Homewood Christmas gift recipes

By LISA CULOTTA JOHNSEY

Peyton Johnsey rolls out sugar cookie dough with sister Caroline and mom Lisa. Photo courtesy of Lisa Culotta Johnsey.

This Christmas, give a unique gift that you make yourself. Gifts from the kitchen not only express how much you care about the recipient, but they are also delicious and fun. Consider spending a little time with your children in to make these recipes that are long-time favorites of my family and friends.

It is fun to wrap these special treats in pretty boxes and bags and tie them with an attractive ribbon as a thoughtful gift for teachers, hostesses and bosses. You can even bake my pound cake in a paper stand-alone loaf pan for convenient and attractive gift giving. Birmingham Bake and Cook Co. on Valleydale Road carries these pans along with an assortment of pans, boxes and bags for gift packaging.

Lisa C. Johnsey is a local wife and mother of three. She has a home-based catering business and can be contacted at 13sweets@bellsouth.net.

Grandmother’s Chocolate Fudge
If you make ahead of time,  cut into pieces and store in the freezer. Pull them out and box them up for an easy, tasty gift.
4 ½ cups sugar
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1-7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (3 standard packages)
3-1 oz. squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups nuts (optional)
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a pot, mix sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes. Remove mixture from stove and add remaining ingredients.  Mix until chocolate is melted. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Cut when cool.
When serving after freezing, put desired amount onto tray and let it return to room temperature.

Mother’s Lemon Pound Cake
You can prepare this cake ahead of time and freeze. Simply defrost it and then add the glaze.
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
1-8 oz. container sour cream
6 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice with zest
½ teaspoon vanilla

Place first nine ingredients in a 4-quart mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat at low speed for one minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat at medium speed for two minutes. Spoon into five buttered and floured stand-alone loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Check cakes and add time if needed. Let the cakes cool and then drizzle with glaze.
The cakes can be baked ahead and wrapped tightly with aluminum foil and placed in a freezer bag and frozen. When you are ready to serve, defrost and drizzle with glaze.
The cake can also be prepared in a 10-inch tube pan. Adjust baking time to approximately 55 minutes.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
The cookies are fun to prepare with your kids.

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sanding Sugar, assorted colors

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and almond extracts and egg; beat until blended. Mix in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar until blended. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll dough out to desired thickness and cut into shapes using your favorite cookie cutters. Decorate with sanding sugar and bake until edges are light brown, about 7-8 minutes.

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies with a 2-inch cookie cutter

Cranberry Pecan Biscotti
Package biscotti with a holiday mug or coffee cup.
1 ½ cups pecans (toasted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
Dash of salt
3 eggs plus 2 yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried cranberries
Zest of one lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Finely chop half the pecans, leaving remaining ones in halves; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine baking powder, flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until a sticky dough forms. Stir in pecans, cranberries and zest.

Turn dough out onto a floured board.  Sprinkle dough with a little flour and knead slightly. Shape into two 9x 3-inch logs. Transfer logs to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 275 degrees.

On a cutting board, slice logs on diagonal into ½-inch thick slices. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes or until slightly dry.

Cool on rack and store in an airtight container.

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