black & white peppermint cookies

December 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

BWPeppermintCookie

It feels a little hectic these days. As you can plainly see from the lack of December posts. I was a bit perplexed that I hadn’t written anything since Thanksgiving, which now seems so long ago. The holidays are definitely creeping quite quickly and I find myself nervously excited. I say nervously because the time will go too quickly, I’ll want to do more and then all of a sudden December will be over. And the only thing I’ll have left to do, is try and stay warm for the next three months. It is a bittersweet feeling.

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Thankfully through all the shopping, gifting, parties, wrapping, Christmas TV specials and holiday tunes, I have made time for a little fun. We made a gingerbread house! I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. It’s an ugly little house with icing dripping down the sides and gumdrops stuck on haphazardly. But oh what fun it was to build. Among all the hustle, Ross and I have tried to have moments of calm. We went out to breakfast last weekend and indulged in a chocolate croissant and sat longer than we usually would. But we have also made our lives a little crazier too. We’re heading up to Vermont this weekend to get our family tree. The temperature is plummeting for the weekend and cutting a tree plus decorating actually is a lot of work, but we couldn’t be more excited about the journey.

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I think that is what this time of year is really all about, acceptance of all the moments that make up this season, the busy, the calm, the noise, the family, the errands, the cooking, the eating, all of it. Because it really is quite a wonderful month when you stop and think about it.

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Thus, it only seemed appropriate to share a holiday treat. What I love about this recipe is the combination of both a brownie and cookie profile with sweet white chocolate and a hint of peppermint that tingles on your tongue. The aroma of peppermint always gets me, so this chocolate peppermint combination is indulgent. And it combines the two best things about holiday baking, seasonal flavors plus quick and easy baking, it is sure to please the crowds.

Makes 12-16 cookies
Inspired by Bakers Royale

1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1.5 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil.

Place egg and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes until the mixture has lightened in color and appears fluffy. Stir in the peppermint extract.

While eggs are beating, place dark chocolate and butter in a bowl. Heat water in a saucepan on the stove top until boiling. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of the saucepan. Stir constantly until chocolate and butter are just barely melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes

Pour the cooled chocolate, flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Then sprinkle in the white chocolate chips. Allow the batter to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cookies are crackled on the top like brownies. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for just a minute, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are wonderful warm, room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator. Store in an airtight container.

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fruit galette

September 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

FruitGallete

When my sister first passed along this recipe to me, I didn’t ask where it came from, I was just happy to be making my first galette. I won’t lie, this happened just at the beginning of this summer. In the past, I had always made fruit pies or fruit crumbles. My first reaction to her email was, why is this recipe so long? I had read through three paragraphs and I hadn’t even got through the dough portion yet. My sister’s response was, you can always be like mom and use a frozen pie dough. Being that this was a last minute recipe for a birthday dessert that was happening the next day, I opted for the frozen dough option.

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My first galette came out just perfect and I was so pleased I have made two more since. You know what’s great about galettes, with very little effort you get a beautiful dessert that people rarely see, so they are not only impressed but also intrigued.

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More recently, I thought to ask my sister where her original recipe came from, her response, Tartine. If you haven’t heard of Tartine, it’s a lovely cafe and bakery in San Francisco with not one but two cookbooks out. I am still disappointed that we never made it there on our visit to San Francisco earlier in the year. But maybe that is reason enough to go back.

My sister also had some great advice, when I finally decide to make the dough by hand I can do it in advance. She makes her dough and freezes it. Then, when she wants a quick dessert, she pulls out the dough and she swears it still tastes delicious!

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Serves 6
Inspired by Tartine

1 prepared pie dough, defrosted
4 cups of fruit, thinly sliced (if necessary)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the fruit, vanilla and salt. (The combination of fruit is endless. You can really use whatever you would like, just think about color contrast. I really enjoyed the last three combinations I made, strawberries and plums, plums and peaches and, most recently, blueberries and raspberries.)

Ball up your prepared pie dough. On a floured surface, with a rolling pin, re-roll the dough into a large circle. (I found that with prepared doughs, this is the best way to eliminate cracking.)

Lightly flour a baking stone. Fold your dough in half and place it on the prepared stone. Unfold the dough and pour all the fruit in the center, being carefully not to get close to any of the edges. Fold up the edges of your dough, sealing in all the fruit. Be sure you don’t have any holes or gaps where juice could leak out. Depending on how sweet your fruit is sprinkle anywhere from 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar on top. Then top with a squeeze of lemon juice.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Using a pastry brush, brush the outside edges of the dough. (You will have a lot of leftover egg and milk.) Sprinkle a bit of sugar along all the edges of the dough.

Bake the galette until the crust has visibly puffed, is dark brown in color and the juice from the fruit is bubbling, about 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly on the baking stone. The galette can be served hot or at room temperature. (Make sure you run a spatula underneath the galette while still hot to prevent any sticking, expecially if you plan to let it sit for a bit.)

I typically make my galettes one day ahead. Once they have cooled I cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Then when we are ready to eat it the next day, I pop it back in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes to warm everything through.

decadent hot fudge

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

HotFudge

My chocolate love has no limits, it spreads beyond traditional cookies and chocolate covered anything. So, when I came across this recipe for peppermint hot fudge during the holidays this past year I fell in love. I adore mint with chocolate. It’s one of those combinations that will never get old. I mean who doesn’t like a Junior Mint? I hold it up to the same prestigious standard as peanut butter and chocolate.

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What I love about this recipe and post is that the food was packagable and, therefore, sharable. I really love the idea of giving food as a gift. Buying cute jars, making labels and using bright ribbon is right up my alley. I still struggle with actually doing this though. Timing is everything with homemade gifts and during the holidays I find myself doing so much cooking that I loose track of food gifts. But a girl can hope right?

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So if I couldn’t make hot fudge as a gift I would make it for myself. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was the first two ingredients, heavy cream and corn syrup. I don’t like to use ingredients that I don’t typically keep in my house. I used to follow recipes religiously. I would go out and buy that one ingredient that you needed only 1/2 teaspoon of that cost $10 for the tiniest jar. Now that jar still sits in my cupboard 9/10th of the way full, with no telling when it will get used again. And so I’ve stopped buying ingredients that I know I won’t use again.

Heavy cream is something I rarely buy. I might pick it up during the holidays to make a nice whipped cream but otherwise I find it unnecessary. However, I always have milk in the house, and that’s my go to replacement. I don’t think I have ever bought corn syrup before, I think more on principle then anything else. There are just some items I don’t think are worth putting in recipes. Usually when I stumble on a recipe with these types of ingredients I pass it over. But this hot fudge looked too tasty to pass up, so I improvised and made some substitutions.

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I had never actually made hot fudge before my first attempt a few months ago. Yes, I was a Hershey’s jar girl. I mean it’s right next to the ice cream aisle in the market. When I made this hot fudge though it was so easy and still so decadent and I loved that it was freshly warmed to pour right over ice cream. And I even had a cute jar to keep it in. So today I share with you a classic hot fudge recipe to be served over mint ice cream! The only requirement is that it has to be eaten in two weeks. It won’t keep longer than that!

Makes about 1 cup
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*

In a small pot, heat milk, cocoa, and sugar over medium-low heat. Once warmed, add the chocolate chips, butter and vanilla. Turn heat up to medium and cook until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to bubble, cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly. This is where all the thickness will come from.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. Keep in the fridge and reheat when needed.

*This is where you can mix up your flavors a bit by adjusting the extract. Try an almond or peppermint extract for flavor variety.

chunky chocolate cookies

April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

ChunkyChocolateCooke-4

In reviewing my posts over the last week I noticed something. I thought I was doing a good job of varying the types of food I was cooking and talking about and I have hit most of the categories on my recipe page, except I hadn’t done anything sweet yet! This seemed a little baffling to me because I love sweet things. I’m a chocolate girl at heart. I’ve even converted my used to be chip-loving boyfriend into a chocolate fiend. I will eat almost anything if there is chocolate in it. Yes, I can solemnly say that I am an addict. But I don’t care; it’s a love affair that I can’t get enough of.

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And so although it seems like a simple recipe choice, cookies, it’s something I make all the time (and have done so many versions of). I wanted to share a stand out. It seems I have made every kind of cookie there is. I’ve followed recipes from the inside of Quaker oatmeal containers to the backs of chocolate chip bags; I have cookbooks with marks all over them and plenty of go-to recipes online. And what I’ve found, the more stuff the better. I like chunkiness in my cookies and a lot of texture and of course an overpowering amount of chocolate!

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If you make a lot of cookies yourself you’ll notice that the base of all cookie recipes is essentially the same. What keep cookies fresh and interesting are all the additions you can make. Cookies can be so versatile in that sense. I have added things like shredded coconut, white chocolate, orange zest, dried cranberries and toasted hazelnuts: all of which blended perfectly with the cookie base. Experimenting and more experimenting is your best option here. I mean, is it ever a horrible thing to have a few extra cookies in the house?

So as my chocolate love affair continues, I promise many more deliciously sweet recipes.

ChunkyChocolateCooke

Makes 28 cookies

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup pecans, lightly chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, lightly chopped

In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars. Beat until quite smooth — a couple minutes — so that the sugar loses its graininess. Mix in the egg and vanilla until just combined.

Pour the flour mixture into the bowl and use the lowest speed to gently combine. Once the flour has started to mix in you can increase the speed of the mixer slowly until completely combined. (If you mix too fast you will lose half of your dry ingredients!) Mix everything for a few minutes until the dough really comes together. Remove the bowl from the mixer base and stir in the oats, chocolate chips, pecans and walnuts.

If you have the time and patience, it’s best if you let the dough harden up a bit in the fridge before baking, at least an hour. Or like I usually do, just bake a couple to eat right away and bake the rest of the batter the next day.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once the batter has hardened a bit, spoon out heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet. I like to make my cookies a bit smaller so they come out real chunky and so I can have more than one at a time. Softly roll each ball with your hands and press each one lightly on the sheet to flatten all the tops. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool slightly before removing and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.

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