Friday, 9 December 2016

12 Days of Cookies, 2016 - Day 5: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Shortbread

Middleton branch manager Sue Aldred made these yummy shortbread cookies from a recipe found in the December 2014 issue of All-Recipes magazine. Drop in to the Rosa M. Harvey Middleton and Area Library today for some warm smiles and a cookie.
1 lb. salted butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 cups white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla 
Whip butter until fluffy. Stir in icing sugar, cornstarch, salt, and flour. Beat on low for one minute. Add vanilla and beat on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Drop cookies by spoonsful 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
I find that I have better results if I bake them for 20 minutes at 300 degrees F. (The recipes calls for baking for a shorter time at 375 but this temperature is too hot.)
Ice with almond icing and decorate with sprinkles or chopped cherries.                  
These freeze very well.                                  
Yield: 4 dozen small cookies.
Don't forget -- you can Enter to win a Cookie Gift Bag!!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

12 Days of Cookies, 2016 - Day 4: Chocolate Shortbread Meltaways

Andrea Leeson, manager of the Kingston branch, donned her baker's cap to whip up these dainty treats from Back to Baking: 200 timeless recipes to bake, share, and enjoy.

These cookies have a chocolate intensity that balances with their buttery richness, and when piped onto a baking tray, they look like chocolate kisses. 
1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter,
   at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
11/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 mL) Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius) and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and icing sugar together until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt, and beat until evenly incorporated.
Spoon the soft cookie dough into a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip, and pipe 1” (2.5 cm) “kisses” onto the baking trays, leaving a 2” space between the cookies.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until they lift away from the parchment paper without sticking.
Let the cookies cool completely on the tray before removing. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
DON"T FORGET: You can ENTER to win a Cookie Gift Bag!!





Wednesday, 7 December 2016

12 Days of Cookies, 2016 - Day 3: Snickerdoodles

Drop in to the Hantsport branch today and sample an old favourite that will melt in your mouth.  The perfect cookie to pair with a glass of milk for Old Saint Nick on Christmas Eve. Baked just for you by Lois Burgess, from Company's Coming: Most Loved Cookies by Jean Pare.

*1 cup hard margarine (or butter), softened
*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
*2 large eggs
*2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*2 tsp. cream of tartar
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 tbsp. granulated sugar
*2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1.  Cream margarine and first amount of sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
2.  Combine next 4 ingredients in medium bowl.  Add to margarine mixture in 2 additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains.  Roll into 1 inch balls.
3.  Combine 2nd amount of sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Roll each ball in cinnamon mixture until coated.  Arrange about 3inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until golden.
4.  Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.
1.  Refrigerate for an hour (or overnight) before baking, as the dough is very soft.
3.  Make sure the balls are 3 inches apart and not 2 inches, as in the original recipe.  They will spread!
2.  Do not overbake.  I lowered the temperature in the original recipe from 375 to 350.  These cookies will not look like they are done at the end of 8-10 minutes.  They will be very soft but will harden as they cool.
Don't forget -- you can Enter to win a Cookie Gift Bag!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

12 Days of Cookies, 2016 - Day 2: Holy Smokes Heavenly Chips and Cranberry Cookies

These heavenly delights were made by Lisa Rice, manager of the Wolfville Memorial Library. The recipe can be found  on page 112 in A Baker's Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies by Dede Wilson. Drop in today to say hi and have a sample.
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾  cup granulated sugar
¾  cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
2  large eggs
2 cups white chocolate morsels
2 cups sweetened dried cranberries

1.     Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.    Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium-size bowl.
3.    In a large bowl with an electric mixer  on a medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add granulated sugar and light brown sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, and scraping down bowl once or twice.  Beat in vanilla, then eggs, one at time, scraping down bowl.  Add about one-third of flour mixture, and mix on low speed.  Gradually add remaining flour mixture, mixing just until blended.   Stir in chocolate morsels and cranberries.  * Drop by ¼ cup amounts 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets; do not flatten.
4.    Bake until edges and tops just begin to turn light golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Place sheets on racks to cool for 3 minutes, then slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.
*Note  I made regular size cookies and cooked them for less time, about 11 minutes.  Makes a couple dozen.
Don't forget -- you can Enter to win a Cookie Gift Bag!!

Monday, 5 December 2016

12 Days of Cookies, 2016 - Day 1: Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread

These lemony delights will be shared at the Kentville branch today and were baked by Jai Soloy, Community Engagement Assistant. The recipe can be found on page 22 of Christmas by Elizabeth Baird and Anna Hobbs. 
 Bake this crunchy shortbread as individual cookies or in a square pan.
1 cup (250 ml) butter, softened
1 cup (250 ml) icing sugar
2 tbsp (25 ml) poppy seeds
2 tbsp (25 ml) grated lemon rind
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (25 ml) granulated sugar
 In a bowl, beat butter with icing sugar until fluffy; stir in poppy seeds and lemon rind. Gradually blend in flour. Gather dough into a ball and chill for 30 minutes if sticky.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼-inch (5 mm) thickness; cut into 2-inch (5 cm) rounds and place on ungreased baking sheets. (Or, press dough into a 9-inch (2.5 L) square pan; prick surface all over with a fork.) Sprinkle with the granulated sugar.
Bake in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes for cookies, or 35 minutes for square, or until set and very faintly browned. Let cookies cool on a rack. or let large square cool in pan before cutting into bars.  
Shortbread can be stored in airtight containers for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Makes about 40 cookies or 24 bars.
 Notes: We made our shortbread in a square cake pan. This is the fastest method with the least amount of cleanup.

Some general cookie baking tips:
Try to follow the recipe closely on the first attempt. If you actually taste the cookie and think it has too much or not enough of something, make a note for the second batch. Just because you like one certain ingredient on it's own is not a good enough reason to double it. This especially holds true for strong flavours like, say, lemon rind. Don't worry, "1st Day of Cookies" cookie- tasters in Kentville, I learned this lesson on an earlier batch. Not yours.   
If you must double one ingredient, double all of the other ones too. Extra cookies are always welcome this time of year. If they don't have enough, say, lemon rind, they can be used to nicely pad out your cookie display. 
Didn't follow my advice and ended up with a cookie that tastes too...something? Don't panic! Uneaten shortbread can be used as hay bales in a small nativity scene, or building blocks for the kids if they have to sit through a long patch of time at the grown-up table after dinner.
DON’T FORGET!! You can  enter  to win a Cookie Gift Bag!!

Monday, 28 November 2016

It's that wonderful time of the year! '12 Days of Cookies'

It's the end of November and what does that mean? Clocks have gone back an hour. Days are getting shorter. The weather is getting colder. Winter tires are going on and holiday baking is hitting full steam!  Which means, the 6th annual, award winning, 12 Days of Cookies is coming to a library near you.
 For twelve days, the staff and friends will be baking and sharing recipes and cookies. Each recipe, along with pictures, will be shared online via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and on this blog. All branches and the Bookmobile will be taking part in this cookie extravaganza, week days beginning Monday, December 5th and ending on December 20th.
There is also a contest to encourage public participation and a chance to win a "cookie gift bag'. Contest rules are available on the AVRL website.
This is a fun way to showcase the library's collection of cookbooks and magazines, especially during the holidays when many are baking.
In the coming days the staff of AVRL invite you to come see and taste what has been baked. Visit this blog to see which branch will have cookies that day for your tasting pleasure.

Monday, 21 November 2016

GivingTuesday is November 29

November 29 is GivingTuesday--  a global day of giving that
happens each year after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a time when Canadians, charities and businesses come together to celebrate giving and participate in activities that support charities and non-profits. There is no “right” way to participate as long as it supports generosity and giving. Donate, volunteer time, help a neighbour, or spread the word. GivingTuesday Canada was founded in 2013 by the GIV3 Foundation and CanadaHelps.

Here at AVRL, we are encouraging you to help us furnish two library projects. Our Berwick branch is set to open sometime in January. We still need to raise around $47,000 to fully furnish the library. In Bridgetown, the library expansion is nearly complete. We still need $2000 for furniture in the children’s area and the meeting room.

Both of these library projects have had amazing support. In Berwick there have been fundraisers that have been well attended by the community, local families have donated, and businesses, such as Kings Mutual Insurance, have stepped forward to donate. In Bridgetown, the annual Silent Auction brought in nearly $4000 towards the project. In each of these communities, the Friends of the Library have been instrumental in gathering community backing. There’s not enough space here to individually thank each and every one of you who have been helping our libraries, but please know that we are incredibly honoured to have your support.

So, when November 29 rolls around, and you want to help us finish these library projects, this is the time! We’ll even give you a tax receipt for donations of $10 or more. If you have bonds or securities you want to donate, we can do that too.

To donate, visit this page. Or you can donate on the GivingTuesday site; please leave us a message regarding which library project you want to support. If you send us a cheque, please print the form for the library you want to support. If you have any questions, please feel free to phone us at 902-665-2995 and we can help you!