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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

Malted Milk Cookie Tart

A simple dessert that finished off a simple meal.  This tart is DENSE, rich, and very buttery.

I can’t decide how much I really liked it or if I’d recommend you make it … and yet somehow we managed to eat the whole thing in three days.  I’ll say this, 3 out of 4 people who tried it reported it good.  And I’m the difficult fourth person who is just not sure.  So, if you really like a malty flavor, maybe you should try it.  And if not, this might be one to skip in favor of eating an extra blueberry peach parfait or something!

Malted Milk Cookie Tart
Taken from Bon Appetit, July 2010
Yield: 10 wedges

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon (scant) coarse kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 3 ounces; do not exceed 61% cacao)
1/2 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. In processor, pulse flour, malted milk powder, sugar, and coarse salt. Add butter; pulse until moist clumps form. Transfer dough to work surface; gather into ball. Press evenly onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

Bake crust until evenly golden brown, about 45 minutes. Scatter chocolate chips over; let stand 5 minutes to soften, then spread melted chocolate over hot crust in well that forms as center sinks. Sprinkle malted milk balls over. Cool completely. Remove tart from pan; cut into wedges.

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A classic example of what it’s like to be 39 weeks pregnant.  I made Coffee Toffee Bars.  I tasted them and they were quite delicious.  I thought Coffee Toffee bar, mmmh.  And then I thought, “Coffee?  There’s no coffee flavor … oh yes I glanced over the Tbs. of coffee called for and figured I would first add the salt and baking powder before doubling back … I never doubled back … I forget absolutely everything these days.”  Hence, I give you a Coffee Toffee Bar without the coffee.  Which I assure you, is quite tasty indeed.  I’m also quite sure that the “with coffee” version would be equally tasty.

They might look like a Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar, but they aren’t quite the same thing.  The bar is far more flaky and somewhere in between a cookie and shortbread.  And the teaspoon of almond extract enhances the flavor from the classic vanilla found in a Chocolate Chipper.  And who knows what the coffee would do except to say it would definitively taste nothing like a regular chocolate chip at that point.  So go crazy.  Give these a whirl.  Choose to live spontaneously by adding or not adding the coffee.

Coffee Toffee Bars
Taken from tastykitchen.com
Prep: 10 min  Cook: 20 min.

1 cup Soft Butter Or Margarine
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee (Up To 2 Tablespoons For More Flavor)
½ teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons Salt
2-½ cups Flour (approximately)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (Up To 2 Cups!)

Cream together the butter and brown sugar.

Blend in the almond extract, instant coffee, baking powder and salt.

Add enough flour to make a stiff dough.

Press into a well-greased 9×13 pan (or a jellyroll pan if you’re doubling it) and sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Christmas Festivities

This weekend was filled with Christmas-related celebrations.

Friday night I spent a short hour dropping in on a Christmas get-together with my old co-workers from the ad agency.  Many of us hadn’t seen each other in 3-4 years.  From there I went straight to the Runyans for our Christmas dinner and gift exchange.  Just as with Thanksgiving, I love that a Christmas tradition has been created to celebrate with friends as well as family.   Em and Eric did a good job of creating a cozy atmosphere and the group did a good job of greatly increasing the noise level!

(Sorry Em, no good pics this time)

On Sunday afternoon Nate and I hosted our first-ever Christmas Cookie Open House.  In the past, we’ve made dozens of Christmas cookies (often with friends) and then spent time delivering platefuls to friends and family.  But the perfectionistic side of me always ends up frustrated when the cookies shift and crumble on the plates or the flavors of eggnog, chocolate, and sugar cookie start to meld.  The Open House was my solution for this, as people could come and enjoy intact, fresh cookies …. and we’d all get more of a chance to chat this way too.  It was a fun afternoon without a lot of extra prep and rushing around before hand.  And we set our own record for number of babies and kids we’ve ever had in this house at one time!

I took pictures of some of the cookie selections

(Dark Chocolate Truffles and Mocha Fudge)

(Lemon Angel Wings … but they are just like little “orejitas” from my childhood with a lemon twist)

(Gotta have some classic sugar cookies at Christmas)

(The Coffee Bon Bons packed the perfect amount of coffee punch)

(Chocolate Mint Cookies and Gingersnaps)

(Part of the living room crowd)

Monday night was our last Christmas event … of the week at least!  Because most of the “Taube kids” end up split up for Christmas, we generally end up holding an early celebration together.  This year Laura & Matt are headed to Argentina, Mark & Kora have Kora’s family coming in, and Nate & I are headed to Idaho.  As in past years, we draw names and do a gift exchange.  Matt had picked me and I was very impressed at his creative artwork and packaging.  He ordered me two sets of boots online so he had boot cut outs that he pasted to the back of a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal box.  Very classy and I loved it!  We celebrated at Mark & Kora’s with Pad Thai and Christmas Cookies.

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I started these cookies at the same time I started a phone conversation with my mom.  I got a beep halfway through letting me know my sister was trying to call me too.  I finished the cookie part of the recipe as I hung up with my mom, an hour and ten minutes later.  I dialed my sister back and started on the filling ingredients, chatting, licking, and measuring all at once.  Halfway through my conversation with my sister Nate came in to askwhen I might be off the phone and done with these cookies because he needed my help – like an hour ago! By the time I hung up with Kim and was scraping the last of the filling onto the final cookie it had taken me close to two hours to make these cookies and two hours of being in queue for Nate to get his turn.  Woops.  I’m pretty sure these cookies don’t actually take two hours to make, except when your concentration is completely and totally elsewhere.

(Mental note: dust table more regularly)

So I did a quick proofread for Nate and then humbly him offered two, large sandwich cookies and a glass of milk.  Luckily these cookies are utterly decadent (and filling!) and forgiveness was very forthcoming.  Well, that and the fact that the cookies came along with a 3-hour sit down to watch his Colts beat the Patriots with a last-minute victory.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
From Fine Cooking 43, pp. 54-55
Yields eighteen 2-1/2-inch sandwiches

For the cookies:
6 oz. (1-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 oz. (2/3 cup) cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 oz. (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter, completely softened at room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the filling:
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate, or mini semisweet chocolate chips

 

To make the cookies

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg; continue creaming until smooth and fluffy, about 3 min. with an electric mixer (longer by hand). Stir in the flour mixture by hand just until it’s incorporated; don’t overmix or the cookies will be tough. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto the lined baking sheets. With floured fingers, flatten each dab of batter into a 2-inch round. Bake until the cookies are puffed and golden, 11 to 13 min., rotating the baking sheets if needed for even baking. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

While the cookies cool, make the filling

In a small bowl, cream the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Add the heavy cream; continue creaming until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chopped peanuts and chocolate.

To assemble

Transfer the cooled cookies to a work surface, flipping half of them over. With an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread a scant teaspoon of filling onto each turned-over cookie. Set another wafer on top of each filled cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling. Store sealed at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

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Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Let’s just say that sometimes SmittenKitchen goes a little overboard with her raves and gushes.  Sometimes seriously overboard.

I got an e-mail notifying me it was my turn for snack night at home group.  I saw this e-mail at about 1am after cleaning up soup bowls, a soup splattered stove, coffee spills, and assorted mugs, glasses and napkins.  For once, no visions of 8-layer cakes or dipped sandwich cookies filled my head.  I wanted FAST.  I wanted EASY.  But I didn’t want boring.  A new, supposedly genius, riff on an old standby seemed perfectly in order.

As it turns out, they are perfectly in order.  After all, they got me through snack night, people snacked on them, and they were good.  But they weren’t “epic,” to quote Smitten.  The coarse sea salt did a nice flavor trick and the brown butter added a subtle textural difference, but subtle is right.  In fact, I’d be interested in polling my taste testers to see how many noted any deviation from the standard in their treats.

My assessment:  If you love rice crispy treats give these a whirl.  Why not?  But if you weren’t enamored with little air-filled puffs wrapped in sticky sugar originally, you probably won’t be any further enamored with these.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Taken from smittenkitchen.com

Makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners, though a silicon spatula works almost as well.

Let cool and cut into squares.

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Austrian Chocolate Balls

After making these this past weekend, I couldn’t help but envision them on a red platter stacked high with other Christmas confections, such assugar cookies, truffles, and peppermint snowballs.  Maybe it’s the almond essence that gives me a Christmas feel.  Or possible it’s the bite-sized portion that appeals since I plan to eat one of each kind on such a Christmas platter on such a Christmas platter.  Or maybe it’s the fact that while I was making these Nate was working on the biggest pot of mac’n’cheese I’ve ever seen, reminding me of our Christmas cookie assembly line where we all worked in and out of each other with the red, yellow, and green frosting tips.  Or maybe it’s just because it was 62 degrees in my house this weekend and I broke out my slippers and sweatpants.  

One can never know exactly what influences us, but you just might find these Austrian Chocolate Balls on my Christmas platter this year.

Austrian Chocolate Balls
Yield: 40 cookies

2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate 
1/3 cup butter 
1 cup white sugar 
1 egg 
1 egg yolk 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I omitted but could imagine hazelnuts or almonds being good subs)

1 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate 
1 tablespoon butter 
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
3 tablespoons milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 2 squares of chocolate with 1/3 cup of butter. Stir frequently until melted; remove from heat, and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, mix sugar, egg, egg yolk, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Stir in the melted chocolate. Combine flour and walnuts, and stir into the batter until just combined. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls, and place them 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. If the dough is too sticky, refrigerate for 30 minutes before forming balls.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks immediately, and set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 1 square of chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter together, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Beat in the milk one tablespoon at a time until the glaze is of the desired consistency. Dip the tops of the cookies into the glaze, and allow to dry completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Not the most exciting or innovative food topic, but I contend that there is a reason many people spend their whole life searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. That being that no cookie has yet been able to edge out the delicious dominance of the chocolate chip cookie.  That’s not to say that we don’t all love a branch out into Chocolate Whopper, Oatmeal Lace, or Butterfinger Chunky Cookie land.  But we always come back, don’t we?

I’m not going to call these the *best* ever because then I’m sure I’ll be met with a mutiny of comments about which really is the best chocolate chip cookie.  All I’ll say is that about two summers ago I found a recipe that I decided to stick with.  It was large.  It was vanilla-esque.  It stayed chewy invariably longer than any chocolate chipper I’ve experienced.  It has now been edged out by this latest edition.

The merit of the latter recipe was in the lifespan of the chewiness.  This recipe took at least 4 to 5 days to turn crumbly and lose its bendable chew.  However, I consistently found myself adding extra salt to the recipe for flavor enhancement.  I also found myself unimpressed with the amount of spread to the cookie, ending too thin.  All of this has been corrected with this newest recipe.  It’s large and in charge, batting those little 2 inch numbers with a too-large ratio of crispy edge to gooey center out the window.  It cooks at a low temperature to stay delicately soft throughout with the slightest crispy around the edge.  And it stays delightfully puffy and full of all that great gooey chocolate and vanilla goodness in the center.  I’m just saying this one might be worth trying if you like a good chocolate chip cookie as much as I do.  But you’ll have to wait a whole 17 minutes, as opposed to the usual 9 before this one is ready to plate.

Felix K’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 15-17 min.
Servings: 24*

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup butter, softened 
2 cups brown sugar 
6 tablespoons white sugar 
2 eggs 
4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 (12 ounce) bag chocolate chips

1.       Preheat an oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). 

2.       Gently mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a fork in a bowl. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla with the last egg. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. 

3.       Divide the dough into 24 3-tablespoon-sized balls. Flatten the balls slightly onto a baking sheet. 

4.       Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden, 15 to 17 minutes**. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until the centers begin to set, about 20 minutes.

*Please, I beg you, do NOT be stingy and turn this into a 48 serving recipe.  Because you could do this.  But it would be wrong.  Sick and wrong.  It would leave you cheated of the goodness of the super-sized chocolate chip cookie that we all want anyway.
** These took 16 minutes on my air-bake cookie sheets (which I find take a minute or two longer than a regular baking sheet).  Whatever you do watch closely and don’t crispify your cookie.  Generally, cookies should be removed a good minute before you think they are done and allowed to cool on the pan.

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