rolled it out to 1/8 inch thickness.... which actually means I rolled it as thin as I could without it ripping apart, which may or may not have been 1/8 inch thickness.

The cute toddler who licks the spatula chose dinosaur shaped crackers, although we did also cut some into traditional rectangle shapes.

I placed them on a greased cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

The house smelled so good!

And the cute toddler approved of the taste.

These crackers go well with a glass of milk or a cup of cocoa!

Homemade Graham Crackers

1/2 cup softened butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (or more) of cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
In a large bowl, put the softened butter and the sugar.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the remaining ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix well.  Let the mixture sit for 30-45 minutes.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut into squares or long rectangles, or with cookie cutters into whatever shapes you like.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350' for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.