Monday, May 16, 2011

Double Chocolate Cardamom Meringue Cookies

I can confidently say I think these are my favorite cookies I have ever made. The texture is like a meringue and the cardamom spice is surprising and wonderful. Also, they are super easy to make.

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites
scant tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 320º.
Sift together sugars, cocoa powder, salt.
Stir in egg whites and vanilla.
Stir in cardamom and chocolate chips.
Spoon batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, allowing plenty of room for them to expand.
Bake until they puff up, about 11-15 minutes.
Let cool briefly, then eat while still warm and gooey for maximum pleasure.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes

I asked for suggestions for my next flavor, and ended up doing what I wanted anyway: peaches and cream. I used a recipe for a passionfruit curd cake from 101 cookbooks as a starter for the batter, then added the fresh fruit and preserves. The white chocolate was my attempt at "cream". They are super moist and really tasty, plus the peach preserves and white chocolate on top make them quite pretty.

3 ripe peaches
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1 1/2 sticks organic unsalted butter

1/4 cup +1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Skin and cut up peaches into small chunks. Cover with 1/4 cup sugar, mix, let sit.

Combine your dry ingredients: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small/medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Combine your wet ingredients: In a separate medium-sized bowl beat the butter with the whisk attachment for about three solid minutes. You want the butter to be smooth and creamy before you add any of the rest of the ingredients. Now add the remaining sugar and beat some more - another three minutes minimum. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl once or twice during the process so you end up with a nice, even, creamy butter/ sugar blend.

Add the eggs one at a time: After you add each egg, mix until the egg is fully incorporated and the batter is smooth and creamy - scrape down the sides of the bowl now and then along the way. If you don't beat well enough at this stage you'll end up with little butter/sugar flecks throughout your batter in the end. After the eggs are well incorporated stir in the vanilla extract.

Combine wet and dry ingredients: Dump the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and gently fold in the flour. You don't want to over mix the batter at this point, so continue to fold the flour in until the last of the flour just barely disappears.

Add peaches and almost all of the peach preserves. Chop white chocolate chunks into smaller pieces, then add to batter.

Fill each mini cupcake paper about half way, then top with a bit of peach preserves and a couple white chocolate pieces.

Bake for 30 minutes or until muffins bounce back a bit when you push the top with your finger.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lavender Almond Cookies

These were a bit of an experiment. I wanted to make more of a shortbread cookie, but these were doughy and delicious anyways. I made them for my cookies and beer party, and they flew off the table.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 confectioners sugar
1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds, plus handful of chopped toasted almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried lavender
splash milk

Preheat oven to 350º.
Beat butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add egg, then vanilla.
Add flour, almonds, salt, lavender.
Mix, adding splash of milk if too dry.

Drop spoonfulls, then bake on parchment paper 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

Happy Mother's Day! Here is what I made for my wonderful mother and brother.

The recipe is a variation on one from 101cookbooks. She put only the melted chocolate in the middle of the cookies, but when I made a batch like that they tasted a little dry and a little too plain. I knew that they had more potential, and thought nutella and chopped hazelnuts would be a big improvement. I'm thinking of doing a caramel sandwich cookie next time, maybe even with chopped up heath bar in the middle too.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º.
In medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat butter until fluffy and creamy. Add sugar and mix some more, scraping sides of bowl along the way.
Mix in egg yolks and vanilla extract, scraping sides again if needed.
Being careful not to over-mix, stir in flour mixture by hand. If the dough is on the dry side stir in the milk as well.
Turn the dough out onto the counter-top, knead it once or twice (just so it comes together) and form one large ball.
Cut the dough into four quarters, then shape each piece into a ball. Flatten each of the four balls into 1/2-inch thick pancakes, and wrap each piece individually in plastic.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.

Roll out the dough thin as can be on a lightly floured surface (or on parchment paper) - wafer thin, about 1/8 inch, and stamp out using a cookie cutter.
Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake for about seven minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet or until the cookie edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a bit of simmering water).
Toast and finely chop hazelnuts.
Mix nutella, hazelnuts, and chocolate.
Spread mixture onto the flat side of one cookie. Top with another cookie - matching flat side to flat side. Repeat with the remaining cookies, setting them aside to let the chocolate set.