Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Cookies on the Fly

March 18, 2012

Since I’m currently starring in my very own version of “The Terminal” (which might be tolerable if I could hang with Stanley Tucci, but is rather miserable under the circumstances), I think my time is best served by blogging cookie recipes and eating the ridiculously expensive chocolate-covered cherries I bought in the gift shop.  Wait; scratch that last part.  The cherries turned out to be encased in standard consumer packaging, and when I attempted to open the bag, it refused to rip just long enough to make me put some muscle into it, then gave way suddenly, showering chocolate-covered cherries all over the carpeting of gate D9.  Denied.  I am depressed.

So anyway, cookies.  This recipe comes from 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other Tempting Treats.  The cookie is extremely rich.  You know a cookie is rich when you have to use Nutella to cut the sweetness.  I’d double.  The daubs of dough are comparatively large, and the subsequent cookies disappeared fast.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Drops

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp chocolate and hazelnut spread

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.  Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt into the mixture, add the ground hazelnuts and chocolate chips, and stir until combined.

Scoop out tablespoons of the batter and shape into balls, then place them on the baking sheets, spaced well apart.  Use the dampened handle of a wooden spoon to make a hollow in the center of each cookie.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  When cold, fill the hollows with the chocolate and hazelnut spread.

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Om nom nom and repeat!

Holiday Baking: Sweets for the Sweet (and my family!)

January 31, 2012

Okay, so I am way behind on my blogging.  Since I last posted, I’ve tried 5 new recipes, not to mention all the batches of old favorites I’ve cranked out (Sour Cream Cookies and Margarita Cookies were back by popular demand).  I found two of my experiments (Brown Sugar Drops from the Betty Crocker book & Buttery Fork Cookies from the 1001 book) disappointing, so I won’t waste time posting them.  However, three of my holiday dessert projects are well worth the making, so here we go!

The first recipe I want to share is one I made with my dear friend in The Kelly Kitchen just before Christmas, in between giving bottles to her darling twin boys!  She’d clipped this recipe from a magazine and bought all the ingredients, but hadn’t had the time to make it what with becoming a mom a bit quicker than expected, so when I came to visit the new arrivals, we carved out a bit of time for baking while Daddy minded the boys.  I’m not sure which periodical published this one, but it was submitted by Carol Stuber, and it was yummy:  a perfect fall treat!

Caramel Apple Bars

Crust:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Filling:
4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled baking apples (see my previous post for tips on good baking apples)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 package (14 ounces) caramels
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda; mix well.  Stir in pecans if desired.  Set aside 2 cups.  Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.  For filling, toss apples with flour; spoon over the crust.  In a saucepan, melt the caramels and butter over low heat; drizzle over apples.  Top with the reserved oat mixture.  Bake at 400° for 25/30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool before cutting into bars.  We were impatient and didn’t follow that last bit of instruction, and they fell apart into a crumbly mess.  They were still delicious though.

Caramel Apple Bars

This next recipe is one I had done previously, but never posted.  We buy fresh oranges from H & S Citrus every winter.  It is by far the best citrus I’ve ever eaten, and with such good fruit on hand, I decided to try the recipe for Orange Drop Cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book when my sister gave it to me last Christmas.  They were delicious, so I made them again this year.  It may become a Christmas tradition, but only if I get faster at it.  Once I promised cookies to my niece and nephew, I couldn’t disappoint, but apparently it was an excruciatingly long wait, if the number of times I was asked “Are they done yet?” is any indication.

The cookies have a cake-like texture, and the refreshing orange flavor really comes through.  I recommend using fresh orange juice for both the cookie and icing.  I know it’s a bit more work, but it’s worth it, and you need real oranges to get the rind anyway, so just do it.  🙂

Orange Drop Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. grated orange rind
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Orange Butter Icing (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 400°.  Mix shortening, sugar and egg thoroughly.  Stir in orange juice and rind.  Stir dry ingredients together; blend in.  Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until delicately browned on edges.  Mine always seem to brown quicker.  Watch them closely.  Frost with Orange Butter Icing.

Orange Butter Icing

2 1/2 tbsp. soft butter
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange rind

Blend butter and sugar together.  Stir in juice and rind until smooth.

Orange Drop Cookies

The last recipe I want to recommend is one I came across on Facebook.  It has already been blogged far more thoroughly than I could do it, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just link to it with this recommendation:  make these!  They are the perfect treat for those of you who eat so much cookie dough that you wind up baking very few cookies.  My darling nephew declared them “one of the best chocolate things I ever ate.”

And on that note, I’ll leave you to your kitchens.  I acquired three new dessert cookbooks recently (Chocolate, The New York Times Dessert Cookbook and Miette), so be on the lookout for new experiments to come!  Next on the docket is Chocolate Hazelnut Drops, from the 1001 book.  Wish me luck!

Baking Challenge: Crunchy-Topped Cocoa Cake

September 15, 2011

This week’s recipe is one I’ve made a few times before, so the only challenge involved was timing its preparation and baking to work around the prep and baking of a chicken pie in order to have both done early enough that my dinner guest would be able to eat before midnight.  I’m much better at baking than cooking.  Generally when I shoot to have a meal done at 6, we end up eating at 8.  Nevertheless, I did get both the chicken pie and the cake done and fed my guest in a semi-timely manner.  This recipe comes from a little book my best friend got me called Hershey’s Cocoa Easy Baking.  It’s pretty straightforward, it always turns out moist,  and between the rich chocolate cake and the caramelized topping, it is sinfully delicious, so it’s one of my standard go-to recipes when I need a great dessert to come together quickly.

Crunchy-Topped Cocoa Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I once used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in this by accident, and it was a happy discovery.  It made the cake even more awesome, and I’ve used it ever since.  I highly recommend trying it with that variation.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Broiled Topping (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.  Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat with a spoon or whisk just until the batter is smooth and well blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  I’ve never been a big fan of the toothpick test; it’s not the most reliable.  I judge whether a cake is done as my mother taught me.  I tap the surface of the cake lightly.  If it springs back into place, it’s done.  If it sinks a bit, it needs longer.  Meanwhile, prepare Broiled Topping; spread on warm cake.  Set oven to broil; place pan about 4 inches from heat.  Broil 3 minutes or until top is bubbly and golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Broiled Topping

Combine 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter or margarine, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans are good), 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes and 3 tablespoons light cream or evaporated milk in a small bowl until well blended.

Voila!

What are you still doing here?  Go bake this.  🙂  Bis bald!

Baking Challenge: Chocolate Marzipan Cookies

August 29, 2011

Last week’s recipe comes from one of the books I appropriated from mom’s collection, aptly and creatively named Cookies.  I only bake cookies involving a rolling-pin when I have extra time and patience, and it’s been a boring week, so fortunately I had both.  Given the double rolling and cutting involved to make a top and bottom for these cookies, I was questioning somewhere in the middle of shouting at my sticky dough (which had perversely and deliberately adhered itself to the rolling-pin) whether they’d be worth it or not.  They actually were.  The marzipan punches up the mildness of the chocolate cookie nicely.  It was a good flavor complement.  Time and patience allowing, I would definitely make these again.

Chocolate Marzipan Cookies

scant 1 cup unsalted butter (I used salted; it was fine.)
generous 1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
7 ounces white almond paste (I used actual marzipan, which apparently is a type of almond paste with more sugar added which makes it easier to mold, but it seems there is disagreement in the culinary world as to how each is defined.  Surprise, surprise.)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (Just buy chips.  Eliminate the chopping.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease two large baking sheets.  Cream the butter with the sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well.

Sift the flour and cocoa over the mixture.  Stir in, first with a wooden spoon, then with clean hands, pressing the mixture together to make a fairly soft dough.  If the dough is too sticky to roll, chill it for about 30 minutes, then try again.

Roll out about half the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Using a 2 inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds, re-rolling the dough as required until you have about 36 rounds.

Cut the almond paste into about 36 equal pieces.  Roll into balls, flatten slightly and place one on each round of dough.  I found 7 ounces of marzipan was more than I needed.  The balls need to be small enough that you can put the second dough round on top and still have room to seal the two together.  Leave about half an inch of clearance around the marzipan ball so you can seal the two cookies without stretching the dough too much and tearing it.  Roll out the remaining dough, cut out more rounds, then place on top of the almond paste.  Press the dough edges to seal.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies have risen well.  They don’t rise much to speak of, but the baking time is accurate.  Cool completely.  Melt the white chocolate, spoon into a paper piping bag and pipe onto the biscuits.  I couldn’t find our pastry bags, and I’ve never used paper for this.  I just spooned it into the corner of a Ziploc bag and snipped the end.  Don’t snip too much though.  You want the hole to be very small, or it’ll all just ooze out.

Chocolate Marzipan Cookies

Until next week then!