Thursday, December 16, 2010

Family Favorites

Are you baking for the holidays? I am. We have certain family favorites that would be terribly missed if I didn't make them at this time of year. Who really wants peanut brittle in July anyway? So today I'm sharing two of my family's top-rated sweets recipes ~ shortbread logs (nice name) and peanut brittle. One is a cookie, one a candy. Both are delicious.

Both of these recipes require a a little extra time and a equipment. For the peanut brittle, you will need a candy thermometer. For the shortbread logs, a cookie gun or press is necessary. You can get both of these at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or Wal-Mart. Or maybe you have a baking neighbor who would lend you hers/his.

Let's start with peanut brittle. I make a lot of this, and it's obvious by the way my cookbook pages are stuck together on the peanut brittle page. This recipe comes from my Noteworthy cookbook.

Peanut Brittle:

1/2 c. cold water
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups raw peanuts or other nuts
2 teaspoons baking soda

Lightly spray a cookie sheet (the recipe doesn't give a size, but a large one is good if you want your brittle fairly thin so the peanuts stick out).

In a heavy pan, combine water, sugar, syrup and butter. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until candy thermometer measures 250 degrees. Add nuts (after you add them, the temp will likely go down. This is ok.). Continue stirring until the thermometer reads 300 degrees. Immediately stir in soda. Stir quickly, blending well.

Pour mixture onto baking pan. Spread candy as evenly as possible. Let harden. Salt brittle lightly. When completely cool, break into pieces.

This is what it will look like as its heating up, before the nuts are added.

Here the nuts are already in the pot, and the baking soda has just been added. The mixture will foam up and start turning a caramel color. Be sure to use a large enough pot. I didn't for this batch and it overflowed onto my stove. :(

Here is the brittle cooling in a pan.

Now for the cookies. There are very few ingredients in these and no eggs. They are really buttery and delicious, and the presentation is very impressive. They're very easy to make, too, for cookies that look kind of fancy. This my mom's recipe. Thanks, Mom!

Shortbread Logs

Mix 1/2 c. powdered sugar with 1 cup butter. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, then 2 cups flour. Mix until smooth. Use a cookie gun to form logs on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes (watch them so they don't turn brown). Let them cool completely. They are kind of fragile at this point. Melt some semi sweet chocolate chips (you can do this on low in the microwave), then dip a cookie in the chocolate, and then in sprinkles or crushed nuts. Put in the fridge to cool.

This recipe does not make a lot, so I double it. I got my sprinkles in the dollar section at Target. It's become harder to find the finely crushed nuts, but my kids like the sprinkles better anyway.

This is the disc from the cookie gun that makes the log shape.

People will think you went to a bakery for these. But you didn't - you made them yourself!


  1. These both are fantastic!!! Although I have to admit my favorite is the shortbread logs...I make them for any occassion, not just for the holiday because they really are fabulous! And people do ask if they came from a bakery! Gotta love that!! Thank you Lauren for sharing these absolutely delicious desserts with us and for starting me on a wonderful family tradition as well.

  2. Wow - I thought you might only have time to make beads this time of year! You must be extra efficient with your time! I have a pnut brittle recipe too - but you make it in the microwave without even a candy thermometer. I'm not real big on cooking : ) Happy Holidays! Kathy

  3. Thanks, Janut! I still have to make date balls!

    Kathy, I squeeze in the baking in between torch sessions. You should see my kitchen - a disaster area. My husband came home yesterday and took a look and said (sarcastically), "Wow, how do you stay so organized?" But he has cookies, so he can't complain. :)