Friday, October 18, 2019

Maple Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies

When we travel, I sometimes try to pick up baking ingredients that I can later use in recipes. At the end of the summer, my husband and I traveled to Victoria, Canada. We visit either Victoria or Vancouver about once a year, so we feel comfortable with both cities. When we travel, we will frequently wander through grocery stores. It’s amazing how different a store just a couple of hours away can be! While I was disappointed that I was unable to find poutine potato chips, but the store had different grades of maple syrup on sale. They have recently reassessed how maple syrup is graded, but there still isn’t that much choice in the states. I was thrilled to be able to find dark amber maple syrup on the shelf so I picked it up.

When you have a can of maple syrup and look for recipes, you can find quite a few. For me, the challenge is to figure out what to make, as I didn’t have an endless supply. I have a fall baking magazine, but I was shocked as to how many recipes called for maple extract rather than maple syrup. I came across these cookies online, and they sounded fantastic. I have made Maple Brown Sugar cookies before, but this recipe is quite different. I love the addition of pecans, but I do admit that the original recipe called for dark brown sugar, but I used the golden brown sugar I had on hand.

These cookies require chilling time, so unless you have all day to make the cookies, it’s best to make the dough one day, then bake and ice the next day. Thankfully the dough takes only a few minutes to put together, a fact I was very thankful for as it was late when I made the dough. They bake up quickly as well, and my batch made just over three dozen. I let them cool and then iced them. I often cheat and make a simple glaze, but I did follow the recipe this time. My husband tried these cookies before they were glazed and said they were excellent. The glaze makes them even better!

Brown Sugar Maple Pecan Cookies
2-1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the egg and eat until combined. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and maple extract and beat on medium until combined. Stop the mixer, add the flour mixture, and beat on low until almost combined. Add the chopped pecans and stir on low just until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Allow the sough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Shape the dough into 1-1/4” balls and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. The cookies will be soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, make the icing: in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and maple syrup together, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar and salt. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies and allow the icing to set before serving.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Peanut Butter Brookies

Gosh, I sure like chocolate and peanut butter. I try to always have those two ingredients on hand, but I have to admit that I was getting low on chocolate chips. I no longer belong to Costco, which is where I would always stock up. I pick up a bag at the store now and then, if I plan to bake something where I need them. Thankfully my awesome friend at work picks up the chips for me when she is at Costco. It’s really a life-saver! I wonder if other folks with no kids go to Costco? We found that we just didn’t buy enough stuff.

I pinned this recipe a couple of weeks ago, and figured that I would make them when the weather got a little colder. Well, I need not wait as our weather this week is especially cold. It’s clear, so the sun does help some. I will be honest and say that I am originally from the Pacific Northwest and I like rain. I know, I know. Don’t shoot me.

These bar cookies have two layers: brownie and peanut butter cookie. The brownie layer is easy and I didn’t even use the mixer. The peanut butter layer takes a little more time, and topping the brownie layer is a careful proposition. It works best to piece the peanut butter dough onto the brownie dough. I also had more peanut butter dough than I needed. I made mine early and then refrigerated them overnight. Being super cold, they weren’t the easiest to cut. Mine were slightly over-baked, but once the edges were cut off, they were fine. These bars are solid and super rich, but with chocolate and peanut butter you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Peanut Butter Brookies
1/2 cup butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup peanut butter chips
 8 ounces mini Reese’s peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

For the brownie layer, in a large bowl melt the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave, microwaving for 1-2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, flour, and eggs and stir until smooth. Spread in the prepared pan.

Make the peanut butter layer: in a large mixer bowl beat the vegetable shortening and butter on medium until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter and mix. Mix on medium until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in the peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups with a spatula.

Carefully top the brownie dough with the peanut butter dough. It worked best to cover one portion at a time.

Bake for 32-36 minutes, until golden along the edges. Cool the bars in the pan and then refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Shugary Sweets

Friday, October 4, 2019

Cranberry Pear Cookie Cups

I love this sort of cookie cup: usually a simple dough, filled with some sort of topping. Bake anything in a mini muffin cup and it will look fantastic. They are quite easy, as you make the cookies, bake them, and then you are done. I knew that I would be a little short of time to bake this week, as I had late meetings, so these were just perfect. (I can make those other cookies I had been planning next week!)

This cookie was slightly more complex, mainly because the cookie dough was more involved. Typically, the cookie dough is butter, flour, sugar, and cream cheese. This dough also added oats and ginger, and then you had to refrigerate the dough. That worked for me as the dough took 10 minutes to put together and then I put it in the refrigerator while we ate dinner.

These cookies are easy, but it can be fussy to spread the dough into the muffin cups. They are quite forgiving, so don’t worry about trying to make the perfect. The filling is messy, with the grated pear, but otherwise not a problem. I used pecans as that was what I had on hand. They come out of the pan easily, which is always true of this type of cookie. The pear has a great flavor, and one that is unusual in a cookie!

Cranberry Pear Cookie Cups
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup flour
¼ cup oats
¼ teaspoon ginger

½ cup grated fresh pear
1 egg
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon nuts, chopped

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Mix on medium until smooth. Add the flour, oats, and ginger and mix on low until the dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24 mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the pear, egg, cranberries, crystallized ginger, and nuts. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Press each piece onto the bottom and up the sides of the mini muffin pans. Spoon a small amount of filing into each cookie.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, until light brown. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a wire rack.

Recipe from Taste of Home Fall Baking