Friday, October 14, 2016

Cinnamon Chip Biscotti

We’re having super stormy weather in the Seattle area, with tons of rain and wind predicted. Even though the rain is just starting, our library building is already leaking, and I sat at work all day listening to the rain on the roof. When I have days like this, all I want to do is go home and bake. I had planned a different cookie for today, but it just didn’t fit my mood. I wanted something homey and comforting. I picked a couple of recipes from my Pinterest site and my friend at work picked. She picked these biscotti.

I don’t make biscotti a lot, and sometimes I find them to be too dry. At least homemade ones are better. They aren’t so hard that they’ll break your teeth. Of course they are still good with coffee or tea, but they are enjoyable on their own, too. I shaped these a little bit differently, to 4 smaller logs. That make for smaller cookies overall, but I think that worked a little better.

I was worried that these would be crumbly when I cut them into slices, but I was pleasantly surprised. A biscotti with nuts and chips I thought would be especially difficult to work with, but they cut beautifully. When they come out of the oven after the second bake, don’t worry if the cookies seem soft. As the cool they will harden up, but they don’t get overly hard. I like the topping of cinnamon and white chocolate chips. I think biscotti can be a little plain, but these look and taste fantastic.               
Cinnamon Chip Biscotti  
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10-oz package cinnamon chips, divided
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again on medium until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until the flour is incorporated. Add 1 cup cinnamon chips and the pecans; stir on low until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough into 4 quarters. Shape each piece of dough into a log, about 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each piece of dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. (Keep the oven on.)

On a cutting board, cut the logs diagonally into ½” slices. Place them cut side down on that baking sheet. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for 8 more minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the remaining cinnamon chips with 1 tablespoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti. Melt the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over the biscotti. Allow the drizzle to set before serving.

Recipe from Tried and Tasty

Friday, October 7, 2016

Apple Pie Jam Shortbread Bars

The other night, I was at an event in the evening so I wasn’t home for dinner. I was texting with my husband and he said he was having PB&J for dinner. He said that the only jelly/jam he could find in the cupboard was lingonberry jam. I didn’t think that sounded like a very good combination! We got a new refrigerator in the past year, so I knew that we had thrown away a lot of things, but I thought there were some new jars in the cupboard.

When I got home, I was curious about this lack of jam in the house. I asked where he looked, and he said “the cupboard” and I asked where in the cupboard. I guess he just looked on the top shelf, and, of course, all the jams, jellies and syrups are on the bottom shelf. I counted and we had about 9 different jams and jellies (and one honey). Many were on the unique side, likely purchased to use in a recipe. One of the jars I discovered (rediscovered?) was apple pie jam. I immediately knew that I was going to use it in a recipe this week.

I wanted to highlight the jam, so I looked for a fairly simple recipe. I found this shortbread bar that I thought would be perfect. You could use any type of jam or preserves, as I doubt that you’d be able to find apple pie jam. The original recipe called for 1-1/2 cups of jam, but I my jar was 12 ounces, about 1 cup, which was fine. These bars are super buttery, but you do get the spiced flavor of apple pie as well. I really like the great fall flavors in these bars.

Apple Pie Jam Shortbread Bars
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely ground almonds
2 3/4 cups flour
12 ounces Apple Pie jam
Powdered sugar

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

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add the almonds and flour and mix on low, just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two halves. Wrap one half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Press the other half of the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. Cool for 10 minutes.

Spread the jam evenly over the partially baked crust. Remove the rest of the dough from the refrigerator and crumble the dough over the jam. You won’t complete cover the jam, but that’s ok. Gently press the dough down with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, dust lightly with powdered sugar before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Recipe Girl

Friday, September 30, 2016

Brown Butter Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ah, fall baking: the world of cinnamon, ginger, molasses and other ingredients that warm the heart. I couldn’t wait to make these and I’m so glad I did because my house smells awesome. There’s no better smell than baking with fall spices. These cookies also use one of my favorite ingredients: cinnamon chips. I usually have to look at a couple of grocery stores before I find them. I was a little worried as they were on clearance when I did find them. I may eventually need to resort to buying them online. 

These cookies have a couple of steps, and aren’t really the type of cookie that you can throw together in a couple of minutes. The browned butter must cool, which takes about an hour or so. If you try to use it when it is still warm, you’ll never be able to beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. I made mine in the morning and let it sit out until I got home. Of course, I did keep it covered since we have a fairly adventuresome kitty. 

Once you make the dough, it also needs to chill. I made the dough after work, ate dinner, and then baked the cookies. It seemed to work ok. The original recipe said to use 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie and bake 8 minutes. I shaped the dough into approximately 1-inch balls and they needed to bake for about 11 minutes. Ovens are different I guess, so you should always start with a lesser time and then add on as needed. These thin cookies are crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle. The flavors melt together wonderfully and they are perfect for fall!

Brown Butter Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup cinnamon chips

Brown the butter: cut the butter in pieces and place in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, occasionally swirl the pan. Continue cooking the butter over medium low heat until it becomes lightly browned and smells nutty. Watch carefully, as it can go from browned to burnt in a matter of seconds. Transfer the browned butter (and all the browned bits) to a small bowl. Cool on the counter for an hour, or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Make the dough: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the browned butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium until light, about 4-5 minutes. Add the molasses and vanilla and beat again on medium. Add the egg and then the egg yolk, beating for a minute between each addition. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, stirring just until the mixture comes together. Stir in the cinnamon chips with a spatula.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

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

Shape a tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until the cookies are browned along the edges. They may look under baked in the center, but will firm up as they cool. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Baker by Nature