Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

I have an uneasy relationship with all things mint flavored. Are they minty deliciously good or are they minty mouthwashy bad? It could go either way. There’s a fine line between the two though there’s something incomplete about a holiday season without candy canes, Frango Mints and Andes Mints. There just is. Growing up I knew, I just knew, my Chicago based grandmother would send us a big box of Frango Mints for Christmas. Most of the time they were the standard green box with the mint flavor but once in a while, we’d get the offshoots – raspberry and maybe orange. They weren’t also mint, just other flavors, and while I liked them very much it didn’t seem like Christmas unless we also had the mint variety. That’s just how it was. Mint and Christmas just go together.

Being raised a Frango kid, I grew a rather snobby attitude toward that other minty chocolate candy, Andes Mints. This is just absurd because while today I do still think Frango are better, those Andes are pretty good. It’s that green middle layer – it’s rather festive. So today, for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Chocolate Cookies, I’ve taken those Andes Mints and added them to the base chocolate dough for a delightful fudgy cookie. But fair warning here … they will do what all mint things do. They will make everything taste like mint. It’s annoying but a hard learned fact so store this one by itself and add it to your cookie box, tray or whatever at the last moment otherwise everything will take on a faint minty aroma.

36 One Dough/Many Cookies from years past:

Fruity: Jam ThumbprintsJam Streusel TartsRaspberry Linzer SquaresLemon Poppyseed ButtonsOrange Sesame CrispsCranberry Pistachio CoinsAlmond Raspberry StripsOrange Sandwich CookiesApricot Rosemary ShortbreadCoconut Lime SticksBourbon Glazed Fruitcake ButtonsLemon Cornmeal BiscottiBlueberry Lime ButtonsDate Swirls

Nutty: Mexican Wedding CookiesRussian Tea CakesPecan TassiesMaple Black Walnut CookiesPB&J Sandwich CookiesPecan Triangles

Spiced: Cinnamon Sugar PinwheelsCandied Ginger Spice ButtonsCardamom Rose CoinsBrown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze

Chocolate: Mexican Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Cocoa Nib WafersRaspberry Chocolate DropsChocolate Hazelnut ButtonsDark Mocha Sandwich CookiesEspresso Crinkles

Bars: Rum Butter BarsPeppermint Brownie BarsBanana Walnut Bars

Holiday Classics: Cream Cheese WreathsClassic Molasses CookiesPeppermint Candy Canes

2020 12 Days of Cookies line up to date:

Basic Chocolate Butter Cookie Dough

Day 1: Cranberry Cocoa Nib Wafers

Day 2: Chocolate Banana Petit Four

Day 3: Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

DAY 4: ANDES MINT CHIP COOKIES

Start with the base chocolate dough – recipe here. I used a dutched cocoa for this one. An important thing to note with this one is to slightly underbake the cookie; you want it on the fudgy side. FYI – a 4.67oz box of Andres Mints contains 28 mints. And one more thing – yes the smallest batch does call for ½ an egg white. I warned you at the beginning things might get a little weird as we scale down. And here we are.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Unwrap and chop the Andes Mints to about the size of chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the room temperature cookie dough, broken into small pieces.
  4. Add the brown sugar, baking soda, salt and egg whites and mix on medium speed until well combined.
  5. On low, stir in the chopped mints.
  6. Roll Tablespoon sized pieces of dough into balls and place on parchment paper or silicone baking mat lined sheet pans, about 2” apart.
  7. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until just on the outside but still very soft in the centers.
  8. Let cool on wire racks.
  9. Do ahead: roll the dough, nestle on a parchment line sheet pan and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer to a Ziploc for longer storage (label with cookie name and baking time.)

Read Full Post »

We’re starting this round of 12 Days a Cookies with a simple one to get us going in the right direction. One of the most popular cookies of past 12 Days has been a round, thin crispy cookie flavored with cranberries, pistachios and orange zest. So of course I did a chocolate version but with cocoa nibs instead of pistachio. Delightful. Slice and bake cookies are the real workhorses of holiday baking. 

One thing to keep in mind when baking chocolate cookies … it’s difficult to know when they’re done. Those visual cues you’d normally use – golden brown, etc. – aren’t an option due to the cocoa color so you have to go by feel. This one should bake up on the crisp side so at around 8 minutes, they should feel a little firm to the touch. If you like, bake a few to gage timing before baking a whole batch.

36 One Dough/Many Cookies from years past:

Fruity: Jam ThumbprintsJam Streusel TartsRaspberry Linzer SquaresLemon Poppyseed ButtonsOrange Sesame CrispsCranberry Pistachio CoinsAlmond Raspberry StripsOrange Sandwich CookiesApricot Rosemary ShortbreadCoconut Lime SticksBourbon Glazed Fruitcake ButtonsLemon Cornmeal BiscottiBlueberry Lime ButtonsDate Swirls

Nutty: Mexican Wedding CookiesRussian Tea CakesPecan TassiesMaple Black Walnut CookiesPB&J Sandwich CookiesPecan Triangles

Spiced: Cinnamon Sugar PinwheelsCandied Ginger Spice ButtonsCardamom Rose CoinsBrown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze

Chocolate: Mexican Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Cocoa Nib WafersRaspberry Chocolate DropsChocolate Hazelnut ButtonsDark Mocha Sandwich CookiesEspresso Crinkles

Bars: Rum Butter BarsPeppermint Brownie BarsBanana Walnut Bars

Holiday Classics: Cream Cheese WreathsClassic Molasses CookiesPeppermint Candy Canes

2020 One Dough/12 Days of Cookies line up to date:

Basic Chocolate Butter Cookie Dough

DAY 1: CRANBERRY COCOA NIB WAFERS

Start with the base chocolate dough – recipe here; for this one I chose a dutched cocoa

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the room temperature cookie dough, cranberries, cocoa nibs, orange zest, baking soda, salt and water until well combined.
  2. Divide the dough in quarters for the largest batch (2 pieces for the medium and 1 for the smallest) and roll each piece on a piece of plastic wrap into a nice, tight, round log, around 5-5 ½” long.
  3. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight (or freeze up to 3 months).
  4. When ready to bake preheat the oven to 350°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking liners.
  5. Place the dipping sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  6. With a sharp thin knife, cut the log into ¼” thick coins, rotating the log frequently to keep one side from flattening. If the dough is frozen, give it a few minutes to soften enough to cut cleanly.
  7. Dip one side of the cookie into the sugar and place, sugar side up, 1” apart on prepared pans.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through until lightly golden brown.
  9. Do ahead: it’s best to make and freeze the dough and bake as needed rather than freeze baked cookies. Frozen dough will keep up to 3 months.

Read Full Post »

For the last several years, I’ve done a series of 12 Days of Cookies posts built around a basic butter cookie dough. Divide that base dough up in two, four or eight pieces and flavor each a different way. With a minimal amount of extra effort, you’ll have a whole variety of delicious cookies in different flavors, textures and colors. It’s an easy and incredibly efficient way to approach your holiday baking. In these weird times, maybe you need a bit of normalcy so I’d encourage you to bake some cookies and gift them to friends and family. Particularly your single friends and those that live alone. They’ve spent 8 months quarantining solo and now are likely going to spend the holidays alone too. It’s rough. Bake them some cookies.

In three years’ worth of December posts, I’ve given you one basic butter cookie dough and 36 different variations; something for everyone – fruit, spice, nuts, holiday classics and new fangled recipes. Well, hold up … last year I did savory crackers – 3 doughs, 12 different crackers. Same idea, different application. With that, I thought I was done. After 36 cookie recipes and 12 more for crackers I didn’t think I had any ideas left in me. Until I went to make some cookies a few weeks ago and thought … chocolate. I’d made several chocolate variations of that basic butter dough. What if I started with a chocolate dough? Surely I had 12 more chocolate ideas in me? I sure did. 

So this year, in the midst of this pandemic shitstorm when we need stress baking more than ever, prepare yourselves for the 12 Days of Chocolate Cookies. Same basic butter dough we’ve been using all along but with the addition of cocoa and a few other things. Get ready. 

First up, and this may seem obvious, you need cocoa powder. This is not as simple as it initially seems as there are a few different types out there. There are three general options:

  • Natural/Unalkalized: The most commonly found natural cocoa is your standard Hershey’s cocoa powder. Best used when there’s some type of acidic leavener in your recipe, such as baking soda. Some think natural cocoa tastes more “chocolatey” but I often find the results, when tasted side by side, to be neglible. For me, it’s more of a color consideration as it tends to bake up a bit lighter than a dutched cocoa.
  • Dutch Process/Dutched/Alkalized: sometimes also referred to “European style”. A lower acidity than natural cocoa, dutched cocoa tends to give baked goods a richer, darker color. It is my standard cocoa powder. The Hershey’s version is called “Special Dark”, Droste has won a Cooks Illustrated taste test or two and Cocoa Barry Plein d’Arome is a pastry chef standard. 
  • Black/Super Dark: an almost black dutch-processed cocoa with an intense, dark color. Think Oreo dark. This one is a little harder to come by but is available via various online sources. Makes gorgeous cookies though I like to combine it, about 60/40, with a dutched cocoa for best flavor. King Arthur has both dark and “double dutched”, a black/dutch blend. 

So … which one should you use? That depends on both the recipe and frankly, you. Dutch-processed cocoa is natural cocoa that’s been treated with an alkalizing agent to lower its acidity, thus allowing more of its pure chocolate flavor to shine through. It has been my go-to cocoa for years and I’ve used it in all kinds of recipes to great success but if you want to get technical, here’s the deal: if you’re preparing a recipe that uses baking soda as a leavener and there’s nothing else acidic in the recipe, then natural/undutched cocoa is ideal. Its acidity neutralizes baking soda’s potentially strong, “soapy” flavor; and because natural cocoa is acidic, and baking soda is a “base”, when the two get together they produce a reaction – CO2 – which makes cakes, brownies and cookies rise in the oven. For every recipe I’m posting, there’s some added baking soda or baking powder so a natural cocoa would be great. I just happen to like the deeper, richer colors that dutched cocoa brings to the table. For some cookies, particularly a sandwich cookie, that extra dark is quite spectacular. If you like dark Oreo-like cookies, black cocoa is an excellent choice. I’m currently sitting on a lot of samples of all three types, I used them all so you can see the difference. All the cookies were delicious so I think the decision comes down to how you’d like your cookies to look and/or what cocoas you can get your hands on.

The rest of the recipe is very straight forward – the usual butter, sugar, flour, eggs with the addition of a little espresso powder to boost that deep chocolate flavor. Make the dough and divide into pieces – 2, 4 or 8. Then decide how soon you’ll use it. If the same or next day, leave at room temperature. If within the next 3 days, refrigerate and let come to room temperature before proceeding. If within the next 2-3 months, freeze and let come to room temperature before proceeding. I like to break up the tasks so I’ll flavor the dough then freeze it in whatever shape my cookie will be – logs for slice and bake, rolled into balls or rolled into sheets and cut into rounds or squares and frozen between sheets of parchment paper. When I need a few cookies, I can bake off as many as I need; two or twenty.

So round up your ingredients. Decide what cocoa you want to use. Find some instant espresso or coffee. Make your base dough, maybe peruse the past recipes and get ready. I’ll post a new recipe every other day starting tomorrow.

12 Days of Cookies from years past:

FruityJam ThumbprintsJam Streusel TartsRaspberry Linzer SquaresLemon Poppyseed ButtonsOrange Sesame CrispsCranberry Pistachio CoinsAlmond Raspberry StripsOrange Sandwich CookiesApricot Rosemary ShortbreadCoconut Lime SticksBourbon Glazed Fruitcake ButtonsLemon Cornmeal BiscottiBlueberry Lime ButtonsDate Swirls

NuttyMexican Wedding CookiesRussian Tea CakesPecan TassiesMaple Black Walnut CookiesPB&J Sandwich CookiesPecan Triangles

SpicedCinnamon Sugar PinwheelsCandied Ginger Spice ButtonsCardamom Rose CoinsBrown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze

ChocolateMexican Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Cocoa Nib WafersRaspberry Chocolate DropsChocolate Hazelnut ButtonsDark Mocha Sandwich CookiesEspresso Crinkles

BarsRum Butter BarsPeppermint Brownie BarsBanana Walnut Bars

Holiday Classics: Cream Cheese WreathsClassic Molasses CookiesPeppermint Candy Canes

BASIC CHOCOLATE BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH

Makes dough for 2 or 4 or 8 batches of cookies and will be the base dough for the next twelve posts

If vanilla is out of your price range right now, bourbon or dark rum makes a nice if not quite as flavorful substitution.

  1. In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Scrape the bowl and with the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, then vanilla and espresso mixture and beat until incorporated.  Scrape the bowl.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the flour and cocoa until combined.  Scrape a final time and turn the dough onto a work surface and gently knead to incorporate all remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough into two, four or eight equal pieces and use as is for a delicious butter cookie or proceed with one or several of the variations that will follow in the next twelve posts (or the twelve posts from last year). If you have a scale, use it to divide the dough into precise measures.

Tips:

  • Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  Let return to room temperature before continuing.
  • If using salted butter rather than unsalted, decrease the salt in the recipe to ¾ teaspoon.

So, OK. I’m going to throw a little wrinkle in here. Maybe you don’t want to make all your cookies chocolate this year. So here’s what you do: make a full batch of butter cookie dough, like we’ve done in years past, and make half or even a quarter chocolate. Then you can make any of the recipes from the past years that use plain dough and/or any of the chocolate recipes this month. Options. The holidays are about options.

BASIC BUTTER COOKIE DOUGHMakes dough for 2 or 4 or 8 batches of cookies

BASIC CHOCOLATE BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH VARIATION

  1. For the base dough: In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Scrape the bowl and with the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, then vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Scrape the bowl.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the flour until combined.  Scrape a final time and turn the dough onto a work surface and gently knead to incorporate all remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough into two, four or eight equal pieces and use as is for a delicious butter cookie or proceed with one or several of the variations that will follow in the next twelve posts (or the twelve posts from last year). If you have a scale, use it to divide the dough into precise measures.
  5. For the chocolate dough: choose your dough piece (½ or ¼ batch), break it up and place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment along with the sugar and baking soda.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the espresso and water and stir until dissolved. Then add to the mixing bowl.
  7. Mix on medium-low – medium until well combined. Divide into smaller pieces and wrap tightly until needed. If making other recipes, proceed with room temperature dough; if not refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months. Let come to room temperature before proceeding.

Read Full Post »

In the great wide recipe universe, there are probably more for brownies than any other. So many versions, so many methods. For me, it comes down to fudgy versus cakey and I am firmly in the fudgy camp. For years I’ve used an Alice Medrich recipe made with two kinds of chocolate and a very small amount of flour that is intensely fudgy, chocolatey and wonderful. Sometimes I add nuts or peanut butter swirls or coffee powder, sometimes fruit like port soaked cherries or fresh raspberries and sometimes I just leave them plain. They’re fabulous. Then last week, after an hour call in which chocolate was discussed at length, I had a craving for brownies but not a speck of chocolate in the house. This is highly unusual. Highly. Not wanting to run to the store, I shifted through my pantry and noticed I had a lot of cocoa powder. Not my usual but that could work. I looked for a cocoa based recipe and came upon one I’ve crossed paths with for years but never made: Katherine Hepburn Brownies.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Last Friday was National Gum Drop Day, another in the long, often times puzzling, list of made up food holidays. I thought I had an idea for this one. I really did. I did not. While working on the Peco Brittle (peanut-coconut brittle) a few weeks back, I remembered something else my friends mother used to make that I thought was delicious: Gumdrop Cake. As I recall, it was a simple chocolate cake baked in a square pan, studded throughout with gumdrops and slicked with a simple chocolate icing. I seem to remember I liked it. I think I was wrong. It is horrid. And it kind of threw me off my game for a few weeks.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

I haven’t started this year off on the right food, from a health nor a cooking perspective. I pushed into 2018 with a cold. That horrible, no good, terrible flu that’s making the rounds. I was down for the count for days and have been “in recovery” for two weeks. I feel better – I’m not downing a pack of Dayquil every few days anymore – but I certainly don’t feel great. I haven’t been hungry. I haven’t been cooking anything beyond buttered noodles and frozen pot pies. My kitchen mojo is running on empty.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

1hero-lrg-img_9346

Financiers are a basic standard in the repertoire of any pastry chef. A simple cake consisting of egg whites, powdered sugar, almond flour and a good bit of browned butter, they are traditionally baked in small bar molds and served as a mignardise or petit four at the end of the meal. They are rich, toothsome and best enjoyed as a small bite. The history around this traditional French cake comes from the Parisian financial district and the clever bakers in the surrounding shops. They developed sturdy little butter cakes, said to hold up well in pockets, to sustain the financial workers in their neighborhoods. Another theory is the name came from the traditional rectangular mold said to resemble a bar of gold. I suspect it’s a combination of both. These pâtisseries practiced a key business rule early on: know your customer. Marketing via the late 1800’s.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

1hero-lrg-img_9160

Caramel is my absolutely favorite thing of all time. True story. When I was a kid, I’d receive a box of See’s vanilla caramels for special occasions, which I would hide and ration out for weeks. At some point, See’s stopped making the plain caramels and only made them with nuts, which wasn’t ideal but I coped. Then one year, they stopped making them entirely. My heart was broken. That was the year my little sister, she must have been about 10, made me homemade vanilla caramels for Christmas. It was such a thoughtful thing to do and they were perfect. Then the unthinkable happened. On Christmas night the damn dog got into the tin and ate ALL of them. I cried. When that dog had the runs for the next two days, I was not sad.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

1hero-lrg-img_9257

Cream puffs. Oh my. I am thoroughly convinced we do not eat enough cream puffs in life. No way. We all need to change this immediately. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a cream puff. Éclairs, certainly and I even know when I last had a Paris-Brest (because that happens, am I right??) but a cream puff? No idea. What’s up with that? Éclairs are so refined, so pretty – just look at what L’éclair de Génie in Paris does with a humble choux paste – but cream puffs seem more informal, more casual, more fun. So in my one-woman quest to change this situation, today I present to you a dark, triple chocolate cream puff. Lent is a whole week away; get it in while you can. Yes indeed.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

1hero-lrg-img_9211

Chocolate Pudding is one of those classic recipes that stick around forever. It’s one of those dishes that make you feel better, no matter what’s going on or how crappy your day may have been. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m big on comfort foods and memories. In my world, food can easily turn around a blue day. Things like chicken pot pies, squishy rolls and of course chocolate pudding, can turn the tide on an upside down day.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »