Friday, December 30, 2011

Sapphire and Seed Pearl Necklace

Each year, right about now, I donate a piece of jewelry to be auctioned during the KAKM Art Showcase.  KAKM is our local public tv station and the art auction is a huge fundraiser.  It is televised for three consecutive nights in mid February.  I find it very exciting to watch my handcrafted jewelry getting ever increasing bids during this live auction every year.

The piece I selected for this year's auction features lots of little sapphire briolettes and a series of tiny white seed pearls.  The base is a piece of sterling silver wire that I shaped by hand and hammered flat for strength and to make a nice surface for the seed pearls to rest on.

Emerging from the top of the wire work are small rondelles of crystal quartz, leading to sterling silver oval rolo chain, one of my favorite chain styles.

And a couple more photos of it:

I don't usually do that type of wire wrapping because it takes a lot of patience.  Patience that I generally lack.  But this time, the piece really needed it and once I put my mind to it, it didn't take as long as I thought it might.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chocolate Sambuca Cookies

Yes, I had to buy a bottle of Sambuca (the tragedy of being completely out of Sambuca is something I'm still coming to terms with) to make this recipe.  Of course, Rick had to take a sample sip before I used it in the cookie recipe, just to make sure it was up to par.  By the way, the finished cookies do NOT have an overwhelming licorice taste ... it's just right.

Chocolate Sambuca Cookies

12 oz semisweet chocolate (I used 1 1/2 cups of chips)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup almonds, ground pretty fine
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP Sambuca

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate & butter in the top of a double boiler (or in the microwave).  Allow to cool a bit.  Beat together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar.  Stir in combined flour, baking soda, almonds, melted chocolate and Sambuca.  Chill for several hours or overnight.

Put 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in 2 different small bowls.  Roll 1/2 TBS of dough into balls.  Coat with regular sugar, followed by powdered sugar.  Set on ungreased cookie sheets about 2" apart.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  They will puff up and have a lovely cracked finish.  Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to racks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brazilian Coffee Cookies

This is another new recipe for me.  I've had this recipe marked in one of m y cookbook pamphlet thingies for several years and decided this was the year to finally try them.  Now I wish I had done it sooner!

Brazilian Coffee Cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 TBS milk (or cream)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 TBS powdered instant coffee (I used Folger's crystals and I like the look of the specks in the dough!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix sugars, butter, milk, vanilla and egg until well combined.  Stir in remaining ingredients, blending well.  Shape into 1" balls (mine were bigger, so I didn't get the correct yield).  Place about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten to about 1/8" thickness: grease the bottom of a glass, dip in sugar and press on each cookie, re-sugaring as needed.  Bake at 400 for 7 - 8 minutes.

These cookies are crisp on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside.  What more can you ask from a cookies??  If you're sensitive to caffeine, you might want to use decaf.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lemon Bars

As promised, I will share with you my latest recipe for Lemon Bars.  I know I've made them before, but never with this recipe.  I think I like these better than any I have ever made previously!

Lemon Bars

1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter

Cut butter into mixture of flour & sugar until all pieces of butter are quite small.  Press into ungreased square pan.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP flour
2-3 tsp grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

Combine eggs & sugar, mixing well.  Stir in remaining ingredients until combined.  Pour over partially baked crust.  Bake for about 18-20- minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Yummy lemony goodness

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

I started my holiday baking today, but I'm not foolish enough to think that the things I baked today will actually last until Christmas.  I live with Rick, after all.

Lemon Bars were first on the list, but I haven't cut them yet, so I'll share that recipe with you when I can get a photo of an individual bar.  A photo of the uncut bars, still in the pan would be dumb.

The second thing I baked were these lovely cookies.  They sort of melt in your mouth ....

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

1 cup butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 oz (1 square) of unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 1/4 cups flour (I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat, but you can certainly use white)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP cocoa powder

Cream butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until smooth.  Blend in vanilla and melted chocolate.  Add flour and salt, blending until smooth.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Shape into 1" balls and place on cookie sheets.  I did not grease the cookie sheets because I have non-stick ones.  If you don't have those, you probably want to grease your sheets.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely (this can be done on the cookie sheets -- no need to transfer to cooling rack).

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup powdered sugar and cocoa.  Roll the cooled cookies in this mixture.

Makes about 4 dozen.

If you're admiring the lovely leaf plate holding the cookies, I purchased it at the Bad Girls of the North craft show from Lynn Marie Naden (Contours by Lynn Marie).  She has a shop in Homer, Alaska and can be found at several galleries around the state.