Last week, in the midst of the summer scorcher that gripped most of the nation, the most popular place in town was the pool. Kids and adults alike jockeyed for position in its cooling waters, swimming laps, playing Marco Polo, or just chatting while trying to beat the heat. As the thermometer flirted with triple-digit temperatures and we took bets on when the heat wave would break, my friend pointed out that in just a few short months we could possibly be dealing with single-digit temperatures and double-digit snowfall.
That just made me think of cookies.
Not just any cookies, but my family’s favorite recipe, Chocolate Candy Cane Kiss cookies, which I start baking at Thanksgiving and continue baking right through Christmas. They’ve become a holiday staple at my home – when my son sees them come out of the oven he knows it’s the official start of the holiday season. Friends and family have come to expect them and they are perfect for gift giving (and leaving out for Santa on Christmas Eve). I found the original recipe here but substituted Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses for the pastel cream mint kisses. The dough in this recipe also freezes up nicely so you can make it ahead of time and pull it out when you need it.
Ingredients:1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking soda 2/3 cup packed brown sugar 6 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon water 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces 1 egg, lightly beaten Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses 1. In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a medium saucepan or double boiler, combine brown sugar, butter, and water. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate; cook and stir until chocolate is melted. Pour mixture into a large bowl; cool for 10 minutes. 2. Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough is easy to handle. 3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Depending on the size you roll the dough, makes about 30-36 cookies. 4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and gently press a Kiss into center of each cookie. Transfer to wire rack and cool until melting mints are firm (I put them in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up the Kisses). 5. Store at room temperature in an airtight container separated by layers of waxed paper for up to three days (if they last that long) or freeze for up to 3 months.
Photos courtesy of Google Images and mommeetsblog.com
Ah, summertime and the living is easy. In between play dates, lazy afternoons at the pool, assorted day trips and movies, my son and I ducked into the local Barnes and Noble to escape the summer heat. Ignoring my gentle suggestions and the selections on his 6th grade reading list, my kid walked out of the book store with James Patterson’s Middle School, Get Me Out of Here! and. . . a sushi making kit.
My son loves sushi. Okay, technically he loves California rolls, which perhaps for the true sushi aficionado is not really considered sushi; like the fortune cookie, the California roll is an American invention. Created in the early 1970s by a sushi chef in Los Angeles, it consists of crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped in rice and nori (seaweed) and sprinkled with sesame seeds. But, I like to think of it as a gateway sushi – if he’s enjoying this now, maybe as he gets older he’ll move onto a tuna roll or some hardcore sashimi. Anything that expands a kid’s culinary horizons is fine by me, and $10 is a small price to pay for his delighted enthusiasm.
The Sushi Making Kit from Mud Puddle Inc. provides the essentials – recipe book, rolling mat, rice paddle, and two sets of chopsticks. Most of the ingredients are readily available at the supermarket in the Asian foods section, and I found the crab sticks at our neighborhood produce market. The sushi rice is easy to prepare, and once all the ingredients are cut up and the rice has cooled, you’re (literally) ready to roll.
My son quickly took charge, and following the easy instructions, here’s how it turned out:
All photos courtesy of Mom Meets Blog