Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cookie, Cookie, Candy Part 2

 I learned my lesson and went back to my old but delicious tried and true Christmas cookie recipes using an old issue of Ladies Home Journal from  December of 1980.  Back when it had a cover it said "Best Cookie Issue Ever" in huge letters.  Now its exterior has been reduced to tatters, but inside those recipes are still safely almost glued together.  The magazine itself now lives in a bright blue plastic portfolio folder, safe from further wear and tear, but it makes an appearance each and every year for our annual holiday baking. ( Who am I kidding, there is no "our" baking.  I bake and they eat)

I had to make 2 recipes of these yesterday to keep up with the immediate demand and still have cookies for our party Christmas Day.  Fortunately this is a very easy recipe and I should have just doubled it from the get-go.

                                                          Nutmeg Noels

1 tablespoon red sprinkles, 1 tablespoon green sprinkles
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, divided
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

350  10-12 minutes

Put each tablespoon of colored sugar in a small shallow bowl.  Stir 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg into each and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside

Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy, add the sugar and continue beating until it is very fluffy.  Add the egg and mix well, then stir in the extracts.  With the mixer set on low, add the flour mixture until it is all combined well, but do not over beat

Set the bowl with the dough in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  Roll the dough into balls about the size of large marbles.  Dip one side into the colored sugar using half the balls for the red sugar and the other half for the green sugar.

Place on a very lightly greased baking sheet ( or use parchment ) and bake for about 10-12 minutes until the edges of the bottom are light brown.  Do not over bake!  These taste similar to egg nog in cookie form.  I have a hard time keeping these because they are devoured about as fast as I can make them.  Even our sugar cookie hater loves these cookies.

They will keep about a week in an air tight room temp container, or freeze easily for a month.

The candy recipe is something called Needham's Candy.  I have never heard of it before or tasted it either.  I had some potatoes that needed to be used and did a quick google search using some search query like "unusual ways to use potatoes".  Up popped a recipe for Needham's which, after a little research,  I found is a Maine favorite.  I had no preconceived notions nor anything to compare it to, so my trial is simply based on whether they taste good or not.  I claim no similarity to the actual Needham's candy, because I have never had the real thing.  For the record they are delicious!

                                                         Copy Cat Needham's Candy

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 lb bittersweet chocolate squares
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable shortening ( I use Spectrum a non hydrogenated variety)

Pour confectioner's sugar in a medium saucepan and make a well in the center.  Put the potatoes, butter, vanilla and salt in the well and place the pan over a simmering pan of water.  Stir the mixture in the well with a wooden spoon and gradually add the confectioner's sugar into the potato mixture. Keep stirring until the sugar melts and the mixture becomes a smooth paste. ( 5 minutes)

Remove from heat and add the coconut. Though the directions did not say to do this I found you have to continue stirring it for a few minutes until the candy can be shaped.  On a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, pat the candy into about a 6x4 rectangle. ( see picture below)  Go ahead and score it in 1 inch square pieces, but do not cut it through until the mixture is completely cool and firm ( not hard and crumbly).  They suggest freezing the candy for 30 minutes, but I found my kitchen was cold enough that the candy firmed up at room temperature.

Now cut into individual pieces.

Over simmering water, melt the chocolate and shortening.  (I used 1/2 the amount of chocolate and shortening and put it in a tall mug inside a small boiler of simmering water.  There was more than enough to coat all 24 pieces)

Using a fork, dip each piece in the chocolate, tap off the excess and put on a waxed paper  covered cookie sheet to harden.  ( They might need a few minutes in the freezer for the chocolate to completely set)

Below is a before and after picture of 3 pieces that melded into one piece. (Can you say drippage?)
Years ago I learned how to "men" sloppy chocolates.  You need a glass of very hot water, a paper towel, and a super sharp paring knife.  Dip the blade of the knife in the hot water for a couple of seconds.  Blot it dry and quickly trim the offending chocolate drips.  If any candy center is exposed, dip the blade again, blot and take a small bit of the chocolate trimmings and place it on the candy with the hot blade on top of it.  The heat will melt a tiny chocolate repair on it.

                                            3 unruly pieces that just did not want to behave.

    Those same 3 pieces after a slight trim and mend job




  1. This reminds me of potato candy I made as a kid. However, I can't seem to remember the exact recipe, so I'm gonna have to look it up. Merry Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas to you also! Let me know if it is the same recipe, I've never used a potato in candy before.

  2. That is very interesting. I have never heard of using potatoes in a sweet confection. They do look good- and your cookies look yummy too! I have my usual annual Christmas cookies that I bake every year- the pages are so worn. I keep telling myself to recopy them on another piece of paper and laminate them but each year I just end up putting them away when I'm done baking. I'll do it this year..... hopefully. :)

    1. I have never used potatoes in a confections either Dawn, but it is pretty darn tasty. I stuck them in the freezer and will pull them out tonight so they will be room temp tomorrow. We have an extended family brunch and I will let you know if any of them have conflicting opinions (Though the table will most like be groaning under the weight of all the food. I might overdo a tad.)