Friday, May 19, 2017

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

Each month at work I bring a birthday cake for all the folks at work with birthdays that month. I baked this month’s cake earlier in the week. While that would normally not exasperate my baking mojo for the week, the cake I made presented some challenges. Frosting didn’t turn out, ganache wasn’t quite right, etc. In the end the cake was great, but for the cookies this week I wanted something simple.

I have been planning to make these chocolate cheesecake cookies for a few weeks. After planning the cake, I hadn’t planned my other baking. I had the ingredients for these cookies, they looked like they would come together with little stress. I wasn’t sure how the cream cheese would do in the cookies, as I typically only use cream cheese in bar cookies.

The dough when mixed together is very similar to thick brownie batter. Reading the original recipe, I knew what to expect. It was sticky but a cookie scoop makes quick work of it. These don’t spread much, so I baked 20 per sheet rather than my typical 12. This made about 60 small cookies, which was a lot! Knowing how long to bake them is a challenge. I baked the first batch 9 minutes, and they were a little gooey. Not that this is a bad thing! 10 minutes seemed just perfect. The cookies are soft and cakey, with a good chocolate brownie flavor. These aren’t complex, but sometimes less is more.

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and beat again on medium until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/cocoa powder mixture. Stirring just until incorporated. To avoid over mixing, you may want to do the last bit of mixing by hand with a spatula.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until set. They will be soft but will set as they cool. Do not over bake.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe from Yellow Bliss Road

Friday, May 12, 2017

Almond Marmalade Slice

We had some sun, but it is fleeting and now it is rainy again. I chose these bars as a way to channel the sunny weather. I’m not sure that worked, but it is nice to bake something springy. These bars originally called for orange marmalade, but just like other interesting baking ingredients, I sometimes pick up interesting jams and jellies. I had a jar of Lemon and Lime marmalade, and this seemed like the perfect recipe for it.

This recipe is labeled as a “slice” which we would call a bar cookie in the States. This is an Australian recipe, which I have found to have excellent bar cookie recipes! The only challenge is that it calls for a 20 by 30 (or 19 by 29) centimeter pan. That isn’t something you can find readily locally, but I do have a tart pan that is the right size. If you don’t have this super special pan, a 9: inch square pan would certainly work just fine.

This recipe called for both plain flour and self-rising flour. In the UK and Australia, self-rising flour is very common. It’s just flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt mixed in. I make my own, so for this recipe I have converted the amounts to the individual ingredients. I wasn’t sure what lemon and lime marmalade would taste like. In the bars it is subtle, sweet, but not bitter. They are ever so slightly reminiscent of lemon bars, but not as soft. They are delicate and buttery.

Almond Marmalade Slice
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted
2/3 cup marmalade

Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Line a 20 x 30 centimeter (or a 9” square) pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Place 1 cup of the sliced almonds in the food processor and process until ground. In a large mixer bowl, add the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the melted butter and stir on medium until the mixture comes together in large crumbs.

Reserve 1/3 of the crumb mixture; press the remaining dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow the crust to cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Spread the marmalade over the partially cooled crust. Mix the remaining ½ cup of sliced almonds with the reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle the almond/crumb mixture on top of the marmalade.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is lightly golden. Cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chewy White Chocolate Caramel Cookies

When I hosted Easter dinner a couple weeks ago, I needed to clean off one of the counters in the kitchen, as I needed to put the slow cooker on that counter. I have this relatively narrow cupboard next to the refrigerator, and unfortunately, it becomes the holding place for all the extra baking ingredients, cupcake liners, and that sort of thing that I collect from different places.

Cleaning off that counter, and trying to store everything away, I realize that I have lots and lots of partial bags of different types of chips: cinnamon, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate butterscotch, toffee, toffee with chocolate, caramel. I really have a lot that I need to use up! Sometimes I can find recipes that use up several different types of chips. These cookies use up two items: caramel bits and white chocolate chips.

This cookie dough is made a bit differently, with hot melted butter as the starting point. I have made cookies with melted butter with great success, but usually you cool the butter first. It seemed to work, although the dough is not as thick as I am used to. The first batch looked beautiful, but the second and third batches spread a little more. I wondered if the dough got warm, but it was warm because of the melted butter. I’m not sure of the cause and would need to do some experimentation to figure it out. Never the less, these have a lovely sweet butter flavor from the white chocolate and caramel.

Chewy White Chocolate Caramel Cookies
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Place the brown sugar in a large mixer bowl. Add the melted butter (still hot) and beat on medium until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat again on medium to combine. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and stir on low until incorporated. Add the white chocolate chips and caramel bits and stir with a spatula to mix.
Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, using about 1-1/2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until set. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.