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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

I had some downtime last Wednesday afternoon and decided to bake cookies for my evening yoga class. Well, and let’s be honest…for my own personal enjoyment too! I tend to always use the same cookie recipes and wanted to try something new with a fall twist. I found a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal cookies that sounded perfect. I decided to divide the batter in half and mix chocolate chips into one batch and white chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the other.

The cookies were a huge hit with my yogis and I cannot even count how many I have eaten over the past few days. Addictive. The texture is definitely more on the soft side and the cookies have to bake a little longer than normal. I am a fan of soft cookies anyway and I think the texture totally fits with the pumpkin flavor. The cookie dough includes a heavy dose of pumpkin pie spice that really give these their fall flavor. These cookies will become a seasonal favorite in our house!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
(Recipe heavily adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2  cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add in pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in dry ingredients. Finally, add in oats until just combined.

Divide batter in two and add chocolate chips into one half and white chocolate and cranberries into the other.

Using a spoon, drop about 2 tablespoon rounds onto prepared baking sheets, about 2-3 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes or until slightly browned. You may need to rotate the baking sheets halfway through depending on the temperature of your oven. Allow to cool before transferring to a wire rack.

Yield: around 4 dozen

 

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Last week Charlotte was hit with a heavy dose of winter weather. In the South, this brings your daily routine to a screeching halt. I found myself unable to navigate my way anywhere but into the kitchen. Given the fact that I tend to keep myself insanely busy and overcommited, I have to admit that it was nice to be forced to slow down.

Instead of working late and hitting the gym, I baked cookies and made a big batch of chili. I tend to always make the same cookies – chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin. I wanted to make something new that I hadn’t baked or blogged about before. I browsed through my favorite go-to cookbook, The Gourmet Cookbook, and decided to try the Oatmeal Trail Mix Cookies. Brandon was not on board with the raisins that the recipe called for, I wasn’t on board with the shortening and I didn’t have peanuts so I made a few substitutions to the original recipe.

Despite the substitutions, these cookies turned out great. One thing I was surprised to discover is that these needed to bake a little longer. I usually under bake cookies but that was not the case with this recipe. I under baked my first batch and the texture just wasn’t right. I baked the second batch a little longer and they were right on. Also, I liked these better cool than hot out of the oven. Usually we love warm cookies, and these were plenty good warm, but even more outstanding once they’d cooled.

These Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect way to put a different twist on the traditional chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie recipe.

One Year Ago: Overnight Baked French Toast
Two Years Ago: Penne a la Betsy

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet)

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6-ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on medium high speed. Beat in the egg, baking soda mixture, flour, salt and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in oats, coconut, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto greased baking sheets about 4 inches apart and with a fork flatten and spread each mound into a round, about 3 inches in diameter.

Bake the cookies in batches in the middle oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden. Transfer to racks and let cool.

Yield: about 30 cookies

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I attended my first holiday cookie exchange last week and the stakes were high considering our group was made up of Charlotte-area food and healthy living bloggers. I knew that I was going to bring my tried and true Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti but I also wanted to bring something a little more Christmas-esque. After a bit of research, I decided that these Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies would be perfect.

These cookies feature melted high-quality chocolate topped with crushed peppermints and a drizzle of white chocolate over a shortbread base. Although these cookies require multiple steps, they were fairly simple. I struggled most with the shortbread cookie dough. It stuck to my fingers as I tried to press it into the pan. The key to avoiding this was keeping my fingers wet with water. I was concerned that the shortbread wouldn’t cook properly but it turned out just right.

The cookies were a big hit at the party and the presentation was beautiful for the holidays. This recipe will definitely be a repeat for many holiday seasons to come. I thinke these cookies would be perfect in holiday gift bags too!

One Year Ago: Chili Lime Tilapia
Two Years Ago: Open-Faced Steak Sandwiches with Horseradish Sauce

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped red-and-white striped hard peppermint candies or candy canes
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with a long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both short sides of pan.
Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

Bake cookie base until light golden brown, slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on wire rack and immediately sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, spread chocolate over top of cookie in a thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over.

Stir white chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from water and use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Grab the paper overhang and lift from pan. Transfer to work surface and using a large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

Yield: about 36 pieces

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First, my apologies for my recent lack of posts. I was busy running the Marine Corps Marathon! Check out my race recap on my healthy living blog. Now that marathon training is over, you can expect more regular posts. I am looking forward to spending lots of time in the kitchen this winter.

Now, on to tasty treats! I don’t bake biscotti often but when I do it’s because I’m sending a package with baked goods. Biscotti holds up extremely well when shipped so I usually include it in my Operation Baking Gals packages and when I send treats to my grandmother. Biscotti is one of her favorites.

Biscotti can seem a little intimidating or time consuming because there are multiple steps and you have to bake it twice but it really is a simple process. If you’ve resisted trying to make biscotti at home, give it a try!

I made this Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti a few months ago and was extremely impressed. It’s definitely my favorite biscotti recipe that I’ve ever made. I shipped some of these to my grandmother but saved quite a few for myself. I baked them in the middle of the summer but I think the flavor combination would be perfect for the holidays.

One Year Ago: Feta Potato Salad

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Bon Appetit, Dec. 1999)

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional – I just used a nonstick baking sheet).

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest on medium-high speed until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and then stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a spatula.

Divide the dough in half.  Working with one portion of dough, shape into a 12″ x 3″ rectangle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough so that the rectangles are parallel on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 30 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on – you will need to bake the biscotti again) and let cool for 25 minutes.

Carefully transfer the rectangles to a work surface and remove the parchment paper from the pan. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut into half-inch slices on the diagonal. Place slices cut side up on the baking sheet. Return to oven and bake for another 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Biscotti keeps for about seven days and freezes well.

Yield: about 3 dozen

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Confession – I just finished a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a chopped Reese’s cup, chocolate syrup and caramel sauce. I’ve been thinking about blogging these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars all day and my craving for peanut butter and chocolate was out of control. Craving satisfied. I can now blog about these delicious bars without wanting to eat the screen.

Do I even need to state that peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations after the above commentary? I’m a bitembarrassed by the number of starred items in my Google Reader involving peanut butter and chocolate. This recipe was one of those items.

We went to a family reunion in the Western North Carolina mountains over the July Fourth weekend (read about it here and here). There were about 60 people in attendance and our family was in charge of dinner one night. I contributed these bars, brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies to the dessert spread.

These bars were incredible and definitely lived up to my high expectations. Of course, the first night I made them Brandon had to sample them warm with ice cream on top (a recurring theme if you read this blog!). I thought they were great plain. Don’t shy away from adding the salt to the recipe even if you’re using salted peanut butter. The salty/sweet flavor is part of what makes these so good. I will actually probably add a little extra salt next time.

I doubled the recipe to accommodate a 13 x 9 pan. They took quite a bit longer to cook than the original recipe stated so I would recommend checking them every five minutes after the suggested baking time until you reach your desired doneness.

This is definitely the best blondie-type recipe I’ve tried for peanut butter chocolate chip bars and I will be making them again in the future and plan on playing around with mix-ins next time (chopped Reese’s anyone!?).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe source Bake at 350)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter, salted or unsalted (I used Trader Joe’s chunky salted)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (might want to add a bit more if using unsalted peanut butter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan. (Note that I doubled the recipe and used a 13 x 9.)

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the sugars until mixture is lightened in color and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and then add vanilla. Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Remember, you might need additional baking time so just keep checking. Cool completely before cutting.

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Let’s get straight to the point. These are without a doubt the best homemade brownies I’ve ever had. Ever. They are chocolaty, fudgy, rich and indulgent. The best part about these brownies is that I didn’t have to make them! We visited my parents in Atlanta several months ago and my dad had these ready for us when we arrived. We actually had dinner reservations that night at Top Chef contestant Kevin’s restaurant, Woodfire Grill, but I couldn’t resist sampling them. Totally worth slightly spoiling my appetite over! :)

Over the course of the visit I ate my fair share of these brownies. We took the leftovers home with us and made them even more ridiculously indulgent by serving them sundae style with ice cream and chocolate syrup. There was no brownie left behind.

All brownie lovers must try this recipe – even if you usually rely on boxed mixes. They are truly outstanding and will put any boxed brownie mix to shame. I will admit that I used to use boxed brownie mixes until I realized several years ago how easy homemade brownies are and produce far tastier results. They are so worth the little bit of extra effort required!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
(Recipe source Cooks Illustrated, May 2000)

Ingredients :

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (either Dutch-processed or natural cocoa works well in this recipe)
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan. Fit the second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. The foil overhangs will help you lift the brownies out of the pan.

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of almost-simmering water. Melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Alternatively, you can melt chocolates and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on 50 percent power, stopping to stir ever 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners and level surface with rubber spatula. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.

Completely cool brownies on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. (This is a very crucial step – I know it’s hard but you have to let them completely cool!) Remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 24

This biscotti was the second item in my Operation Baking Gals holiday package. I blogged about Operation Baking Gals and the Pecan Sables I made in my last post. I thought that biscotti would be the perfect thing to make since it’s pretty sturdy and has a longer shelf life than a drop cookie. I decided on the Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti after seeing it in The Gourmet Cookbook. I looked the recipe up online and saw that it was originally printed in 1994 and had received around 250 positive reviews. That sealed the deal on making this recipe.

Despite the double baking, biscotti is pretty simple to make. I love the thick dough and the process of the initial bake and then slicing and baking again. It’s fun to see the actual biscotti take shape!

I didn’t sample the biscotti but Brandon and my grandmother did (I sent her a package of extras). I know I’ve mentioned this before but super chocolaty desserts just aren’t my thing.  They both ate it for breakfast and said it was great – the chocolate flavor is definitely the star here. This would also be a nice snack or dessert anytime of the day!

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, originally printed in Gourmet December 1994)
Printable Recipe: Double Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I have subbed white chocolate chips for walnuts)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs on the prepared baking sheet. Each log should be about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake 35 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, leaving oven on.

On a cutting board, cut logs diagonally into 3/4-inch slices to form biscotti. Arrange cut sides down on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

Yield: About 30 biscotti

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