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.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cinnamon roll cookies

Because, in life, things can spiral out of control. But with a cookie, there is an end in sight.

1/2 c. Butter
1 c. Sugar
1 egg
4 oz. cream cheese
1 Tbs. Milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. Flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. Butter, divided
1/2 c. sugar
1 -2 Tbs. Cinnamon

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating. Add egg, when combined, add milk and vanilla.
Begin adding dry ingredients slowly and continue mixing until dough comes together. It will be sticky.
Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a nice square mound. Wrap in the plastic and chill for 2 hours. Or, if you are impatient like me, put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
After chilling, flour your counter, and roll out your dough, keeping it in its rectangular shape until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Spread the top of the dough with 1 Tbs of the butter. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and generously spread it over the dough, reserving approximately 3-4 Tbs for later.
Begin rolling the the dough into a log, starting on the long edge. Wrap in plastic again and chill for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cut into 1/4 inch rounds and place on a parchment or silicone mat line cookie sheet and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over each cookie and bake for about 14 minutes. They will not brown very much, if they do, they will be a bit too dry. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Going nuts!

Sorry to everyone who isn't really a fan of nuts. I promise to make this all worthwhile for you. The upcoming recipes will be nut-free. If I'm feeling adventurous, I'll even go gluten free.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The cookie that started it all

These are the cookies that I created when I was, oh, three (?) in my Grandparent's kitchen. It was a kitchen filled endlessly with every baking essential (and non-essential) that you could possibly imagine. Instead of going to daycare, when my parents worked, I got to go to Grandma and Grandpa care, a luxury that I get to have now that I have my own little one. While on these adventures, I got to explore and play in the kitchen with my Grandma. There was always a project that needed to be baked, and I was there to measure ingredients and operate the mixer.
Ez- bake ovens are for sissies, I had the real thing.
So, here was the beginning. Digging through the cupboards for ingredients and climbing up on the bookshelf filled with cookbooks for the jar of nuts, these are the cookies that emerged.
Butterscotch cashew cookies
2 1/4 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1 3/4 sticks (14 Tbs) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Granulated sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Eggs
8 oz. Butterscotch chips
1 - 1 1/2 cups Salted Cashews, yes, SALTED!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Sift flour and baking soda together in a small bowl, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular bowl, if using a hand mixer) beat butter until light and fluffy, add sugars and continue beating. Add vanilla and eggs, one by one. Slowly add flour mixture while beating. Once the dough has come together add the chips and nuts until just folded into the dough.
Scoop spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined or silicone mat lined cookie sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes until beautifully browned and puffy.
Let sit on the cookie sheet for about a minute before transferring to a wire rack.
Make sure to eat one before they are completely cooled. These are far too delicious to pass up when the are warm.

*Disclaimer, I take no responsibility for you burning your mouth if you choose to eat them while they are entirely too hot.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mama's Margarita Cookie

The laundry is piled and staring at me to be put away.
The floor is begging to be mopped.
The poor babe is cutting the final edges of two molars.
No matter how much I try to keep up with cleaning and organizing, there are always five more projects waiting for me.
So I find myself at an impasse. Do I tackle the tasks, or do I sit down with a margarita (Margarita cookie, that is)?
The answer, my friends, is cookie. ALWAYS COOKIE.
My plan was to make these for Cinco de Mayo, but I could wait no longer.
Mama's Margarita Cookie
1/2 c. Butter
1 c. Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 c. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Lime zest
Juice of that lime you just zested
Green sugar

Tequila glaze
1/2 c. Powdered Sugar
1 Tbs. Tequila of your choosing
1 1/2-2 Tbs Lime juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Beat butter until light, add sugar and continue beating. Add egg and vanilla and lime juice. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, begin adding the remaining dry ingredients slowly. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally, continue mixing until dough comes together.
Cut two sheets of waxed paper. Divide dough in half and roll into "logs" 2" in diameter. Refrigerate until firm (2-4 hours) or if you are impatient, like me and want your cookies sooner, freeze for 1 hour, or so.
Remove dough from your chosen vessel of chilling and roll the logs in the green sugar. Cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Place on parchment lined or silicone mat lined cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack, when completely cooled drizzle the glaze over the cookies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Rocky rocky road cookies

Life is filled with rocky roads. Bittersweet, sticky and nutty moments, and times when you need the extra jolt. Even though we all go through this, there is no reason that we can't have a cookie take with us.
9 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. Butter
1 1/2 c. Brown sugar
3 eggs
1 3/4 c. Flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c. cocoa (heaping)
2 tsp. Instant hazelnut coffee (or any flavor you want)
1 1/2 c. Hazelnuts, chopped
1 12 oz. package Chocolate chips
1 c. Mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt semisweet chocolate and butter. In your mixer combine the melted chocolate and butter with the sugar and mix until light. Add eggs, one by one letting each one fully incorporate into the mixture.
Sift the dry ingredients together, then slowly add to the mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the nuts and chocolate chips while on low speed to fold into dough. Turn off the mixer and pour in the marshmallows, fold them into the dough as well.
Scoop dough into balls and place on parchment lined or silicone mat lined cookie sheets. Flatten tops of cookies with a glass (just something with a flat side) and bake for approximately 14 minutes. You will start to see a beautiful sheen on the top of the cookies when they are done.

Something tells me that you will be trying these, like now. Because life just wouldn't be complete without them.

The home from vacation, but I'd rather still be there cookie

Home from Costa Rica.
It would be nice if vacation could last just a little bit longer.

1 c. Butter
1 c. Brown sugar
3/4 c. Granulated sugar
2 1/2 c. Flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 c. flaked and sweetened coconut
1/2 c. Macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 c. Dried mango, chopped

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add sugars and continue beating. Once the sugar is fully incorporated add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Keep your mixer going. Slowly add the flour and baking powder. Once the batter comes together, begin adding the mix ins. Keep your mixer on low speed to fold in the coconut, nuts and mango.
Scoop dough into 1-1 1/2 inch balls, whatever you like. Place on parchment lined or silicone mat lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes- you'll see them start to turn a beautiful golden brown.