Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumn!

Autumn. You know what that means. Pumpkin spice lattes (don't click that if you don't want to see the nutrition facts), pumpkin pie blizzards (October Blizzard of the month), Pumpkin bread, Jack-o-lanterns and the quintessential pumpkin pie.
Confession. (Taking a deep breath) I don't like pumpkin pie. Gasp! I know, I know. But it's ok. We can get through this together. I do, however love the spices and flavors that accompany pumpkin in all its traditional forms. So yesterday, I decided it was time to overcome my distaste for pumpkin and go for the gusto.

Spiced pecan PUMPKIN cookies.

And let me just tell you now, they are addictive, dangerous, heavenly morsels of Autumnal bliss. Are you drooling yet? Because I am, and I just ate one (or two or... nine)
1 1/2 sticks Butter
2 1/2 C. Flour
3/4 C. Granulated sugar
1/2 C. Brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. Ground cloves
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ground ginger
2 eggs
1 15 oz can Pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (I used salted butted and left this out)
1 C. Spiced pecans, chopped (recipe below)
48 Spiced pecan halfs (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of your mixer, begin by creaming the butter so it becomes light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugars and continue beating. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda and spices to the mixture. At this point, add the pumpkin to the mixer. When fully incorporated, add the chopped pecans. Begin adding the flour, half a cup at a time until all the flour has been added.
Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. Place a pecan half on top of each cookie and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let transfer to a cooling rack.

Spiced pecans:
In a dry pan, begin by toasting the pecan halves just until you start smelling the toasty goodness. Once you smell them add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of Sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the pan. Allow to caramelize, stirring fairly quickly so they don't burn. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper, parchment, silicone mat etc. to cool.
Use the same process for the chopped pecans. I just do the large pieces first so there isn't stuff left in the pan when I do those :)

Additional note: I though about making a cream cheese frosting to go with this, but I started eating them too fast and I didn't get that far. But I still think it would be delish.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Millionaire's shortbread fail

Ooey gooey caramel atop luscious shortbread and covered in chocolate. Oh yeah that will hit the spot beautifully.
The shortbread came out beautifully. Tender and buttery.
I was patient with the caramel. I let it work itself into a beautiful amber nectar for 45 minutes. I stared at it and didn't touch it like a good girl. The problem came when I added the sweetened condensed milk. I should have let it cook for a while longer, but I was too excited to top the shortbread and get it in the fridge to set. And of course there was the matter of my toddler who had woken up from his nap and wanted to play. So I poured the caramel onto the shortbread and into the fridge it went for a few hours, crossing my fingers the entire time.
I melted some beautiful Guttiard milk chocolate and created the most decadent ganache to finish off the masterpiece to come. Again, into the fridge to set.
Time for a midnight snack! I cut into the bars, anxious for a taste of this labor of lo
ve. But what happens next is a sad sad sight. Hoping against all hope that it is the laws of the universe, "the first piece is always the hardest and ugliest" I tread onward. Cutting, scoring, delicately removing slivers and chunks. With every stroke of the knife and lift of the spatula, more and more of the caramel splorches out. Yes, splorches- it's the only way to describe it.
What did I do with this mess, you ask? Well, what any sane person would do. Ate it. Was it good? Yes. Did it fulfill the decadent treat I so longed for? Yes. Was it ugly? Dear God, yes.
Will I revamp and try again? You betcha.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Almond poppyseed scones

I'll say it now, I'm sorry. These aren't cookies, but I wanted scones tonight. So scones are what you get! Light, fluffy and scrumptious!
1 (12.5oz. can) poppyseed filling
4 3/4 c. Flour
1 Tbs. Baking powder
3/4 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4tsp salt
1 c. + 1Tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. almond extract

3 Tbsp butter, melted
Large crystal sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling
sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda. Add sugar and salt. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, set on low and begin mixing. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add bit by bit, pulsing the mixer. The goal is to end up with a coarse mixture with pea-sized lumps of butter. Add the buttermilk all at once along with the vanilla and almond extracts, lemon zest and poppyseeds. Mix until the dough just comes together. If the dough is too dry you may need to add another splash of buttermilk. You still want to see butter chunks.
Dust your work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 18 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Using a pastry scraper, knife, exact-o knife etc. cut the dough into triangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tiramisu Whoopie Pies

Sorry for the hiatus. This summer has been full of activities and no time for baking (gasp!) and a lack of inspiration (double gasp!). But finally today, my muse is active again and here is what came of that.
Tiramisu Whoopie pies
For the cookies:
1/2 c. Butter
1 1/4c. Granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In the bowl of your mixer, whip butter until light. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and let fully incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla. Slowly begin adding dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Scoop dough onto parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
For the filling:
In a small saucepan combine 2Tbs flour, 1/2c. milk and a pinch of salt. Cook until mixture forms a thick paste. Stir constantly or you will have a clumpy mess. Cool completely, in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
In a bowl combine
1/2 c. Butter
1/2 c. Superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine, just toss sugar into a blender, food processor, magic bullet type appliance) This is just so that it doesn't make the frosting gritty.
Beat at high speed, then add the cooled milk/flour paste and add 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
Add 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese to the mixing bowl and continue to beat.

To assemble your whoopie pies, lay the cookies bottom side up and generously brush each one with Kaluha or espresso. Then pipe or spoon frosting onto the cookies and sandwich together with another cookie. Dust with some cocoa powder. At this point, if you have some semblance of self control then you can place them in the fridge to firm up just a bit, or if you are like me you will bite into one immediately.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nutella cookies

Whoops, sorry about the hiatus. This summer will bring lots of baking excitement. For now, though, Nutella cookies. I felt like this was in my mind for a reason, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I came home from a crazy night at work, pumped up on adrenaline, so what else would I do at 1am but bake cookies. It was the logical thing to do, really. I dug in my pantry for something to concoct and I came across the Nutella. Score! You can't go wrong with Nutella.
1/2c. Butter
1/2c. Granulated sugar
1/2c. Brown sugar
1/2c. Nutella
1 Egg
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 3/4c. Flour
1 Tsp. Baking soda
1/2 Tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cream butter and sugars together in a bowl with stand mixer or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add Nutella, egg and vanilla, continue mixing until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt to the dough and continue mixing until combined.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and scoop teaspoon sized balls.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

I later discovered where this inspiration came from. A friend had mentioned making Nutella cookies on facebook a while back (it must have stuck in my mind as an awesome idea). Her recipe is here. I will have to try this one (it has MORE Nutella in it, which could never be a bad thing).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Toffee and chocolate graham crackers

This recipe starts out from the amazing Deb over at the Smitten Kitchen that she adapted fromNancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery, and 101 Cookbooks. And of course I, then adapted to suit to fit my needs.

2 1/2 c. + 2Tbs Flour
1 c. Dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp. Kosher or coarse sea salt
7 Tbs Butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
1/3 c. Mild honey
5 Tbs. Milk (preferably whole milk)
2 Tbs. Vanilla extract
8 oz Chocolate covered toffee bits (such as Heath) divided 6 oz and 2 oz.

In your handy dandy mixer, combine the flour, sugar and baking soda. Begin adding butter a little at a time until the consistency of slightly moistened sand (Smitten kitchen says 'coarse meal' but I try not to copy too much- She also says you can use a food processor).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Slowly add to the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and mix until dough comes together. It will be very dense and sticky. Begin adding the 6oz. of toffee bits and mix into the dough.

Lay out some plastic wrap and lightly flour it. Dump out the dough and form into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. But again, I am impatient and cannot handle such a wait so I wrap it and put it in the freezer until it is firm.

Rolling the cookies:

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the fridge while you work with the other. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and begin to roll out the dough until approximately 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into your standard graham cracker rectangles, I used a pizza cutter because Santa didn't bring me a pastry cutter this Christmas. Transfer your rectangles to a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. Repeat with second half of dough and again with any scraps that remain after cutting your dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Before you put the sheets in the oven sprinkle the remaining toffee bits over the top and gently press into the cookies. To decorate, use a skewer and poke holes over the top and draw a line down the middle (just like the graham crackers you would buy).

Bake for 15-25 minutes until browned and slightly firm.

It was inevitable, do you want to know what I did next? It would have been blasphemy if I hadn't. S'mores, baby.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chai spice cookies

Ahh the spice of life. Complex, spicy and sweet all at the same time.

1 1/2 Sticks Butter
1/2 c. Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 c/ Flour
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground cloves
3/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom

Sugar sprinkle:
1/2 c. Confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cardamom
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cream butter with a mixer. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until combined. Begin adding the dry ingredients and continue mixing until combined well. Scrape dough out of the bowl and into some plastic wrap and form into a ball/mound/lump (whatever you want) and chill for about 30 minutes.
Flour your work surface and roll out dough to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter of your choosing and lay cookies on a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit on the sheet for about a minute to set after they are taken out of the oven. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.
For the sugar sprinkle, mix the sugar and the spices together and with a wire mesh sieve or a sifter, sprinkle over top of the cookies while they are just slightly warm.