Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Grandpa Grandma Dad

Grandma Dora, Grandpa and my Dad in the yard on their farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandpa was quite a bit older than my Grandma Dora, about ten years her senior. He had probably decided he was going to be a bachelor for life before he met and fell in love with Grandma. They had grown up so differently. She, an only child, raised in town, not having to worry about where the next meal would come from. Grandpa, one of the five children, who had to be “farmed out” to family and friends to be raised after his mother died because his father couldn’t do it on his own. Their backgrounds didn’t matter though. What they had, was faithful love for each other, with God at the center of their relationship. What a wonderful example they set.

They chose the difficult life of dairy farming and while they didn’t have much, they did what they could to make holidays special. Purchasing a few things as they could, but making many things homemade. I’m sure Grandma Dora made this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Clusters for Grandpa for Valentine’s Day. I can picture her candies in a simple metal tin with a red, cloth ribbon around it.

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Chocolate Peanut Clusters

  • 1 – 3 oz package chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first four ingredients in heavy pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Lower heat and cook slowly for three minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanuts and vanilla.  Beat until candy thickens and begins to lose its gloss.  Drop from teaspoon onto waxed paper, forming into clusters.

Candy1I began by combining the pudding mix, sugar and butter into my saucepan.

Candy2Then I added the evaporated milk.

Candy3I whisked everything together on a medium heat and brought it to a boil.  Then lowered the heat and continued to stir it for three minutes.

Candy4After the timer went off, I pulled it off of the heat and added the vanilla and salted peanuts.

Candy5It was looking delicious!  I stirred it until it started to thicken.

Candy7I dropped it by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper (I sprayed it with cooking spray, just incase.) that I had spread out before I began.

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I let them cool on the wax paper for a couple of hours.  As they cooled, they harded and I was able to peel them off of the waxed paper.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters are an easy homemade candy to make.  It tastes like fudge!  I hope you’ll enjoy making them for your loved ones, as much as I know Grandma Dora enjoyed making them for my Grandpa.

Happy Cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wendy

Sugar Cookies – A Bonus Recipe

Cookies 073 Wendy and I realized something the other day.  We never made “Christmas cookies” over Christmas.  We made lots of cookies, but for some reason (maybe it had to with family members taking turns being sick through most of the season and therefore never having time), we never made the traditional roll out, cut into shapes and frost kind of Christmas cookies.  So, we decided we definitely needed to make Valentine cookies this year.  One day when she and my nephews were over, we pulled up our sleeves and started in on some fun. Cookies 072 I always like to pull this recipe out for roll out sugar cookies.  I actually got it in junior high or high school in a home economics class.  I remember very little about those classes, but I have always kept this recipe.  I remember one time when our neighbor who had moved away came back for a visit.  I was always making these cookies when I first got this recipe and so I made them for her.  She took one bite and said, “These are just like cookies from a bakery!”  I’ve never forgotten she said that and I always think fondly of her (and her comment) when I make this recipe. Cookies 066 Sugar Cookies

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar and vanilla.  Add egg;  beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in milk.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Blend into creamed mixture.  Divide dough in half.  Chill 1 hour.  On lightly floured surface, roll to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut in desired shapes with cutters.  Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees about 6-8 minutes.  Cool slightly;  remove from pan.  Makes 2 dozen. Cookies 001 To begin, I put the shortening, sugar and vanilla in the KitchenAid. Cookies 002 I creamed the three ingredients. Cookies 003 I then added the egg (I actually doubled the recipe, so I had two). Cookies 004 I beat the ingredients until they were light and fluffy.  I then stirred in the milk. Cookies 005 Next I combined the dry ingredients and blended them into the creamed mixture.  I chilled the dough for an hour or more. Cookies 008 Then, with the help of my nephews and sister, we rolled out the dough and began cutting shapes. Cookies 011 We baked the cookies at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.  They always smell so good when they are baking. Cookies 076 Next came the fun of frosting and decorating.  My sister had brought her collection of sprinkles, so we all had fun putting our own finishing touches on our cookies.

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My nephews wanted to decorate the snowflake cookies.

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They were very generous with the sprinkles!

Cookies 075 This is a recipe I highly recommend.  You just can’t go wrong with these.  So, pull your family together and have some festive Valentine’s Day fun together! Cookies 074 Happy Baking! Amy Cookies 053 Cookies 054 Cookies 055 Cookies 052 Cookies 034 Cookies 044 Cookies 048 Cookies 043

Hawaiian Sheet Cake – A Bonus Recipe

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We’ve been getting pounded with snow in Michigan.  I do love it, but at times I think about warmer weather and what it would be like just to have a little break from the cold snow, to enjoy the sun, just for a little while.  Maybe in….Hawaii?!

When my husband was growing up, his Uncle was in the army.  He was stationed in Hawaii for about six years.  During that time, my husband’s family took a once in a lifetime trip and went to visit.  For a week, amongst many other things, they got to swim on the secluded beaches that were for military only, they hiked and explored the natural wonders of the islands and even toured the Dole Pineapple Factory.  He said he’ll never forget that trip, all the adventures, the way he remembers them as a nine-year old boy.

This recipe came from that trip to Hawaii.  My husband’s Grandmother and his mother made this recipe for years.  It was such a favorite of my husband’s that he actually chose it as the groom cake at our wedding.

Hawaiian Sheet Cake

Cake

  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt (scant)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Frosting

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 box powdered sugar (4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup or more chopped nut meats (macadamia preferred)

For Cake: Heat crushed pineapple with juice and stick of butter.  Remove from heat.  Add sugar and beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Beat in flour, soda and salt.  Stir in sour cream.  Pour into a prepared cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For Frosting:  Add milk and butter to saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 1 box powdered sugar.  Spread onto cake when still warm.  Top with nuts.

Melted butter and pineappleI started out by melting 1 stick of butter and the crushed pineapple on the stove top.

Pineapple and sugarI removed it from the heat and whisked in the sugar.

Pineapple butter and eggsThen I added the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Dry ingredientsI then added all of the dry ingredients.  Once they were incorporated, I mixed in the sour cream.

BatterIt was ready to be poured into the greased cookie sheet and go into the oven.

BakedI baked it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  The edges were just beginning to brown and my toothpick came out clean so I pulled it out of the oven.

P - Frosting1While the cake was cooling, I began preparing the frosting.  I added milk and butter to my saucepan and brought it to a boil.

P - Frosting2Then I pulled it off the heat and slowly started adding the powdered sugar.  The recipe calls for a “box” of powdered sugar.  I looked it up and the equivalent was 4 cups, so that’s what I put in.

P Frosting3It made a nice thick frosting.  I made sure to put it on the cake while it was still warm so that it would spread easily.

P - WalnutsThe last thing that needed to be added was the nuts.  While the recipe suggests macadamia nuts, it was always served with walnuts at our family functions, so that’s what I used.  Any kind would be fine.  I cut them into pieces and sprinkled them on.

P SliceIt’s a deliciously moist and elegant cake.  One that serves a crowd!

HSCSo if you’re wishing for a little taste of warmer weather, turn your Pandora radio onto tropical, ukulele music.  Jack up your thermostat and put on your grass skirt.  Whip up a Hawaiian Sheet Cake and “get away” from the cold and snow for just a little while!

Happy Baking!

Wendy

Butterscotch Cookies

Grandpa and Grandpa Wichterman and Kado

My grandparents and their dog on a walk.

My dad told me a story about a summer day when he was about 7 or 8 years old.  He wanted his mom to go for a walk with him over to the 80 acres of land they owned (this land was separate from their farm – down the road, so he couldn’t go there by himself).  She was swamped with kitchen and garden work that day (as she often was).  He kept begging her to go for a walk and she kept resisting as she knew she had so much to get done.  But finally, she agreed to go.  They walked for about an hour down the lane and past the pond.  They picked flowers and spent the time together.  My dad still remembers this as an example of how kind and caring his mom was.  She gave him the gift of her time when it cost her to give it.

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I found this recipe for butterscotch cookies in Grandma Dora’s recipe box.  It appears to have been cut out from a newspaper.  My grandma also sacrificed her time by making all kinds of sweets for her family when she had other work to get done.  My dad and uncle probably ate many of these along with the other treats their mom continually made them.

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Butterscotch Cookies

  • 4 cups sifted enriched flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Cream together butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat well.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture.  Add nuts and mix well.  Shape into rolls and wrap in wax paper or press into cookie molds.  Chill until very firm.  Slice thin and bake on ungreased baking sheets in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F) 8 to 10 minutes.  Yield:  about 6 dozen 2-inch cookies.

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These cookies were pretty simple to make.  First, I stirred the flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt together with a whisk.

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Then I creamed the butter and sugar together.

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Next, I add the eggs and vanilla.

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The flour mixture was put in next and then the nuts (I used walnuts).

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I took the dough and made it into a roll (I made half a recipe, so I only made one roll.  If you make the whole recipe, you would probably want to make two rolls.).

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I then wrapped it in wax paper and refrigerated it for a couple of hours.

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I cut them, and put them on ungreased baking sheets.

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I baked them in a 400 degree oven.  The recipe said to bake them for 8-10 minutes.  I found that 6-7 minutes was long enough.

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These cookies turned out delicate, crisp and delicious!  Everyone who ate them raved about them!  I was very happy with how they turned out!  I hope you give them a try!

Happy Baking!  Amy

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – A Bonus Recipe

Grandma and Becky

Grandma Dora pulling my sister in a wagon on a snowy day. Maybe she couldn’t resist being out in the snow either.

The snow is perfect right now.  It has been for days and I can’t seem to keep myself from going outside.  I know I have work to do inside, but when I look out at the snow sparkling in the sunlight, I just can’t resist.  I’ve been cross country skiing or sledding with my friends and family (and even by myself when no one else was available to go) almost every day this week.

So, I honestly haven’t taken a lot of time to bake this week, but when I did bake, I decided to go with my all time favorite.  I’ve made a lot of cookies in my day.  In fact, I’ve made a lot of chocolate chip cookies.  But, this is the one cookie recipe that I always come back to.  It is simply the best.  How could you go wrong with the combination of chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal?  Well, I’ll tell you – you can’t go wrong.  Just like the snow that’s on the ground right now, it’s perfect.

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My sister and my nephews are coming over today while my brother-in-law goes with some of his friends to the car show in Detroit.  I decided I would make them some chocolate chip cookies for a treat when they came.  But, not just any chocolate chip cookies – peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars;  beat in peanut butter, egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt;  stir into the creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool 1 minute before removing to a wire rack.  Yield:  2 dozen.

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First I creamed the butter and sugar together.

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Then I beat in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla.

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Next, I combined the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt.  (My sister likes to blend up the oatmeal before she adds it.  It changes the texture and is very good too.)

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I stirred the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until I had a nice cookie dough.

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Next came the chocolate chips.  Doesn’t it look good enough to eat?

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After that I rolled it into balls and put it on the cookie sheets.

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I baked them at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  They turned a lovely golden brown.  I cooled them for a minute, then moved them onto a wire rack.  They smelled delicious!

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I’m sure that when my sister and nephews get here, I’ll try to coax them outside to play in the snow.  And, maybe when we come inside all wet and cold and happy, we’ll have a snack of milk and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  You just can’t go wrong with these cookies.  They are simply the best of the best!  You really have to try them!

Happy Baking!

Amy

Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

We went to Shipshewana this week.  I hadn’t been there in many years and I thought it would be fun to check out the shops and the Amish stores.  The Amish life is appealing to me for two reasons.  I like the simplicity and the sense of community the people share.

This frosting recipe has the name “Dorothy” written in the corner.  Dorothy was my father’s aunt, his dad’s sister.  She was one of the children that got split up when their mother died that I wrote about when I made Edna’s Butterscotch Cake.  I remember going to visit her home one time when we were on a family vacation.  She could have been Amish with her old fashioned clothes and furniture.  She and her husband owned a store that was connected to the side of their home.  The store itself was very anitiquated.  I remember it as similar to a “modern day” antique store.  Everything was very simple there.  I can imagine how she might have put together this simple “from scratch” frosting in her unadorned kitchen.

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Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated) or 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook milk and flour until very thick.  Cool.  Add to creamed sugar and shortening.  Beat until very fluffy and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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I combined the milk and flour in a pan and began to cook them over medium heat.

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I have never made frosting this way, so I was curious to see what would happen.  In a short time, the milk and flour got very thick, like the recipe said it would.

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While the milk and flour mixture was cooling, I creamed the sugar and shortening together (I decided to use half shortening and half butter.).  I used the powdered sugar, but I am curious to know how the granulated sugar would turn out since the recipe says you can use either one.

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I then added the milk and flour mixture into the creamed sugar and shortening mixture and beat until it was very fluffy.  I then added a teaspoon of vanilla.

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The frosting turned out very fluffy and spread easily on the cake.  It is different than other frosting.  My brother-in-law described it as similar to the filling in a twinkie.  My sister-in-law thought it reminded her of a frosting that has cool whip in it.  I thought it was similar to doughnut filling.

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I hope you have a chance to give Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting and the cake recipe a try.  I think you will find it a simple delight.

Happy Baking!

Amy

Cake

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Every year at Christmas, we make a birthday cake for Baby Jesus.  I thought it would be fun to find a recipe from Grandma Dora’s recipe box to use for the cake this year.  We have already tried several cakes from the recipe box (brown sugar loaf cake, brown sugar cake, Edna’s butterscotch cake, koffee kuchen, Mrs. Magary’s spice cake, Mrs. Tucker’s short cake and date and nut cake).  When I came across this recipe, it was simply titled “cake.”

Grandma Binger and Dad

Grandma Dora’s mother, Edith, with my Dad.

I noticed that this recipe was copied in the box on two different recipe cards.  As we continue to look through the boxes, we are beginning to wonder if one of them originally belonged to Grandma Dora’s mother, Edith and the other one was Grandma Dora’s own.  Since I found this recipe twice I wonder if both Grandma Dora and Great Grandma Edith had it in their boxes.  So, it must be a good one!  The recipe is very simple to put together – really not much more work than a box cake mix.  I like that about it.

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Cake

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add shortening and 3/4 cup of the milk.  Beat 2 minutes, then add rest of the milk, vanilla and eggs.  Beat 2 minutes.

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I mixed the dry ingredients together.  I then added the shortening and 3/4 cups of milk.  I beat these together for two minutes.

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I then added the rest of the milk, the vanilla and the eggs.  I beat this for 2 more minutes and I had cake batter!

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I poured the cake batter into a 9×13 pan, but you could also use two round pans or even make cupcakes.

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There were no baking instructions on the recipe.  I decided to bake it at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.  It turned out very nice and golden.

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I was pleased with the way this cake turned out.  It was simple to make and free of all of the preservatives you would find in a “box cake mix.”  I used another recipe, Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting to frost the cake.  I will share that with you in my next post.

Happy Baking!

Amy