I have gotten several requests for this recipe. I don't know where she got it, so I apologize if this is a recipe from a book or otherwise held in such a way as I shouldn't be posting it.
I got this recipe from my friend Kay. She was an amazing cookie baker. She had this tiny, I mean beensy little kitchen. The stove was on the left, the fridge just a shade to the right of center, and the sink to the right as you walked through the kitchen to get to the downstairs where the washer and dryer/storage/downstairs bedroom/furnace/etc. was. That was it. A hallway with kitchen appliances. There were no counters that I remember, there was a bunch of open shelves to the right of the stove and some storage under the sink.
Anyway, she would produce hundreds of cookies of the most delicious-ocity possible from this ratty little kitchen. She's show up with boxes and boxes of cookies with parchment paper between the layers and throw the most amazing Ladies Tea during some squalid camping event. This one was one of my favorites. I always justify eating them by telling myself that they are healthy, the anise seed is good for the digestion.
Kay AKA Her Ladyship Lenore d'Troyes, Calontir
makes 5 dozen
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter
2 egg yolks, stirred
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup anise seeds (may substitute caraway or sesame seeds) (my comment - but don't, even if you hate anise, try this once. The cooking changes them into something much more delicious.)
Sift dry ingredients together. With a pastry knife or two forks, cut butter into the dry ingredients until very well blended (no pieces larger than the size of a grain of rice). Add eggs, seeds, and vanilla and blend well. Dough should make a soft ball when blended. Add water or milk if needed to make dough stick together. Make into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours. Roll out dough to about 1/4" thick on floured board. Cut out desire shapes, and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. More seeds may be pressed into the cookie if desired. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes or until light brown.
I use my Kitchen Aid to to the flour/butter mixing. It's so dry here in Colorado (not Iowa where she lived) that I usually add a bit of water to the eggs to make it all come together. Don't let it sit too long before cutting as it does toughen as the gluten develops. I usually just make elongated diamond shapes out of this cookie as the seeds make it hard to use cookie cutters. Oh, and don't cook until light brown. Take out when the cookie is just barely brown around the edge, I like them even less cooked. The texture of them is sort of chewy and lovely.
Kay was killed in a car accident in June 2000. I guess it's been ten years she's been gone. The world lost an amazing woman in that tragic occurrence. I miss her. I'll be back in a bit to talk about fudge.
So I completely loose all self-control around fudge. It's the tiny sugar crystal texture that gets me. Fudge made with other stuff to control the crystallization reaction is just wrong. The texture is wrong. I snub it should someone give it to me. I am without gratitude, it shames me to say. It goes to the chickens who are not as picky as I am. I made it all the time in the land of humidity where I was much lower in altitude. Since moving here (dry, high elevation) I have made fudge, but it hasn't turned out well - texture wise. Too dry and hard. Not a problem with the crystal size, but the fudge just turned to rock in the pan. The chips make great ice cream topping so it all worked out. But I really wanted to make the fudge right. So I thought and thought about it. Finally, as so often happens with me, I woke with a clear understanding of what I think was going wrong. I got into the kitchen and tried it and it worked very well.
So here's the recipe that works well for me, I'll talk about what I changed afterwords.
Old Fashioned Fudge for high altitude
2 cup white sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 sq unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup milk
4 tblsp butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
buttered 8 x 8 pan
In tall pan, combine sugar, salt, cocoa, baking chocolate, milk. Put over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate melted. The cocoa may be hard to mix in so you can use a whisk. Use a silicone scraper to clean the sides of the pan frequently. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a good boil.
Stop stirring. Put your candy thermometer in the pan. Turn the heat down a bit and let it simmer. Bring the candy up to 234F. This may take a while but keep a good watch on it.
When the mixture reaches 234F, take off the heat. Add the butter. Allow the mixture to cool to about 190F. Add vanilla extract.
Stir! Stir! Stir! It will take a while for the butter to get mixed in but it will. Eventually, the fudge will begin to be less shiny and start to thicken up a bit. Stir carefully now, until it gets a bit thicker, then put into the buttered pan. Flatten to the desired thickness; it may not fill the entire pan. Allow to cool and set up a bit more, but cut it before it completely cools. Try to not eat it all in one bash.
I added the salt, the unsweetened baking choc for more richness, and changed some of the method. I love the simplicity of the ingredients. Such magic from so few things.
I hope you and yours are having a Blessed Holiday Season!