Friday, January 13, 2017

Chewy Almond Marzipan Bars

At Christmas, we buy marzipan at the British food shop that is near our home. They make their own marzipan, and my husband puts a layer of marzipan on the Christmas cake underneath the royal icing. It’s always hard to know how much marzipan you’re going to need, and this year we overestimated how much we would need. We were left with two packages of marzipan. My husband asked me if I could use it in recipes, and I said I certainly can.

When I started baking, I would look at so many different recipes. I would typically avoid any recipe that called for marzipan or almond paste, since it is an expensive ingredient! Having a lot of marzipan that needs to be used is an exciting proposition. I did some searching and came across several recipes that looked good. I knew I hadn’t made bar cookies in a while so I opted to make these Chewy Marzipan Bars. (It seems like the “Almond” in the recipe title is unnecessary, as marzipan is made from almonds!)

I typically grind up blanched almonds in the food processor to make almond flour, but for this recipe I bought some almond flour at the store. Much easier! I toasted the slivered almonds in the oven for about 10 minutes. I didn’t want them too browned as I knew they would brown while the bars were baking. They bars are chewy and soft, and they smell divine! The bars are chewy, but the slivered almonds on top give the bars a nice crunch. I’m really happy that I tried this recipe.

Chewy Almond Marzipan Bars
1¼ cups flour
½ cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup marzipan
1 egg
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon milk
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, if desired

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

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until combined. Add the marzipan and beat on medium until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and almond extract; beat on medium until the mixture is fluffy.

With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Beat just until the dough comes together. Remove the bowl from the mixer and do a final mix of the dough with a spatula.

Press the dough evenly in the prepared pan; it will be a fairly thin layer. Brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Press the almonds into the dough.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the edges of the bars are barely brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once the bars are cool, lift them from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Oatmeal Peanut Butterfinger Cookies

I saw these cookies before Christmas, but they didn’t fit into my Christmas baking plan so I got the necessary ingredients and knew that I would make them once we were into the new year. I’m a little surprised that I was so interested in these cookies. When choosing candy to eat, I don’t think that I would ever pick a Butterfinger. I don’t eat those out of the candy dish. I like the flavor, but they are just too hard to eat, too crumbly, or something like that. 

These cookies use Butterfinger bits, which are new to me. I think they have been out for a while but I first saw them at the store about the same time that I saw this recipe. The other difference in this cookie is that it uses coconut oil. That’s not all that strange these days, and I did have some on hand. I didn’t quite have an entire cup, so I used a little vegetable shortening to make up the difference. I think you could use butter, but that would give the cookies a different texture.

I could tell in mixing the coconut oil, sugars and peanut butter that this recipe was going to make a bit batch. I used a bigger cookie scoop that I usually do, and this recipe made nearly 5 dozen cookies. They bake up very nicely, perfectly round. Once in a while if you have a big chunk of Butterfinger on the edge of the cookie you get a bit of a meltdown. These cookies are truly wonderful! They have a great peanut butter flavor, and the cookies are slightly crispy but they just melt in your mouth. 

Oatmeal Peanut Butterfinger Cookies
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats
10 oz. package Butterfinger bits

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

In a large mixer bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat on medium speed until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the oats and Butterfinger bits. You may need to use a spatula to get everything mixed together completely.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, forming drops about 1-1/2” in diameter.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. They may look slightly under baked on the top, but will set as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Plain Chicken

Friday, December 30, 2016

Four Ingredient Nutella Cookies

I don’t know about you, but in our house, we have an abundance of sweets remaining from the holidays. The thought of baking something more didn’t sound all that appealing, which is sad since I am off and I have time to bake! I wanted to make something, but something simple, so I came across these four ingredient cookies: just Nutella, an egg, flour and chopped hazelnuts. That sounded perfect (and perfectly easy).

There is nothing challenging about this recipe. Do make sure that the Nutella is room temperature, which we always store it in the cupboard. Nutella is so thick that if it were cold it would be impossible to work with! You really do need to pipe the Nutella into the cookies, it would just be too hard otherwise. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you could use a plastic bag with a hole in the corner. Nutella is sticky stuff, and this saves a lot of hassle.

This recipe made 16 cookies for me, which was fine. With the extra sugar cookies, Christmas cake, mince pies, candy, etc. that I have at home, 16 is plenty. They have a nice chocolate flavor, but I especially love the little burst of Nutella in the center of these cookies. They aren’t overly sweet, which is ok! They are best served with some coffee or tea. These little cookies are pretty simple, but I think that they look and taste great!

Four Ingredient Nutella Cookies
1 egg
3/4 cup Nutella
1 cup flour

About 1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

In a large mixer bowl, beat the egg and Nutella on medium until glossy. Add the flour and stir on low until combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

While the dough in chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 1-1/4” balls. Press an indentation in each cookie with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Place the remaining Nutella in a piping bag and pipe into the indentations. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet.

Recipe from Plated Cravings