CHOCOLATE-DIPPED CINNAMON COOKIES: VEGAN & DELICIOUS

Today I share a recipe for delicious cookies that happen to be vegan. No eggs, no dairy, but no sacrifice of flavor and texture. The recipe comes from Modern Vegan Desserts, written by a professional patissiere, Petra Stahlová. I invite you to read my review on her book (as well as musings on vegan baking in general) by visiting the Home Bakers Collective site, with a click here.

CHOCOLATE-DIPPED CINNAMON COOKIES
(published with permission from Petra Stahlová)

62g soft vegan butter (I used Country Crock plant butter)
62g icing sugar
15g almond flour
54g aquafaba
82g plain flour
3g ground cinnamon
200g 70% dark chocolate

In a mixer, beat the softened butter and the icing sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the almond flour. Gradually mix in the aquafaba, adding a tablespoon of plain flour after each addition of liquid. Once all the liquid has been mixed in, carefully stir in the rest of the flour and the cinnamon with a spatula.

In a bowl, cover the batter with cling film so that it directly touches the surface, and leave to rest for half an hour at room temperature. Put the dough into a pastry bag with a 10mm diameter tip. Place either a silicon mat or some baking paper on the baking tray and pipe out 2.5 inches long lines onto the sheet. Don’t squeeze the bag too hard; the width of the batter should correspond to the diameter of the tip, i.e. 10mm. Leave half-an-inch space between the cookies, as they will spread out during baking.

Heat your oven to 375F (convection on, if available) and bake for about 7 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. Afterwards, leave the cookies on the baking tray for half a minute to firm up and then transfer them onto a cooling rack.

Temper the chocolate, then dip the cooled cookies and put them on either a silicon mat or baking paper to let the chocolate crystallize. Decorate with sprinkles, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I made these cookies for Mondays with Sweetness, in which I share bakes with our departmental colleagues. Since there is one adorable person who is allergic to eggs, I am always trying to find bakes that she will be able to enjoy. Nobody could tell these are vegan. The cinnamon flavor is perfect, the chocolate complements it well, and with the golden sprinkles they get a festive look. If you don’t feel like tempering chocolate, you can get by with candy melts but there will be a little compromise in flavor. I usually take the opportunity of tempering chocolate to make some extra decorations that might come in handy in future bakes.

I close this post inviting you to read more about Modern Vegan Desserts,
so please stop by the Home Bakers Collective.

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FESTIVE MACARONS TO WELCOME 2021

That Sally? She’s all about cauliflower and macarons. Hopeless. Since my reputation is already in shambles, I will share yet another recipe for macarons designed to kick a Poltergeist-ish year into the past and embrace 2021 as a light in the end of a very dark tunnel. Vaccines in sight, we just need to hang in there and keep doing all we can to avoid the virus while it still lingers unchecked out there. A single recipe, a single filling, and two designs. A dressed-up version to enjoy at at New Year’s Eve, and a playful take perfect pretty much anytime in January.

REVEILLON MACARONS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar
115 g almond flour
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar (optional)
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
white food gel color
toothpick drop of purple gel color

For filling:
160g powdered sugar  
57g unsalted butter, softened (4 tablespoons)  
1/2 to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract  (depends on your taste and the extract you are using)
pinch of salt 
heavy cream or milk to adjust consistency, if needed

Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered/icing sugar and ground almonds/almond meal in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and 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 in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla and food colors. 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 ground almond/almond meal mixture in two 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 choice of piping tip (round, ¼ or ½ inch in diameter or 6 – 12 mm). If you don’t have a macaron mat, draw circles on baking/parchment paper about 2inches/5cm in diameter & turn the paper over before placing on the baking sheets. Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size. If making snowmen, make a template with two circles joined together to form head and body, and pipe each section.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a 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 (150 C/130C Fan oven/Gas Mark 2). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking.

For the filling, use a hand-held electric mixer and whisk the butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and salt. Whisk in low-speed at first, the increase speed and whisk until creamy and smooth. If needed, add a very small amount of milk or heavy cream. Pipe the filling in shells, close them, and leave in fridge overnight to mature. 

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. Store in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.

Decorate with Royal icing and sprinkles, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For the dressed-up version, I added white Royal icing to make abstract swirls, and immediately sprayed the shells with Diamond Dust, a product I will feature very soon in my next In My Kitchen post. Love it.

For the playful version, I piped the shells as two circles, baked them, and decorated the shells with Royal icing dyed orange and green, leftover from sugar cookies projects. The details of eyes, mouth, and buttons were made with a very fine tip edible marker. I am still not confident enough to pipe extremely fine lines with Royal icing, need more practice to get to that point.

Making white shells is a bit of a challenge, they tend to get some color in the oven in the final stages of baking. To help things a bit, you can add a tiny amount of purple food gel, that counteracts the yellow tone as it bakes. But you might get a little bit of browning anyway. That’s where the Diamond dust comes nicely into play. That stuff is amazing.

ONE YEAR AGO: Episode 6, Cookies in The Great American Baking Show

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FOUR YEARS AGO: The Complicit Conspiracy of Alcohol

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COOKIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS: GINGERBREAD

December. This is the time for baking cookies in all shapes and forms, but some are definitely more strongly associated with the holiday spirit. This posts opens a series of four chapters. I start with gingerbread, using a recipe from Tanya, tent-baker extraordinaire, aka The Gingerbread Queen. Subsequent posts will cover Sugar Cookies, Macarons, and Springerle. Gingerbread Cookies are not too hard as far as baking project goes, as long as you keep them as cookies instead of components of 3D sculptures (sigh). Because their flavor is so intense, they can be enjoyed with no decoration whatsoever, or with a very simple white Royal icing. So simple that you can even get by using a tip-less piping bag. And of course, sprinkles are always welcome. Always.

GINGERBREAD COOKIES
(very slightly modified from Tanya’s blog)

640 grams all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
226 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
200 grams granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 large egg, at room temperature
120 mL (1/2 cup) honey
120 mL (1/2 cup) molasses
2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of stand mixer add the sugar with the orange zest and rub them well with your fingers, until fragrant. Add the butter, fit the machine with the paddle attachment and mix until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice during mixing. Add the molasses, honey, and vinegar and mix well.

Turn off the mixer and add about half of the dry ingredients. Mix on low just to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Gather the dough together into a ball and then flatten the dough into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until firm enough to roll without sticking.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 3/16-inch thickness. Cut out shapes, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets and freeze for 5 minutes.

Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and lightly browned around the edges. A three-inch round cookie will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting and/or assembling with royal icing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

For most of my decorations, I used Tanya’s recipe for Royal Icing with very little water added. For gingerbread, I prefer not to fully cover the cookie, so instead of flooding them, I piped shapes and wanted them to stay firmly in place.

You can keep it all super simple….

or… while keeping it simple couple the design with some gold for a festive twist

The star was left fully white, the others were painted with gold luster diluted with lemon extract. It is a bit hard to see it in the middle ones, because the gold was just applied on the white decorations.

Even if I rather not completely cover a gingerbread cookie, sprinkles (in this case sparkling sugar) are hard to resist… Just add them before the icing hardens. Keep in mind that the thicker the icing, the faster it sets.

Now what if you dislike Royal icing with a passion? Here is a pretty sweet alternative (pun intended).

EASY NON-ROYAL ICING

1 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons milk
2 tsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, or lemon)

Whisk whisk whisk whisk…. If it flows as a thick ribbon from a spoon, it will be ready to use. You can flood the surface or make thick ribbons. Leave as it is, or go crazy with….. SPRINKLES!!!!

to print the recipe, click here

This icing will crust well in a few hours, but just to be safe don’t mess too much with the cookies for 24 hours, especially if you are going to pack them for gifts or shipping.

Stay tuned for Sugar Cookies next….

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SARAH BERNHARDT’S COOKIES

Don’t you love a cookie with a nice story behind it? Sarah Bernhardt was one of the greatest French actresses of the last century. During a trip to Denmark at the height of her career she had a cookie from an upscale bakery and fell totally in love. She was so passionate about that delicacy that in 1911, after her memoirs were published in Denmark, Chef Johannes Steen named this spectacular chocolate cookie after her. Read more about it here. You will find many versions around, but count on Helen Fletcher to bring you the authentic. The cookie joins an almond base, and a chocolate truffle enrobed in a chocolate shell. Many versions cover the whole thing in chocolate, but if you want to do the real thing, cover just the truffle. You should still see the cookie underneath and it will be much more elegant to eat. Worthy of a dame like Sarah Bernhardt.

SARAH BERNHARDT’S COOKIES
(from Pastries like a Pro)

for the cookie base:
100g almond flour
150g granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

for the chocolate truffle topping:
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (28g)
2 tablespoons sugar (25g)
140g semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla

to coat the truffle:
114g semisweet chocolate (114 grams)
1 tablespoon shortening
Gold Leaf, optional

Make the cookie base. Draw a template with 1 in diameter circles on parchment paper to pipe the cookies, flip the paper so that you can pipe on the back.

Combine the almond flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and run it for a few seconds to combine. Add the egg whites and vanilla, process until a paste forms. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 in round tip. Pipe rounds of cookie batter on the parchment paper, going just to the circle drawn. They will puff up during baking. Leave the piped cookie sitting at room temperature while you heat the oven to 300F. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes or until they just start to get some color on the edges. Let cool completely on the paper before removing to a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate truffles. Heat cream, butter and sugar until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be very hot, but not boiling. Submerge the chocolate under the cream and let sit for 4 or 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Add vanilla.

pour it into a rimmed baking sheet, cover the top with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it sets up. If it is too soft to pipe and hold a shape, refrigerate briefly until it can be piped.

If making up to a week ahead, pour into a container, cover the surface with film and chill store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to pipe. Follow the instructions above if it gets too soft.

Fit a pastry bag with a 5/8 inch tip. Fill the bag the truffle mixture. Pipe a kiss shaped mound in the center on top of each macaroon about 1” high and within about 1/4″ from the edge. If there is a pointed tip, press it gently with your finger to smooth the surface out.

Place in the freezer to harden. If not finishing within a day or so, place these in a covered container and keep them frozen for a month or so until time to finish.

Finish the cookies. Combine the chocolate and shortening in a short, wide mouth glass or other small container and microwave at 50% power for 1 minute.  Stir to mix. If the chocolate isn’t completely smooth, microwave for 10 seconds at a time.  Do not let it get too hot.

Remove the cookies from the freezer. Dip them upside down to cover the kisses, just short of their bottoms. Let the excess chocolate drip off. The chocolate finish should cover the kiss but not touch the cookie base. The fact they are frozen will stop the chocolate from running. If the kisses start to warm, pop them back into the freezer. Right after coating, add golden leaf decoration or sprinkles.

Cookies should be kept in the fridge and be brought to room temperature for serving. They can sit at room temperature for a few hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Helen’s post about these cookies is extremely detailed, so I recommend you visit her site if you’d like to bake a batch. She decorated them with gold leaf, I went the easier route and resorted to my trustworthy golden stars. You’ll need to work fast, because the chocolate coating sets almost immediately upon contact with the frozen truffle component.

These are festive and luscious, the type of cookie that will brighten up any holiday table. There is something about the contrast of the cookie base with the melt-in-your-mouth truffle that explains why Ms. Bernhardt went crazy for them.

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF COOKIE SWAP

I like to keep the blog varied. Never two bread posts in a row. Never two savory recipes in a row. But never say never, as I am about to break my own rules. My latest post involved cookies, and here you have another one. But, but, but…. I got so excited about this, I cannot wait to share. A cookie swap that is not quite what you think: you swap portions of a stamped cookie dough, forming a totally new pattern. I keep thinking about all the possibilities of mixing and matching. Shapes, designs, colors, cookie formulas (think chocolate and vanilla for a shocking color contrast).

MIX-AND-MATCH LEMON SUGAR COOKIES
(inspired by several sources)

113g unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
30g egg (whisk one egg and measure the amount)
1/4 cup honey (about 60 mL)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
50g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
320g all-purpose flour

to decorate (optional):
vodka or everclear or lemon extract
dust luster powder in gold, pearl white, or any desired color

Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly, but do not let it get solid.

Beat the 30g egg in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl until the yolk and white are fully mixed.  Add the honey, and lemon flavoring. You can do this step by hand using a whisk.

In another bowl, mix the sugar with the lemon zest and rub the zest with your fingers to release all the oils. Add the salt, then incorporate the mixture into the egg using the flat beater of the Kitchen Aid in medium-speed. Beat well, then slowly add the melted butter, constantly mixing.

Add flour (reserve about 1/2 cup) in very low-speed and mix in until you have a dough that is solid enough to knead. Remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid and add the rest of the flour by hand, you may not need the full amount. Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll it out to a thickness compatible with your cookie press, then press two or three patterns using any type of design you like. Using a small round cookie cutter remove the centers and swap them, as shown in this picture:

Freeze the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 15 minutes while you heat the oven to 350F. To avoid distortion of the cookies during baking, transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature sheet, using the parchment paper to move them.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges start to get golden, but do not over bake. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, than remove to a rack to cool completely.

If desired, use luster dust powder mixed with vodka or lemon extract to paint the surface.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am over the moon with these! You don’t have to go through the additional step of painting them, the pattern looks nice even if the cookies are kept plain, but I love working with luster dust. There is no need for precision, each cookie turns out a little different.

You can use any recipe that keeps the shape during baking, and always freeze the cut cookies before sticking in the oven. Another thing to keep in mind is to transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature baking sheet, because sometimes baking them over a frozen cookie sheet might cause warping. By transferring to a room temperature surface, you avoid that problem.

I cannot take full credit for this idea. I am a member of a great cookie group on Facebook (Molded Cookies of the World) and the moderator (Dawn Williams) has been playing with different cookie molds, joining them together. I decided to try it with the cookie stamps from Nordicware. They are sturdy, wonderful to use, and every single swap I did worked perfectly.

I am already planning my next batch… and the one after that…

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TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Sourdough

THREE YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FOUR YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

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SIX YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

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