A Small Symbol For a Special Occasion

March 24, 2009

Have you ever known a couple who were perfect for each other? Not just happy together, but really perfect for each other. Who just strengthen each other in ways most of us will never know. I happen to know such a couple. These two… it’s hard to describe, you’d have to meet them to see how well they work together and complete each other but honestly, you just have to spend five minutes with them to see it. There is a certain flow that you just don’t see in most relationships.

Anyways, my dear friend Dean, is the guy-half of this couple. I baked a bunch of stuff for their engagement party last summer and have been really looking forward to their wedding. Unfortunately, because of various things in their lives (my wonderful, dear, sweet friend is being sent to Afghanistan!) they had to rush things, and had a pre-wedding-wedding. I still had to make them something though (of course!) and while the cookies I chose to make might seem simple, I thought the symbolism of joining two types of cookies (though perhaps a bit cheesy), was perfect. 

I really wish I could do more for my friend as they prepare for the future, but hopefully this little act, this punny symbol meant something to them.

Two Heart Cookies
Slightly adapted from: Epicurean Escapism

Chocolate Cookies:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Sugar Cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

You can follow the same directions for each recipe, just make sure to keep things separate.

In a medium bowl mix dry ingredients (except the sugar). Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter. Add the egg and vanilla or chocolate liqueur to the sugar and butter. With the mixer on low speed, beat to combine until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time and beat with the electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is just combined.

Wrap the dough tightly with saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. More is better, especially for the chocolate dough.

Remove the dough from the wrap, place it on a smooth, lightly floured surface, and use a rolling pin to roll it out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. You can also roll between two sheets of waxed paper.

Cut out shapes with heart shaped cookie cutters, using two different sizes (cutting one inside the other). Carefully pick up the cookie, remove the inner heart and put aside, placing the large heart on a greased cookie sheet. Combine and roll out the leftover dough and continue cutting out cookie shapes to place on cookie sheets. Repeat with the other batter, placing the smaller chocolate hearts inside the big sugar hearts and the smaller sugar hearts in the large chocolate hearts. Place the hearts on your cookie sheets in the freezer until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, turning the tray halfway through, until the edges of the sugar cookies just begin to turn very light brown.

Remove cookie sheet from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the cooling rack to cool completely before storing or eating. Enjoy!

The original recipe called for peanut butter dough, rather than a simple sugar cookie dough, but as I have mentioned I am weird and picky and only like my peanut butter on a nice slice of bread so I went with the much favored sugar cookies. But I highly suggest trying the original recipe if you like that stuff.


When is a Pretzel, Not a Pretzel….

January 7, 2009

I feel like I am getting in a bit of a rut, making so many cookies. Maybe I should rename my blog… what do you think of “Heaven is a Cookie” … or “Hell on a Cookie Platter” *g*. It’s just so hard to step away from such a happy little treat, as I am sure everyone with brand new sugar and/or cookie and/or diet resolutions have figured out.

Well, I have this one additional cookie recipe, then I promise, we’ll try to get creative and have some real fun. Though I can’t promise the next few recipes will be any healthier. At least these cookies aren’t totally cookies. They are pretzels too. Or are these pretzels that are cookies too? Well, it doesn’t matter, They are really good. The original recipe called for them to be drizzled with white chocolate, but we really loved the mint slime from the previous recipe so we used that instead. I have a feeling that the white chocolate would have been better.

Chocolate Pretzels
Source: The Great Book of Chocolate

2 cups flour
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp cocoa liqueur
4 oz white chocolate

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy add egg and liqueur. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.

Divide dough in half, press into disks, wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Form dough into approximately 22 balls and roll each into a rope approximately 12 inches. Make each rope into a pretzel shape by twisting two ends around each other then bringing both back near to the center of the strip.

Bake until firm, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Melt white chocolate in double boiler. Drizzle the cool cookies with the chocolate and let stand for 30 minutes to set. Enjoy 🙂

We had a lot of fun using the whisk attachment of my new hand mixer (the overdose of Christmas cookies killed my last ones) and these cookies were great. Be creative with them. Dip them in chocolate, or drizzle with white chocolate, or dark chocolate, or the slime. Or any combination of the above. The dough for these was slightly saltier than a regular cookie dough but that’s the way a pretzel should be and it was just amazing once they were done.


A Kiss for the New Year

January 6, 2009

 

Okay, so I know I’ve done a lot of cookies recently, but one of the very generous gifts I received over the holidays was The Golden Book Of Chocolate(can you say, “woohoo?” 🙂 ). So my man and I had a lot of fun going through picking out all the recipes we plan to make this year. It’s actually got a great selection, even for someone as picky as I am, so we will be dipping into the great big book several times this year.

I honestly don’t know why we were so fascinated by these cookies and chose to make them first. Maybe it was the mint. Or the several layers of chocolatey goodness. Whatever it was, they didn’t come out quite like the picture in the book, and we will have to work on them a bit to make them come out as pretty, but they were definitely a great start to the new year.

Minty Chocolate Kisses
Slightly Adapted from: The Great Book of Chocolate

1 cup flour
2 tbl cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mint extract
1 egg

filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz white chocolate
1 tsp mint extract
Food coloring, if desired

glaze
5 oz chocolate
1/3 cup butter

Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then add the mint extract and egg beating until blended. With a mixer, gradually beat in dry ingredients. Press dough into a disk wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven 350F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookie cutters*. Place cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until golden at edges 6-8 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.


 
Bring cream to a boil, remove from heat and stir in white chocolate until completely melted. Add mint extract and food coloring, if desired.**

Cool until firm but not set, approximately 30 minutes. Pair cookies to match as closely as possible and fill.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Spread on top of cooled cookies. Drizzle with additional mint filling. Chill until set 30 minutes. Enjoy 🙂

These things are incredible. Definitely the kind of thing you’d want to make a double batch, because even as thin and as tiny as we made them, it just wasn’t enough. Maybe next time we’ll double the size of the cookies 🙂

* For this first attempt, the dough came out way too moist to roll, even freezing it for a few minutes first. If you would prefer to roll them out, add more flour until it’s nice and thick first. Otherwise, you can roll the dough into balls and press until thin disks before baking.
** We didn’t allow the filling to cool for nearly long enough so it was a rather fun, goopy mess. It didn’t look nearly as nice as it should have, but it was darn tasty.


Taste & Create XII: Birthday Madelines

July 29, 2008

This month is very special for Taste & Create. Though it has only been a few months for me, this monthly event has been bringing food bloggers together for a year. Yes it is Taste & Create’s first birthday!

I was hoping to special birthday cupcakes or something like that to help celebrate, and instead my partner, the talanted woman behind Fuss Free Flavorsoffered something I had been considering making for a while. Instead I made chocolate drizzled birthday Madelines 🙂

Madelines
Source:
Fuss Free Flavors

75g Unsalted butter – melted and cool
100g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs
90g Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they have doubled in size and are light and fluffy. Slowly fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the vanilla. Slowly add in the melted butter, gently folding all the time.

When mixed cover the bowl and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, the batter should be foamy and full of air. Put a dollop of the mixture into a well buttered Madeleine tray, each mold should be about 2/3 full.

Place in an oven at 375F for around 7 minutes until risen, golden and shrinking away from the edges of the mold.

Leave for a few minutes and then turn out. Add a drizzle of melted chocolate and enjoy.

Happy Birthday Taste & Create 🙂


Devilishly Devine

July 28, 2008

I have really been a naughty blogger this month. With friends’ parties, birthdays and a procrastination inducing heat wave, I haven’t posted in quite a while, but hopefully the next few posts will make up for it.

Yes, I have continued baking, while I was baking in my air-condition-less apartment. These particular cookies are absolutely evil. Or at least perfect for inducing evil giggles, especially considering the below is considered one cookie if you go by the recipe.

Are you giggling wickedly yet?

The cookies themselves are great, but honestly the cookie dough is better than any you’ve ever had. It’s hard not to eat it all raw.

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Mudslide Cookies
Source: New York Times

1 1/2 cups unsweetened chocolate, in chips or chunks
8 cups semi-sweet chocolate, in chips or chunks
3/8 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Melt the unsweetened chocolate and 4 cups of the bittersweet chocolate over a double-boiler.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy and add the eggs one at a time, blending until mixed.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture and mix just until combined.

Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined and stir in the nuts and remaining chocolate pieces. Pour the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray. Put the mixture into a refrigerator for 5 to10 minutes until slightly, but not completely, hardened.

Reverse the sheet or tray onto another piece of parchment paper on a hard surface. Use a knife to divide the mixture into 30* squares. With your hands, roll each of the squares into a ball and evenly space them on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets (leave much room for them to spread).

Bake the cookies for 15 to 25 minutes, until crusty on the outside (they should still be gooey on the inside). Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before eating.

*The original recipe called for only 20 cookies, but they never bake right for me that big. It’s up to you if you wanna try them mondo or a little smaller 😉

With this much chocolate, this recipe isn’t one I make often, but it is well worth trying at least once, just to nibble the raw dough 😉


Making Milk’s Favorite Cookie

June 8, 2008

Commercials, taxes, politicians….these are unfortunately necessary evils in our lives. Okay, maybe not politicians, but taxes and commercials (or advertisements in general) certainly are. And unfortunately for us, commercials have just been getting more and more annoying (Geico, anyone?)

Thankfully not only do we now have dvr to fast forward through them, but there are a few companies that continue to make charming or entertaining commercials. For example, this oreo commercial.

It makes me smile every time and it does it’s job by making me suddenly want oreos. I’ve been holding on to this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a while now. I was actually going to save this to make for a friend but decided I needed something just like it this weekend.

I made a tiny mistake making these, but considering it was a mistake I could fix easily with more chocolate, I am not really complaining 🙂

Homemade Oreos
Source: Smitten Kitchen

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar, then beat in the butter, and the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set on a rack to cool.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

6. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk. Enjoy.

Make sure you use vegetable shortening. I used butter flavored, and it made the cream very yellow so I just added a teaspoon of cocoa powder. You can do that anyways if you want more chocolate 🙂

I also highly recommend matching the cookies into pairs before you start adding the cream to any of them, just to make sure you can get them all close. Either that or roll out the dough and cut them all to make sure they’re all even, which I just might do next time.

No matter how you make them, these things really are as good as the original, and definitely worth the effort 🙂


The Dark Side of a Cookie

June 3, 2008

 It’s funny how chocolate can so easily grab peoples attention. Wouldn’t it be fun if more people could be like that? You simply say their name and people instantly want to know more. Sure people like to gossip about celebrities but I mean the real people out there like those of us baking all the time. A little bit of almost everything I bake (especially the cookies) makes its way into the office so whenever I stop one of my co-workers on her way to her desk in the morning she almost always asks “chocolate?!”…I could have been giving her phone messages but somehow she could just smell the chocolate, and these cookies in particular seemed to please her so hopefully they’ll grab your attention too 🙂

I wanted to find the perfect recipe for the last bit of that Amano chocolate I received from the Blake Makes giveaway. My initial plan was to make chocolate and white chocolate truffles, and cover the chocolate ones with the Amano but this new recipe didn’t quite turn out. Don’t worry, I will be making plenty of truffles in the future, just not Amano.

So I had to come up with a different great recipe and decided to peruse my Magnolia cookbook to see what I could find. There are of course tons of excellent recipes that I want to try eventually but I had a bit of a challenge that prevented me from trying most of them. You see, I need to go grocery shopping…badly. Now I know that I could easily go and get a small amount of what I might need for any recipe, but it’s much easier to be a little lazy and much more fun to see what you can do with what you got. Truthfully I am pretty happy I went with this one 🙂

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies
Source: Magnolia Cookbook

1 cup flour
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips*

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream the butter and shortening with the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes or so for the sugar to dissolve then beat in to egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture until well blended then stir in the chocolate chips. *Note: this recipe called for 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but that wasn’t nearly enough so I added in another 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Set bowl in the fridge for a few minutes to chill. Preheat oven to 350F.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle with additional sugar and bake for approximately ten minutes.

Scoop onto a cooling rack and allow to cool. Enjoy 🙂

The dough for these was a little drier than normal but the resulting cookies were really great. I love the sprinkling of sugar on top and plan to use it again in the future 🙂