Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Dec 5, 2016

Red Velvet Snowballs

red velvet cookies recipe vegan vegetarian eggless egg free nut free chocolate

Get festive with this recipe for buttery, chocolatey, and meltingly tender Red Velvet Snowball Cookies! An easy to make, eggless, and nut free treat that be made vegan too. The perfect addition to any holiday platter!


This stuff's the bomb-diggety!!!

Most "red velvet" recipes for cakes or cookies have some vague chocolate flavor with a slight tartness that makes them rather "meh" in my opinion. But these Red Velvet Snowball cookies have a rich, deep chocolate flavor with a tender crispness that is amazing! A bit like Oreos in flavor but made insanely better with butter. The inspiration for this cookie comes from this recipe on Delish.com. I tried Delish's recipe but didn't like it as the dough was so crumbly it was almost unworkable and the cookies didn't have much flavor. So, I changed the recipe by increasing the butter to one cup, increasing the cocoa powder to 1/3 cup, decreasing the cookie size to one tablespoonful of dough, and decreasing the baking temperature to 325F/175C. I also used Penzey's Natural High Fat Cocoa to give the cookies that strong, dark chocolate flavor I was looking for. The result was perfection! The dough was easy to work with, the cookies puffed up nice and pretty, and they had all the rich chocolate flavor I was looking for. Penzey's Natural High Fat Cocoa powder is their premium cocoa powder especially recommended for baking. I have to say it really makes a difference flavor-wise. You can certainly make these cookies with any cocoa powder you wish but Penzey's makes them really spectacular.

Ingredients:
1 C butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/3 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1&1/2 C powdered sugar
1 TBS red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
2&1/2 C  flour
1 C powdered sugar for rolling

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl combine, butter, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, powdered sugar, red food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat until thoroughly mixed.


2) Add flour to butter mixture 1/2C at a time and continue beating at low speed. The dough will look a bit crumbly at first but will come together after a few minutes of mixing. The dough is properly mixed when it pulls away from the bowl and the beater(s). If your dough is still crumbly after 5 minutes of mixing please see "Helpful Hints" below for a tip on how to fix it. I'd advise chilling the dough covered with cling wrap or in a sealable plastic bag in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Chilling the dough not only makes for prettier cookies and a dough that's easier to handle but makes for better flavor also. This dough will also keep well in a sealed plastic bag or container in the freezer for up to a month.


3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/175C. Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. (You could also roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and press them down lightly on the lined baking sheet if you don't have a scoop.) Place the balls of dough about 2 inches apart as they do puff up a bit.


4) Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes or until evenly browned on the bottom. Remove cookies from baking sheet with spatula and place on wire rack to cool. If you like, roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Store tightly in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.

5) If you like, roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Store tightly in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.

Helpful Hints:
If in step 2 the dough still remains crumbly add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil. This usually fixes the problem. Unfortunately due to variations in humidity, varying water content in butters, and moisture content of different flours sometimes you have to adjust the amount of fats/oils to get the correct consistency of dough.

Sep 9, 2016

Baed Eid


Next week starts the most holy celebration of the Islamic year called Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) in Arabic or Baed Eid (Big Eid) in Kashmiri. The festival begins at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj.  During the Hajj, Muslims remember and honor the trials and triumphs of great patriarch and Prophet Abraham. This holiday honors the willingness of the Prophet Abraham to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son. Just when the Prophet Abraham was prepared to perform the sacrifice, the angel Jibra'il (Gabriel) intervened telling him that his sacrifice had already been fulfilled.

The Sacrifice of Isaac  by Caravaggio 
With this act of obedience the Prophet Abraham had shown that his love for Allah was above all others, and that he would willingly lay down the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah. Muslims commemorate this trial of the Prophet Abraham by the halal slaughtering of an animal such as a sheep, camel, cow, or goat. Allah has given us dominance over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. 

Kashmiri women at Eid prayers
On the first morning of Eid ul-Adha, Muslims worldwide attend morning prayers. Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayers. Prayers are followed by visits with family and friends, the exchange of greetings (Eid Mubarak), and give gifts called Eidi.

Kashmiri men at Eid prayers
At some point during the festival Muslims who can afford it sacrifice a halal domestic animal such as a goat, sheep, camel, yak, or cow in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. The sacrificed animals are called qurbani and must be of a certain age and standards of perfection or the animal is considered unacceptable. (In Kashmir a sheep fattened up on cashews and other goodies is preferred. Every once in a while some affluent Kashmiri buys a camel or yak to show off I suppose. Camel and yak really don't taste that great.)

Sheep being sold for Baed Eid in Kashmir
The animal (qurbani) is slaughtered in the halal manner and the meat is traditionally divided into three portions. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends and neighbors, and one-third is donated to the poor. This act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us in order to follow Allah's commands, to strengthen ties within the community, and to help those who are in need. 

Traditional Kashmiri mutton-a-palooza!
(Every part of the sheep is used in a specific dish)
In addition to distributing qurbani to the poor the meat is prepared and often served at mosques so that those less fortunate do not miss this sacrificial meal. Many Muslims also take this opportunity to invite their non-Muslim friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates to their Eid festivities to better acquaint them with Islam and Muslim culture. (This means Bibi's going to be cooking a lot- not just meat but treats too!)


Eidi or the gifts given over Eid traditionally take the form of money, presents such as smartphones and perfume, or even flowers. Usually it is children who receive eidi from uncles and their parents.

From our family to yours:
May the blessings of Allah bring you hope, faith, and joy!  Happy Eid ul-Adha 2016!
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