SWIRLS AND WHIRLS

This post could also be entitled Having fun with Wilton… Probably the most useful icing tip you can stick in your piping bag, Wilton 1M shines with many types of icings and doughs. In this post, I share three adventures using choux-pastry, French meringue, and a butter cookie. They all get a stylish look thanks to the open-star tip. Easy to use, even a recovering cake-o-phobe can do it.

SAMANTAS
(from Show de Receitas)

250 mL whole milk
1 Tbs sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
granulated sugar for coating
powdered sugar for sprinkling after baking (optional)

Place in a saucepan the milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, and add the entire cup of flour. Mix with a heavy wooden spoon over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the dough forms a sticky residue around the bottom and sides of the pan.

Transfer the hot dough to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for a few minutes to release some of the heat. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe small circles on parchment paper.

Bake in a 400F oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a rack and enjoy with additional sprinkling of powered sugar, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Samantas, click here

These are delicious and believe it or not, unknown to this native Brazilian, until my virtual friend Angela from the Brazilian blog Ora, Pitangas shared a picture of Samantas she bought on a trip and raved about them. Of course, being 6 thousand miles away meant that the only way to satisfy my curiosity would be rolling up my sleeves and baking a batch… Totally worth it! As all things made with choux-pastry, they tend to lose their crispness quickly, so if you make them the day before, place them in a 350 F oven for a few minutes to bring them back into top shape.

BOYSENBERRY MERINGUE COOKIES
(inspired by several sources)

4 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons boysenberry jam (or other jam of your choice)
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat the cream to simmering, and pour it over the chocolate, all at once. Allow to stand for 3 minutes. Use a wire whisk to stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth and well-combined. Set aside to cool. Whip it on high-speed with an electric mixer until fluffy right before using.

Make the meringues. Heat the oven to 170 degrees F. Whip the egg whites on high-speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, while continuing to whip. Mixture should be very stiff and glossy.

Place the jam in a small bowl, and fold about a cup of the meringue in. Transfer the mixture back into the meringue, and fold gently to combine. Place mixture in a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip, and pipe rosettes on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 2 hours or until the meringues are very dry and peel off the paper easily.

Pipe or spread about a tablespoon of the whipped ganache over the back sides of half the meringues. Sandwich another meringue rosette on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Boysenberry Meringues, click here

These cookies would stand proudly by themselves, but sticking two together with the chocolate ganache took them to a higher level. I used my favorite brand of jam, (from Maury Island Farm). The jam gave a nice color and slight sharpness to the cookie. The only issue with meringue is how quickly it absorbs moisture, so they are best served right away. Or, if you must store them, use an air-tight container.

VIENNESE WHIRLS
(from Mary Berry)

250g very soft unsalted butter   
50g confectioner’s sugar
225g all-purpose flour
25g cornstarch
seedless raspberry jam for filling

For the biscuits, heat the oven to 400 F. Line 3 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Using a 2-inch round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.

Measure the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat well, until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with the Wilton 1M tip.  Pipe 24 swirled rounds inside the circles on the baking sheets.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until a pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and harden. Match cookies according to size, in case there is some variability after piping/baking.  Fill them with raspberry jam.  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe for Viennese Whirls, click here

These cookies were a pure delight to eat, but I must admit they were a pain to pipe. I suspect my dough was slightly too hard, so next time I’ll add a little less flour. My hand was threatening to cramp up, and no, it’s NOT the Drama Queen speaking. Well, maybe the DQ surfaced a bit, but only momentarily. She is gone now.  At any rate, don’t let this issue discourage you, these are melt-in-your-mouth little gems, reminded us of shortbread cookies. Note added after publishing: make sure to see Helen Fletcher’s comment, she solves the problem for piping these babies! And she knows, she is a professional pastry baker… I am lucky to have her as a reader of my blog.

So, there you have it, three recipes in a single post, all involving my favorite icing tip. I hope I convinced you to bring Wilton into your home… 

ONE YEAR AGO: The Tabatiere

TWO YEARS AGO: Curry Turmeric Sourdough

THREE YEARs AGO: Brigadeiros de Morango

FOUR YEARS AGO: Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

FIVE YEARS AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle

SIX YEARS AGO: Cinnamon-Wreath

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
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EIGHT YEARS AGO:
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NINE YEARS AGO:
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SIMPLY THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Every once in a while Phil finds a recipe, sends it my way with a little comment: I think we-you should make this. His source is almost always the NYT Food section. I subscribe to that too, but confess to almost never clicking on it. I’m usually absorbed by my mile-long list of stuff I want to make. Soon. Anyway, last week he sent me a link about these chocolate chip cookies endorsed (with enthusiastic ravings) by Dorie Greenspan. You know, royalty in the food world. I made them that same evening, and into the fridge they went, for a mandatory period to mature the dough before baking. The dough contains a fair amount of rye flour. And poppy seeds. And dried cranberries. And chocolate chunks. A sprinkle of Maldon sea salt on top, a step that often makes me roll my eyes to the ceiling (like avocado toast does). But, trust me. It works. These might be the best choc chip cookies I’ve ever made.

MOKONUT’S RYE CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Dorie Greenspan through New York Times)

130 grams rye flour (I used dark rye)
85 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
100 grams sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
1 large egg
cup (50 grams) poppy seeds
cup (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries
113 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.

Working with a mixer  beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low-speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.

Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces (I made 16), roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These are simply amazing. They are complex, they have sweetness and sourness, they have a hint of salt, and they are addictive. I inhaled three. Me, the Self-Proclaimed-Moderation-Queen, had three cookies. Don’t let their humble looks fool you, they stopped Dorie in her tracks (her own words), and they will stop you too. Make sure you have friends, co-workers, family members to share, because there’s not enough aerobics in a day to counteract the damage you can inflict upon yourself if left in a room with a full platter of these babies. You’ve been warned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

TWO YEARS AGO: Going naked, and my husband loved it

THREE YEARS AGO: Cream Cheese Mini-Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Star-Shaped Chocolate Brioche Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

SIX YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

 

MACARONS WITH GANACHE NOISETTE

The filling for these French macs started with a pâte noisette concoction, which was suggested to me by my friend Jennifer, Pâtissière Extraordinaire. You can see a detailed description (in French) with a jump here.  I used part of this amazing paste in a cake (stay tuned) and what was left metamorphosed into macaron filling. The mixture of pâte noisette with ganache is the most gastronomically sensual thing in the known universe. Too superlative for you? Try it. If you disagree, we can discuss the matter further, sharing a few macarons while we are at it…

MACARONS WITH GANACHE NOISETTE
(from Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by this site)

for the pâte noisette (it makes more than you’ll need):
125 g hazelnuts, peeled
125 g almonds
160 g sugar
5 g water

for the ganache noisette:
100 g milk chocolate
160 g pâte noisette
140 g heavy cream

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
3:1:1 brown, green and yellow food coloring
1/8 teaspoon vanilla paste

Make the pâte noisette. Start by placing water and sugar in a large saucepan. Heat up to 245 F.   Then add the hazelnuts and almonds. Gradually, they will be covered with a white film.  Cook until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes, stirring constantly. Be patient, it is going to take a little time. Pour the mixture on a sheet of parchment paper and let cool completely.  Coarsely chop and add to a blender, the more powerful the better.  In a Vitamix blender, in less than 5 minutes you should have a very smooth paste, which is what you want.

Make the ganache. Heat the heavy cream almost to boiling point. Add to the chocolate, cut in pieces. Wait a couple of minutes and stir to completely dissolve the chocolate. Let it cool for half an hour, add the pâte praline made as described. Keep in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to get into spreadable consistency.  Reserve to fill macarons.

Make the shells. Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your tip of choice. Pipe on the prepared baking sheets.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 12 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Use the air-brush and a stencil to decorate each shell. Pair them according to size and fill.

Filled macarons should stay overnight in the fridge before consumed. The texture is much better on the following day.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The air-brusher. I got it with a special discount from Groupon, after a tip from macaron-obsessed folks from a Facebook group. I am in love. First, it is pretty small and very easy to use. They advise you to practice on a piece of parchment paper, I did so, but realized it was pretty much a no-brainer. It has three speeds of spraying, I used the lowest, it gave good coverage without getting out of control. I mean, who wants to have a dalmatian with the ears sprayed gold? Second, it is super easy to clean. For me, that matters. Something that takes a lot of work to clean makes me think twice before using. This was a breeze. Warm water gets poured through the opening, sprayed inside a bowl with more warm water, done! You need special food color for the air-brusher, but I know it’s possible to improvise with normal dyes diluted in vodka or some other type of alcohol.  I used Chefmaster.

The filling. I suppose you can make a similar preparation using Nutella. But I tell you, making the pâte noisette from scratch and incorporating it in the ganache is a game-changer. It is nutty, almost smoky (it’s the caramel speaking), sweet but with a sharp twist to it. For my taste, it is close to perfection.  I had a little bit of ganache noisette left. It was enjoyed one tiny teaspoon at a time, standing up by the fridge, while telling myself: make this again, roll as truffles, coat in chocolate sprinkles, give to all the special human beings in your life.

Make your life sweeter, grab a pin!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Quiche with Asparagus and Fennel

TWO YEARS AGO: Fakebouleh

THREE YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

SIX YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

 

 

 

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MINNIE MACARONS: A FUN PROJECT WITH A HAPPY ENDING

It all started with a very innocent email from my daughter-in-law. Inside a simple phrase and a single picture… The phrase: Something for you to try… The picture: a gorgeous Minnie Macaron sold at Disney. Miss G, our grand-daughter is crazy about all things Minnie. Basically, the universe conspired to make me  bake a batch.

MINNIE MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the shells:
198 g powdered sugar
113 g almond meal
113 g egg whites at room temperature
a pinch of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
Pink Gel color from AmeriColor
2 drops vanilla extract

for the filling:

280 g strawberries, stems removed
140 g sugar
1 lemon, juiced
250 g white chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup heavy cream (about 80g)
1 tablespoon butter

to decorate:
pink bows (melted Candy Melts with a drop of pink gel color)
gold and pink sparkling sugar

Make the filling:  Prepare fresh strawberry jam by mixing strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook for 30 minutes, mixing every once in a while. After 30 minutes cool and refrigerate. Reserve (you will not need the full amount). You can also use store-bough strawberry jam, if more convenient. Make a white chocolate ganache by mixing very hot heavy cream with the white chocolate cut into small pieces. Mix until fully dissolved. To that, add 1/4 cup of the strawberry jam prepared before, and the butter. Mix well and refrigerate until it’s time to fill the macarons. If too thick, bring to room temperature for an hour or so, whisking a few times.

Make the pink bows: Melt about 1/3 cup candy melts in the  microwave. Whisk until smooth, add a tiny drop of pink gel color. Place in a silicone mold and freeze until solid. Un-mold the decorations, make another batch until you have enough. I made 14 Minnie macarons with this batch, and 16 regular round macarons that did not need the bow on top.

Make the shells: Line 2 or 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar and almond meal   in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 15 seconds. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on low-speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium-high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme. Add the gel color and the vanilla. Staying at medium-high speed, whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the almond meal mixture in three increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl. Divide the mixture (eyeballing is fine) in two piping bags, one fitted with a 1/2 inch piping tip, the other fitted with a 1/4 inch tip. Pipe macaron rounds using the bigger tip, filling one full tray. Pipe small rounds as ears on each round using the smaller tip. Finish one full tray before starting another one.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Then fist bump each end of the sheet’s underside twice. If using sparkling sugar, sprinkle over the macarons. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. Ina dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (170 C/gas mark 3). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide, then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. The macarons should release without sticking. Check one or two. If they stick, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Assemble the macarons: find two macarons similar in size and add a good amount of filling to the bottom of one of them. Place the other on top and squeeze gently to take the filling all the way to the edge.  Glue to each macaron one little pink bow using melted white chocolate.

Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The macarons sold at Disney seem quite large, I decided to make them smaller. As to the filling, I opted for strawberry and white chocolate ganache for two reasons. First, Miss G. loves strawberries, it is one of her favorite fruits. Second, a ganache probably stands shipping better than buttercream. I used a lower proportion of heavy cream to make sure the ganache would set, especially considering the added strawberry jam.  I think a little bit of red food color to the filling would have been nice, but I only thought about that when I was done assembling them. Oh, well…

I got a pretty cute silicone mold at amazon.com to make the bows. You can use fondant, real chocolate, or candy melts, whatever you prefer. I have a bit of fondant-phobia, and never worked with it, so Candy melts seemed like a safer option. Worked like a charm. The only problem is having to make several batches, but each needed only 10 minutes in the freezer to un-mold properly. I made the bows the day before and kept them all frozen in a little plastic bag. I know, so organized!  Who could imagine that?

I made half the batch as regular macarons (large image of the composite photo above), and half Minnie-shaped. Those who are very skilled with a piping tip might be able to get by piping the ears with the same size tip as the face. I decided to play it safe, and poured some of the batter in a piping bag fitted with a smaller tip. For the body of the macaron I used a Wilton 2A tip, for the ears, a Wilton 12. With a more complex shape, it is important that the macaronage step be performed correctly.

My tip for perfect macaronage:  when I think I am almost at the right point of deflating the almond-meringue mixture, I get a teaspoon of batter and drop it on parchment paper. I lift the teaspoon, and the little blob that forms must disappear in about 20 seconds. If it does, the batter is ready, if it is still visible, I fold a few more times. Remember that you can always fold a few more times, but if you go overboard, the batter will be ruined. The macarons will spread too much, spread too thinly and it will be impossible to keep the Minnie shape as piped. Plus, they won’t form nice feet.  At the very least you will need a box of Kleenex. If the situation persists, therapy might be your only option.

I cannot tell you how happy I was with this project! It was fun to plan, to get the tools for the job, to make it, and to imagine the look on Miss G’s face when she opened the box and found a bunch of Minnie cookies inside. The filling turned out just as I expected, sweet, but with the right amount of tartness given by the jam, which by the way, I made with a lot less sugar than store-bought versions.

AND FOR THAT HAPPY ENDING….

ONE YEAR AGO: Nigella Lawson in the Bewitching Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chips

FOUR YEARS AGO: Turkey Chili with Almond Butter

FIVE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Leek and Cheese Tart

SIX YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club; Triple Chocolate Brownies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Shaved Asparagus Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Indonesian Ginger Chicken

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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FROM NATURALLY SWEET

Does the universe need another recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies?  

Let me think about that for a second….

The answer is obviously YES!

A few months ago I ordered the book Naturally Sweet from America’s Test Kitchen. “Bake all your classics with 30 to 50% less sugar.”  I do trust them to develop recipes that do not lack in taste. They definitely test all variables tirelessly, and I’ve never had a bad outcome. Yes, sometimes every single pot and pan in the kitchen gets dirty, but… if you don’t mind doing dishes – I definitely do not – it’s not that big a deal.   My first adventure with the book, a real American classic: chocolate chip cookies. And no, you won’t dirty a ton of dishes. Surprisingly enough, it is a one-bowl adventure.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE

Butter is creamed with sucanat, a type of sugar that I mentioned recently in my In My Kitchen post. As you open the bag, the smell is enough to make you dream. Think brown sugar with benefits. The texture is different from any other sugar I’ve played with. Coarse, a bit harsh-looking. It will not cream the same way white or brown sugar will, it offers a bit more resistance to the blade of the mixer. Do not worry about it, just keep beating for 3 minutes or so.

One egg and one egg yolk are added, then the other regular suspects, flour, leavening agents, vanilla, and finally Ghirardelli 60% cocoa in pieces, not too small, you need to go for those assertive pieces as you bite into these babies.

America’s Test Kitchen is quite reluctant to give permission to share recipes online, and I gave up on that waiting game.  If you don’t have the book, the recipe is available online here.  By the way, Sally’s site is a must-visit, and her cookbooks great too.

 

Comments: I really like these cookies. Phil defined them pretty well:

They have this texture that at first you think it’s crunchy, then you think it’s chewy,
and then you realize it’s in a perfect spot in between…

Got it?  Well, I think the cookies will please both camps, although I am partial to the Chewy Cheerleading Team. The sucanat gives a very nice sweetness, reminding me of some cookies that call for brown butter to be incorporated in the dough. That type of added complexity.  It makes about 16 cookies (I actually managed to get 17).  I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and make them smaller, they will have the perfect texture baked exactly as ATK suggests. Indeed, those guys test their formulas. Extensively. And we all profit from their work. I took them to the department and was considering grabbing one mid-morning, but found the empty platter staring at me. It was 9:48am. That is the sign of a good batch of cookies.

ONE YEAR AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

SIX YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

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HERMIT COOKIES

If you expect me to stick with the usual type of posts published by most food bloggers in January, I shall now disappoint you. I have a cookie post to share. And a great one. The recipe comes from Geoffrey Zakarian, which pretty much means it is going to be awesome. If there is one chef I’d like to sit down and chat with, is GZ. He seems like a nice person, and extremely knowledgeable about food. This is one of his favorite cookies, by the way, which shows we have at least a couple of things in common: a passion for spice cookies, and allowing our hair to go totally gray. HA!

Hermit Cookies

HERMIT COOKIES
(from Geoffrey Zakarian)

Yield: about 18 cookies

for the cookies:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 for the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and molasses together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, eggs and orange zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until incorporated. Add the spiced flour mixture and beat until the dough just comes together. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough into large balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) and refrigerate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until firm, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the cookies until the tops of the hermits are no longer glossy and the edges are firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the glaze: While the cookies cool, mix the confectioners’ sugar, egg whites and vanilla seeds in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth and shiny. Transfer the glaze to a piping bag or zip lock bag with a corner cut, and pipe stripes onto the cooled hermits. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

hermitcomposite

Comments:  Let me share what GZ has to say about these babies: “This is my favorite holiday cookie, because it blends two of my favorites: soft chocolate chip cookies and spicy gingerbread — the best of both worlds.”  I totally agree.

Did you know that Hermit cookies have been around since 1877? Amazing!  The name is a big mystery, actually.  They were also known as tea cakes, made traditionally as little squares. You can read all about them here. Hermit cookies are soft the way I like, spicy, sweet, and the glaze goes perfectly with them, although I am sure the glaze is a modern take on the original recipe. I normally like a plain cookie, but must admit the extra work for the glaze pays off in this recipe.

Hermit Cookies2

The holiday season is over, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with baking a batch of spice cookies when the mood strikes… You?

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Cremini Mushroom Meatloaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Roast Chicken with Clementines

THREE YEARS AGO: Eight-Ball Zucchini: The Missing Files

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CANDY CANE COOKIES

Candy Cane Cookies 2

Before the holiday season is over, I must share with you these adorable little cookies I made for a Holiday Dessert Party hosted by a colleague from our department. The idea is a get-together mid-afternoon in which everyone brings something sweet. It can be a cake, a pie, cookies, bars, preferably home-made, but no one will be mad if you bring store-bought stuff. The important is to join the party and have fun.  When I got the invitation, I quickly assembled a list of possibilities, but decided that it would be hard to top these babies, recently blogged by Chris, from The Café Sucre Farine. They are simply PERFECT for the season, and a lot of fun to make. Too bad Greenlee is a bit too young and way too far away. Still, I know one day I’ll be making a batch with her help. Can hardly wait.

Candy Cane Cookie

CANDY CANE COOKIES
(from The Café Sucre Farine)

1 cup salted butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup color nonpareil sprinkles
1 10-ounce bag Hershey’s Holiday Candy Cane Kisses

Heat oven to 350°F. Pour sprinkles into shallow bowl. Unwrap Candy Cane Kisses, reserve.

Combine butter, sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low-speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Shape dough into small 1-inch balls, then roll balls of dough in sprinkles, patting sprinkles gently onto any areas where sprinkles have not adhered. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 14-18 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and quickly place a kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down barely (about ¼ inch or less!) into the cookie.  Let stand 5 minutes on cookie sheets, then carefully remove to cooling rack. Cool completely before moving or touching them. The kisses will take a while to firm up, so be gentle.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositecandy

Comments: These are the simplest cookies ever as far as the dough goes. A regular shortbread type, no eggs, just butter, sugar and flour. I have very limited experience with shortbread, but when I made a batch of choc chip shortbread cookies there were no issues, and I loved the resulting texture. These are shaped as balls one by one, they don’t spread too much, get all plump instead. I was worried about the cookies hardening too fast, so I left one baking sheet in the oven when they were done baking, and worked as fast as I could on the first sheet.  It turns out you can take your time, get both sheets out of the oven at the same time and move along. However, make sure to have all candies unwrapped and waiting. This batch made 26 cookies, which is about half the bag. I suggest you unwrap 30 just to be on the safe side, and if there are kisses leftover be brave and do the sacrifice expected from a real baker: polish them off.

The thing I loved the most about these cookies (apart from their cuteness) is the way the mint flavor of the candy permeated through the whole cookie. I did not expect that to be the case since the candies are placed after baking. Let’s say it was a very pleasant surprise.

cooling2

This basic recipe could be adapted to so many situations!  All you’ll have to do is change the color of the sprinkles, and the type of kiss candy in the center. I can visualize a batch for Valentine’s Day, for Halloween, 4th of July, or to match the colors of your favorite team or school.

Thank you Chris for a great recipe, and super helpful advice!

 

holidays-2

This will be my last post for the year, so I wish all my readers a wonderful New Year’s Eve! We are heading to Colorado for a week. I intend to face the ski slopes with the bravery of someone born and raised in the Austrian Alps.
(I am laughing so hard now I’ll need to dry my eyes)

Candy Cane Cookies from Bewitching Kitchen

holidays-2

ONE YEAR AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

TWO YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

THREE YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gougeres

SIX YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night