Friday, April 17, 2015

Mexican Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Growing up, I didn’t like thumbprint cookies very much. The ones that I had when I was a kid had an awful mushy texture and were typically filled with some sort of odd green jelly. I guess it was Christmas so people were trying to be festive? I just remembered that I didn’t like them so it took me a while to try a better thumbprint cookie. Now, I quite like them, as thumbprint cookies can be pretty interesting. 

These caught my eye right away. They are a simple butter cookie, but it was the filling that sounded great: Mexican chocolate ganache. Ganache is usually just chocolate and cream (how can you go wrong there?) but this had added spices: cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I don’t like spicy food all that much, so I didn’t use a lot of cayenne. I could have probably used a little more, as I can’t really taste it in the filling.

Working with the ganache filling is a little tricky and messy. The original recipe said to fill the cookies with a ½ teaspoonful of the ganache, rolled in a ball. Well, the ganache was too soft to roll, even directly out of the refrigerator. And ½ teaspoon was way too much and didn’t form a nice filling. I’d say I used about ¼ teaspoon for each cookie to get it to look nice. These cookies are really wonderful and I loved the cinnamon/chocolate filling. I’d like to try more things with this ganache!

Mexican Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces milk chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups sugar
14 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar

The day before you want to bake, make the Mexican chocolate filling: In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil, stirring consistently.  Stir in the cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the chips. Allow to set for 5 minutes and then whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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

In a large mixer bowl, beat the sugar and butter on medium until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, on medium low speed. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. 

Shape the dough into 1” balls and roll in additional sugar. Place on the baking sheets. 

Bake for 10 minutes, until just barely browned along the edges. Remove from the baking sheets to a wire rack immediately. Make an indentation in each cookie with your thumb.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, take a small amount of the Mexican chocolate filling and place it into the indentation. As the cookies are warm, the chocolate will soften and “melt” into a nice circle. Allow the cookies to cool before serving.

Recipe from Wine and Glue

Friday, April 10, 2015

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars

For Christmas this year, I got a couple of different baking ingredients. Since I am not a good housekeeper and my house is pretty messy, I sometimes just let things sit there and I forget what I have. I had gotten some mini sea salt caramels, covered in chocolate. They are about the size of two chocolate chips put together. They didn’t come with any recipes and a search of the web didn’t really help.

I made a turtle pie for Easter, and instead of using chocolate chips I used the mini sea salt caramels. I figured the pie had chocolate and caramel anyway. That pie turned out delicious, but unfortunately I didn’t get it photographed! Oh well. The chocolates are somewhat similar to mini Rolos, so I ended up search for recipes that used mini Rolos to figure out how to use the rest of my caramels. (Mini Rolos come in a bag, already unwrapped.)

I came across this recipe, which is basically an oatmeal bar cookie with the added caramels. The recipe is very straight-forward and comes together in just a couple of minutes. The caramels do get a little melted while baking, so there aren’t really distinct caramels, just a nice mixture of all of the flavors. The bars are very soft, which makes them easy to cut, too!

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini caramel filled chocolates

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

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Beat on medium until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Stir on low until the dough comes together. Add the chocolate chips and mini caramel filled chocolates and stir with a spatula until combined. Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 24-28 minutes, until golden brown. The top of the bars may look wet in a couple of places, but look for the golden brown color. Allow to cool.

Remove the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from Somewhat Simple

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Cashew Cookies

My husband is always asking me to make chocolate chip cookies. They’re his favorite but they aren’t super exciting to post on the blog. Occasionally I am able to find recipes that are a variation on the basic that I think others would enjoy. This is one of those variations. I hadn’t initially thought of them as a chocolate chip cookie, but that’s really what they are. They are from a British food magazine, which is different, and uses a couple of different add-ins.

This recipe uses cashews, which aren’t super common in recipes. I like to eat cashews but I can only think of one recipe off the top of my head that uses cashews. I had to buy roasted and salted cashews as that was what my store offered. I left out any extra salt in the dough, but if you use unsalted cashews I would add about ½ teaspoon salt with the flour. The original recipe had you make the dough by hand; I made quick work of it by making it in the food processor. This method is a bit different the cookies turned out just fine. They are classic, but a little bit different with the cashews. I used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate, so use what you like the most.

A note about the measurements here: I usually change the ingredient quantities to ounces. I actually measure everything in grams on the scale I have, so I’ve decided to include both. Measuring by weight is the most accurate way, and I absolutely encourage you to purchase a scale that weights in grams and ounces.

Chocolate Chunk Cashew Cookies
100 grams/3.5 ounces cashews
250 grams/9 ounces flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
200 grams/7 ounces sugar
10 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
100 grams/3.5 ounces cashew or peanut butter
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons golden syrup or honey
200 grams/7 ounces chocolate, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cashews on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool and then roughly chop. 

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and the nut butter to the food processor. Pulse on and off several times until the mixture looks like crumbs. Add the egg and the golden syrup and pulse until the dough comes together. 

Transfer the dough into a medium bowl. Add the toasted cashews and the chocolate chunks and stir with a spatula to incorporate the add-ins into the dough.

Shape the dough into 1-1/4” balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden around the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from BBC Good Food