Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grandma's Cookies (actually...they're DONUTS!!)

I have some very exciting news! My mom has finally agreed to contribute to my blog. I have been encouraging her to write here because we find ourselves drawn to very different new recipes. I have requested many recipes from her, that I hope she finds time to post here, including: Lemonade Pie, Chicken Pot Pie, her amazing toffee and fudge recipes (along with many, many other candy recipes), and many of her goodies. I hope you will enjoy her posts.

After much prompting (from Laurel) and deliberation (from me), I finally decided to go ahead and write a few recipes to be posted on Laurels’ blog. Keep in mind that I am NOT a writer, NOR a chef. I am an ordinary wife and the proud mother of four awesome children, who now are pretty much adults. (The youngest is 17…almost there!) I am also happy to say that thanks to Laurel and her husband, PJ (and more recently my son, Kevin and his wife, Sabrina) I am also ‘GRANDMA’ to four grandsons!!! To quote a song I heard sung by “Mr. Natural California”, Robert Staton, many years ago, “Don’t call me lucky. Call me blessed!”

So now that you are aware of my lack of credentials, I’d like to say that Laurel’s reasoning for having me write on her blog is simply for the fact that my approach to cooking, baking and all things associated with my kitchen, are very different than hers. My Mom was a great cook. There were six of us kids along with my parents and anyone else who happened to be sharing our meal, which was quite often. She could make a great tasting meal, with plenty for all, with a small piece of ground beef the size of a baseball! She was also the queen of ‘meatless’ meals. My favorite memory and consequently still a favorite meal with my family was a pot of slow-cooked pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread. Plenty of protein, starch and flavor! We also had breakfast for dinner on many, many occasions.

My Mom’s cooking style developed mostly out of necessity to feed a big group on little money. Her Mother was raised in the South, and she combined this knowledge with her desire to be as up-to-date as possible. Her desire to always keep learning and trying new things never left her, even in her last few year of life. She was always calling me with a new recipe she heard on a cooking show or sending me a clipping of a recipe featuring a new twist on an old classic. Just the very summer she passed away, she had given me a huge box full of cooking magazines, including Bon Appetit, Cooking Pleasures and numerous woman’s magazines along with Martha Stewarts’ Living magazines and Everyday Cooking.

As I recently went through these magazines for any recipes I might find interesting or ‘easy enough’ for me to consider trying, I would find myself chuckling when I went to pull out a recipe, only to find Mom had beat me to it! I would see an awesome looking dessert on the cover, for instance, look up the page number and it was no longer there! No page 72!

Then later that year, after her passing, my Dad told me to take any cookbooks I wanted, since his cooking was done with recipes from memory. So I then inherited several of her hardback cookbooks including A Passion for Chocolate by French chefs Maurice and Jean-Jaques Bernachon, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School- Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook and Julia Childs’ Baking with Julia.

But THE single most precious recipe collection I inherited was an old black binder. Inside that binder my Mom placed recipe clippings, recipes given to her by others and recipes written by her own hand! Recipes that span more than fifty years of time! Recipes written right after she married my father. Recipes I remember enjoying as a child. Recipes I in turn made for my own family. Some recipes I still enjoy, and others I don’t recall.

It was one of these recipes that caught my attention. A simple recipe for a simple treat. A recipe that in no way encompasses the full scope of Mom’s skill and variety in the kitchen, but a recipe in honor of her and her seemingly over-abundance of talent in regards to her ability to master anything she had set her mind to do. A recipe that I would like to share.

Donuts or ‘Doughnuts’

Yield: 2 dozen

This recipe is for a cake-type donut. No frosting recipes were included on the original recipe card.

4 beaten eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter, cooled

3 ½ cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg OR ¼ teaspoon cloves

Mix ingredients in order given. Chill 45 minutes. Roll out to ¼ - 3/8 “ thick. Cut with donut or biscuit cutter. (A donut cutter just has a second, smaller circular cutter in the middle. Fry in hot fat, around 375*, turning once as soon as first side has browned. After side two has browned, remove to paper towel covered plate, to absorb some of the oil. Immediately toss in cinnamon/sugar mixture or powdered sugar to coat. If using chocolate frosting, immediately dip into previously prepared frosting. Add sprinkles immediately, BEFORE the frosting cools or they won’t stick. Let donuts cool slightly so no one is burned and also to allow frosting to set before serving. (Only 1-2 minutes) Best when eaten warm... which means immediately!


Cinnamon-Sugar Blend

Combine ½ cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a quart-size Ziploc bag. Place the still-warm donut inside; close and shake to coat. Place on plate. Continue coating as many donuts as you like. I did about 1/3 of the recipe like this, 1/3 with chocolate frosting and 1/3 with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

Chocolate Frosting

This is the chocolate frosting you see in my pics. Donuts should be turned topside down and dipped into frosting then turned right side up and placed on plate. Toppings should be added at this time.

½ cup butter

6 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Heat butter, milk and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and powdered sugar; beat until smooth.

Cocoa Glaze

This is much more shiny when set and ends up a darker chocolate color than the chocolate frosting. Donuts should be turned topside down and dipped into frosting; then turned right side up and placed on plate. Toppings should be added at this time.

¼ cup cocoa powder

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

4 teaspoons water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

Combine cocoa, corn syrup and water in small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; blend in vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.

Sugar Glaze

This would be what you would normally see on a ‘raised’ donut. (ie: Glazed Donut) A clear, sugar glaze that is normally not used on a cake donut. Donuts should be dipped on both sides while still warm. Place on a wire rack to drain. Toppings should be added at this time.

½ cup water

4 cups powdered sugar

Mix ingredients until smooth.

Candy sprinkle variations:

(1) any chopped nut as long as the pieces are smaller than ½ “.

(2) coconut flakes, raw or toasted

(3)crushed or chopped candy bar pieces (Heath bar, Whoppers, Snickers, Butterfinger, etc.)

(4) whole miniature candies (Mini M & M’s, mini marshmallows, and even though they are a bit large, kids might enjoy Gummi Bears, etc)

(5) kids’ cereals (Trix, Fruity Pebbles, etc.)

(6) Traditional flavor combos like S’mores: Chocolate frosting/mini marshmallows/small broken bits of graham cracker

And the list goes on….. If you try your own variation and you LOVE it, please let us know!

Laurel recently made this recipe and told me she substituted 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for all three of the listed spices. (Nutmeg, clove and cinnamon) Which makes me wonder about a traditional cream-cheese and powdered sugar based white frosting as a topping……… Hmmmmm. Next time!

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