Friday, November 20, 2015

Hawaiian Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mom fairly recently returned from Hawaii; it was her first trip there ever! She had a good time and brought back some souvenirs. She bought me a little cookbook: Hawai’i’s Best Local Desserts. It’s a gathering of home recipes, which I really like. I read though the cookbook and selected a couple of different cookies. I let my husband choose, and I wasn’t surprised at all that he picked these Hawaiian Chocolate Chip Cookies. He loves chocolate chip cookies and claims I never make them for him.

This, like most of the recipes in the book, are quite traditional. Most use shortening rather than butter, probably because that is more readily available. This a chocolate chip cookie recipe with oats, coconut and macadamia nuts. It is an awful lot of mix-ins, and I wasn’t able to get everything fully incorporated in the dough. In the recipe I give here, I cut down some of the oats which I think will help. I forget how good the house smells when baking chocolate chip cookies. These cookies smell and taste delicious!

Hawaiian Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup shortening
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until light. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine. Gradually add the flour, then stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the oats, chocolate chips, macadamia nuts and coconut and stir on low to combine. You may need to do the last of the mixing with a spatula. 

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1-1/2 tablespoons per cookie. 

Bake for 15-16 minutes until the cookies are light brown along the edges. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Hawai’i’s Best Local Desserts

Friday, November 13, 2015

German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

In my family, November is the month of birthdays. Almost everyone, including me, have birthdays this month. It’s tricky because I have to think about birthdays while I am also thinking about Christmas! But for my birthday, which was early in the month, someone usually brings a cake to work. It’s hard to pick a favorite cake, but I really love German Chocolate Cake. I saw these cookies, which have you make coconut pecan frosting, typical to German Chocolate Cake, to fill a cookie. Sounded great!

Making the frosting/filling is the most challenging part of this recipe, and it isn’t hard at all. The original recipe warns about not using canned frosting; that just won’t work at the canned stuff has all sorts of additives that would not do well when baked. The base of the cookie is a cake mix, which is a nice convenience. You end up having more filling than you need, but I am sure that I can think of something to do with extra coconut pecan frosting.

Both the dough and the filling are fairly sticky, and on the messy side. I always use the end of a wooden spoon to make the indentation in the cookies; my thumb just doesn’t seem to be the right shape. The cookies flatten while they bake, so you don’t have to be perfect with filling the thumbprints. It works out once baked. These cookies are absolutely divine. They are chocolatey, but not too much. The coconut pecan filling has this wonderful melty sugar flavor and just can’t be beat!

German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 German chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup butter, melted

Make the filling: in a large saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, vanilla, and beaten egg yolks. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut and pecans. Allow to cool to room temperature. 

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

Reserve 1-1/4 cups of the filling; set aside in a small bowl. In a large mixer bowl combine the cake mix, melted butter, and the filling that was not set aside. Mix on medium until the dough comes together. 

Shape the dough into 1” balls. Make an indentation in the center of the cookie. Fill the indentation with the reserved filling. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are set but still soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from All Recipes

Friday, November 6, 2015

Apple Butter Cheesecake Streusel Bars

I am never quite sure what to think about apple butter. I’ve not ever bought apple butter just to eat. I’m sure it is very good on toast and that sort of thing. How could a spiced apple spread be a bad thing? And when I have some leftover, it usually just sits in the refrigerator. But I often find recipes that use apple butter and they are usually just fantastic. To me, fall means apple butter and here’s this year’s recipe.

I first found a cake that called for an apple butter topping and I figure I could just adapt the recipe to make bar cookies. Then I found this recipe, with cheesecake filling and streusel topping and thought that would be great. It’s interesting, most recipes that call for apple butter use brands that I’ve never heard of. I used to get one brand, now I can only find a different one. Grocery stores typically carry just one brand of apple butter (if any at all). I did go to a couple of stores as one store had a fancy gourmet brand that was expensive in a tiny bottle, but another store had a larger jar.

There are a couple of steps for these bars, and it does mess up a food processor and a mixer bowl, but it wasn’t too bad.  These are substantial bars, but they sure cut beautifully, which can be tricky with a multi-layered bar cookie. I really like these bars, which isn’t surprising with the apple butter. These are very buttery, and the sweetness of the apple butter pairs nicely with the tartness of the cream cheese. These bars are perfect for fall.

Apple Butter Cheesecake Streusel Bars
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups apple butter 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans

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

Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter pieces. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and press the mixture evenly into the base of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow the crust to cool while you make the cheesecake filling and streusel. 

Make the cheesecake filling: In a large mixer bowl beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, add the egg and vanilla and beat again on medium until smooth. Spread the cheesecake filling on top of the partially cooled crust, leaving a half inch border along the edges. Spread the apple button on top of the cheesecake filling.

Make the streusel: in the bowl of the food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, butter, salt and pecans. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel completely over the top of the apple butter. You may have slightly more streusel than you need. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the streusel begins to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To cut into bars, lift the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. 

Recipe from The Suburban Soapbox