Cookin time

I was a busy gal this weekend; I’d say I was in a kitchen 99.9% of the time baking up a storm for the upcoming holidays. Cooking is a workout people! – especially in our tiny kitchen where you have to clean up every two seconds or you run out of work space. (But for those of you who disagree, I did go to pilates class, so there.)

I decided to tackle two new recipes: homemade caramels and rugelash cookies. For being a novice cook/baker, I’m usually not the biggest fan of trying something new….there’s the doubt, the extra time and the “whoops, did I remember to add such and such” factor that always seem to come into play. Sadly, the lure of finding that kick arse recipe sucks me in every time!

Speaking of kick arse recipes, I’ve been pining over my friend’s homemade caramels for years. I get a little baggie of them over the holidays and it’s the one thing I won’t share with ANYONE. I’m not usually a caramel person but there’s just something about this family recipe that has me hooked! I’ve asked year after year for the recipe and they won’t give it to me (fair enough.) so I decided it was time I did my own bit of research to find that perfect recipe. I picked one that called for a ton of butter and was a bit more ‘old school’ a la Joy of Cooking or Better Homes and Garden. That combo seemed like a win/win for a killer family recipe.

Well, let’s just say that I think I’m onto something. The color is a bit darker than theirs but the taste is pretty close! And I must say, the recipe was fairly easy and doesn’t need to be as precise as one would think. I was a bit afraid of a candy recipe after reading how you have to closely watch the temperature. Pish-haw! That was the easy part! I’d say the hardest part was cutting and hand rolling them, but that could be made way more fun with another person and a bottle of wine. I will definitely be making these bad boys again.

Hanukkah began over the weekend and we were invited to dinner on Sunday night. I thought it’d be a good idea to continue with the homemade treats and added these rugelash to the mix. My sis and I used to drool over these when we catered together so I busted out the rolling pin and make a few batches of these cookies. They are actually pretty easy to make but my lack of counter space made it a bit frustrating. I was also fidgeting with how to roll them up. The crescent roll (below) looked and cooked up better but didn’t allow for tons of filling while the cinnamon/log roll baked up wonky but allowed for way more filling. Decisions, decisions… time around, I’m going to stick with the cinnamon/log roll. They aren’t as traditional looking but they allow for way more layers, which I think is the most important part of these holiday cookies.

How was your weekend? Are you knees deep in holiday baking too?

Hand rolled caramel goodness.

Rugelash for days.
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