Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tales of Cowboy Kringle & Cranberry Jelly

I had great plans for postings this actually posting more than one post! Gee, what happened? I suppose I've been trimming the tree, making cookie dough to freeze (not baked yet), toying with an old family recipe, shopping and visiting Cowboy Kringle.

You heard me correctly, Cowboy Kringle. Not too far from my home, Cowboy Kringle sits atop bales of hay, looking mighty jolly wearing a cowboy hat, boots and red leather chaps. My little Eli had a wonderful first Christmas picture with him last year. This year...not so much.
I have been showing him images of Santa for weeks now, in effort of making him comfortable with his upcoming picture. I'd bellow out "Ho Ho Ho!!! Merry Christmas!" and he laughed every time. When we arrived to Cowboy Kringle's stable, he was very excited. I thought, oh yeah, this is going to work. Again, not so much.

The moment he was placed on the big red chaps...tears, crying, moaning! Which was fine with me. I actually love my sons "cry face." We chose the picture of Eli on the verge of crying-he somewhat resembles the "Stay Puff't Marshmallow Man."

Eli and Cowboy Kringle Christmas '08 (top); Christmas '09 (bottom)
After the picture torture, Cowboy Kringle belted out a big "HO HO HO! Merry Christmas!!!" Eli looked at me, jumped off of my lap and ran toward the big man in red, joining in another family's photo. WHAT!?!

OK, recipe time! This is my attempt to recreate a cranberry jelly that was given to me by a former neighbor. She was a personal chef for an Idaho senator and her jelly was the best I've ever tasted. Not only is it mighty tasty, but the beautiful color is as rosy as Cowboy Kringle's jolly cheeks!

Cranberry Jelly
makes approx. 7 cups

4 cups store bought 100% cranberry juice (I use Northland)
2 T. lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 pouches of liquid pectin
  1. Put cranberry juice, lemon juice and sugar into a large stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil. Add liquid pectin; return to a rolling boil, and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Immediately transfer jelly to sterilized jars and top with sterilized lids. Alternatively, transfer jelly to a large bowl set over an ice-water bath to cool; refrigerate in an airtight container up to one month.
  3. Process jars in pots of boiling water for 5 minutes. When canning in elevations over 1000 ft. sea level, please adjust processing time.
Its seems that every time I can, I need a refresher course. You can find canning guidelines here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Where Caramel Meets Pound Cake

...and make beautiful music! Where, you may ask? In my kitchen of course. This dessert is unbelievable and I was pleasantly pleased with the outcome.

It is a dense, moist and tender cake with a delicate butterscotch flavor (thanks to the brown sugar). My husband said I should rename it the "five pound cake" because it was quite heavy. The icing was sweet, thick and luscious. It had a deep, caramel flavor (thanks to more brown sugar) that was just incredible.

I followed the recipe exactly, because I had read a review that was very adamant about following it down to the T. I was afraid if I didn't, it would be a "five pound" tragedy. Well, obviously it wasn't, but I'd tweak the icing. It is THICK and SWEET and I didn't even use as much confectioners sugar as called for. So next time-I'll use less. I am submitting the original recipe, so you can follow it or tweak it-whatever satisfies that sweet tooth. Regardless, I hope this dessert makes it onto your holiday table this year. It deserves to be featured!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is gearing up for Christmas. I am running so behind this year! I still need to finish decorating the house. I've made sugar cookie dough, spice cookie dough and found Log House Cherry Morsels for Cherry Mash (yeah!)
Caramel Pound Cake
10-12 servings
Source: Saveur Issue #109

For the cake:
3 sticks butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine salt
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature

For the icing:
1 stick butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. To make the cake: Heat oven to 325ยบ. Butter and flour a light-colored 10-inch fluted tube pan, making sure there are no clumps of butter or exposed areas in pan; set aside.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into large bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle set on medium speed, cream 3 sticks of butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the light brown and white sugars and mix, stopping and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally, until lightened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs, one at a time, beating for about 15 seconds after each addition and scraping down the bowl occasionally, until well blended. Do not overmix. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and 11/2 cups milk alternately, in 3 batches, beginning and ending with flour; beat until smooth, about 3 minutes total.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Loosen edges with a small knife, then turn onto rack to let cool completely.

4. To make the icing: Melt remaining stick of butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add dark brown sugar and whisk constantly until mixture is bubbling and smooth and butter is completely incorporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 1/2 cup milk. Let mixture cool. Stir in the vanilla, then gradually add the confectioners' sugar and stir until well blended and smooth. Transfer cake to a cake plate and ice with frosting. Let stand for at least 2 hours before slicing.