Friday, May 22, 2015

Brown Sugar Meringue Cookie Bars

I like to bake bar cookies sometimes just because they are so convenient. Mix everything up, stick the dough in a pan, bake and you’re done. I do like to find bar cookie recipes that are a little different, and this is no exception. These you make the dough, add some toppings, and then top with a brown sugar meringue. I thought that would be very different and interesting!

I didn’t change up this recipe too much, although the original recipe said that the nuts were optional. I like nuts so I did include them, and I felt that macadamia nuts would pair nicely with the chocolate and coconut. These bars are pretty gooey in the end, and which the nuts aren’t super crunchy, it’s good that there was different texture.

I won’t kid you: spreading the meringue on top of the nuts and chocolate is really tricky. It seems like an impossible task, because if you try to spread the meringue, all the nuts and chips move around. The best tactic is to plop on bits of meringue and then gently spread it so that you cover the bars completely. When you cut the bars, the meringue crumbles, but that just gives the bars character. These are very sweet, and I like the slightly bitter chocolate and the crunchy nuts. They are very interesting and a nice variation on a traditional bar cookie.

Brown Sugar Meringue Cookie Bars
¾ cup butter, melted
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon corn starch
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
½ cup chopped nuts

3 egg whites
1 cup packed brown sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until combined. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, corn starch, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Press the cookie dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the dough with the chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.

In a large mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until foamy. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and add the brown sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating on medium high until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Carefully spread the meringue over the chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the meringue is set. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Mom on Time Out

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate and Macadamia Nuts

Each year, my friend visits Hawaii and I am the lucky recipient of macadamia nuts straight from Hawaii!! So you’ll probably see a couple of macadamia nut recipes in the near future. When she brings them to me, I put them in the refrigerator right away, which helps extend the shelf life. You don’t have to use them super quickly, but it’s good to use them before too long.

I went searching online for recipes, and while there are many recipes that use macadamia nuts, so many of the recipes are similar. There must be a hundred variations of the macadamia white chocolate chip cookie! I’ll keep looking to find more recipes, but in the end I selected these cookies, which are basically macadamia white chocolate chip cookies, but with a chocolate cookie dough as the base. I know, not super exotic, but a nice chocolate cookie sounded good.

This recipe is fairly simple, and comes together quickly. It uses a fair amount of butter, but that just makes things taste better. I do wish chocolate cookie dough wasn’t quite so sticky, but it usually is, so you just have to make sure you wash your hands frequently so they don’t get too dirty. It’s a little difficult to tell when the cookies are done baking; they are so puffy and seem really soft. I baked for 9 minutes and hoped the cookies would set as they cooled. They were fine, and hey, if the cookies are a little under baked, you can just call them “fudgy.”

Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate and Macadamia Nuts
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

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

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until the dough comes together. Stir in the white chocolate chips and the macadamia nuts.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough into 1-1/4” balls on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until the cookies are set. The cookies will look soft; they will flatten as they cool.

Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.    

Recipe from How to Simplify

Friday, May 8, 2015

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs & Toffee

The other day at work I noticed there was a package in my mailbox. It was from my boss, and it was a package for cacao nibs. There was a note on it asking if I could use it. Of course I could use it! I wasn’t super familiar with this ingredient, which are roasted and chopped cocoa beans, but I was sure that there was some sort of cookie or bar recipe that I could make with them. I took them home and did some searching for recipes.

There were all sorts of recipes online, many of them vegan, raw, etc. That’s not exactly my normal style, but there were more traditional recipes. I found one recipe that used coconut oil and I had planned to make that, but then I decided I wanted to make a bar cookie. This one looked the best, and it’s hard to go wrong with shortbread. I love toffee as well, so I thought that would be nice with the cacao nibs.

True to its shortbread roots, this recipe uses a lot of butter: 3 sticks! The original recipe used a combination of rice and regular flour, but I just used regular flour as that’s what I had. I used toffee bits that also had chocolate, which worked as would just plain toffee bits. These bars are super crumbly and crunchy. They aren’t super chocolaty, but they are super buttery, which is just as nice!

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs & Toffee
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cacao nibs
3/4 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter on medium until fluffy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat again until light. With the mixer running on low, add the flour about ½ cup at a time. Add the last of the flour, the cacao nibs, and the toffee bits and stir until combined. You will likely need to stir with a spatula to get all of the ingredients integrated.

Spread the dough in the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Prick the dough evenly with a fork.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until set. The longer the shortbread is baked, the crunchier it will be. If you prefer a softer cookie, bake for the lesser amount of time.

Allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the shortbread from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into squares or bars.

Recipe from Kate in the Kitchen