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How To Make Homemade Caramel Apples with Video!

Level : Difficult- requires constant whisking and temperature monitoring.

Don’t you love the fall season? My favorite thing about autumn and all of the other seasons, is the change itself. Change is good. Change reminds us to stop and pause, notice where we are, where we’re going.

I’m a caramel apple freak. I have always loved the caramel with peanuts. When Mema and I were in Nashville and visited a little candy shop we were amazed at the coatings. From crushed Oreo cookies to mini-peanut butter cups, the possibilities are endless.

If you roam the grocery displays this time of year you might think the way to make caramel apples is to spend a half-hour unwrapping little squares. Well, you can, but… why bother when you can make a fresher tasting caramel with just a few ingredients? It’s buttery, gooey and makes your kitchen smell like a confectionery store. (more…)

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BakingSweets

Perfect Snickerdoodle Recipe

What is a Snickerdoodle?

You might think a Snickerdoodle is simply a sugar cookie, dusted with cinnamon and sugar…Well not exactly. The one defining ingredient which differentiates it from its sister sugar cookie is Cream of Tartar. If it doesn’t have Cream of Tartar, it’s really just a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon and sugar, not a Snickerdoodle. The origin is thought to be with the Pennsylvania Dutch. They said it’s from the German word Schneckennudeln (lit. “snail noodles”) but others claim it’s simply a New England cookie with a “fanciful name.”

Have you ever dipped your finger in some Cream of Tartar? It’s tart and has a similar taste of baking soda. Cream of Tartar is a natural substance that is derived from crystals that form in the casks during the fermentation process of grape juice. I think it’s safe to say, however, that Cream of Tartar is non-alcoholic! It will help to stabilize a baked good that contains egg whites.

I’ve tried a few recipes that claim to be the best, but every good vintage recipe can be better, and I hope that is what I’ve achieved here in my salute to the Snickerdoodle.

The Standard Ingredients

The original recipe I worked from is a typical one found in cookbooks and on-line. It calls for two eggs, which I thought left the cookie with too much of an egg-scented essence, so I removed one yolk and reduced the flour. There were also two teaspoons of Cream of Tartar, which I thought overpowered the overall cookie. It had an equal part butter and shortening component, which works well in some cookies but in this case the cookies were hard by the end of the day. I increased the shortening and decreased the butter to leave us with a soft center and butter crisp edge that is less greasy. A cookie that is too greasy is not suitable for dipping in tea or coffee!

Sugar Burns Faster

Finally, the instructions in most recipes say to roll the whole ball in cinnamon and sugar, but leaves the bottoms easily scorched because of the sugar. For best results, just roll the top part of the cookie in the sugar mixture. Here is what happens when you roll the whole ball in sugar.

I hope you will enjoy a little classic cookie flavor from the past.

Old-Fashioned Snickerdoodle Recipe

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Author: Vintage Cook

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg white
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cinnamon & Sugar Mixture

  • 3 Tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, cream together with a fork (or mixer on low speed) the shortening, softened butter, and extract until light in color. Slowly add in the sugar until all creamed together. Then add the egg and egg white until incorporated well. Set aside.
  • In another medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda. With a spoon, gradually mix into the wet mix bowl. May use your hands to finish blending as it gets thick.
  • On plate, mix the 3 Tbs. sugar with cinnamon.
    With a cookie scoop, measure out equal Tablespoon-sized balls, and gently roll on one side into the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place un-coated side down onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet or baking mat. If you do not have parchment paper or a baking mat, lightly grease pan with Crisco shortening or cooking spray.
  • Bake for 8 minutes or until just golden. Let cool, and store in an air-tight container to keep soft. Special Note: Take them out a little bit before they start to golden. The centers will still be bubbling and you might think you are taking them out too soon, but they continue to cook once you remove them. AS soon as they are just cool, put them in an airtight container. This prevents them from getting hard.

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BreadsContests and WinsFavorite

Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

This homemade Cranberry Cheese bread is for certain a WINNER. The texture is flaky and light. The flavor is smoky and cheesy with a little tart sweetness from the cranberries and pure maple syrup. This is the winning recipe from the 2015 National Festival of Breads and it was won by my friend Lisa Keys.

Lisa and I first became friends on facebook many years ago. We both belonged to Cooking Contest Central and have the mutual love for cooking contests. I suppose though I never really got to know Lisa until the tragic event of losing her only son, William. She began to journal the grieving process on her blog, Good Grief Cook. Not only did I get to know her a little better, I had the privilege of getting to know the heart of a very special young man who is now an Angel to many.

L to R: Ronna, Lanie, Patrice, Mary, Lisa
L to R: Ronna, Lanie, Patrice, Mary, Lisa

When Lisa was invited to Kansas to compete with this bread, she invited my husband and I to join her as guests. We drove to Manhattan, Kansas which is just an hour away. It was thrilling to watch her win. I also was able to meet a few other exceptional ladies I’d been wanting to meet too. Ronna Farley is also my sweet friend and she went on to win the contest in 2017.

More about Lisa. She is accomplished in everything she does. She has been successful in her 30-year career as a Physician Assistant and also as a competitive cook. She even won CHOPPED on Food Network! I admire her most on a personal level though. I think she represents STRENGTH, TENDERNESS, WISDOM and PATIENCE. I also TRUST her, especially with baking advice.

Let’s Bake this Bread. Did I mention the texture? It must be the tofu. Everything about this bread is wonderful. It’s simple and snazzy too.

Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

Lisa absolutely forbid me from “throwing in” the extra ounce of cheese from my block. Notice the recipe calls for 6 ounces not 7. She reminded me of the importance of weighing ingredients. She said I had to snack on that extra ounce. 🙂

For the Recipe and Video tutorial, click here. RECIPE 

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Breads

Basic White Bread In The Bread Machine

Basic White Bread - The Vintage Cook

Winter approaches. We are ready to snuggle in for a long winters nap. Bread is baking and the sweet smell fills my kitchen. This is Fall, my favorite season. I love Spring too. In the Fall though, time Falls back and gives us a minute to reflect and be thankful. Ahh, the fragrance of bread baking! (more…)

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Contests and Wins

The Barns & Noble Cookie Bake-Off (Cookie Butter Cookies)

The Barns & Noble Cookie Bake-Off (Cookie Butter Cookies) - The Vintage Cook

The Top 75 Recipes From Around The Country is out and I’m so tickled to have my recipe for Holiday Cookie Butter Cookies appear in the book.  Page 29. What an honor to have my creation selected from over 4,000 entries. I will be at the Topeka Barns & Noble store promoting the book and offering some tasty samples this Sunday, Oct. 18th at 2pm. Stop by and  get your copy!

I haven’t entered many contests over the past couple of years, but when I saw the billboard at the Barns & Noble Cafe that day,  I had to enter. (more…)

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