Butter Tart Slice

Butter tart slice

Butter tarts are our all-time favourites, but we don’t always have time to make the pastry, roll, cut and fill individual tarts. Butter tarts in bar form is the perfect solution; this past weekend, having to bake for a gathering, they were quick to mix up and bake. And here’s a secret: when you’re making squares that have a sticky filling, like butter tart squares or lemon bars, if you freeze the whole thing in the pan before you slice them, they’ll cut much more cleanly. Let them sit on the countertop for 20 minutes to thaw – or if you’re bringing them with you, they’ll thaw en route.

Butter tarts are traditionally made with currants, but these call for coconut, raisins and/or pecans – a delicious combination on a buttery shortbread crust.Read More

Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

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Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.

Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

extra sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Light Coconut Christmas Cake

fruitcake 2 

‘Tis the season for holiday baking – and fruitcake is generally the first thing on our list. Sue and Julie have been baking fruitcake together every Christmas since they were teenagers – and although our traditional recipe is a dark fruitcake from the Joy of Cooking (it’s in the 1997 version – some earlier versions have a completely different recipe, which isn’t quite the same) – but this year we thought we’d give light fruitcake a chance.

We ordered some nice organic dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots), candied ginger and coconut in our Spud Box, and turned it into two loaf cakes – one for our annual Christmas party, the other to unwrap on Christmas day. We used to use a myriad of fancy pans for our fruitcakes, but sometimes they didn’t survive re-entry – loaf pans make it easy. (If they do crumble, turn the pieces of broken cake into a base for a rich, festive trifle, topped with custard and cream. No one will notice!Read More

Apple Blondies With Brown Sugar Frosting

Both the frosting and the blondie are scrumptious. You’ll have a tough time deciding which you like best so why not have more of both?

Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting
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Ingredients
  1. Blondie
  2. 2⁄3 cup butter, softened 150 ml
  3. 2 cups packed brown sugar 500 ml
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 ml
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour 500 ml
  7. 2 tsp baking powder 10 ml
  8. 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 ml
  9. 1 cup chopped peeled apples 250 ml
  10. 3⁄4 cup chopped walnuts 175 ml
  11. Brown Sugar Frosting
  12. 1⁄2 cup butter 125 ml
  13. 1 cup packed brown sugar 250 ml
  14. 1⁄4 cup milk or cream 60 ml
  15. 2 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar, 500 ml sifted
Instructions
  1. Blondie: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  2. Grease a 13- by 9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed, mixing until blended. Stir in apples and nuts, mixing well. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake until set and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  3. Brown Sugar Frosting: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, mixing until smooth. Spread evenly over bar. Let stand until frosting is firm enough to cut. Cut into bars or squares.
Notes
  1. MAKES 20 TO 54 BARS OR SQUARES
  2. Tip: This frosting is very soft when first mixed, which makes it very nice to spread. It firms up on cooling.
  3. Tip: Choose apples that are crisp, tart and not too moist. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Spartans are good choices for this recipe.
  4. Variation: Omit the frosting if you prefer a plain apple walnut blondie.
  5. Variation: If you’re not a fan of nuts, omit the walnuts.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Crazy Crunch


Put this in fancy jars and give it as a little extra at Christmas time

Crazy Crunch
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts popped popcorn 2 L
  2. 11⁄3 cups pecans 325 mL
  3. 2⁄3 cup almonds 150 mL
  4. 11⁄3 cups granulated sugar 325 mL
  5. 1 tsp vanilla 5 mL
  6. 1 cup margarine 250 mL
  7. 1⁄2 cup corn syrup 125 mL
Instructions
  1. Mix popcorn, pecans and almonds on a cookie sheet. Combine sugar, vanilla, margarine and syrup in a pan. Boil 10 to 15 minutes or to a light caramel color. Pour over corn, pecans and almonds. Mix well. Spread to dry. Makes about 10 cups (2.5 L).
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones
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Ingredients
  1. 3⁄4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt 175 mL
  2. 1 large egg 1
  3. 23⁄4 cups all-purpose flour 675 mL
  4. 4 tsp baking powder 20 mL
  5. 1⁄2 tsp baking soda 2 mL
  6. 1⁄2 tsp salt 2 mL
  7. 1⁄2 cup margarine 125 mL
  8. 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries 250 mL
  9. (fresh or frozen)
  10. 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL
  11. Grated zest of 1 orange
  12. 1 tbsp butter, melted 15 mL
  13. 1⁄4 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar 60 mL
  14. .
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Beat buttermilk and egg in small bowl and set aside. In large bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles small peas. Mix in cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until soft dough forms. Using your hands, form dough into a large ball and place on floured surface. Pat out to 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness. Cut in 4-inch (20 cm) rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes. While still warm, brush with butter and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Makes 8 large scones.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Gourmet: A French word meaning 400% markup.