Sugar and butter and cheese, Oh My!

December 15, 2010

(please take note that the office gifts are packaged beautifully in a “Fresh Vegetables” box.  This will become increasingly more hilarious the more you read)


It all started with a simple question from my husband…  “What can we make for office gifts before Friday?”

That’s all it takes for me to go into a Google research frenzy.

I settled on Brown Sugar Cinnamon Biscotti.

Once I got the biscotti cut, I thought “this isn’t enough”.

Because people don’t get enough sugary, baked stuff this time of year.

I had read a Facebook post on Fleur De Sel Caramels…. so I thought I’d try my hand at caramel making…

Then I realized I had marshmallow fluff in my pantry (it sticks out like a sore thumb among the bulk organic grains and crispy kale chips)…  so I could make grandma’s peanut butter fudge.

Of course, last week, I saw that my friends had made chocolate topped macaroons…. I have a great macaroon recipe…. why don’t I Christmas it up and make chocolate peppermint macaroons.

THEN, I needed to make some appetizers for a party Friday night – BOOM – Cheddar Biscuits.

One night + 5 recipes + 1 very messy kitchen = office gifts AND appetizers for a party DONE

These recipes are NOT figure friendly,  I don’t pretend that they are.

But it’s Christmas, damnit.


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Biscotti

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or Silpat.

Beat the eggs, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until creamy. The mixture should be thick like pancake batter. Decrease mixer speed and add flour, cinnamon, cinnamon chips, and pecans. Mix just until blended.

Place dough on baking sheet. Shape into a log about 14 inches long, 2 & 1/2 inches wide, and 3/4 inches thick. Smooth the top and sides with a wet dough scraper.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Let cool on the pan for 5 to 15 minutes. Then, spray lightly with room-temperature water, covering the sides and the top, to make slicing easier. Wait 5 minutes, then slice the biscotti into 3/4-inch slices. Slice on the diagonal to yield longer biscotti. Be sure to slice straight up and down so the slices will not topple over during baking. Place sliced pieces on lined baking sheet, allowing about 1/2 inch between them.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack. After the biscotti have cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for 2 weeks.



Fleur de Sel Caramels with Vanilla Bean
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (at Christmas, I like to use the fancy European style butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla (I use homemade Tahitian vanilla)
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
1 1/4 teaspoon Fleur de se (sea salt)l, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (can substitute light corn syrup)
1/4 cup water

Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly butter parchment.

Bring cream, butter, vanilla, vanilla beans, pods, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

Remove pods and carefully stir cream mixture into the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248 on thermometer. Pour into baking pan and cool 30 minutes. Sprinkle another pinch or two of fleur de sel over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let sit until completely cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I buttered a pizza cutter), and then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

Yields 64 1-inch candies
Adapted from here and Gourmet, 2004


Grandma McClarren’s Peanut Butter Fudge

3 c. sugar
1 c. milk (I think she used milnot or carnation)
1 c. marshmallow cream
1 c. peanut butter
1 t. vanilla
Cook sugar and milk to 234 degrees (soft ball stage). Add other ingredients. Mix well and pour into buttered pan. Cool. (Mom… always stirred (beat) this until it was getting pretty thick before she poured it into her pan.)


Chocolate Peppermint Macaroons

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t peppermint extract
  • 1/4 cup crushed peppermints or candy canes
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Reduce heat, and allow it to simmer. Place chocolate in a small bowl, and set over saucepan. Stir until chocolate is melted, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled chocolate, cocoa, sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, peppermint extract and salt. Use your hands to mix well, completely combining ingredients.
  4. Dampen hands with cold water. Form 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into a loose haystack shape, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, placing macaroons 1 inch apart.
  5. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints.
  6. Bake until just firm to the touch but still soft in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven to a wire rack, and let cool on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Recipe.


Cheddar Biscuits

1 lb flour (approx 3 1/2 cups- 4 cups)
1 lb butter
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese – shredded
1/2 t salt
1 t cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients.  Roll into 1″ balls.  Bake 20-25 minutes.   These are best served straight from the oven.

You can freeze the rolled balls for a couple of months.




7 Responses to “Sugar and butter and cheese, Oh My!”

  1. Mary Says:

    Are ya tryin’ to KILL me? These things sound AWESOME. I wish I worked in Craig’s office.

  2. Sarah Says:

    I make your Cheddar Biscuits all the time since you introduced them to me in college! I can’t wait to try the rest!

  3. Jennifer Says:

    The treat bags were great! You put us all to shame 🙂

  4. […] because I’m coming off of the holidays and all of the goodies that they have to […]

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