Dating someone new entails navigating a precarious route – not unlike those rickety rope bridges suspended above Amazonian rivers. Say the wrong thing, show too much interest – or not enough – and the entire contraption and both of you plunge into the abyss below. Sheer disaster. I’ve learned to tread slowly and deliberately along that path.
Last week, I baked 200 cookies for two catering jobs. On Wednesday, I was also going out with a new guy. My initial thought was to grab a few cookies, pop them in a decorative bag tied with raffia and give them to him as a little gift. Why not? Baking is what I do and I was already in it for over 16 dozen. What’s a few more cookies? Yet dating caution overrode these initial innocuous intentions. How would he interpret the gesture? Would he think I spent all day baking exclusively for HIM? Would I be accused of moving too quickly? I could hear him tell a friend:
“Shit, dude, it was our second date and she was already baking me cookies! Psycho!”
So, I decided against the cookies. I’ll save my talents for now. If we manage to survive a few more dates, then maybe I’ll break out my baking prowess.
This is my favorite cookie dough when faced with a large baking project. The dough can be shaped and flavored in myriad ways limited only by imagination.
Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixture until light and fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg and vanilla until incorporated. Add salt to flour and gently stir in. Don’t overmix. Your dough is ready to use!
To make Cherry Streusel Triangles: Cover 9×9” pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Butter foil well. Press 9 oz. of Basic Butter cookie dough into pan. Deck dough with fork and bake for about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cherry jam with zest and set aside. Mix an additional 2 oz. of Basic Butter Cookie dough with 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon flour and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon.
Spread jam evenly over baked dough, leaving a ¼” rim and sprinkle with streusel. Bake until cherry filling is bubbly, 20-25 minutes. Cool cookies completely. Cut in 16 squares, cut each square in two triangles. Mix powdered sugar with enough water to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cookies. Makes 32 cookies.
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”
I planned on giving them to the new neighbors across the street, but after eating two, decided to keep this batch all for myself.
More like an exotic candy than a cookie, the combination of butter, heady spices, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts create quite a flavor bomb.
¾ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
4.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the batter just starts to clump together. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, lightly prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine caramel ingredients, bring to boil and pour over shortbread. Cool.
While caramel is cooling, heat sugar and water in a small nonstick skillet over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 4 minutes. Add hazelnuts and stir for 30 seconds to coat.
Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat, and immediately spread nuts on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
Once caramel is cool, place bittersweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until completely melted and combined. Pour over caramel and smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnut croquant. Let set for an hour or two, or refrigerate until set. Remove from pan using foil, cut into 16 fingers.
Are you a Chocoholic – a craver of all things chocolate? Come into my lair, darling…my aspiration for this recipe is your personal entrapment. If my baking raison d’être is luring you into my den of culinary debauchery, guaranteeing your enslavement, what would your cocoa kryptonite look like? My money is on these – thick layers of creamy bittersweet ganache sandwiched between soft jumbo double-chocolate cookies.
In fact, I may have overdone it – a pinch too much. Neither my 14-year old niece, my sister-in-law, nor I could eat an entire cookie. One of these cookies wouldn’t just enslave you, it would incapacitate you. I recommend you go with the standard size option listed below.
P.S. After naming these, I discovered that “Motherload Cookies” is also the name of a strain of marijuana. Rather than change the name, I decided to keep it – you’ll need to be stoned to eat an entire jumbo size cookie.
The “jumbo” cookies are too much, even for those addicted to chocolate. I recommend the standard size if you want to remain upright after eating one. This recipe was adapted from The Sugar Cube bakery’s Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies.
32 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, divided (YIKES!)
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
Place 12 oz. chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (about 90 seconds). Set aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. In another small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir egg mixture into melted chocolate until fully incorporated. Then add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in 8 oz. of chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 60 minutes.
Make ganache by placing the remaining 12 oz. of chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets will Silicone or parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheets, placed about 1” apart (2 Tablespoons dough for jumbo, 1 Tablespoon for standard size cookies). With the bottom of a glass or similar, press dough to flatten into even ½” thick rounds. Bake until cookies no longer look wet, but they are still soft ( about 12 minutes for jumbo and 10 minutes for standard size). Cool cookies on sheets then transfer to racks.
Generously spread flat side of half the cookies with ganache and top with remaining cookies. Cookies filled with ganache will keep, covered, at room temperature for two days. More than two days, store filled cookies in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before eating. Pour yourself a tall glass of ice-cold milk and enjoy.
Today, Spring said “hello” through sunshine, orange blossom-scented breezes and a Mexican couple dressed in their Sunday best peddling Jesus’s resurrection door-to-door. My neighbor says it’s going to rain again tomorrow. Could Mother Nature truly be that fickle?
These British biscuits are a favorite of mine, but usually I succumb to the packaged variety, called Lu Pim’s in the States. It’s a textural thing – the crack of dark chocolate giving way to a gelatin layer atop a sliver of cake.
– 1 pkg. gelatin (1/4 oz.)
– ½ cup fresh orange juice
– zest of 1 orange
– ¼ cup sugar Cake Layer
– 2 large eggs
– ¼ cup sugar
– ¼ cup flour, sifted Chocolate Layer
– 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
Combine gelatin with a bit of orange juice to soften. Meanwhile, heat remaining juice, zest and sugar on a saucepan until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add softened gelatin and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Briefly return to heat, if necessary. Pour into a 8” square pan, cover and refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Cut gelatin in 1-1 ¼ inch circles using a small cutter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray. On top of a double-boiler, beat eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy using a hand-held mixer, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, gently fold in flour with a rubber spatula. Fill each muffin cup with a teaspoon dollop of batter, filling each cup no more than 1/3 full. Bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan and then gentle remove cakes.
Break chocolate into small pieces and heat in a microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring occasionally until ¾ melted. Remove from microwave and continue stirring until fully melted. set chocolate aside for 5 minutes to cool and stiffen slightly (this is the lazy girl’s way to temper chocolate).
Place a round of orange gelatin atop each cake round. Dollop each gelatin round with chocolate and gently nudge the chocolate to the edge, fully covering the gelatin. It’s okay if the cake edges aren’t completely covered. Set aside until chocolate is fully set. Store covered for up to two days.
I’m calling it emotional whiplash. I’ve done a 360 in three months. Providence proved a fickle companion. I’m back to November’s discontent. Others’ decisions to retire, to fire, to stay has flung me back to the beginning yet again. One step forward, three steps back.
Speaking of going back to the beginning, this is a riff on a cookie I created for my final Culinary School menu. In an effort to self-soothe, I ate the entire dozen in one sitting. It didn’t work.
Lower in calories than a normal chocolate cookie recipe, easy to make, and loaded with good fats from the walnuts – however, I still recommend sharing.
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse pecans and sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles sand. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, extract, and egg white. Process until dough comes together in a large ball.
Measure dough into 12 balls. Roll in powdered sugar, and place on a lightly-coated baking sheet. Press dough balls with a back of a glass until they measure about 1.5” – 2” across. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from pan.