Showing posts with label challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label challenge. Show all posts

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers do Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

P1020523 It turned out perfect.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to dip the cookies in the espresso mixture for longer.  I was afraid of them becoming mushy!

And what an incredible challenge this was!  And not because I screwed anything up this time!  They made us make this from complete 100% scratch.  Right down to  making our own mascarpone cheese.  I had to read through the directions several times just to be sure they didn’t want us making our own vanilla and rum extracts!!!

I truly loved this challenge and for me it was probably one of the most rewarding.  If I had never done this challenge I would NEVER have made my own mascarpone cheese and it is something that is so delicious, simple and satisfying to do!  Thank you my dear, sweet friend Deeba and Aparna for this wonderful challenge!!!

P1020514 Mascarpone cheese, zabaglione, pastry cream, and Ladyfinger/Saviardi Biscuits

Due to time restrictions for me (we are leaving town today for a BMX Race) I only made a small one in a bread pan, but it was truly delicious…

The recipes for this challenge are presented in the following order:

A. Tiramisu (includes zabaglione & vanilla pastry cream)
B. Mascarpone Cheese
C. Ladyfinger/ Savoiardi Biscuits

MANDATORY:

You MUST make your own savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes. You must also make the zabaglione and pastry cream using the given recipes.
If diet or health restrictions do not allow you to use these recipes, please go ahead and use one of the alternatives provided or other suitable recipes to make them, but please include links to the original recipe in your DB post.
Sponge cake may be not be used as a substitute. After all, a large part of this challenge is making those biscuits.

VARIATIONS:

Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.

PREPARATION TIME:

Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.
Making tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. So this challenge requires some prior planning.

Please read the instructions as you need to begin making the mascarpone at least a day in advance.
The zabaglione & pastry cream also need 4 hours to an overnight for chilling, as does the main dessert. The flavours mature after an overnight rest, and the dessert can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Once assembled, the tiramisu can be frozen till you need to serve it, in case you are not serving it immediately.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

  • A double boiler (a stainless steel bowl that fits inside a large saucepan/ pot without touching the bottom will do)
  • Two or three large mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • A medium sized heavy bottomed pan
  • Fine meshed strainer (to remove lumps from pastry cream, if any)
  • Electric mixer, hand held
  • Serving dish (or dishes) of choice (8" by 8" should be fine)
  • Spatula for folding and spoons as required
  • Plastic wrap/ clingfilm
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper or nonstick liners
  • Pastry bag (can be disposable)
  • Plain 3/4" pastry bag tip or cut the end of pastry bag to this size (If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off)
  • Oven
  • Cooling rack
  • Thin-bladed spatula for removing ladyfinger biscuits from the baking sheets
  • Instant-read thermometer (optional)
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or cotton napkin for draining mascarpone
  • Fine-mesh strainer for shaking cocoa powder on tiramisu

TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:
For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered. (I should have soaked mine longer!!!)
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients:
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method:

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Thanks again Deeba and Aparna!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers do Nanaimo Bars

And lucky me…I grew up eating these!!!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

I almost missed making these.  Something about them having to be posted on the 27th of the month just messes me up bad but with bold determination and severely lacking eyesight I forged ahead and got these done!!!

I knew I had to make the graham crackers first.  I had already decided that as interesting as it would be to do them gluten free I really didn’t have the time or the money to be hunting down ingredients I would only be using once so I cheated and made them with Whole Wheat Graham Flour and they really are delicious!!!  I made these this morning and it went off without a hitch.  Had them out of the oven and I was on my way to the eye doctor.  Well. by the time I got home I couldn’t see a thing.  He had tricked me a dilated my eyes.  I was virtually blind, but the DB Challenge must go on!!!  I cut the recipe and copied it and then made it REALLY, REALLY BIG so that I could at least make out the measures.  The whole time I am kicking myself for leaving it til the very last minute…:-(

Anyway…these turned out beautifully despite all of my self inflicted challenges and it brought back a lot of great childhood memories for me!!!

P1020442 These were taken after my eyes were dilated by the stupid eye doctor.  I was lucky to find the camera!!!

Graham Cracker Recipe (that I used) by Cupcake Project

Ingredients:

4 T (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
6 T sugar
4 T honey (Some graham crackers use half honey and half molasses. You might consider trying that as a variation.)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t water
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 C graham flour (If you can't get a hold of graham flour, there are plenty of graham cracker recipes that use regular whole wheat flour such as this graham cracker recipe from Baking Bites. You may also be able to directly substitute whole wheat flour in this recipe, but I haven't tested it and I make no promises.)
3/4 C all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the butter, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the honey and blend.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the butter mixture.
  5. Add the salt, graham flour, and all-purpose flour to the mixture and blend thoroughly. The dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too "tacky" add a little more graham flour.
  6. Liberally dust a surface with graham flour and roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. For convenience in handling, cut the rolled dough into three or four sections that will fit on your cookie sheet. (I am not good at rolling things out. It doesn't come up too often since I mostly make cupcakes. To make my life easier, I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper and rolled the dough directly on the cookie sheets. That way I didn't need to worry about the dough breaking when I lifted it onto a cookie sheet.)
  7. With a knife, score the dough, without cutting through, into 2 1/2 inch squares. (Boring! Since your graham crackers are not store-bought, they don't have to be square. Use your cookie cutters to make them any shape you want!)
  8. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork. (I did this because those little pricks do make them look like graham crackers, whatever shape they are.)
  9. Using a spatula, place the sections of scored cracker dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I didn't have to do this since I rolled right on the cookie sheet.)
  10. Bake on the first side for 8 minutes, then turn the cracker over and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes. (Cheryl of Free Range Living said that she found that flipping wasn't necessary. I agree. I left out the flip step.)
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on racks. (They weren't quite crispy when I removed them. However, they hardened up as soon as they cooled.)

Here how is the recipe as it should have been done for gluten free:

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

P1020445

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Okay, I really loved these and despite all of my self inflicted trouble with them I would make them again and again!  Almost every family special occasion that we had we had the on the dessert table.  Such a treat to be able to make these myself.  Thanks Lauren for the opportunity and the reminder!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Cookies – The very last day…sort of

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

P1020348

So for my 12th and final cookie (even though I am days over the deadline :() I chose to make something that wasn’t even part of the bon appétit Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.  I really need to feel like I have completed the challenge of 12 Days of Cookies though. This cookie is something that I needed to make for one of my girl’s class parties.  And one that she could help me with!!!  It’s easy and comes together really fast too…Man, did I ever cheat on this one!

Chocolate Haystacks (www.bigoven.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or marg.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 7 tblsp. cocoa.
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut.

Preparation

Boil first 4 ingredients for 1 minute

Then add last 3 ingredients

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto foil lined cookie sheet and refrigerate.

Would I make these again?  Oh yes I would.  Took me about 10 minutes to pull it all together and the kids loved them…

Forgive me for cheating and not doing another bon appétit one but the girl’s really did want to help!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 11 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crinkles

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

P1020338

For the 11th and almost final cookie I was forced choose to make the Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crinkles.  You see my daughter has been home sick for the past 2 days I inadvertently let her have some say in the cookie choice.  Truth be told I am a little tired of the flavor combinations of these cookies.  Lots of nuts, chocolate, cranberry and mint but without a lot of variety in the cookies themselves.  Oh well there is always next year and I am on my 11th batch of cookies so it is kinda hard to be too enthusiastic about cookies right now…hehehe!

Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Cookies

These fudgy treats, also known as crinkles, get their name from the small wrinkles that develop on top as they bake.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Coarsely crushed peppermints
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolates melt and mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat. Mix in finely crushed mints and 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Whisk eggs into chocolate mixture, 1 at a time, then whisk in vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl to blend. Whisk flour mixture, then chocolate chips into chocolate mixture. Cover batter and chill until firm enough to shape, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 generous tablespoonful for each cookie, roll dough between moistened palms into 1 1/4-inch-diameter balls, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked on top but still soft to touch in center, about 11 minutes. Let stand on sheets 5 minutes. Press coarsely crushed mints onto tops of cookies or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Transfer to racks; cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper in refrigerator.)

chocolate peppermint crinkles 2

Would I make these again? I think so.  I really liked them and so did the girls.  T. didn’t much like them and described their taste as “eating a chocolate cookie right after brushing your teeth” nice huh?  They were definitely easy enough to make and right now that is exactly what I was looking for.  They certainly would look pretty on a holiday cookie platter too…

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 10 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Brownie Thins!

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

brownie thins

For the 10th cookies I decided to make Brownie Thins.  I needed something that was quick and easy and wanted something chocolate.  These should have fit the bill.  Several of my partners in crime had made these so I did know what I was up against.  Some issues with the part of the plastic wrap being used to spread these out so I skipped that part and just used the back of a spoon to spread them out.  I also had no pistachios so I used cashews…

Brownie Thins

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Directions:

  • Position rack in lowest third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 baking sheets. Place butter and chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high power until almost completely melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar and egg; whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add flour, both extracts, and salt; stir just to blend. Let batter stand 10 minutes.

  • Scoop rounded teaspoonfuls batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing apart (12 per sheet). Spray sheet of plastic wrap lightly with nonstick spray. Place, sprayed side down, over cookies. Using fingers, press each mound into 2 1/2- to 2 3/4-inch round. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle pistachios over rounds. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until slightly darker at edges and firm in center, about 7 minutes. Cool on sheet 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack; cool completely.

  • Would I make these again?  Nope.  These were soooo not forgiving.  I found them to be very bland tasting and not at all what I had hoped.  I even added salt to the tops of the last couple of batches hoping that would make them sing to me.  Too bad too because these were really a fast and easy cookie to make!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Day 9 of the 12 Days of Cookies - White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    P1020258

    For Day 9 I choose to make White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle.  Not sure why I choose this recipe as everyone in the house is rather put off by white chocolate.  But make it I did and I am so glad about it.  These cookies are delicious!  They turn into a nice hard cookie like brittle and then the candy melts and hardens inside as well.  Just a really perfect cookie and really, really pretty too!

    White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 10 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped into 1/3-inch pieces, divided
    • 3/4 cup coarsely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies (about 6 ounces), divided

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk melted butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in 1 cup chopped white chocolate and 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy.

    • Transfer dough to prepared sheet. Press dough into 14x8-inch rectangle, about 3/8 inch thick. Bake cookie until top is firm and dark golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

    • Stir remaining white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle about half of melted chocolate in thin lines over cooled cookie. Sprinkle remaining crushed peppermint candies over chocolate. Drizzle remaining white chocolate over top. Let stand until white chocolate sets, about 1 hour. Break cookie into irregular 2- to 3-inch pieces. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

    P1020252

    Would I make these again?  Oh yes I would, and maybe even for Saturday for a bake sale.  These are wonderful.  Crunchy, chewy, sweet and gooey!  LOVE, LOVE, Love them!

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Day 8 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Chocolate Mint Cookies!

    image 

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    Day 8 of the 12 Days of Cookies brought me back to wanting chocolate.  These Chocolate Mint Cookies fit the bill perfectly too.  Just the right amount of mint and I thought I would pretty them up with just a drizzle of chocolate and some sparkling white sugar…

    P1020246

    Chocolate Mint Cookies

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

    Directions:

    Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in peppermint extract and vanilla extract. Beat in sugar in 3 additions. Add egg and beat until blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended (dough will be sticky).

    Divide dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as aid, form dough on each into 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate dough until well chilled, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

    Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops and edges are dry to touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets with cookies to racks; cool completely. Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool melted chocolate until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes. Dip fork into melted chocolate, then wave fork back and forth over cookies, drizzling melted chocolate thickly over cookies in zigzag pattern. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. (Cookies can be made 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.)

    P1020243

    Would I make these again?  Yes I would.  They are a good sturdy cookie that could be dressed up real easily for a holiday platter!  Everyone liked them even people who are not huge mint fans.  Really liked these ones!

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Day 7 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Coconut-Orange Snowballs!

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    So this is the 7th cookie I have made for the 12 days of cookies.  Unfortunately this is the 8th day of the project!  All I am going to say is better luck next year!  There is just no way I cold keep up the pace!

    For the 7th cookie I choose to make the Coconut-Orange Snowballs.  They looked so elegant on all the plates I had seen.  Fortunately the coconut flavor is real mild because I didn’t use the coconut extract in it just the toasted coconut as no one in the house is really a huge fan of coconut.

    P1020238

    Coconut-Orange Snowballs

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted, then measured)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
    • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake coconut on rimmed baking sheet until light golden, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

    Using electric mixer, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and both extracts in bowl to blend well. Beat in flour, orange peel, and salt. Stir in coconut. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Soften dough slightly before shaping.

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 level tablespoon dough for each cookie, roll dough between palms of hands into balls. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until golden on bottom but pale on top, about 18 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; cool 5 minutes. Place remaining 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar in bowl. Roll hot cookies in powdered sugar, covering completely. Cool cookies on rack. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again, coating generously. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)

    Would I make these again?  Don’t think so.  I found them a little dry.  That could have been my fault for skipping the 3/4 tsp of coconut extract but I doubt it.  They do look pretty though with all the icing sugar on them!!!

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    We are on the 6th Day!!!  Halfway done and so far I have been keeping up.  Now it would be a whole other story if you asked my family how I was doing…laundry half done, kitchen perpetually a mess.  You get the picture right?

    Anyway for the 6th day of the 12 Days of Cookies I had decided to make the Coconut Orange Snowballs but when I pulled out my coconut I realized that the kids have been nibbling on it and there is not nearly enough left for the recipe!  Quick change of plans.  I have things to do today.  Decided on the Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans because I have some really yummy Callebaut Chocolate for the glaze!

    P1020236

    Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans

    Ingredients:

    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or coffee powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup whipping cream
    • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 10-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Sift flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until dough clumps together. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of prepared tart pan.

    Bake shortbread until firm around edges and baked through but slightly soft in center, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Gently remove pan sides. Using large sharp knife, cut warm shortbread into 16 wedges. Cool completely on pan bottom on rack.

    Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Let stand until glaze begins to thicken but is still pourable, about 10 minutes. Place shortbread wedges on rack set over large baking sheet. Spoon glaze over shortbread, allowing some of glaze to run down sides and spreading over sides with small spatula. Chill just until chocolate is firm, about 45 minutes.

    P1020233

    Would I make these again?  Yes I would.  These were truly delicious.  Once I tasted them though I didn’t want too much chocolate on them but I did want some nuts so I dipped them in chocolate and added some chopped pecans to them.  Now that was GOOD!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – a bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Day5…Orange-Almond Lace Cookies

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    P1020227

    Day 5 and the cookies keep coming!  Today’s cookie is an Orange-Almond Lace Cookie.  I am truly not a fan of almonds but after the pecan lace cookies I made I really wanted to try these one!  I am so glad that I did.  They are truly delicious.  Tony is taking them to work today and I am sure they will be a hit!

    Orange-Almond Lace Cookies

    yield: Makes about 24

    The egg makes these a little less delicate (and less likely to break) than traditional lace cookies.

    Ingredients:

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped almonds
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir 3/4 cup butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts, sugar, flour, orange peel and salt; then stir in egg. Drop some batter by generous tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart (cookies will spread).

    Bake cookies until lacy and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Gently slide parchment paper with cookies onto rack; cool completely. Transfer cookies to paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter, lining cooled baking sheet with clean parchment for each batch. (Can be made ahead. Store between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.)

    P1020228

    Would I make these again?  I think so.  They were really good and very fast and simple to make.  But are they a “to die for” cookie?  Not really.  A nice addition to a cookie platter though!

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – a bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Cranberry-Orange Drop Cookies

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    orange cranberry

    For Day 4 of the 12 Days of Cookies I choose to make these flavorful little ones because after Day 3’s disaster with a rolled and cut cookie I was taking no chances at all!

    Really glad too.  These are delicious and decidedly a very adult cookie!  They have fresh and dried cranberries in them as well as lots of orange zest and then to top all of that off you add fresh ginger to the mix!  Just a wonderfully full flavored cookie.  The only thing I changed was adding pistachios.  For some reason I can’t find any plain just the really salty ones so I use pecans and skipped the walnuts as well.  I also added more orange zest after reading the other comments on the recipe.

    Cranberry-Orange Drop Cookiesyield: Makes about 48Colorful bits of cranberries, walnuts, and pistachios make these simple cookies sparkle for the holidays.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups (packed) dried sweetened cranberries (about 10 ounces)
    • 1/3 cup orange juice
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
    • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
    • 3/4 cup chopped unsalted natural pistachios
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

    Directions:

    Butter 3 baking sheets. Combine dried sweetened cranberries and orange juice in small bowl. Let stand until dried cranberries soften slightly, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

    Whisk all purpose flour, ground cinnamon, baking powder, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until just blended.

    Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Using electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter and golden brown sugar in large bowl until smooth. Add 1 egg, minced ginger, vanilla extract, and grated orange peel and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in chopped walnuts, chopped pistachios, coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, and dried cranberries with any juices that have accumulated.

    Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing tablespoonfuls about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 baking sheet at a time, until golden and almost firm to touch in center, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool cookies completely. (Cookies can be made 2 days ahead. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature.)

    orange cranberry 2

    Would I make these again?  Yes I would and that is so refreshing after yesterdays cookie fail!  These were really, really good and quite adult like.  I loved the pecans in them and the fresh cranberries and ginger.  Really good…

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – a bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Chocolate Peppermint Stars

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    CHocolate stars

    So, I guess you can tell that they don’t look very star like right?  These cookies and I were doomed right from the start.  Still not sure where I went wrong.  I followed the recipe to a tee.  The only thing I can think of is that it was just too stinky hot in here and the recipe is kinda weird.  No egg, no baking soda or baking powder.  Hmmm…

    Here is my star attempt…

    P1020201

    Not very star like right?  I decided that I was not gong to waste any more chocolate on these cookies so I just put the candy cane crumbles on them before I baked them.  I realized after that wasn’t such a good idea so on the drop ones I made I just pressed it into it when it was baked.

    Chocolate Peppermint Stars
    Servings: Makes about 32 cookies. 

    Ingredients
    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
    Preparation
    • Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients; beat until dough holds together. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm enough to roll, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.

    • Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 3-inch star-shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps into ball. Wrap; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

    • Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until tops feel firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used. DO AHEAD Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.

    • Stir chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle chocolate over cookies in zigzag lines. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Drizzle remaining chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store cookies between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.

    CHocolate stars 2

    Would I make these again?  No way!  As RJ of Flamingo Musings pointed out they could be saved by adding an egg, more flour, change to regular sugar and add baking powder...Hehehe!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies…

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    For my first cookie and to kick of the event I have chosen and rather simple cookie. I based my choice on the ingredients I had on hand in my pantry and the use of fresh cranberries was intriguing! Lucky for me they are totally delicious! I did skip the white chocolate as no one in the house is a fan and I had major problems with the drizzle…you still get the idea right?

    cranberry

    Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (bonappetit.com)

    Chunks of fresh cranberries and dark, milk, and white chocolate chips dress up oatmeal cookies for the holidays.

    Makes about 30

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)
    Preparation
    • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

    • Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

    • Stir chopped milk chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until milk chocolate sets, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

    cranberry2

    Would I make these again? Not so sure. Yes, they were good but I already have a cranberry, chocolate, oatmeal cookie that I love…

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    Daring Baker Challenge: Cannoli!!!

    The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

    P1020146

    I was so excited about this challenge!  I even did it the weekend before it was due and anyone that knows me knows that this is unheard of.  I absolutely loved these.  I made a few mistakes and changes along the way…I thought the recipe said 1 cup of cocoa???!!! and it only called for 1 tsp, (I ended up adding about 2 Tbsp) hence the darkness of my dough and then I made up the filling as I went along and it turned out perfect!

    Below is the recipe as written but for my filling I used 1 lb of mascarpone cheese, 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar (to taste), 1 tsp vanilla extract and lots of grated Dark semi-sweet Callebaut chocolate!

    Don’t be afraid of these!  This was an incredible recipe and experience.  Oh I also used a one inch dowel cut into 8 inch pieces for my forms…easy as can be!

    Equipment:
    Cannoli forms/tubes - optional, but recommended if making traditional shaped cannoli. Dried cannelloni pasta tubes work just as well!
    Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
    Deep fat frying thermometer. although the bread cube or bit of dough test will work fine.
    Metal tongs
    Brass or wire skimmer OR large slotted spoon
    Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
    Cooling rack
    Paper bags or paper towels
    Pastry Brush
    Cheesecloth
    Sieve or fine wire mesh strainer
    Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
    Food Processor or Stand Mixer – also optional, since you can make the dough by hand, although it takes more time.
    Rolling pin and/or Pasta roller/machine
    Pastry or cutting board
    Round cutters - The dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife.
    Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
    Plastic Wrap/Clingfilm
    Tea towels or just cloth towels

    Required: Must make cannoli dough and shells. If you don’t have or do not want to purchase cannoli forms, which I would never ask of any of you, you could simply cut out circles, squares, or any shapes you want and stack them with the filling of your choice to make stacked cannoli's aka Cannolipoleons (directions below). If desired, you can channel MacGuyver and fashion something heat proof to get traditional shaped cannoli (6-8 inch sawed off lengths of a wooden broom stick or cane, sanded down and oiled, is THE authentic cannoli form!), or non-traditional shapes such as creating a form to make bowls, or even using cream horns if you happen to have them. Mini cannoli would be great too, and I've provided links to retailers of cannoli forms of all sizes.

    Also, for those who don't like to cook or bake with alcohol - grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, apple juice..any sweet juice of a fruit, especially ones used in or to make wine, can be substituted. Just add a little more vinegar to insure you get enough acid to relax the dough

    Variations: The filling is YOUR choice! Anything you want to fill them with is perfectly fine, sweet or savory, or you can use the filling recipe provided – making whatever changes you want to it. Cannoli would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert table/spread. In many Italian households, during the holidays, cannoli is always part of the dessert offerings. You could also make a Thanksgiving themed cannoli, like pumpkin cannoli (I came up with a great pumpkin filling recipe below) or apples, pecans, walnuts, any dried fruits etc. An idea to gussy up your cannoli is; dipping the rims of the shell in melted chocolate and rolling in chopped nuts or sprinkles, then letting them set prior to filling. Dipping or pressing mini chocolate chips into the filled ends OR just stirring mini chocolate chips into the filling prior to stacking or filling whatever shaped shells you come up with, is another great idea and makes a nice presentation The sky is the limit here, be creative! Naturally, if you have any dietary restrictions, by all means, go with it. I’ve provided a link to a gluten-free cannoli recipe and a slightly savory vegan cannoli recipe to help get you started.

    Bonus option: Make your own ricotta and/or mascarpone cheese! http://lisamichele.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/eating-my-curds-and-ditching...
    http://www.bakingobsession.com/2009/05/02/homemade-mascarpone-cheese/

    Technically, I know, this is not baking, and if you prefer to steer clear of the deep fry, you can bake the shell. You won’t get the snappy, blistery texture and appearance that make cannoli so special, but I’m sure it’ll taste good nonetheless. Here’s a link where the cook bakes some of his cannoli shells: http://www.ifood.tv/network/cannoli/recipes

    Lidisano’s Cannoli
    Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
    Prep time:
    Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
    Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
    Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
    Assemble – 20–30 minutes

    RECIPE NOTE: THE EQUIVALENTS FROM THIS RECIPE WERE PREPARED USING THIS CONVERSION SITE: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/index.asp.

    CANNOLI SHELLS
    2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
    1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
    1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
    3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
    1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
    Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
    1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
    Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
    1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
    Confectioners' sugar

    Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

    CANNOLI FILLING
    2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
    1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
    1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
    3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
    2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
    3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

    Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

    DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
    1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

    2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

    3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

    4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

    5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

    8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

    9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

    Pasta Machine method:
    1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

    2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

    3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

    For stacked cannoli:
    1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

    2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

    DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:
    1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

    2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

    ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
    1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

    2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

    TIPS AND NOTES:
    - Dough must be stiff and well kneaded

    - Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.

    - Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.

    - Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.

    - Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.

    - If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.

    - DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.

    - When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.

    - Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.

    - Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.

    - When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling..TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.

    - Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.

    - If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.

    - Practice makes perfect. My first batch of shells came out less than spectacular, and that’s an understatement. As you go along, you’ll see what will make them more aesthetically pleasing, and adjust accordingly when rolling. My next several batches turned out great. Don’t give up!!