Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate-Hazelnut Yummyness

The beau came home from Union Station and asked for my next baking projects to be cookie cups. “Cookie cups?” I asked…. Apparently, I was missing out. Unbelievably, there was a class of dessert I had never heard of. “Cookie cups!” he said. Apparently, it consists of chocolate chip cookie dough baked in a cupcake tin and frosted with “buttercream” and topped with M&M’s or sprinkles.

Well, ummmmm. Yuck! I couldn’t deal with that. I’m a fan of chocolate chip cookies, but not gussied up with fake frosting and sprinkles. So, I modified it…

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(Say hellooooo to the new camera!)

Instead, I made chocolate-hazelnut mini cookie cups, frosted with melted chocolate and sprinkled with toasted hazelnut– with a bonus hazelnut surprise center. Yum! They were gooey and crunchy on top, moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, and had a hazelnut to break it up just as you start to feel like it tastes homogeneous. Made with dark chocolate or cocoa, they’re delightfully sophisticated… but there’s no reason why you couldn’t lighten it up or change the nuts– or add Frangelico- to change the tone.

As a side note, I would’ve used nutella if I’d had, but I’m almost glad I didn’t. Hopefully someone will try it both ways and compare sometime. If you do, let me know.

Recipe

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup ground toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, stir before measuring
  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts and melted chocolate or nutella for frosting

In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar and cocoa. In another bowl, cream butter, then gradually blend in dry ingredients and ground nuts. Chill for half an hour, then form into 1″ balls around whole hazelnuts. Press cookies into mini cupcake tins and bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes (if you overbake, they won’t be moist anymore. They should be starting to crack at the top.)  Spread on melted chocolate or nutella and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.  Let the cookies set for half an hour, or until slightly less gooey. Enjoy, preferably with milk.  Ship remaining cookies to me. 🙂

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Filed under chocolate, Cookies, dessert, Uncategorized, vegetarian

Daring Bakers- Lemon Meringue Pie Jan 2008

Hello, and welcome to this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge! This month we all got together and baked lemon meringue pies… or in my case, tartelets! I made mine in cupcake pans, rather than free-form or in a pie tin, and they were not as aesthetically pleasing as they might have been… but I think they did just fine, don’t you?

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This was not only my first time making meringue pies, it was also my first time eating it! I thought it was interesting, but I admit to being a much bigger fan of whipped creams. My volunteer eaters, however, thought it was great, and that the texture was spot on. A lot of people had difficulty with this recipe, but I didn’t– I rather suspect that part of the reason I didn’t was because I used fresh farm eggs; while in ordinary baking, too-fresh eggs can make everything taste too eggy and feel too stiff, the freshness in these eggs seemed to give it extra structure.

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I modified this recipe to make it 2/5th the size, which still wound up filling 12 cupcake tins. I also made the filling and the crusts the night before, filling and topping the tarts the day of. The meringues lost some texture in the next 24 hours, but still tasted great… and thanks to the lemon, while the tarts were sweet, they weren’t ridiculously so.

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The recipe is from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, and was picked by Jen from The Canadian Baker.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie or 6 small ones– or 30 cupcakes!
Recipe from: Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver.
For the Crust:
3/4 cup (170 gram) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice waterFor the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (50 gram) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extractFor the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar (I omitted)
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes. (Mine was wetter than one might think reasonable at this point)

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (0.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature. (I chilled mine overnight.)

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust (my crust wasn’t soggy even after 36… they didn’t last past that with houseguests around!).

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Filed under cake, Cookies, daring bakers, dessert, fruit, Uncategorized, vegetarian

A Festival of Desserts

I had many, many people in my tiny, tiny apartment today to celebrate… well, my love of baking, I suppose. There were a lot of things I wanted to try making and not enough patience or calories in a day to do it piecemeal, so I invited everyone I knew in DC to come by and have some dessert.

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It was great fun, of course (how could friends and desserts not be?), and I particularly impressed myself by spontaneously cooking up a quick, easy dinner at the spur of the moment for everyone without flipping out– with just ingredients I had in the pantry. Now, to most of the experienced cooks and homemakers out in the blogosphere, this may seem like no big deal; however… well, I tend to be the planning type, as you may have noticed. And if there are *people* coming over, I like to go all out. It was nice to feel confident and comfortable enough to just throw something I knew how to make without making a fuss together from my bare cupboards and not freak out or order pizza when things comfortably ran on into the evening hours.

The first beauty, one of my all-time favorites, is a Linzer Tart cookie made with hazelnuts substituted for almonds. It worked pretty well, but the hazelnuts seemed to be a little oilier than the almonds. so next time I do them, I’ll reduce the butter slightly. I filled them with raspberry jam, but I’d love to try nutella in the future. Unfortunately, the way I rolled them was sort of a pain. I don’t have circular cookie cutters, so I made do with a glass for the big circles and a soda bottle cap for the cutout centers. In the future, when I make them for home consumption, I think I’ll make them as “circular” (i.e. cut off from a chilled log that’s roughly circular) sandwich cookies. Less dramatic, but they should taste just as good, and I’m more likely to make them if they’re not as a pain.

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These are gingersnaps. I’d never had gingersnaps until last year, when I fell in love with the buttery, spicy treats I got at a cookie swap. The dough freezes beautifully, and so it’s very convenient to store a log in the freezer for when people decide to drop by. The shine you may or may not notice on the top comes from ginger-sugar (similar to cinnamon sugar) sprinkled on just before baking.

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I made marshmallows, too, for the first time. Don’t they look like big, fluffy, somewhat irregular (oops), comfy pillows? They tasted and felt markedly different from the storebought ones, much in the same way that boxed mac and cheese and boxed cake mix taste different from the homemade versions. Both are good, but you really have to think of them as being entirely different products or else it’s impossible to like whichever you tasted second.

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These are the base to “apple pie” cupcakes that I topped with whipped cream and graham goldfish crackers. I made the base from a mix, Hodgson Mill Vanilla Bean. I usually make my own cake, but there was plenty of mess going on, and while the boxed mixes barely save time, they sure do save on mess and cleanup time. Hodgson Mill is the most homestyle of the mixes I’ve tried, though I also like the Trader Joes version for homestyle desserts. For trashy dessert nights, I occasionally buy Betty Crocker. When I feel like baking, I search blogs and try a new one almost every time– when it comes to vanilla cake, anyway. I love Orangette’s chocolate cake recipe, and use it as my standard. Anyway, I sauteed apples in sugared and spiced butter, and poured some over each cupcake before baking. After would have been good, too, but less portable. I got the idea somewhere on the blogosphere, but I really can’t remember where. If you know, let me know. I hate not to give credit where credit’s due, especially since they were a big hit.

I didn’t get pictures of two things. The first, chocolate pudding, was far too rich for most people’s taste– made from cream, milk, chocolate, and sugar, it was so rich that it was pretty much solid– so most people “cut” it with extra whipped cream. I also made tiramisu (also a first-time endeavor.) It was time consuming and fabulous, and I made waaaaay too much. Leftovers for work, I believe. After having made it, I can tell you it is *decidedly* not healthy.

Now that you’ve all gained weight just looking at the pictures, I think I’ll call it bedtime. Let me know if you want a recipe, I’m always happy to share.

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Filed under Cookies, dessert, Food Blogs, Uncategorized

C is for Cookie

In honor of my new blog, a certain much-maligned holiday, and finally having the kitchen for my own projects after entertaining all week, I spent tonight baking sugar cookies.

Amanda

I bet you didn’t expect sugar cookies to look like that! One of the advantages of the recipe that I used is that it’s very flexible. The roomie loves chocolate, so at the end of the baking I tossed a teaspoon of cocoa into the last scraps of batter and made her a few chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. That’s love, you know.

The recipe is pretty standard: Take 2 sticks of butter and a cup of sugar– beat together until fluffy, add 1 teaspoon vanilla (I always add about double), an egg, and 2 tbsp of some semi-solid dairy product. I used leftover creme fraiche from My Husband Cooks’ Creme Fraiche Clouds, but sour cream or yogurt would work equally well. Add a few pinches of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, and 3 cups of flour– at this point, I like to add chopped up chocolate bits to half. Set the dough aside in 2+ sections wrapped in saran wrap for at least an hour, roll out to 1/8 to 1/4″, cut, then bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown.

Hearts

Of course, most of the fun is in decorating said cookies. For the chocolate cookies in the first picture, I added a sprinkle of confectioners (powdered) sugar as they came out of the oven. The hearts above had cinnamon candies, sprinkles, fruit candies, and brown sugar on top…

Star

…and the stars had red sugar and– my favorite– conversation hearts on them. You could really put anything within reason or nothing at all on them and they’d still taste good. I haven’t tried them yet, as I overindulged this weekend, but The Roomie assures me that they’re yummy enough to stand alone.

They better be– if it weren’t a special occasion, I’d be rolling the dough up into a “snake” 2 inches in diameter, refrigerating it, and slicing off the cookies. ^_-

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