Friday, January 28, 2011
Thumbprints are one of those cookies that you inevitably see on a plate of Christmas cookies. When the offerings are so rich, I tend to shy away from the cookies that I don’t like as much. Ok, there aren’t cookies that I really dislike, but up to now, thumbprints have been fairly low on my list. I think the ones I’ve had in the past were filled with garish red and green jelly. Cookies with a big glob of unappetizing jelly? No thanks, I’ll stick with a sugar cookie or something.
My tastes have matured a bit, because I’ve now started to be more open to thumbprint cookies. I’ve made Caramel Cashew Thumbprints and Pineapple Coconut Thumbprints and one for Tuesdays with Dorie. When I first saw these cookies, I was immediately drawn to them. These were unusual in that you bake the cookies twice: once without the lemon curd and once with it. I was intrigued. I like lemon curd and hadn’t used it in a long time. I figured I’d give it a try.
I read through how Ninette of Big, Bold, Beautiful Food made these and she had gone through some trial and error. She suggested shaping the cookies and then freezing them for a short while to make sure they don’t spread. That worked really great (although my cookie sheets BARELY fit into my freezer) and they held their shape perfectly. The lemon curd in these is the perfect accompaniment. I love lemon all year around, but it’s especially nice in the middle of winter. I think I’m really starting to like thumbprint cookies!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups toasted pecans
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Lemon curd (about 1/2 cup)
Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Combine flour, pecans, and salt in a food processor and process until finely ground. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. You may need to mix in the last of the flour mixture by hand.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, about an inch apart. Gently push the center of each ball down, creating an indentation, either with your thumb and/or the back of a rounded measuring teaspoon. To help keep the cookies from spreading, place the cookie sheets in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the cookies until just set, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and press the indentations again. Fill the warm cookies with about ½ teaspoon of lemon curd. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, until very lightly browned.
Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.
Recipe from Big, Bold, Beautiful Food
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort. She chose the Nutty, Chocolatly, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake and you can get the complete recipe on her blog. I love, love, love Bundt cakes and I was excited to make this one. It’s been ages since I made a Bundt coffee cake with a swirl, so I was super excited to make this recipe. I’ve been kind of shocked that this recipe hadn’t been selected yet, but you never know, and I’m glad Jennifer picked it.
The batter has the tang of sour cream, and I decided to augment that by using lemon zest in the batter instead of orange zest. I think that made this taste even better, because that sour flavor was very prominent. For the streusel, you are supposed to use sugar, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and chocolate. I didn’t want to add raisins, and I had a little bit of cinnamon chips left over so I used those and chopped chocolate. Yum! What a great combination.
Some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers had trouble getting this out of the pan since the cake is a bit delicate with the multiple layers of batter and streusel. I was very careful layering this in the pan, trying to make sure the streusel didn’t touch the sides of the pan and making sure that the streusel was covered with batter. In the end I was pretty lucky, and my cake only stuck in one small spot. This cake was so good and I wasn’t disappointed at all. It took a tiny bit of extra work to get it layered in the pan successfully, but it was worth it!
Like my new plate? It was a gift from a friend at work. I love the stripes, it reminds me of the beach!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 182
Friday, January 21, 2011
This is another cookie from the cookie magazine that I bought before Christmas. Last week’s cookies were such a hit at work that I figured I couldn’t go wrong with making another recipe from this source. I had picked out these tropical snowdrops since they combined a lot of ingredients that I like: pineapple, coconut and nuts. The original recipe called for dried tropical fruit mix, but my local grocery store didn’t have that so I decided to go tropical in an all pineapple way.
These are a basic butter cookie: cream the butter, sugar, and eggs and then add the dry ingredients. This recipe does have you add the salt and baking soda with the sugar, which is unusual. They turned out ok so I guess I should just trust the recipe. My cookies didn’t brown very much at all, and they retain the shape of however you drop the dough on the sheet. Roll them in a ball if you want round cookies; flatten the dough if you want thinner cookies.
While I like these, I feel like they are missing something. Maybe it’s because I used pineapple instead of the fruit mix, but I think it’s something else. They are really pale and I feel like they would be better if they dough had some brown sugar or something like that to add a caramel-like flavor. I might also toast the coconut, to add that flavor profile. They’re still fairly tasty, and I’m sure they will go over well at work.
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon rum extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup dried pineapple, diced
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and shortening; beat for 30 seconds to combine. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and rum extract until combined. Stir in the flour, pineapple, coconut, and pecans. You may need to finish the mixing with a rubber spatula to make sure that everything is combined.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls on to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from Ultimate Cookies and Bars
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Betsy of A Cup of Sweetness. She chose Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, which are a classic! Before I started this blog, I used to make a couple of lemon/poppyseed items, including a pound cake that I really loved. I’m not sure why it has been so long since I’ve made something with this combination, so I’m really glad that this recipe was selected. You can get the recipe for these muffins on Betsy’s blog and you can also check out that the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers interpreted this recipe.
I did have to replace my poppyseeds, since they were very stale. I would hate to make tasty muffins just to be ruined by stale poppyseeds. I typically go through baking ingredients fast enough that I don’t worry, but I hadn’t used mine in a very long time! Other than that, these used ingredients that weren’t too exotic. I put these together in less time than it took to preheat the oven. I love that!
Since I was bringing them in to work, I decided to make mini muffins. I ended up with 3 dozen muffins; there will be plenty to go around. I think I may have baked them a minute longer than I should have and I was a little worried that they would be too dry. When I took them out of the pan, they seemed crunchy around the edges, but when I broke one open they were just fine. They have a great lemon flavor and were super easy to put together.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 10
Friday, January 14, 2011
I’m not usually one to deviate very much from a recipe; that’s why I am a baker rather than a cook. Once I find a recipe I stick with it. I think with cooking you have to have the confidence that the things you put together will work out. I don’t have great confidence in putting savory ingredients together, but I know if I follow a baking recipe it will usually work out. This recipe, however, it quite different from the original, and it worked out very well.
This recipe started out as peanut brittle bars. I think the “brittle” comes from the thinness of the bars, and that’s the same, but I mixed up the remaining ingredients. My husband had picked up a jar of Jamaican Praline Caramel Sauce with Rum ages ago. (The amazing things you find at Whole Foods!) I’ve been looking for a way to use that in a recipe, and this was it. I figured it was pretty close to caramel ice cream topping. While pralines can be made with any nut, I think of pecans, so I substituted toasted pecans for the peanuts. I also added an egg yolk to the crust so that it would hold together better.
I loved the Praline Caramel Sauce. I probably should have just eaten it straight from the jar since it smelled so good! I think if I would change anything, I might use a second jar of Praline Caramel Sauce as that really made the recipe. I don’t think there was quite enough caramel to completely cover the bars. It was really fun finding an interesting ingredient in the store and finding a way to use it in a recipe. (And I got to use the jelly roll pan I got recently as a gift!)
2 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 jar Praline Caramel Sauce (or 12 oz. jar caramel ice cream topping)
2 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan with foil. Grease the foil and set aside.
In a food processor, combine the 2 cups flour and brown sugar; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together somewhat. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips and pecans over the hot crust. In a small bowl, combine the Praline Caramel Sauce and the flour, stir to combine. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the bars. Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, until the caramel is bubbly. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use the foil to lift the bars from the pan, peel the foil away and cut into bars.
Recipe adapted from Ultimate Cookies & Bars
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Margo of Effort to Deliciousness and you can get the recipe on her blog. She chose Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines. I had made madeleines before, but they were the traditional ones. My boss really likes madeleines, so I was excited to make these. When I first read the title of the recipe, I thought that they would be sandwich cookies, but I didn’t know how that would work with madeleines!
Well, I read the recipe through and the cookies themselves are filled with fluff, they aren’t sandwiched together with fluff. Then you dip them in ganache, so how bad could that be? I think of madeleines as a refined, dainty cookie, and this recipe was certainly different! The batter for the madeleines is about the same as the traditional ones, so the difference is in the finishing.
When I read the recipe, I thought these might be a bit time-consuming to make, but they weren’t too bad. I made the batter and refrigerated it overnight. My batter was quite firm so it made it hard to measure the correct amount. I overfilled mine a little, so they aren’t as perfectly shaped as they could be. You pipe them full of marshmallow fluff, which is a little tricky, but not too bad. They are pretty delicate so if you fill them too full they can burst (trust me!). I couldn’t really taste the fluff that much, so maybe I didn’t fill them right. These are a significantly different that traditional madeleines, but I really liked them. They’re a bit like a fancy Hostess cupcake, but they’re really good!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, on pages 170-171
Friday, January 7, 2011
After the flurry of holiday baking and other sweet treats, I’ve been in the mood for something a little simpler this week. I was thinking of making oatmeal cookies, or something really homey. It’s been a busy week at work and I’ve been fairly tired, so I didn’t want to mess with anything too complicated.
I had brought one of my cookie magazines to work with me and I pick a couple of potential contenders to bake, but when I got home my husband had found a recipe that sounded really great. For Christmas I had received The Grand Central Baking Book and the recipe was in there. It was nice to try out my new book, and nice to make something from a local establishment. My friend at work had brought this in to work and I had immediately added it to my Christmas list. I’m glad I got it!
While this is a standard oatmeal cookie recipe, I couldn’t resist the urge to make these a little bit special. The recipe calls for milk and bittersweet chips, but I wanted to use cinnamon chips. I used semi-sweet chips and cinnamon chips and it’s a great flavor combination. I’m so glad I made that substitution. The original recipe says to use 1.5 ounces of dough per cookie. I weighed one out and that would have been one huge cookie! I made them smaller, about half the size. As a result, this recipe made over 6 dozen cookies. If you want to make “normal” sized cookies, you may want to cut this recipe in half.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3/3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the vanilla. While the mixer is running, add one egg and beat until incorporated. Add the second egg and mix to combine.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. In the same bowl used for the flour mixture, combine the oats, chocolate chips and cinnamon chips. With the mixer on low, gradually add the oat mixture. You may need to finish mixing by hand with a sturdy spatula.
Drop the dough by cookie scoop and shape into rounds; flatten to about ½” thick with your hands. Bake for 10 minutes; cookies should be golden brown on the edges and may look slightly undercooked in the center. Allow to cool on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack.
Recipe from The Grand Central Baking Book
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie pick was selected by Lori and Jules, who keep the Tuesdays with Dorie group running! They chose Midnight Crackles. This is the third anniversary for Tuesdays with Dorie, and the group always does something special for the first selection of the year. One year Dorie chose the recipe, another time the group voted. I was glad that the group leaders could pick, since they work so hard! You can find the recipe for Midnight Crackles on the Tuesdays with Dorie site.
I made these about a week ago, since I was going in to work during the break and I wanted to have something to share. I made the dough the night in advance, refrigerated it overnight and then baked the cookies in the morning. Or maybe a should say attempted to bake the cookies in the morning! The recipe says to refrigerate the dough an hour or up to 24 hours. There's a little note that says if the dough is solid to let it set at room temperature for a while. Well my dough was so solid that there was no way that I was forming it into cookies! I should always take note of some of the little comments Dorie makes, because they are usually very important! After letting the dough sit out for over an hour, it was somewhat softer and I was able to shape the dough into cookies. I do have to say that my hands hurt afterward.
That being said, I really liked these cookies. I made a half batch, but that still made plenty of cookies. I used some chocolate that had been given to me by a friend at work; I don't think it was bittersweet chocolate, more likely semi-sweet chocolate. That seemed to be ok since they were still dark as midnight. I loved the subtle spiciness mixed with the chocolate. That's a flavor combination that I like a lot. Since my cookies were so solid when I put them in the oven, I'm not sure if mine are puffier than they should be. I'm going to check out how the other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers did this week to see if I can find an answer. I would definitely make these again, I just won't refrigerate then too long next time!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan