Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookie Extravaganza! Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of our all-time favorites. They are crispy on the edges, soft in the middle and filled with yummy gooeyness. This recipe is adapted from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

Cookie Extravaganza! Continues

We managed to make a lot of cookies yesterday, but we've got a lot more dough to turn into cookies.  This much!

So we'll be updating earlier posts that we ended with "we'll be back soon" and maybe adding a few more.  The snow has finished falling, but the cookies are not done cooking!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cookie Extravaganza! Surprise Cookies!

The name of these cookies are Surprise Cookies.  This is not because you can't know what they are, it's because if you didn't make them and you just took one and bit it you would be surprised - because there is a secret marshmallow inside!  When we made a bunch of cookies 2 years ago, these were everyone's favorites.  We are also excited that we actually get to bake cookies again, since the last few batches we've made have to refrigerate for a while.  This is another favorite from Martha.  So here it goes.

Cookie Extravaganza! Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies

It's 10 PM and the snow is finally starting to taper off. We've hit a solid 18" and possibly more like 19", but we didn't really want to bundle up again to find out for sure. But thats a full 2 farm animals of snow! Impressive showing. Although the snow may be slowing down, the cookies are still coming along! Up next is Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies. This is a recipe we saw on Martha's homepage and knew we had to make. So here it is.

Cookie Extravaganza! Lemon-Pistachio Wreaths

As of 7:30 pm, we have 17.5" of snow, that's roughly 2 farms animals high!

We've had some dinner, cleaned up some, and we're ready to go again with some more cookies.  After all, it wouldn't be an extravaganza if we quit after just 6 kinds of cookies would it?  It would be more like a casual party.  So now we are making Lemon Pistachio Wreaths.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart and we have never made it before.  At this point we also havent decided if we are actually going to make them look like wreaths either, circles might be good enough for us.  Here's the recipe.

Cookie Extravaganza! Greek Honey-Walnut Balls

For our next trick, we have Greek Honey Walnut Balls. I am not really sure if these are technically a cookie, but close enough. As loyal readers know, we really love Greek food. So if we are making a cookie extravaganza, naturally one of them has to be Greek. This recipe is based off of one we found at, but we made a slight adaptation. We had a cinnamon stick, actually one from Greece, that we were excited to use in the syrup, but we couldn't break it in half!

And we didn't have whole cloves either, so we just used ground. Since these are really yummy, we can't even imagine the yumminess that they would have been if we had used whole seasonings. Here it is:

Cookie Extravaganza! Peanut Butter Cookies

It's time for cookie #5! We're just about 1/2 way there.  We are planning on making 10+ types of cookies, although we will probably have to finish the extravaganza tomorrow.  But we don't mind since we probably won't have to go to our day jobs on Monday.  So, this is Martha's peanut butter cookie recipe.

Cookie Extravaganza! Chocolate Chip Cookies

For our fourth cookie of the day, we are going to make chocolate chip cookies! I don't think you can spend all day making cookies and not make chocolate chip. That would be ridiculous. We were going to follow the original Nestle Toll House recipe, which is what we usually make. But then we realized we only ad Ghirardelli chips, and those came with their own original recipe on the bag. We wouldn't want to offend anyone by mixing chips and recipes, so we are going with that.

Cookie Extravaganza! Butterfinger Cookies

We took a quick lunch break and then went out into the blizzard to measure the snow again.  We're now at 14.5 inches, or roughly 1 1/2 farm animals.

It's becoming a treacherous place for two small farm animals!  Luckily, we have locked ourselves in the kitchen with all these cookies.  After making the last two recipes that have to chill, we are ready for some cookies we can eat!  These are one of our all-time favorites, Butterfinger cookies.

This recipe is adapted  from razzle-dazzle recipes.

Cookie Extravaganza! Coconut Sugar Cookies

Cal the cow here with our second cookie of the day. The snow is still falling heavily, we'll give you another update around 1 pm when we venture outside again. For now, we are going to make Coconut Sugar Cookies with a Coconut Glaze. We have made these before and really enjoyed them. They are also the closest we are going to come to making sugar cookies. You see we have temporarily mislocated all of our christmas cookie cutters, so no christmas shaped cookies for us this year. But these sugar cookies look pretty with just circles and other non-christmas shapes, so that's what we'll do. The recipe is originally from Martha Stewart.

Cookie Extravaganza! Andes Mint Cookies

First up is Andes Mint Cookies courtesy of  We found this recipe a few years ago but have never tried it.  But really, we love Andes Mints and love cookies so we don't think anything could possibly go wrong with this one.  Here's what you will need:

Castle Farm Cookbook Cookie and Snow Extravaganza!

It's snowing!!!!

Right now we've got 10-12 inches (i.e. just over 1 farm animal) but we are estimated to get more like 2-3 farm animals by the time it finishes snowing early tomorrow morning.  

So yesterday evening we braved the crowds and stocked up on milk, eggs, butter, and all the rest of our baking essentials so that we could make an absurd amount of christmas cookies today.   

Stay tuned for nearly-live blogging all day with snow total updates and cookie recipes!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Phew. Just writing that long title is exhausting. And that's nothing compared to the effort involved in making this pie. Of course, that has a lot to do with our two culinary disasters associated with it (see story below*). To give you an idea, from bottom up, this pie is 1) graham cracker crust, 2) caramel and pecans 3) slow cooked apple slices 4) thin layer of cheesecake 5) fresh whipped cream with caramel swirls.

*We tried to make our own caramel. Our first attempt used Annie's recipe, and we thought it went well until it started to cool. Then it started to separate and basically got worse looking the longer it sat. So, we decided to scrap it and try again. We found a different recipe that starts out by melting dry sugar. Well, our sugar started to melt, slowly and nicely. Just when we thought all the crystals had melted, within a matter of seconds it turned into black liquid billowing smoke. Billowing and billowing. We ran around opening windows and turning on fans. We melted our trash can. (In case you were wondering, dumping burnt sugar outside is probably a better idea than into a rubber trash can. But if you have already done this, all you have to do is fill the can with water and it will dissolve!) So you see even when we are failing, we learn things. But the most important lesson we learned was to never make caramel without a candy thermometer.

But even culinary disasters couldnt stop us from trying this amazing recipe. We found it at Annie's Eats and knew immediately that this was something we were going to have to make. So we bought a jar of caramel and made the recipe later in the week.

We think that we will try some modifications next time we make this (we'll tell you our thoughts as we go). And there will definitely be a next time, because the resulting pie is pretty fantastic.

9" springform pan
good knife to cut it (crust is hard and sticky)
parchment paper

crust ingredients
1.5 c graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c caramel (from a jar, trust us)
1 c chopped pecans

apple filling ingredients
6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

cheesecake layer
8 oz philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Cal's note: the cheesecake layer is very thin, if you are looking for more cheesecake, double this part, but note that you will have to bake it for longer. Check out our pick at the bottom of what a slice looks like before you decide. This is a very rich pie without doubling it.

topping layer
3/4 c heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp confectioners sugar
extra caramel and pecans for garnish
Cal's tip: instead you could choose to double this layer. a little extra whipped cream makes for a more dramatic topping!

1. prepare the crust.

a. preheat the oven to 375.

b. line your springform pan with parchment.

c. chop up your graham crackers and melt your butter

d. combine crumbs, cinnamon, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with a fork

e. press into the springform, so the crust reaches up about halfway around the pan

f. bake for 6-8 minutes until golden brown
Cal's tip: you can turn off the oven. it'll be a little while before we need it again.

g. let cool for 10 minutes.

h. pour caramel into crust. top with pecans. refrigerate while you move on.

Cal's tip: While caramel is delicious, the amount of caramel you add will affect how easy it is to cut your pie later.
2. prepare the apple filling

a. peel, core, and thinly slice your apples (we recommend a food processor, or this could take a while)

Cal's tip: you can also use this opportunity to creative festive portraits with the apples.

b. melt butter in a really big skillet (we had to do 2 batches) over medium-high heat.

c. Add sugar, salt and cinnamon and heat until just bubbling, 1 minute

d. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 min until tender and most the liquid is gone.

e. let cool slightly and then pour into your prepared pan.

it smells delicious...

3. prepare the cheesecake layer

a. preheat the oven to 350.

b. use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth .
Cal's tip: use a hand mixer. the kitchenaid stand can't reach the small volume very well.

c. mix in egg, lemon juice, and vanilla for 1-2 min until well blended and smooth.

d. pour/spread the cheesecake layer over the pie.

4. bake for 30 min or until a toothpick will come out clean. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating.

5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

6. prepare the topping.

a. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until peaks are stuff and sugar is incorporated.

b. spread on top of pie

c. swirl caramel on top, and sprinkle pecans.

7. To serve, remove from springform and cut with very sharp knife!

This pie was really delicious. Thanks again to Annie's Eats for the amazing recipe.


Once upon a time there was... Vanilla/Vanilla Cupcakes

I, (the pig), consider myself to be quite the cupcake expert.  I make all kinds of fancy cupcakes, but the mark of a true cupcake master is to be able to make a perfect basic cupcake.  And I believe that I have created perfection.  Well, with some help from Martha Stewart and Billy Reese.  We made these cute cupcakes for a friends baby shower.  When we are working during the day and need to make cupcakes, we like to make the cakes a day ahead of time, and store them in our airtight cupcake carrier.  Then we make the icing and do the decorating the day of the event.  Also keep in mind that if you are making royal icing decorations, they will need 24 hours to fully dry.

cake ingredients
1 3/4 c cake flour
1 1/4 c regular flour
2 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted european butter, cut into chunks, chilled
4 eggs
1 c whole milk
2 tsp Madagascar vanilla

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted european butter, room temperature
6-8 c sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 c whole milk
1 tsp Madagascar vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice

for the royal icing flowers:
2 eggs
2-3 c sifted confectioners sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
gel food coloring
wilton tip 2D
sprinkle for the center

cake instructions
1. prepare for cupcaking.  preheat the oven to 325.  line your muffin pans.  hide your cows.

2. prepare batter.  in an electric mixer, blend the dry ingredients together.

3. add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

4. in a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the wet to the dry in 3 batches, scraping the bowl before each addition.

Cornelius' note: If your cupcake batter does not appear pink, do not worry, you have done nothing wrong.  We dyed these.

5. Fill the liners about 2/3 full with batter.
Cornelius' tip: We like to use an ice cream scooper and a tablespoon, scooping up the batter with the scoop, then emptying it into the cups with the spoon.

6. bake for 17-20 minutes.

7. cool completely on a wire rack.

frosting instructions

1. cream butter until smooth.

2. add sugar, 1 c at a time, occasionally alternating with the wet ingredients.

3.  Add more sugar (1/2 c at a time) to make the icing sweeter or thicker, add milk (1 Tbsp at a time) to make it thinner, add lemon juice (1/2 tsp at a time) to reduce sweetness.

4.  Add food color if desired.  Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.

flowers instructions

1. prepare royal icing.  beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add sugar, 1 c at a time, until incorporated.  Add lemon juice.  Adjust consistency by adding water or more sugar.  You want a pretty stiff icing (if it is too thin the flower will not hold its shape.)

2.  We could try to explain how to do this, but Wilton already does a good job here.

3. Add sprinkle to the middle and let dry for 24 hours.

We think these cupcakes came out very cute!  Of course the decorating possibilities for vanilla cupcakes are endless, so be creative, and if you have any questions, just ask any pig (we are all cupcake experts).

pig, out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Amaretto Cake

On the day we made amaretto cake, we had some culinary disasters.  We failed at making caramel for a different recipe, twice.  More on that later... So, when we had a party to go to, a dessert we needed to bring, and not a lot of time left to do it, we turned to our trusty amaretto cake!  Now, castle farm cookbook blog readers probably know about our aversion to box cake mixes.  To summarize, we don't like them.  How can one properly cream the butter with the sugar? Or add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping after each, if everything in the box just gets dumped.  But this is one recipe where we accept that sometimes a cow and/or pigs gotta do what a cow and/or pigs gotta do, even if that means buying baking products from a box.  It's really worth it.

1 18.25 oz yellow cake mix
1 5oz package instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c water
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp amaretto
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 c sifted confectioners sugar + more for sprinkling

1. preheat oven to 350.  grease and flour a bundt pan.

2.  combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil, 2 Tbsp amaretto, and almond extract and blend together.

us, ashamed of the boxes

us, with the only ingredient we can be proud of

thats right, just dump it all in there and mix it up.

3. pour into prepared pan.  bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

4. near the end of the baking time, whisk together the 1/2 c amaretto and confectioners sugar to make a glaze.

5. when the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes everywhere, using a fork, knife or toothpick.  be liberal with the poking and make them deep.

6. pour glaze all over cake while it is still hot (this is important).  now let it sit for 2 hours.

7.  remove cake from the bundt, you might have to nudge it a bit, especially if you let it sit longer than 2 hours.

why is there a hole in my cake?

8. sprinkle with powdered sugar to look pretty.

For all of our complaining about box mixes, etc, there is one very good reason we make this cake.  it is one VERY good cake.

pig, out.