Tag Archives: me & martha

baked cornbread

Martha Substitutions: Cornbread

Yesterday it was raining all day, which was lucky because I needed to stay in and get some commissioned paintings done. While I had the Christmas music playing and was waiting for the first coat of paint to dry, I popped an easy cornbread recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook into the oven.

Martha Stewart's cornbread
Martha Stewart’s cornbread

Here’s the scoop:

This cornbread is of the sweet variety (which is my preference) and is extra fun given the lightly charred kernels of corn mixed throughout.

Here’s what I subbed:

  1. Butter in lieu of vegetable shortening (1:1). I didn’t really feel like purchasing a thing of Crisco just for this recipe…and anyway, isn’t that stuff supposed to be bad for you? Not that butter is a health food, but at least it was the organic kind.
  2. Coconut milk in lieu of regular milk (1:1). I was nervous it would give the bread a coconut-y flavor which I don’t think it did.
saute corn until golden brown
saute corn until golden brown
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients
mix cornmeal with dry ingredients

Here’s how it turned out:

Really well in fact! Fortunately or unfortunately Martha says this bread is best served day of baking or¬†maybe the day after is well-wrapped….Sooooo you can guess what I had for lunch yesterday.

Day of baking the cornbread was moist and slightly sweet and slightly salty and I really enjoyed the pop of the corn bits. Day after baking, slightly drier but still delicious covered in more butter ūüėČ

golden crusted cornbread
golden crusted cornbread

Now not ever having made this recipe with the suggested ingredients, I can’t say for sure how these substitutions might detract or improve the original recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe definitely still works and the ease of the mix-batter and bake means I will be bringing this out again next time I’m called on for a pot-luck.

slice of cornbread
slice of cornbread

I’m off to have a¬†lunch of cornbread and roasted acorn squash. A perfectly cozy fall meal!

Martha Stewart coconut pecan caramel cookies

Me & Martha: Pecan Caramel Cookies

Really these are called Coconut Pecan Caramel Sandwich Cookies in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (that I’m baking my way through), but since I couldn’t¬†really taste the coconut and actually¬†forgot I had put coconut in the cookie dough, I’m leaving that descriptor out as it could be misleading.

Yes, I followed the directions pretty thoroughly this time through, apart from¬†cutting the recipe in half, yet again. (Either this book is written specifically for people who entertain or have large families, or they create recipes to fall into convenient¬†quantities…like 1/4 cup of coconut…since an 1/8 cup of coconut hardly seems worth mentioning, right?)

Well anyway, I toasted up my unsweetened shredded coconut (actually the recipe calls for sweetened so maybe that’s why I can’t taste anything in the finished product) and pecans, pulverized them and mixed them into the shortbread dough.

pecan and coconut cookie dough
pecan and coconut cookie dough

After the multiple rounds of chilling, cookie cutting, and rechilling, my pecan shortbread hearts were on the wire rack cooling and I could get down the best part: the Caramel Filling!

final caramel sauce!
final caramel sauce!

I never use a candy thermometer, preferring instead to rely on my senses and sense of timing…which is probably why I don’t make a lot of candy products.

So I love that this recipe doesn’t instruct with a candy thermometer, but rather just color and texture cues.

In the end, making this caramel sauce was quite easy. Here’s what I did:

  1. Boil water and and about 4x more sugar until it starts turning a deep amber color, not stirring. [And this part from Martha I really like: continually “wash down” the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallization. It ensures that you are paying a lot of attention to not let the caramel burn or create a nasty mess on the sides of your pot.]
  2. Remove from heat and slowly pour in some heavy whipping cream.
  3. Then quickly stir in little chunks of butter until the whole thing becomes creamy and smooth and glossy.
  4. Really keep stirring to avoid clumping.
  5. Once it’s totally smooth, let it cool just a bit before drizzling over your cookies.

In the book, the cookies were adorable spring flower shaped with holes punched out of the middle so that the caramel sauce would peek through the top of the sandwich cookie.

In my reality, I only have a heart cookie cutter and, as I learned from the Linzer Heart Cookies, cutting a hole out of the middle of shortbread cookies is a time-consuming and pain-staking task that I was not up for doing again. So my cookies are straight up sandwich cookies, no cute hole. And frankly, I only made half of them into sandwiches…the other half I’m dunking into my bowl of caramel sauce. And that is perfect.

caramel sauce over pecan cookies
caramel sauce over pecan cookies

Even the cookies on their own are delish – they remind me of the Pecan Sandies that my mom used to love back when she could eat nuts.

Chai tea with a smidge of milk works really well with these. And now I’m going to buy ice cream so I have a reason to keep making this yummy caramel sauce!