Baking day…

Today will be a big baking day for me. I have to bake pecan pies and cookies today. On tap for today with the cookies are Peanut Butter Cup Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have to make 5 dozen of each for sale for the boys’ Philmont fundraiser. I have 3 pecan pies to make.

Last night I made the pecan pie crust dough and the pecan pie custard filling. I am up early this morning to start the baking process. The pie dough is very supple but it does need to warm up and soften a little bit after being in the fridge all night. 
I put the custard filling in two drink pitchers for a lack of a container big enough. I needed my mixer bowl to make the pie crust dough. I will bring it out to warm up as it conceals in the fridge a little bit. It will go back in the mixer bowl and will be whipped back up to a light froth on top before being added to the pie crusts. 
I am in love most of the time with the new “rolling pin” I bought. It is actually a fondant roller. The rolling pin I have, however, was my maternal grandparent’s. My maternal grandmother passed away in September of 1990 and my maternal grandfather passed away in December of 1995. It is well aged. It has developed some problems like a small crack that is forming and the ball bearings that are letting go or something as the handle is starting to come loose. 
Most importantly, I went looking for something a little bigger. Notice I said bigger, not heavier? This new one is not heavier than the trusty rolling pin it have loved for years. I also wanted something that would allow me to roll at an even thickness consistently. My mom would say she never has that problem. I will just roll my eyes now and keep my mouth shut. 
When you are rolling out pie dough it is not that big of a deal if your rolling job is precise and exact. If you are rolling out sugar cookies, again precision is not 100% necessary. However, when you start getting into finer things like Jammie Dodger cookies that are much more delicate than sugar cookies and do not have the same rise or lift of your traditional American cutout sugar cookie, precision matters. A variance in thickness means one or more of your cookies is over cooking on your pan. 

When I really decided that I wanted something with more precision was when I tried my hand at cheese crackers. I had problems getting them as thin as I needed them consistently. We are talking 1/16th of an inch across the board here! When I would cook them, some would over cook, some would be burnt, and some somewhere in between. Ocassionally it would hit that perfect cracker consistency. 

Anyway I had on one of my adventurous wanders through the baking and cake decorating aisles at Walmart and Hobby Lobby I saw the big Wilton Fondont Roller. It intrigued me but never really enough to buy it up until this point because I really liked my traditional rolling pin. Picture it as a rolling pin with training wheels. I suppose I was holding out for a traditional rolling pin with the same features. 

The problem with the Wilton one is it was so skinny in comparison to my old rolling pin and it is lighter too. I was not sure how this was going to be helpful to me or even a step forward. That aside, I was gaining a few inches in width on the traditional rolling pin. This was a bonus in my eyes. Most importantly, I had graduated “training wheels” so to speak. The roller comes with a set of bands that go on each end of the roller that are a certain thickness. This gives you a guide on where to stop rolling to get a consistent thickness across whatever you are rolling. Precision! Of course when you are using the bands you lose a couple of inches off both ends of the roller but it is still wider than my old traditional rolling pin. You also have to pay careful attention to not roll the bands over the edge of what you are rolling out. I have done that many times. Unfortunately, my Boos Block is almost not wide enough in one direction for the roller so I have to be careful when I am rolling that direction not to roll off the edge. 

All in all I am pleased with the Wilton Fondant Rolling Pin. Now the question my 13 year old son raised, “can you get different size rings?” I don’t think so unless Wilton sells them on their website because I bought my roller and rings separately at Micheal’s. That is the only package of rings I have seen anywhere. Keep in mind that the intended use case for this is rolling out fondant, not American Sugar Cookies.

All that being said, let me get back to the fun stuff…

I go through a lot of butter at my house. I mean a lot of butter! This right here is two pounds of butter. 

People ask me what makes the best cookies. It is this right here. Well there are a few things – butter, unbleached flour, and Penzys Vanilla. Nothing else will do. I will skimp on anything else but those things cannot be skimped on. 

I do not care what brand the butter is. As you can see in this picture, there are two different brands. It just needs to be unsalted sweet cream butter. I do have a preference for Kosher butter. This is because of my pork issues and butter that is not kosher can use pork rennat in its processing. I try to always buy Kosher butter to be safe. It does not mean it is more expensive, some of the store brands are Kosher. 

I also do not care what brand the flour is, it just needs to be unbleached all purpose flour. Do not fool yourself with trying to make your cookies healthy. These are cookies! They are not healthy! Recall the two pounds of butter? Just call them what they are and serve them as such – on ocassion. Many a cookie disaster comes into play when you introduce “whole wheat” anything to the recipe. I know, I have tried. Just go with unbleached and see how much it changes the flavor. You might be amazed at how different it changes the texture too. 

If you have never been to a Penzys Spice store and you live near one, what are you waiting for? Go! If you live near me and you have never been, give me a call. Find a sitter for your kids and we will go! You will find a new love. I will not say that you will buy everything down there but there are some things that are worth the drive and money. When I say I will only use their Vanilla, I mean it. It is worth every penny. When the cost of vanilla went up, I gulped and bought two bottles. It is awesome stuff. Their cocoa powder is better than anything you can buy at Kroger, Randall’s, or HEB. 

Now to go roll pie crusts and make those pecan pies…May Grandma Sansom smile down on us today. These are for you grandma!!!

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