In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Food Wednesdays: Keeping hands (big and small) busy.

Written by Donna Marie Desfor, Culinary Consultant and Chef | Dec 21, 2011 2:30 AM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed.  There are so many opportunities to gather, and so many reasons to be in the kitchen.  And when there are many extra hands in the kitchen, it’s good to have a plan to keep those hands busy.  I’ve created a few recipes that are easy enough for anyone, and especially designed to keep hands – big and small – occupied.  It’s nice when people gather, and even better when they’re gathered in the kitchen with busy hands.  You get to do what needs to be done, or you can just jump right in, roll up your sleeves and enjoy creating something delicious for all to share.

Recipes featured: 
Spiced-up Gingersnaps
Tea Infused, Candy-filled “Gourmet” Ice Cream

When it comes to cookie-making, it’s easy enough to buy those pre-made or slice-n-bake versions.  They’re easy, fast, and usually good.  At Christmas-time, though, they’re not of the flavors I crave.  This spiced up gingersnap cookie is perfect, fast, and once the dough is made, it can be rolled and chilled, so you have your own version of “slice-n-bake.”  Or, if you really want to keep those hands busy, invite them to shape the dough into gingerbread men!

Recipe: Spiced-up Gingersnaps
Makes about 6 dozen

3 cups flour
1 ¼ cups sugar, plus additional for baking
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
4 ½ teaspoons ground ginger, plus additional for baking
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, plus additional for baking
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces and chilled
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade combine the flour, sugars, spices and baking powder and process until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the eggs and process until the dough starts to come together.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough comes together.  Divide in half and roll each half into logs, about 2-inches in diameter.  Wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and place into the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours (it may be as long as 4), or overnight.  (Note: dough can be frozen for several weeks.  No need to thaw, just proceed with the recipe and add 2 minutes to the baking time.)

Preheat the oven to 350° F; line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and slice with a sharp knife about ¼-inch thick.  Place the dough on the prepared sheet and sprinkle with additional sugar, cinnamon, and/or ginger.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to darken.  Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two.  Remove to a baking rack to cool completely. 

Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or wrap and freeze.

Recipe:  Tea Infused, Candy-filled “Gourmet” Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint (easily doubled or tripled!) 

Little hands (and the big ones, too) are happy to be busy in the kitchen, especially when the people attached to the hands can lick the fingers, or the bowl, and eat the ingredients going in!  This idea helps keep delicious desserts in check with your budget too.  You don’t need to buy the expensive ice cream – store brand will do.  The flavor comes from the infusion in this recipe, not the ice cream.

In this recipe I use York brand peppermint patty candies, and a tasty chai tea from The Spice and Tea Exchange, that infuses mint and vanilla into the spicy chai tea.  You can use just about any favorite (or extra Christmas) candies and a flavored tea that matches.  I’ve listed some of my favorite combinations below.

1 pint (store brand;) vanilla or chocolate ice cream, softened
Half of a bag unwrapped York brand Peppermint Patty chocolates, coarsely chopped, to yield about 1 cup
1/3 cup strong brewed TSTE Mint Chilla Chai Nilla Tea (about 1 ½ tablespoons loose tea to ½ cup water)

To soften the ice cream, remove the container from the freezer and place on your kitchen counter about 15 minutes before beginning preparations.  In the meantime, unwrap the Peppermint Patty candies and coarsely chop; brew the TSTE Mint Chilla Chai Nilla tea and let steep. 

When the ice cream is softened, squeeze the contents of the container into a large mixing bowl.  Using a large wooden spoon or spatula smoosh and stir the ice cream until softened through and the spoon/spatula mixes through the ice cream with relative ease. 

Combine the strained tea and the candies in a small saucepan and place over medium low heat.  As the mixture begins to heat and melt, stir.  When the candies are half melted, but still chunky, pour half of the mixture into the softened ice cream.  Working quickly, stir to combine (some of the chocolate will instantly freeze up when it hits the cold ice cream, so starting with half and working that in is a good idea).  Add the remaining half and quickly combine (the mixture will be very loose at this point).  Pour into a plastic resealable container and place in freezer.  Allow to refreeze, at least 20 minutes to 1 hour.  (Note: if your mixture is primarily liquid when you return it to the freezer, stir every 20 minutes or so to break up the ice crystals that will form.  This will help keep the texture creamy and smooth.) 

When ready to serve scoop into chilled bowls. 

Other variations to try:
TSTE Black Chocolate tea and Raspberry/Chocolate
TSTE Pear Caramel tea and Granola Mix
TSTE Uncle Filbert’s Nutty Dessert tea and any chocolate covered nuts
TSTE Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pu-eh tea and Yogurt Covered Raisins (or any white chocolate candy mix)
TSTE Camomile Citrus tea and chocolate covered orange segments (or chocolate covered fruit segments)

Recipes and Photos Copyright © 2011 by Donna Marie Desfor and There’s a Chef in My Kitchen, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2011 by WITF, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

ice cream infusions.witf

Published in Donna Marie Desfor

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