Posts Tagged 'Cookies'

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies

“Mayhem” (the only way I can describe my May!) is almost over. Hallelujah. It’s been fun, but traveling every weekend really puts a damper on my cooking, and I’m ready to get back to it.

Today’s recipe – Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies – is a treat I’ve enjoyed at my friend Christopher’s house numerous times. Until I actively sought out the recipe, though, I didn’t realize that (a) I’ve had it in my possession since September 2009, and (b) it’s been on my list of must-try recipes for months and months.

The cookies are super simple to make; there’s only six ingredients, and prep time is minimal. The first time I made a batch, though, they did not look like the cookies I’d enjoyed before. Christopher’s had relatively smooth but still slightly crackly tops, while mine were very uneven. I had ignored my kitchen instincts when I made the batter and didn’t beat the egg whites before adding them to the dry mixture (the recipe said nothing about it), so I figured this must have been my problem. This time, with lightly beaten egg whites, the cookies turned out perfectly.

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies
Makes 12

Ingredients:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (sub chocolate chips if desired)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or other type of nut)
4 large egg whites, room temperature (I say lightly beaten)

Method:
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Add egg whites and stir until just incorporated (do not overmix).

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake until cookie tops are dry and crackled, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

Source: Everyday Food, September 2009

Image

These are one of my top three favorite cookies, easy. The crisp, crackly outside gives way to a chewy, brownie-like center and the combination is absolutely out of this world. The cookies are large (about the size of my palm) and visually impressive, which makes them great for gifts or entertaining.

The quality of cocoa powder used definitely affects the flavor of the cookie, so if you try the recipe, go with the best. I’ve had good results with Savory Spice Shop’s cocoa (I mixed their basic Dutch-process cocoa with their Black Onyx) and with Ghirardelli; Christopher swears by Droste.

Recipe link: Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies

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Cream Cheese-Lemon Rings

Let the holiday baking begin!  I certainly started mine off on the wrong foot yesterday evening when I got (really!) distracted and left the flour, baking powder, and salt out of today’s recipe…  As you can imagine, my cookies melted into a puddle in the oven.  I’m always one to try, try again, though, so I gave the recipe another shot this morning.  Success!

Cream Cheese-Lemon Rings (originally Cream Cheese-Lemon Bows)
Makes about 6 dozen 2-inch rings

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (light – not nonfat – is fine if that’s what you have)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely chopped (mine was grated with a microplane grater)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder (I used a scant teaspoon as a high-altitude adjustment)
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Method:
Put butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy.  Mix in granulated sugar.  Add egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice; mix well.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; mix into butter mixture on low speed.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place a small amount of the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Holding tip very close to the surface, pipe 2-inch rings onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper; space 1 inch apart.  Gently push down any peaks in the piped dough.  Refill pastry bag as needed with remaining dough.  Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom, about 10 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookies 2005 (My version is slightly modified for technique and baking time.)

Cream Cheese-Lemon Rings

What a great cookie!  I’m especially excited that the recipe worked at high altitude with only one minor modification (the scant teaspoon of baking powder instead of a whole, and I’m not sure the change was even necessary).  The dough really doesn’t expand much.  The flavor of the cookie is wonderful; it isn’t too sweet, even with the confectioners’ sugar sprinkling, and you definitely get the citrus from the lemon (though it isn’t overpowering).  The texture is somewhere between a sugar cookie and shortbread – crisp, but not dry – and I think these cookies would stand up well when transported (perfect for a cookie exchange).

The only downside to the recipe is that it does take some time and effort to pipe the cookies; the dough is pretty firm, so it’s a bit of a workout.  I tried putting the dough in a cookie press after reading a comment on the original recipe, but that was a grand failure.  The upside to piping is you can do pretty much whatever shape you want.  I tried bows (per the original recipe), rings, squiggles, hearts, and spirals, but liked the rings the best.  If you try a different shape or size, just be sure to watch them in the oven.  I burnt the heck out of my first batch because I left my 2-inch cookies in for the 12 minutes recommended in the original recipe; that baking time was intended for 3 1/2-inch cookies.

Recipe link: Cream Cheese-Lemon Bows

Heart Cookie Pops

For as much as I love making decorated sugar cookies, I often wish the process could be shorter.  It takes several hours (not all hands-on time, thankfully!) to even get to the point where you have cookies to ice.  Icing then takes a minute or so per cookie and they have to rest for at least four hours (!!!) before you can pipe anything on top.  I get exhausted just thinking about it.

So when I saw this recent cookie pop project in a Fancy Flours e-mail, I knew I had to give it a try.  The cookies were so cute, but they didn’t have any icing.  I am completely in love with my regular cookie recipe (No-Fail Sugar Cookies), so I decided to use my usual recipe with their technique.

I have made hundreds and hundreds of sugar cookies over the last five years, but I had never colored the dough before.  Talk about an easy way to dress things up!  I used Wilton’s gel paste food coloring in rose, and I added it after the butter and sugar were creamed but before the egg, vanilla, and flour mixture.  Once the dough was chilled and firm, I rolled it as usual and cut it with a 2-inch heart cookie cutter. I put each heart on top of a popsicle stick (my stash of white candy sticks is MIA, so I used what I had) and pressed the dough gently so it would adhere.  Fancy Flours suggested silver dragées in the corner of each heart but I had pearl ones; again, I used what I had.

My perfect baking time for 2-inch cookies was 8 minutes at 350°F.  I cooled the cookies for five minutes on the baking sheets before carefully transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

Heart Cookie Pops

Pretty cute, huh?  And I loved that they were done once they were cool…  No additional decorating necessary!  Here are a few notes for any of you who want to give this one a whirl:

  • Based on the scale of dragée to cookie, I’d say Fancy Flours used a 1 1/4-inch cookie cutter.  I used a 2-inch cutter.
  • I think the white candy sticks look nicer, but the popsicle sticks will provide better support for a larger cookie.
  • I experimented with dragées around the entire perimeter of the cookie, but the results weren’t good.  Some of them dissolved a bit and shrunk during the baking process, which was really obvious when there were 10 or so per cookie.  One is perfect (and less time-consuming to place).
  • You could make a really cute Valentine’s Day “bouquet” with these if you stuck the bottom of the sticks into craft foam (maybe shaped like a heart and painted red or pink?).  They’d make great gifts individually wrapped and tied with a bow as well.

Update 2/15/11: I baked some mini (1 1/2-inch) heart cookies yesterday afternoon and the dragées held up beautifully.  I think the shorter baking time (5 1/2 – 6/1/2 minutes for the minis) made all the difference.  Heart-shaped Red Hots worked well as decorations for both the mini and larger cookies.

Recipe link: No-Fail Sugar Cookies

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I make an awful lot of sugar cookies.  (I swear, I could make them in my sleep!)  I make so many, in fact, that I rarely even think about making any other kind of cut-out cookie.  When the recipe for these Chocolate-Ginger Cookies came through my inbox the other day, though, I just had to make them.  The chocolate-ginger flavor combination really feels like fall, and I already had the adorable fall cookie cutters used in the photo on the Martha Stewart Web site.

I went into this thinking that I’d be able to mimic my sugar cookie routine with a different dough, but I had to change plans quickly; the dough is pretty soft.  The downside of this is that I had to flour the heck out of my counter, the surface of the dough, and the rolling pin to make cutting and transferring the cookies possible.  The upside, though (and it’s a big one!), is that the dough produces a very tender cookie.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies
Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I left this out)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Method:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg, molasses, and grated ginger; mix until combined. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until just combined.

Halve dough; flatten into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour. Transfer disks, one at a time, to a lightly floured surface; roll out to 1/4 inch thick. (If dough gets soft, freeze until firm.) Use 3-inch acorn or leaf cookie cutters to make shapes; place 1 inch apart on sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Score designs with a knife; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2004

My notes:

  • As you can see from the ingredient list, I left out the leavening agents.  I find that cutout cookies tend to hold their shape better (especially at altitude) when I omit them.
  • I was tempted to squeeze the moisture out of my grated ginger because it was pretty wet, but I didn’t.  Baked goods usually benefit from a little extra moisture at altitude anyway.
  • The recipe said to refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes before baking, but I froze them for 20 minutes instead.
  • I tried scoring the cookies with the designs both before and after freezing (I’m a rebel like that!).  Scoring them after freezing definitely resulted in cleaner lines.
  • My cookies were done in about 11 1/2 minutes per batch.

Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

I still love sugar cookies the best, but these were pretty tasty.  I liked the balance of ginger and chocolate, and I really enjoyed the light crunch of the sanding sugar. I’m not sure if the cookies were supposed to be tender (the Martha Stewart site indicated they’d be crisp), but mine certainly were.  They weren’t soft in a flexible way – they held their shape perfectly – but they had such a delicate crumb.  I’ll try this one again in December as gingerbread men.

Recipe link: Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

Fuel Cafe’s Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

I am pleased to report that I discovered another fantastic recipe for the high-altitude baking arsenal this weekend: Fuel Cafe’s Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies.  I had practically given up on 5280‘s Cookie Jar column since the last recipe I tried fell amazingly flat (literally), but I think the magazine has redeemed itself.  I haven’t been to Fuel Cafe yet, so I’m not sure if the recipe results are an accurate representation of the real thing.  Regardless, they’re amazing.  Here’s the recipe:

Fuel Cafe’s Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
Makes 16 – 18 large cookies or 24 – 30 smaller cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
2 cups mini chocolate chips
2 cups pecans, chopped and untoasted

Method:
Preheat oven to 375°F.  In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar for about 5 minutes.  Add salt and baking soda.  On low speed, add one egg at a time until incorporated.  Do not over-mix. Add vanilla.  Mix in flour at low speed until incorporated.  Do not over-mix.  Add oats, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans, only until combined.  (Over-mixing results in tough cookies.)

Scoop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Fuel uses 1/4 cup dough per cookie, baked for approximately 11 – 12 minutes until golden brown.  For smaller cookies, use one heaping tablespoon each and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool briefly on baking sheet before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Fuel Cafe's Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

This is the first time I’ve made what I consider to be a truly successful chewy chocolate chip cookie here in Denver.  They’re so tasty.  They’re pleasantly nutty because of the pecans, there’s plenty of chocolate from the mini chips, and the oats make them dense.  The outside edges are crisp, but the centers are perfectly chewy.  Mmmm.  I sent what remained of my batch to Dr. O’s office this morning, and they’re getting rave reviews.  Give them a try!

TIPS:  I made a half recipe and portioned the dough using my 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop; I ended up with exactly 2 dozen cookies.  Each batch needed 10 minutes at 375°F at my house.  I also noticed that the cookies didn’t spread as much when I baked them on a shiny, light-colored, rimmed baking sheet; they spread a bit more on my flat cookie sheets.  I did line my sheets with parchment as the recipe suggested.

Recipe link: Fuel Cafe’s Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Hooray!

I always get really excited when one of my favorite baking recipes from Dallas works here in Denver without any high-altitude modifications.  Today’s recipe – Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies from the March 2005 issue of Everyday Food – is one of those recipes.  I loved these cookies so much when we were in Dallas and got so many compliments on them…  I’m just thrilled I can share them here as well.

And let me tell you something, folks: These cookies are not only delicious, they’re ridiculously easy.  Like, you-don’t-even-need-a-mixer easy.  Here’s how I made them.

In a large bowl, I stirred together 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of table salt until well combined.  Next, I stirred in 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of roasted salted peanuts.

From here, I deviated a bit.  The recipe says to use moistened hands to roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls.  I used my 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop for the first batch (with the dough leveled instead of heaping) and my hands for the second batch so I could see which method gave me the best cookie shape.  (The scoop won by a mile!)  The recipe also said to bake all the cookies at once with one rack in the top third of the oven and one in the bottom third.  I feel like I get more consistent results when I bake my cookies in the middle of the oven, so I decided to do separate batches.  With that said, I placed the dough balls about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  (I ended up with 21 cookies.)  I baked each batch at 350°F until they were golden and puffed (13 minutes in my oven).  I cooled them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Oh, heavens.  They were just as I had remembered, except maybe ever so slightly less puffed than they were in Dallas.  No matter…  The Queen of Portion Control (me, as often as I can stand it) has already eaten two of these and it isn’t even 5 p.m. yet.

The cookies are very peanut butter-y, and I love the chunky texture created by the whole peanuts in the dough.  They aren’t soft and chewy but they certainly aren’t crisp either…  They’re somewhere in between.  They’re a little bit crumbly like a good shortbread, which is another thing I can hardly resist.

So anyway, if you like peanuts and chocolate, make these!  You’ll enjoy them.  And my fellow high-altitude bakers can rest easy knowing this won’t be yet another batch of cookies that spread into sad, crispy discs.

Recipe link: Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies

Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

Dr. O took a little trip to Oklahoma City this week. He planned to stay with a friend, and we thought it would be nice to send treats. The friend – we’ll call him “POTP” – requested oatmeal-raisin cookies.

I don’t think I’ve made oatmeal-raisin cookies since we moved to Dallas, so I went to my dessert spreadsheet to see what was available, recipe-wise. After passing over Healthy Oatmeal Cookies (for the serial oatmeal cookie eater, I’m sure!), Oatmeal Date Cookies, and Chocolate-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, I made my choice – Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. I had never heard of an oatmeal-raisin cookie with coconut in the ingredient list, and I was intrigued.

I started by whisking together the flour, baking soda and salt. I set that aside and then creamed the butter (two sticks – gasp!) with some brown sugar and regular sugar. The eggs and vanilla came next, and then I beat in the flour mixture just until everything was combined. (You don’t want to overmix.) Finally, I added the oats, raisins, and coconut, beating again just until combined.

The recipe says to drop level 1/4-cup measures of the dough onto baking sheets. Lucky me – I have an ice-cream scoop that holds exactly 1/4 cup. So I used that to scoop and drop my dough onto two baking sheets, 10 cookies per sheet.

jumbo_oatmeal_raisin_cookie_dough.jpg

I have four rack notches in my oven, so I put my racks on the middle two. One baking sheet went on each rack for 9 minutes at 350 F. I then switched the sheets (top to bottom, back to front) and put the cookies in for another 9 minutes. I let them cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transferred them all to two cooling racks.

OH. MY. GOSH.

jumbo_oatmeal_raisin_cookies.jpg

These cookies are soooooooo good. Like, “you could sell them” good. They’re pretty big (about the size of my palm), slightly crisp on the edges, and perfectly soft and buttery on the inside. With the exception of the Doughmonkey cookies here in Dallas and our friend Anne’s Monster Cookies, I don’t know that it gets much better than this.

TIPS: I always line my baking sheets with parchment paper when I make cookies, unless the recipe specifically says to place the dough directly on the baking sheet. It makes cleanup a breeze, and the cookie bottoms tend to brown very evenly. Also, I use the “rotate the baking sheets” technique mentioned in this recipe often, whether my recipe says to or not. The back of the oven tends to be hotter than the front, so this contributes to even cooking as well.

Bonus! You can freeze the dough scoops and bake the cookies individually if you don’t want 20 of them sitting around the house. Hallelujah.

Recipe link: Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies




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